Five More Legitimately Useful Free Resources for New Writers
A while back, I did a piece on the free websites and software that I found useful as a freelance writer. I covered tools that I use for research and drafting, as well as marketing and writing stats. And I still stand by those tools! I still use them.
Since then, though, I’ve come to know more sites and software that are extremely helpful, and I wanted to share them with you again. Here are five more amazing tools that I use without paying a dime.
Yes, it sounds obvious, but Google Drive is an extremely helpful piece of software. Free storage space, word processing, and spreadsheet creation? Yes, please!
The Google product suite is how I track my budget and content creation. Docs lets you easily submit work to a client and have complete control over who can and cannot access, comment on, and edit the work. Sheets has a ton of templates you can use to create an annual budget and editorial calendar for all of your projects.
Overall, it’s just a good place to manage the actual content you’re working on, even if you’re using a separate project management software.
Is it at all surprising that the only Adobe product I willingly use is the free one? I should hope not. Adobe is well known for being ridiculously overpriced even if their products are quite good, but this one is a gem that they don’t advertise very often when they really should.
Adobe Acrobat is a PDF reader that’s extremely helpful if you’re sending or signing contracts over the internet. It’s even got a “Sign” function, which makes that even more convenient. If you have a touchscreen device, you can add your actual, physical signature to digital documents.
Submittable is, unsurprisingly, a submissions management website. Lots of journals and magazines use this site for contests and content submissions, which means that you only need one account to submit to many magazines, rather than having to send out a bunch of cold emails.
The dashboard is awesome for letting you know what you’ve submitted, where it was going, and how far along in the process it is. The site also lets reviewers from sites you’re submitting to to add feedback directly to the submission, which is awesome because it means you’re more likely to get feedback at all, and we all know feedback is king in the world of writing.
Moz is more for those who run their own blogs and websites, or for copywriters. It’s a keyword research tool that can help you with SEO for individual pieces or entire domains. You can find out what keywords and phrases people are looking up, how often they’re looking them up, and how hard it would be to get on the first page of Google for them.
There’s also a handy Moz plugin for Chrome that helps determine how trustworthy websites are in your Google searches, which is an amazing advantage for article research.
Pixl R is a free image editor. It’s a wonderful site; I’ve used it for ages. Most of the editing tools, from cropping and background removal to light and saturation adjustments, are available without even creating an account.
The editor lets you pick the format you want to download your file in, as well as the compression amount, which is awesome when making featured images for articles if you don’t want to use stock images.
Being a Writer Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive
Inevitably, I’ve found that there are certain things I’m more than willing to pay for to make my experience as a writer better. I pay for a Medium subscription to expand my reading pool and help other writers. I pay for Microsoft Office because it’s the toolset I’m most familiar and comfortable with (I literally had a class on it in college — no joke, that’s a thing). I pay for my website and the tools to build it myself so I have control over it.
But finding the free tools if and when I can is a major lifesaver for my working budget. Free doesn’t always mean lower quality; sometimes it just means slightly limited functionality. Even that doesn’t have to be a roadblock — if you’re creative with your combinations and use of tools, you can do almost anything with a free program that you can with a paid one.
Free tools make writing accessible to beginners like me, and for that, I’ll always be an advocate for them.