Freelance Writing Biz Fix: Creating a Virtual Workspace

What I’m listening to: Lola by The Kinks

What a week.

I started with two projects and a new client call. So far, I’m up to two more projects and two more new client calls — none of which are happening until after I return from vacation.

I did get a bit of work done, and thanks to pushing back on client requests, I may finally take a vacation that doesn’t involve my working on a project up until the time I need to leave for the airport.

My husband is still on his long vacation, though he worked through it nearly every day. Yesterday he sat down to do an hour of work. However, his work-issued laptop disagreed.

As I watched my husband try yet again to reboot a laptop that clearly didn’t want to reboot, I thanked my maker. I’d gone virtual a few years ago, and this incident was a reminder why it’s a smart idea.

So what goes into a freelance writer’s virtual work space? Here’s what I’ve done to keep files off fickle hard drives:

Online storage. It’s a must. If you use Microsoft Office and you’ve upgraded to their 365 package, the default save setting is already set on the OneDrive storage option. (Disclosure: I do not get anything for promoting Microsoft products. Wish I did — I’d have made a fortune by now.) Otherwise, you have any number of options, including JustCloud (“free” for a short time, but then a paid service), Carbonite, SugarSync, iDrive and Google. Shop around — prices vary widely.

Email. Gmail is most frequently the email of choice. However, don’t forget about, formerly Hotmail, which is another good alternative. The benefits of having your email program housed online — you  never have to panic when you’re working remotely and need to see that email from a month ago. Other options include AOL Mail,, and Yahoo! mail. Also, look for email options that come with or can be purchased through WordPress or your web host.

Calendar. This is my goal this year — to move everything from a desktop calendar to a virtual one. I had that functionality until Google stopped supporting the Outlook sync (it’s why Google is not my favorite choice here — won’t sync on my phone with my Outlook calendar). Besides Google, you have plenty of choices, including Microsoft Calendar, Zoho, 30Boxes, Keep&Share, and Yahoo!

Collaboration/project management tools. Clearly, Google Drive rules this space. However, I’m a fan of Trello, Evernote, OneNote, and Slack (Evernote being the jewel in the crown, in my opinion).

Phone. And why not? VoIP is often a clearer reception than land lines or cell phones, and you can avoid being found by telemarketers. Google Voice even lets you choose your own phone number. Other options include Skype, Google Hangouts (why not?), and MagicApp (for your cell phone). A relative told me about Ooma, but don’t forget MagicJack, Globphone, Nextiva, Vonage or RingCentral.

Online work spaces. I’m a Microsoft Office Live convert, but there are other options, such as Google Drive, Zoho Writer, OnlyOffice, Live Writer, and Writer to name a few.

Other online tools exist, such as accounting and marketing tools as well as customer management programs. It all depends on how virtual you’d like your freelance writing business to become.

Writers, how virtual is your freelance writing business?
Do you intend to increase or decrease your level of online business this year?
What other functions of your freelance writing business are virtual?

About the author




  • Anne Wayman January 22, 2016 at 1:12 pm

    I get more and more virtual all the time. Not completely though.

    Good to see your site working!

  • Lori Widmer January 22, 2016 at 3:01 pm

    Thanks, Anne. Thank Jenn, actually. She had it figured out so fast; it was impressive! Google may be on to who did it, too.

    I'm not quite all virtual, but I'd like to be. It makes sense, though as we face a huge winter storm and possible power outages, I may question that. 🙂 Still, I'm able to access all my files no matter where I am, so if I have to take work with me to the UK, I can.

  • Meryl K. Evans January 22, 2016 at 3:52 pm

    In working with a client, I've learned a lot about cloud and saving data to it. I know it makes it convenient to access from anywhere. But it can also be easy for people to find your private information. In one instance, a company was reviewing its Google Analytics and saw referral source and clicked it. It turned out to be a sensitive document in Dropbox and their link happened to be in that document.

    Not saying to cut the cloud, but to be careful and do your due diligence. Even one of the web-based password programs was hacked.

  • Lori Widmer January 22, 2016 at 6:40 pm

    Great advice, Meryl. It's so easy for sensitive information to leak out unexpectedly. I wonder — do you think that could have happened even if they weren't on the cloud? Sounds like the referral source should have hidden that reference.

    Am I understanding the situation correctly?

  • Paula Hendrickson January 22, 2016 at 11:08 pm

    I had it on my list for 2016 to figure the whole cloud thing out, but technology always confuses me. Sometimes to much I want to go back to a quill and parchment.