Free Tools For Freelance Writers: Miscellaneous

by Alicia Sparks on November 17, 2011

Sure, a simple clock will suffice - but can it do what an entire time management system can do?!

Welcome to Day 7 – and the final day! – of the 7-Day Mini Course, “Free Tools for Freelance Writers: Save BIG While Starting Your Writing Business.”

Today’s lesson doesn’t present a focused set of free tools so much as it offers a hodgepodge of free tools you can use at various intervals during your freelance writing career.

For example, you’ll find free invoice programs, free time management tools, free writing tools – you’ll even find free SEO help and keyword list generators.

Money and Invoicing

  • instacalc: If, for some reason, you need to do some un-Godly-esque calculating.
  • Invoice Journal: Fairly basic invoicing system that is both clean- and professional-looking and includes features such as adding custom fees, taxes, and discounts – all completely free.
  • CurdBee: CurdBee has several paid plans, but the free one allows you options like unlimited invoices to unlimited clients, acceptance of online payments in multiple currencies, and use of your own logo.
  • Mint: Mint is an absolutely free personal finance tool. It allows online money management, acts as a free budget planner, and provides numerous budgeting tools. An account with this site is a must-have for any freelancer in need of financial planning software.
  • xe: This currency converter can help you when you have clients who live in different countries.

NOTE: If you send only one or a few invoices a month, you might be interested in the free plans from invoiceplace, simplybill, Zoho Invoice, or Winkbill.

Time Management

You WON’T find free to-do list creation and management programs, but that’s only because I’ve already told you all about those.

Now, check out these free time management systems to help you stay on track and get projects completed and those lists marked off.

NOTE: These aren’t simply timers; they’re programs designed to help you manage time as it affects your deadlines, billable hours, etc.

  • Vertabase Timer: Features a time long, graphing capabilities, task notes, time reminders, and export options. Works with Windows and MAC.
  • Toggl: Offers a free plan for up to five users; limited features.
  • Tick: Also offers a free plan; unlimited number of users, clients, and tasks, but limited to one open project.
  • Klok: Create and manage main projects and sub-projects with a familiar “calendar” look and feel.
  • Manic Time: This free Windows time management software tracking your computer usage and work hours to data storage and statistics.
  • SlimTimer: This Web-based platform helps you create tasks, time your work, and run reports.
  • RescueTime: RescueTime for Windows and MAC monitors your websites and applications, helps you set goals, and analyzes computer usage.
  • Monkey On Your Back: Need someone else to finish what s/he said s/he would? Send a little “reminder e-mail.”

Writing and Documents

The first day of this course brought you options for word processing. Now you can look at these tools for handling special kinds of writing or documents:

  • yWriter: Novel-writing software that breaks novels into scenes and chapters.
  • cutePDF Writer: This freeware will turn virtually any printable document into a PDF.
  • MobiPocket Creator: Convert PDF, Word, and text files to the Mobi format, which is readable on an Amazon Kindle.
  • Calibre: Helps manage and convert different e-book formats.
  • 7-Zip: A free zipping program that will allow you to bundle and send multiple documents.
  • Wufoo: An online form builder (think contact forms, satisfaction surveys, online order forms, etc.) that provides a free account, allowing one user to create three forms, three reports, 10 fields, and 100 entries per month.
  • Free Online Spell Checker: Hey, you have to put something on those documents, right? This free spell checker tool not only helps you spell correctly; it also provides an explanation option that helps you understand why the word you typed is spelled incorrectly and a list of words you might have meant.

Organize and Share

  • Create mindmaps you can store as images. (HINT: If you don’t print them, you save EVEN MORE paper – woohoo!
  • box: You can share files online with co-workers and clients with this tool. The personal account, which is good for one user, up to 50GB of storage, and a file size limit of up to 1GB might be ideal for an individual freelancer.
  • YouSendIt: This tool lets you send files, share folders, and sign documents. If you get YouSentIt Lite, you get 2GB of storage, five e-mail signatures, and a maximum file size of 50MB.
  • FaxZero: Fax isn’t dead – yet. Until it is, you can use this site to send faxes for free (it’s WAY easier than you might imagine). The paid version ($1.99 per fax) offers a couple more perks, but depending on your needs, those perks might not be worth it.
  • How awesome is this tool? Create project status updates for your clients to keep up with.

SEO Help

Sure, you already know where you can learn more about SEO writing, but these tools can help you come up with the keywords and phrases to use:

Website Help

Remember when I told you how to find free blog images? Well, these sites will help you even more:

  • Textalyzer: This tool allows you to insert a piece of text (from your website, blog, or even an article you’re writing) and have factors such as keyword density and word groups analyzed.
  • Website Grader: Enter your website’s URL and this tool will give it a grade based on factors like content, links, and even promotion.
  • Headline Analyzer: Another tool you can use for your own website and blog, or for articles you write for others or distribute elsewhere. The Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer takes your proposed headline and gives it an Emotional Marketing Value (EMV) score to help you determine the impact your headline will have on readers.
  • ColorSchemer: The free ColorPix program (downloadable) helps you determine color schemes for your website or blog. You can also download pre-made color schemes to take the guess work out of it.

Cover Your Ass (or, CYA)

  • U.S. Copyright Law: This can help you with everything from selling short stories to drafting contracts.
  • Creative Commons: Learn how to license your work (and determine how much of it, and under what conditions, others can use); what the licenses of others’ work means, and just exactly what a Creative Commons License is.
  • Legal Guide for Bloggers: By the Electronic Frontier Foundation, this guide provides information about legal liability, intellectual property, online defamation, and much more.
  • CPA Directory: Many, many freelancers, sole proprietors, small business owners – you get the idea – solicit the help of certified public accountants (CPAs). On top of about a gazillion other things, this website lets you search a CPA directory to find one in your area. You can even search by services provided and industries serviced.
  • Starting and Managing a Business: Pretty much everything you need to know about turning your freelancing services into a business; provided by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

What Now?

Like a few of the other classes, this one presents A LOT of information. Spend some time browsing these free tools, bookmark the ones you like, and give those a whirl the next time you need them. Keep what works; delete what doesn’t. It’s that simple. 🙂

Missed last week’s class? Head over to Free Tools For Freelance Writers: Learning Tools.

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