10 Handy Apps For Freelance Writers
The best part of my day (no judging …) is when my Word of the Day email comes through from Dictionary.com. Oh, the anticipation. It makes me feel like I’m learning something, although my memory tends to disagree with me.
Monday’s word topped the list last week. “Luddite.” A person who is resistant to or opposes technology and technological change.
What a great word. It drops off the tongue so thickly you can almost hear it thwack against the listener’s ear. I challenge you to use it in a sentence this week and to report back on the outcome.
Technology is such an important part of life today, and it’s practically impossible to be a freelancer and a Luddite at the same time.
Gone are the days of scribbling first drafts on lined paper and sending letters in the post. If you wish to be a successful freelance writer, you need to embrace all things technological and be sure to use them to your advantage in the business world.
We live in an age where phones are smarter than a lot of people. Which, in all honesty, does make our lives easier as we can do our writing thing on the go, while we’re sitting on the subway eating a low-GI sandwich, listening to a podcast and juggling IM conversations.
So, don’t be a Luddite. Here are some useful apps for freelance writers to make both the writing process and the whole business side of things a breeze.
1. Keeping In Touch – Slack
If you are doing anything online, you know how tricky it can be to keep in touch with your various clients — especially if all of your interactions are virtual ones. If you’ve got a lot on the go, it can be hard to remember who goes with which project.
Contrary to the popular meaning of its name, Slack provides an organized, easy-to-navigate platform, where you can jump between your various group of people, and make sure you’re in touch with all of the relevant parties for a particular project.
You can also create different channels within the same group of people, which makes it very easy to keep all your ducks in a row and make sure the necessary information gets to the right ducks. Er, people.
2. Writing On The Go – OneNote
This awesome app is a member of the known and loved Microsoft family, and is great for keeping track of all those random thoughts that pop into your head at any given time. You know what I’m talking about. As writers, we all have those moments of frantically trying to scrawl something down before it deserts you forever.
Whether you’re a spontaneous scribbler or a meticulously ordered filer, you can organize your writing bits and pieces quite effectively in OneNote.
You won’t get bored with it either — you can choose (depending on how you feel on the day) between typing, handwriting or free-form drawing, as well as the handy function of being able to clip pictures from the web to your files.
Sync this app across all your devices, and you’ll be ready to become a note-taking guru.
3. Keeping Up With Tasks – Wunderlist
Ah, I love a good list. That warm, fuzzy feeling one gets seeing a neat, ordered column of things waiting to happen, and that satisfaction of actually doing something and ticking it off. Really, who doesn’t like doing the listing thing? It’s a rush. Like skydiving, just a lot less windy.
Wunderlist is a super app for all of your listing requirements. Easy to navigate and fairly minimalistic, you could actually get carried away listing lists inside lists of lists, if you’re not careful.
Personalize and categorize your lists, add pictures to each item, add subtasks, notes, audio snippets and set reminders. You can also share lists with others (because list sharing is caring).
Wunderlist will turn you into a list ninja. Your friends will wunder how you do it.
4. Recording Your Thoughts – Voice Record Pro
There’s something freaky about hearing yourself talking to … Well, yourself. But, sometimes there’s just no time or hand-space to be scribbling, so talking yourself through your own thoughts is the next best thing.
This also works quite well for those annoying bursts of inspiration that occur in the middle of the night. No more scrambling around for pencils and trying to shine your phone light on a piece of paper, whilst avoiding waking your spouse. Just two clicks, mumble sleepily for as long as you need and examine the treasures of your mind in the morning.
Other uses include recording meetings or important interviews, recording your spouse snoring to save for when you need backup, and being an undercover spy who somehow knows everybody’s business.
5. Time Yourself – Ovo Timer
As a freelance writer, you have so many things to think about on a daily basis. Your latest article. Finding stock photos for your blog posts. Invoicing your clients. Posting on Instagram. Remembering to eat lunch. Trying not to spend 5 hours on social media.
This app requires little-to-no thought to use, which is a welcome relief. Simplistic, easy and pretty much automatic. It’s perfect for one thing, and one thing alone — timing.
It’s simple — open the app, put your finger on the screen and drag it in a circular motion. You will see the time start to stack up, and when you reach the amount of time you want it to count down, just let go and Ovo will start counting backward. Put your head down and do your thing until your device pings at you.
Voila! How cool is that? To assist you in the ‘little-to-no thought involved’ part of this app, it also informs you just of roughly what time the alarm will go off (for those of us who struggle with maths), and has a cool feature that you can make use of if your fingers are too tired to wind the timer up.
The top right-hand corner displays the Android speech recognition icon. Tap on it and tell Ovo (in your best movie actor voice) how long you want to time for — eg. One minute twenty-six seconds — and off Ovo will go-vo.
It may sound stupidly simple, but this works great for a little bout of Pomodoro-ing, increasing productivity, a spot of meditating at the desk or just assisting in working towards short-term deadlines.
6. Money Management – Monefy
Ah, budgeting. What fun. Being wild and creative freelancers usually means that we dread the mathematical side of business, however necessary it may be. As freelance writers, we are always aware that our income is not fixed, and this can create stress when it comes to spending, even minimally.
The first step to successful budgeting as a freelancer is keeping track of all income and expenses, and Monefy turns this from something intimidating into something that feels far more like a game.
With income categories for salary, savings and deposits, and expense categories such as bills, car, entertainment, food, and gifts, to name a few, this app covers everything and makes it easy-peasy for you to document your earning and spending on the fly.
A couple of taps is all it takes to add a new item to the list, and after a month or two you’ll be accustomed to whipping out your phone and noting whenever you spend. This may sound overly simple when it comes to budgeting, but seeing your money matters laid out in such a clear way is a huge leap towards planning a budget properly.
This is an app you certainly won’t regret downloading.
7. Storage & Sharing – Google Drive
When you have a lot of work with a lot of far away clients, storage, and sharing become two very important things you will need to do.
You certainly won’t get many chances to sit down face to face with a client and discuss changes, or even talk them through things in a phone call.
You need a space where your files can be stored, accessed by all involved, and edited. Google Drive does all of the above rather admirably.
With 15 GB of storage space, easy mobile access and the use of Google Docs, this is by far the best way to store and share your important files.
Invites can be sent to anyone, regardless of whether or not their email address is a Google one, and Google Docs is super easy to navigate and collaborate over.
And of course, who doesn’t trust Google, right?
8. Keeping It Legal – SignNow
No matter how wild and free we like to think we are as work-at-home, location-independent freelancers, not one of us should forget the importance of legally binding agreements.
With SignNow, it’s a quick and easy process to cover your butt and ensure that nobody can cause trouble for you down the line.
With a bunch of templates to choose from and tweak to your liking, and a feature to add your own company logo, you can create custom, legally-binding documents for any occasion.
Of course, we all hope we will never have to wield these in a legal battle, but one can never be too careful. Don’t neglect this step – if it comes back to bite you, it bites hard.
9. Invoicing – Freshbooks
Accounting. We all dread it. This is why the accountants drive the fancy cars. We’ll do (or pay) just about anything to avoid having to wade through our finances ourselves.
If you think about it though, choosing an accountant should be as important as choosing a doctor. Not just anyone should be able to see your naked finances. This partnership requires a whole lot of trust in a virtual stranger. So, if we could do this quickly and painlessly ourselves, wouldn’t we all choose to do it that way?
(insert drumroll here) Say hello to Freshbooks.
Want to send an invoice? Sure. Create a receipt? No problem. Check the status of a payment? Simple. Make a payment? Even money leaving your account will feel better with Freshbooks in your life.
Freshbooks takes a lot of stress out of accounting and also assists you in preparing when it comes time for the dreaded tax stuff.
Give it a go. You won’t be disappointed.
10. Take A Break – ColorMe
Because sometimes inspiration strikes while you’re doing something really mundane, but rather calm and soothing. There’s a reason coloring is the big thing at the moment for adults. It’s like meditating, without actually meditating, and being creative without … Well, being creative.
Sometimes when deadlines are looming, clients are freaking out, your inbox is jammed and your brain is refusing to be adult-like, shutting it all out and creating an aesthetically pleasing mandala is all you need to re-boot your mind.
Color away, and feel free to listen to sounds of the humpbacked whale or soothing ocean swishes while you’re doing so. Take a break from reality, and allow yourself to chill for a bit. Then come back to your business with a clearer mind and refreshed determination.
The beauty of all these apps for freelance writers is that the majority of them are available for use on the whole spectrum of devices — so wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, you have your whole arsenal of apps literally at your fingertips.
App app and away, freelancers.