101 (New) Free Freelance Writer Resources

Welcome to Writers Worth Month 2017!

In 2008, it was one day I decided to set aside: May 16th. I asked fellow bloggers to spread the word and help other writers say no to low-paying jobs and yes to owning their value. Then Paula Hendrickson suggested a week because, as she reasoned, a day was good, but how much more we could share with a week! Then because she’s persistent, Paula talked me into a month-long awareness campaign designed to help you, freelance writer, get started or get better or get busy.

This month is a bit more helter-skelter than my previous, organized attempts. It’s not that I didn’t know — Paula reminded me about the same time I started thinking about it. But I wanted to wing it this year and see what happens. You’ll see all sorts of things — blog posts from me and from others, interviews, lists…

And that’s where we’ll start. The list.

A number of years ago, I put together the 101 Resources list. Today, it’s back and it’s completely updated. Some of the links that were once golden are gone (free stuff can disappear without notice). But they’ve been replaced with some seriously good resources.

One thing that’s missing from the list: blogs. I love blogs, but they too don’t often stick around. So for now, I’m keeping to just those things we could use to build our businesses or our knowledge. There’s plenty out there, but start here with these 101 things:

  1. Sway. Oh, the things you can do with Sway — newsletters, presentations, you name it. Sway (a Microsoft creation) gives you templates and graphics ability to get stuff online quickly. If you have the Office subscription, it’s all yours. If not, you can get Sway for free with just a Hotmail or Outlook.com account. (And no, as much as I’d love to be, I’m not a Microsoft affiliate.)
  2. Klout. What I love about Klout is the suggested topics for social sharing. But that’s not the only great thing Klout has going for it; you can also see some of the top experts in your areas of concentration, and you can tag your own profile with your expertise. You can schedule tweets and measure your social media impact, as well.
  3. Meshfire. Is it wrong to use two platforms for social media marketing and campaigning? Not if you combine Klout with Meshfire, in my opinion. Meshfire is an interactive dashboard that includes a taskboard of tweets to respond to/retweet, the ability to set marketing campaigns, and all the measurement you’ll need to see how effective your efforts have been. Plus there are suggested follows/unfollows, and the ability to filter hashtag results.
  4. Tweetdeck. I just love Tweetdeck. It’s the app I use to interact on Twitter. Yes, both Klout and Meshfire offer that option, but Tweetdeck is just so much easier to read. So I guess you can say I use three platforms for social media.
  5. Windows Live Writer. If you’re a blogger, this could be your best friend. Easy formatting and easy publishing. And free.
  6. Stock photos. If you blog, you need them. Here are some favorites of mine: Free Images, MorgueFile, Pixabay, and Pexels.
  7. Trello. I’ve used Trello in the past on client projects where there were a few people trying to coordinate at once. What a great application!
  8. Evernote. Want an easy place to store notes and collaborate with clients? Evernote is your answer. Evernote allows you to see any number of projects at once and where each one is in the work process. Save meeting notes, screenshots, and photos quickly. You can set up separate notebooks for separate projects, create shortcuts, and add tags for easy searching. I’ve used both OneNote and Evernote — to me, Evernote is the clear winner when it comes to simple, user-friendly design. OneNote, to me, is a tad too tough to navigate.
  9. Hemingway App. I saw that. You just went overboard on those adverbs, didn’t you? The creators of Hemingway app must have channeled Papa’s spirit — this app highlights adverb abuse and complex sentences, and highlights when you’re doing it right. It also offers suggestions to make your writing clearer.
  10. Canva. Even freelance writers need graphics at some point. Canva is your tool. Easy even for the graphically challenged.
  11. Tip of My Tongue. Can’t quite remember that word? Search for it with a few letters, a definition, even part of the word.
  12. Cliche Finder. Yes, please. We can all use this as many of us use cliches we’re not even aware are cliches. Great tool for running client copy through, too. Helps you remove the problem before it goes to the client.
  13. ZonePDF. Ever wish you had a tool that allowed you to combine PDFs or convert various formats to PDF? Here you go.
  14. NowDoThis. Oh my lord, is this the simplest, best to-do list app or what? Type in your list. When you finish a task, click Done. Up pops the next item. Productivity in its simplest form.
  15. TeuxDeux. Speaking of simple, you’ll love this one. Make your list. When you’ve completed the task, click on it. The app draws a line through it. So easy.
  16. StayFocused. If you have the same internet surfing… let’s call it a problem … that I do, this Chrome plugin is the problem-solver. It gives you a time limit — a curfew of sorts — for the time-sink websites (think Facebook). Once your allotted time is up, you’re blocked for the rest of the day. Consider this your virtual boss walking by the desk as you’re playing another round of solitaire…
  17. HubSpot Blog Topic Generator. At a loss for your next post? Type in three words. Hit the Give Me Blog Topics! button. Boom. Five ideas.
  18. LastPass. I cannot live without this app. It’s my go-to app for all my passwords. And when you have around six WordPress passwords, you get why you need one place where you can store it all. You create one really long, really tough password. Then LastPass does the rest. Not only does it save your sites and login info, it also can generate passwords. I couldn’t guess what most of my passwords are, and that’s rather the point. The freebie is a browser plugin. I also pay the $12 a year to have it on my cell phone. Worth. Every. Dollar.
  19. Tweriod. Right here is your answer to how to boost your social media presence with the audience you want. Tweriod analyzes your tweets and those of your followers and tells you the best times of day to reach the people you’re targeting.
  20. Boomerang (Gmail). Know those emails that get lost? The ones you have to follow up on but forget to? Boomerang, people. Schedule emails to be sent. Get reminders to respond or to follow up. Oh my gawd, it’s better than have an assistant.
  21. Sonar Submission Tracking. You hate Excel. Hate it. So you don’t track your submissions. Imagine if there were a free online tracking tool that was already set up to make tracking easy…oh wait. There is. Sonar.
  22. Wridea. There are so many ideas I’ve forgotten because I never wrote them down. Wridea gives people like me a place to do just that. Be sure to check out the “idea raining” feature.
  23. SCORE. Get answers to your business-related questions right here. A Small Business Administration partner, this nonprofit has resources, templates, and mentors ready to help.
  24. Producteev. Task management made simple. Great for team projects, but can be useful for tracking your marketing contacts.
  25. Wunderlist. Make that to-do list on your desktop, then watch it sync to every device you want it to. Print from it. Share from it. Never miss a thing again.
  26. Wondershare filmora. Convert, edit videos, photos or PDF files, make photo slideshow… it’s all here.
  27. Outlook for customer service management. Seriously, Outlook. If you’re using the desktop version, go to one email right now. Click on Follow Up, then choose Custom. In the menu that pops up, look at what you can do. You can choose when you want to follow up, and…right there. That little button that says Reminder. Click it and presto! You’ve just scheduled a client follow-up. How easy is that? If you use Outlook.com online, you can click on that push pin icon on each email you want to follow up on (they’ll then be right there at the top each time you log in). Or you can save it to OneNote and then use OneNote as your go-to place for marketing contacts (though see my note above about my own not-so-fabulous view of OneNote).
  28. Wave. Invoicing, accounting, receipts, payroll… all free. Yes, free.
  29. e-Speaking. If you have Windows, you already have speech-to-text software (Windows Speech Recognition). If not, there’s e-Speaking, a free program that does the same thing.
  30. Tape-a-Talk (Android) & iTalk Recorder (iPhone). Record interviews, phone conversations, your uncle’s bad jokes all from your cell phone.
  31. Dragon Dictation. Sometimes it’s just easier to talk it out. This program can help you “dictate a text message or email, create Facebook status updates or a tweet, and anything in between.”
  32. Transcribe. You simply must have this app. Know all those recordings you have to transcribe? Now you don’t have to — this Chrome plugin does it for you. My gawd, where has this been all your life?
  33. Google Drive. I don’t know why they just didn’t keep the Google Docs name: it’s what everyone calls it. I know writers who use this exclusively for their word processing software.
  34. OpenOffice. If you don’t like Google Drive (I don’t so much) and you don’t like/don’t want to pay for Word, there’s Apache’s free OpenOffice, which is a damn close competitor to both Google and Word. My sister has used it for years.
  35. PocketSuite. If you’re a spreadsheet hater, this app puts your invoicing, messaging, documents, and even payments in one place: on your phone.
  36. Glympse. I use this one a lot. Know those times you’re meeting a client or someone you know and you’re running late? Send them a glympse — a link to a map that shows them exactly where you are and when you’ll arrive. It’s a bit like virtual stalking, but only when you allow it.
  37. RescueTime. Another app that keeps track of the time you spend on those not-so-productive sites. The app allows you to block the sites during selected time periods so you can get your work done.
  38. AirTable. Set priorities, dump all your notes, graphs, photos, and links into it, and just like that, you’re organized. AirTable is a database that acts as your virtual assistant.
  39. DropTask. You can’t help but love this interface: circles. Then circles within circles that you can drag throughout the project lifecycle. Finished that draft? Drop that circle from the Development circle to the First Draft Delivered circle, or whatever circle you’ve created. Easy to use, easy to follow.
  40. Asana. Another solid project management and collaboration tool, Asana gives you a more familiar interface — like that of Outlook or your mail program, but with the ability to get more detailed views of what’s going on.
  41. WhatsApp. Perfect for those who don’t have nationwide phone coverage or who want free phone calling in general. WhatsApp works on your cell phone and your desktop and works off your internet connection, not your phone minutes. So if you’re in Barcelona and need to call San Diego, get yourself to a free WiFi spot and make a free call. Plus it offers group chat, document sharing, and more.
  42. WorkFrom. Need a place to work from when you’re traveling? Find it on WorkFrom. Select what you’re looking for — fast WiFi, public space, private space, and more — and where you need it. Up pops a map that shows you options along with descriptions and photos of each place. Genius.
  43. LINE. Speaking of traveling, why pay per text when you’re overseas? Use LINE for free texts, and for free international voice and video calls.
  44. ShareDesk. Need a meeting space or a workspace, either around you or while you’re traveling? Find it here.
  45. Aynax. You need professional invoices. Wouldn’t hurt to have a way to keep track of them. Then it sure wouldn’t hurt to download Aynax.
  46. Coursera. This list wouldn’t be complete without my perennial favorite. Coursera is free online learning. Yes, they have paid certificate courses, but the genesis of this site was the free courses from top universities around the world. There are plenty of free learning opportunities.
  47. edX. Like Coursera, edX offers plenty of opportunities to pick up new skills and knowledge for free.
  48. Open Culture. Can’t find a course that interests you on Coursera or edX? Then look through the 1,200+ that are listed on Open Culture. By category. How easy is that?
  49. HTML Beginner. You may never need to use HTML. But you will, so learn it here for free.
  50. SiteJot. If you use multiple devices and want access to all your bookmarks, here you go.
  51. SlimTimer. More than just a timer — you can create tasks and even run reports if that excites you.
  52. Harvest. A time tracker that’s also an invoicing and expense tracking tool. The freebies allow one person to run two projects. Good if you’re not a multi-project juggler.
  53. Time Out. It’s like having your mom behind you reminding you to take a break, eat something, stretch… set your breaks and the app will remind you to break and will keep track of your work hours/productivity.
  54. Zoho Writer. Zoho is another alternative to Google Drive. Write, share, and post from the easy-to-use online word processing space. Post straight to WordPress, in fact. Plus it offers digital signature and mail merge functions. Anyone who’s fought with WP’s post-writing space might enjoy a better space to work from.
  55. FreeConferenceCall. It’s the one I use most often with clients, and I learned from a few of them that it even existed. Audio conference tool, complete with your own 800 dial-in, and free recording of the call.
  56. Skype. Tell me you use Skype. I love Skype, particularly since you can do screen sharing, as well.
  57. VoIP Stunt. Free phone calls anywhere in the world. Free.
  58. WordPress.com. You need a professional website (yes, you do). But you know zero about website design or development. Make it easy on yourself — get a WordPress.com site. Pay the 10 bucks or so annually for your own domain (I use NameSilo), then use a WP template to get yourself published. Seriously, stop putting it off.
  59. ToodleDo. It’s a to-do list, but it’s also a place to create lists, outlines, notes, and track your productivity.
  60. Slack. Have one of those projects where there are more people than you can keep track of? Slack puts all those messages into one place and allows you and one other person to conduct voice/video calls.
  61. IFTTT. I’ve been a subscriber for a few years and I still can’t tell you in one sentence what IFTTT does. In my own experience, it takes the services I use (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and creates actions around them. If I send out a tweet with a certain hashtag, then IFTTT will respond with whatever command I’ve set up, such as sending an email to my subscriber list. Skype, Instagram, FitBit … hell, you can even tell IFTTT to signal Alexa to turn on your GE oven.
  62. Hourly Rate Calculator. By all means, you should go to All Indie Writers and do the long math to get to your rate. But this simple calculator shows you, ballpark, what you need to be charging (and maybe how many more billable hours per month you need).
  63. CreativeLive. Free on-air classes. They sell classes, but the freebies are certainly worth a look.
  64. SkillShare. Free video training on all sorts of topics, including writing and business.
  65. Vertabase Timer. It’s more than a free timer, too. Set goals, see graphs of your progress, export time logs…
  66. Thesaurus.com. This takes finding synonyms to another level. Don’t settle for Word’s limited vocabulary — look it up here.
  67. Grammarly. I shouldn’t have to tell any freelance writer to have this. Just. Have it. Use it. See the grammar in your posts improve.
  68. MailChimp. Loved it back on the original 101 Resources list. Still love it.
  69. StumbleUpon. I still use StumbleUpon to generate new article ideas. Great for promoting your work, too.
  70. Keyword Density Analyzer. Jenn Mattern provides a super tool to help you rock the SEO.
  71. Infoplease. Remember when the World Book and Brittanica people would come to your door? Consider this your online encyclopedia.
  72. Merriam-Webster dictionary. A must for every writer.
  73. SpellCheckPlus. So Word is telling you that’s wrong? Paste your content into this website and see.
  74. PDF Converter. From PDF to Word — yes, you can.
  75. Congress.gov. In a world of fake media and alternative facts, let’s just stick with those pesky real ones, shall we? One way is to look up the bills and laws, both recently introduced and those that became law (or didn’t).
  76. OWL. I love this site. Purdue’s Online Writing Lab is a great tool for formatting questions and more.
  77. WritersOneStop. You need to find that statistic. Right here are links to the sources.
  78. MIT OpenCourseWare. Free courses from one of the top technical schools in the country.
  79. Kutztown University. What caught my attention was the marketing courses, all free. And bonus points if you’ve ever been to Kutztown (I have).
  80. CodeAcademy. Yes, you do need to know how to code, at least a little. Here’s where you can learn it.
  81. Project Gutenberg. Free public domain ebooks. Great site.
  82. UPenn Online Books Page. What you can’t find on Project Gutenberg you might find here.
  83. Bartleby. More free books available for online reading. Another excellent resource.
  84. Google Books. I think the first public domain book I read was on Google Books. Another great site.
  85. Directory of Open Access Journals. Need to read that peer-reviewed journal but don’t want to pay $499 for the honor? Find what you need here.
  86. Quotable America. You need that quote from that public figure. Where are you going to find an accurate one? Right here.
  87. Duolingo. One of the best language courses I’ve taken. I’ve retained so much from this easy course site. Totally, 100% free.
  88. UnrollMe. If you get hundreds of emails a week, this little number will help you unsubscribe, and help you organize the emails you want to read.
  89. Pocket. Too many bookmarks you just don’t get to? Pocket. Save it now, read it later.
  90. CoachMe. Bad habits, buh-bye. CoachMe will help you break them, and will encourage your good habits.
  91. Workflowy. If you have a million lists like I do, Workflowy organizes them.
  92. KanbanFlow. Simple, smart project management.
  93. SoundCloud. Want to offer podcasts? Here’s the tool you need.
  94. Free Management Library. A great resource for learning how to improve all facets of your business, including leadership and productivity skills.
  95. FedStats. Instead of looking through every agency website you can remember, try looking right here for that federal statistic.
  96. Online Articles Database. Thank you, New York Public Library, for making your materials so accessible.
  97. FindArticles. I’ve used this in a few ways: to find articles I’ve published that are no longer available at the source site, and to locate articles on topics I’m researching.
  98. US Government Manual. Look, in any other political climate, you may not care to know the deeper details about government operations. These days? Almost essential. Find out just how your government is meant to operate.
  99. Businessballs. This site gives you, well, the balls for business. Free online learning.
  100. Elements of Style. The Bible for writing, now free.
  101. Reverso Grammar Checker. If you don’t know passive tense from active, this is your tool.

Writers, what free tools or resources do you rely on? (please no blog links — at least not on this post)

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Comments

  • Cathy Miller May 1, 2017 at 9:20 am

    Wow. I don’t know if I should thank you or smack you, Lori. 😀 Now I have so many great tools to check out. Definitely a keeper.

    Reply
    • lwidmer May 1, 2017 at 9:56 am

      Have fun digging, Cathy. (ducking to avoid your swing) 😉

      Reply
  • Jenn Mattern May 1, 2017 at 11:02 am

    Great list Lori! And it’s not just the usual suspects — I see quite a bit here I’ve never tried, and many I hadn’t even heard of. 🙂

    The biggest I use that isn’t on the list is Todoist. It’s my virtual brain. I couldn’t operate without it. While I use the premium version, the free version is quite robust, and probably more than most freelance writers need. Highly-recommended.

    Reply
    • lwidmer May 1, 2017 at 11:47 am

      I have heard you mention it, Jenn. I checked it out, and it looked really good. Thanks for the additional info!

      Reply
  • Paula Hendrickson May 1, 2017 at 11:46 am

    Talk about kicking Writers Worth Month off with a bang, Lori. Anyone else would have milked a list like this to last all month.

    Like Cathy said, should I thank you or smack you?

    The one that leapt out at me was Klout. I signed up to it long ago but had no idea it could do much more than help you track your social media presence. Maybe I’ll have to attack this list by starting with things I already have or use, and seeing how to use them more productively.

    Reply
    • lwidmer May 1, 2017 at 12:12 pm

      Klout is not perfect, Paula. But it does give you a “score” which I use to track how effective my social media attempts are. And I do enjoy having suggested content — never hurts to learn something as you’re increasing your own brand awareness!

      Reply
  • Anne Wayman May 1, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    I’m with Jenn… I love todoist, particularly since I figured out I can tell it to remind me of this next week or next month or next year and not see it until then.

    I’d forgotten about Klout – and I can’t see how to ask it to use some of my content and they dont’ have book ghostwriting or even ghostwriting sigh.

    Good stuff here that’s new to me… a keeper for sure.

    Reply
    • lwidmer May 2, 2017 at 8:01 am

      There should be a way to use hashtags to come up with what you’re looking for, Anne. It’s why I stopped using Commun.it. They were extremely limiting in the content I could search for.

      Reply
  • Nikki May 4, 2017 at 1:51 pm

    I’m looking into tools like Repost, Recurpost, and Social Jukebox to set up tweets and social shares of my most popular posts. They have free and paid plans. You choose the posts you want re-shared and then it automates reshares with a calendar. Some of them go so far as to figure out when the best time to reshare something is and set the schedule based on that.

    I really never thought I’d like the idea of social media automation but it can be a time suck to sit down and figure out the schedule yourself and then put each post into a queue… Ugh. If I can save even an hour a day, it’s a win.

    Reply
    • lwidmer May 4, 2017 at 2:01 pm

      I’ve never heard of these — they sound like great options! Thanks, Nikki. As someone who could sure use an extra hour in the day, I thank you. 🙂

      Reply
  • Sharon Hurley Hall May 5, 2017 at 4:21 pm

    Bookmarked! A ton of great resources here, thanks, Lori.

    Reply
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