Tools and resources for freelance writers

This is the ultimate list of products, apps, resources, and tools that will help you write better, run the admin side of your business efficiently, and stay organized.

Tools and resources for freelance writers

This is the ultimate list of products, apps, resources, and tools that will help you write better, run the admin side of your business efficiently, and stay organized.

“I love how simple the online interface is to get all the basic things done.”
Kelly Brimbore, Newcastle

Tools and resources for freelance writers

This is the ultimate list of products, apps, resources, and tools that will help you write better, run the admin side of your business efficiently, and stay organized.
Marijana Kay holding a stack of five books on writing and marketing
“I love how simple the online interface is to get all the basic things done.”
Kelly Brimbore, Newcastle

Planning and productivity tools

Toggl - use it to track how much time you spend on each client, on email, and other activities in your business (you can’t improve what you can’t measure!).

Todoist - the task management tool I started using in mid-2021 for work and life task management. Everything I need to do lives in Todoist, including client tasks, Freelance Bold work, errands, home tasks, travel planning, and more. Todoist has both the simplicity and the powerful features I need.

Asana - Asana was my go-to project management tool for the first four years of my freelancing career. It’s flexible, visually pleasing, and easy to use way to keep track of work and life projects. I switched to Todoist because Asana grew bulky and more team-oriented over the years, and I wanted something cleaner and simpler. I still believe Asana is great and might work for you wonderfully! If you want a head start with Asana as a solopreneur, also check out Uplevel with Asana by Louise Henry.

Project planner for freelancers - a tool I needed, but couldn’t find, so I built it. It’s the ultimate tool I use to map out my workload and revenue for the coming months. It’s great if you struggle to keep up with everything you agreed with your clients, as well as if you’d love to take more time off work but never know where to find the time.

Freedom - use it to block distracting websites on your laptop so you can focus on your deep work and your writing.

Calendly - great for booking calls with clients. Instead of going back-and-forth to find a time that works for everyone, you can set up time slots for calls and let clients pick what suits them!

Theme Day Planning Method - my favorite way to plan out my weeks, batch similar tasks together, focus on what matters, and feel good about what I've worked on each day (and the impact I created). Highly recommended if you feel overwhelmed, burnt out, and always behind in work and life.

Brain.fm - if you like working with lyric-free music in the background, you’ll love Brain.fm. Choose from sounds like forest, beach, classical, rain, and many more, and set it to run for 30 minutes, an hour, or two hours. Pair it with over-ear headphones and you’ll be indistractable.

Time cube - another fun way you can time your work sprints. Time cubes can have a few different time combinations; mine has 5, 15, 30, and 60 minutes, but there are different combos available. Particularly great for limiting how long you spend on email and other admin tasks.

Writing and content creation tools

Ahrefs - great for tracking client results, researching keywords (difficulty, related keywords and questions, traffic potential), and tracking how your freelance writer website is doing in search.

Keywords Everywhere - browser add-on that layers your search results on Google (and Amazon, YouTube, etc.) with search volume, CPC, competition, and trends. Great for research!

Clearscope - the ultimate content optimization tool. It helps you get laser-focused on the search intent for the keywords you want to rank for and optimize your writing for maximum results. Many of my clients use Clearscope, and I use it myself, too.

Google Docs - quite self-explanatory, but worth emphasizing: Google Docs is the best way to write if you want to share your work, collaborate easily, and edit efficiently. Take some time to learn keyboard shortcuts and time-saving features, and you’ll be unstoppable.

Headline Studio - a free tool from CoSchedule that helps you write strong, crispy headlines. The tool gives you a score and shows you word balance, word and character count, type, reading grade level, sentiment, clarity, and skimmability so you can optimize your headline. Premium (paid) option gives you an SEO score and optimization tips as well. You get three premium headlines to begin with and can purchase more if you need to.

Hemingway App - an excellent tool for editing out fluff from your writing and writing with more clarity. It’s free if you use it in the browser and has a low one-time fee for the desktop app.

LanguageTool - a Grammarly alternative, more oriented towards privacy. Helps you with grammar, spelling, typos, and other easy-to-miss errors.

Copyscape - great for checking your research-heavy writing against plagiarism. If you use lots of statistics, quotes, steps, technical information etc., Copyscape helps you make sure you are crediting your sources, paraphrasing, and properly quoting your research.

Evernote - my go-to tool for all digital notes, including saving marketing examples I like in my swipe file, taking notes from books I read, storing insights from interesting articles, and more. For me, Evernote is what Tiago Forte refers to as a second brain and helps me connect thoughts so I can write better.

Swipe Files by Corey Haines - Swipe Files is an exceptional marketing community *and* an actual library full of examples like landing pages, ads, pricing pages, onboarding emails, and more (and the analysis of why they’re so good), which will help you find the best examples for your writing.

Toby - a tool that lets you save your research—your browser tabs—into collections so you can return to it easily (instead of overwhelming your computer with dozens of open tabs).

Full Page Screenshot - does what it says: captures a web page from top to bottom automatically, so you can use it in your writing or add it to your swipe file.

CleanShot - the best screenshot tool there is. Lets you blur, highlight, mark up, add lines, arrows, text, numbers… You can also record your screen and turn it into a GIF, which is great for short demo purposes. I use CleanShot dozens of times *every day*. Mac only.

Canva - doesn’t need much explanation; Canva is great for any graphics for a whole range of marketing assets. Premium version lets you build you own brand kit and use premium stock photos. Signing up through this link gives you one premium photo, icon, or illustration.

Squoosh - the best image compression tool I've ever used. Use it to keep the image quality up while reducing it to less than 100 kilobytes.

Home office equipment

Logitech C920x webcam - beats the built-in laptop camera and also looks great on your screen. Awesome for video calls, as well as recording simple videos.

Microphone, windscreen, and pop filter - if you’re a guest on podcasts, record your own podcasts, or even just want to upgrade your sound for calls, this is a great way to do it. The microphone works with a USB cable so no fancy tech setup required.

Desk - get a desk that works for your height! I’ve upgraded mine to the convertible sitting/standing desk from Ikea and it’s been a game-changer.

Chair - use a chair that’s adjustable enough so you can sit in it comfortably for several hours. I chose Steelcase Leap; it’s pricy, but worth it. If you’re looking for more affordable options, Ikea is one of the best places to start.

Monitor - if you’re anything like me and need a bigger screen so you can work in two side-by-side browser windows, a monitor is a life-saver. I use this 27-inch Dell monitor!

Laptop stand - even if you don’t use a separate screen, it’s useful to raise your laptop to your eyesight level so you don’t strain your neck. I use the mStand one on the side of my monitor.

Keyboard - not necessary if you use your laptop right in front of you, but if you raise it to a laptop stand, get yourself a keyboard that suits your typing style. I swear by Filco mechanical keyboards.

Mouse - pretty self-explanatory. Make sure you find one that feels good in your hand! I use and swear by the Logitech MX Master 2S.

Blue-light blocking glasses - super useful if you get eye strain from looking at the screen, and incredibly important if you ever get migraines. My blue-light blockers almost completely eliminated my migraines. The ones I have are ~3 years old and are no longer available, but they're from this brand.

Headphones - to keep you focused throughout the day if you like listening to music while you work. I like my Sennheiser over-ear Bluetooth headphones as there are no messy cables.

USB hub - this is a must if you’re a Mac user and want to keep your devices plugged in, and your cables nice and tidy.

Laptop cover and pouch - if you take your laptop with you (to coffee shops, an external office, or when traveling), make sure you protect it from scratches and bumps. I like this pouch in particular because it’s slim and fits in any backpack.

Air quality monitor - if you feel fatigued while working, especially later in the day, it’s useful to keep track of carbon dioxide in your working space. I use this Netatmo monitor and it reminds me to open my windows to bring some fresh air in a few times per day.

Portfolio, website, admin, and payment tools

Authory - the best portfolio tool I've ever used. It automatically pulls every article with your byline into your portfolio (you can also add articles or sources manually). From there, you can build collections of articles on specific topics to share with potential clients, or feature these categories on your profile like I did on mine. Sign up through this link to get an extended, 30-day free trial.

Wise - the only tool I recommend if you’re working with/invoicing clients globally and across multiple currencies. I use Wise for accepting payments in euros, American dollars, and British pounds. Its fees and currency conversion rates are transparent, and way better/cheaper than PayPal and Stripe!

Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) - email, calendar, and cloud storage (Google Drive) of all your client work in one place. A custom email address helps you build a more professional image, and having all your client Google Docs in one place is ridiculously practical.

Dubsado - my go-to tool for intake forms on my website, contracts, and invoices. Simple to use on client’s end (contracts can be digitally signed!), and practical and centralized for me. Get 20% off your first month or year through this link.

SiteGround - my favorite hosting and a dream user experience. SiteGround powers my freelance writer website. It's reliable and incredibly easy to set up and use! SiteGround's team was huge help when I was migrating from a different provider.

Webflow - the site builder that powers this website. A great alternative to buying a separate hosting and website building tools and easy to get started with. I found Webflow University—their educational hub packed with videos and walkthroughs—extra helpful in my building process.

Namecheap - the only place I go to shop for a new domain.

1password - a password manager to keep all your passwords safe, and share them with a family/team member securely. You can also use it to store credit card details, your passport number, and other secure information.

Later - an excellent tool for planning out the visual look of your Instagram feed and scheduling your posts on a calendar.

ConvertKit - the best tool for building an email list and staying connected to your readers, made specifically for creators. (ConvertKit is also my client, and has some of my favorite people to ever work with!)

Podia - the tool I use to host and sell my products. It’s really easy to use and has an excellent team that supports creators in getting their products built and launched. Lots of love for Podia!

Interact quizzes - a superb tool if you want to generate leads for your freelance writing business through quizzes. To see this in action, check out this quiz by copywriter Kayla Hollatz.

Swipe Files - mentioned under writing tools, but worth listing again because of the community aspect of it.

Best books for freelance writers

Books on writing:

Everybody Writes by Ann Handley - learn to embrace The Ugly First Draft, improve readability, tell stories with content, develop and use a unique voice and tone, and much more.

Writing Tools: 55 Essential Strategies for Every Writer by Roy Peter Clark - master topics like outlining, word order, editing, using patterns, cliffhangers, drafting, and more. Each tip comes with a workshop at the end so you can implement it right away.

On Writing Well by William Zinsser - everything from style, brevity, clutter in writing, to business writing, writing in your voice, and more. It’s one of those books your favorite writers credit for being good writers.

Books on (content) marketing:

The Content Fuel Framework by Melanie Deziel - a genius framework for generating content ideas. It's based on 10 focuses (like people, process, examples, data) and 10 formats (like writing, video, timeline, and map) which can help you generate 100+ ideas when combined.

Content Inc. by Joe Pulizzi - learn how to develop valuable content, build an audience around that content, and create a product for that audience. Useful for your own ventures as well as to help your clients grow a loyal audience.

10x Marketing Formula by Garrett Moon (CoSchedule's CEO) - see the process that helped CoSchedule grow a truly uncopyable content operation—one that now has millions of pageviews a month and thousands of customers in 100+ countries. The book is engaging and organized well.

Obviously Awesome by April Dunford - not a book on marketing, but on product positioning. Deserves this mention because when you learn where your product fits on the market and the exact difference it makes for your customers, you can market it better. It’s an easy, immediately applicable read.

Books on ideas and creativity:

The Creative Curve by Allen Gannett - if you always thought that great ideas happen thanks to a strike of genius/pure luck, this is the book for you. See the science behind breakout success in dozens of fields. This book will leave you entertained and inspired to take purposeful action.

Break the Wheel by Jay Acunzo - tired of 'best practices' and generic, trendy advice? This book shares real examples of exceptional work and six fundamental questions that lead to making best possible decisions. Jay is one of my favorite people when it comes to creativity and building a business on your own terms.

Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath - this book unpacks the reasons why some ideas stick around for decades, while others stand zero chance of making it even a week. Full of examples and practical applications of storytelling, emotions, simplicity, and more.

Books on productivity, habits, and mindset:

Atomic Habits by James Clear - aproven, four-step approach to developing good habits and getting rid of bad ones. My favorite part? No big, swooping changes needed. This book shows you how to take tiny steps to develop systems instead of goals, and stop relying on motivation and willpower to improve your work and life.

Deep Work by Cal Newport - ever heard me say that long writing stretches are best, and that we can realistically do that only for about four hours per day? This is the book where I learned that. This is the book if you want to create deep focus so you can write exceptional content every day.

Essentialism by Greg McKeown - essentialism is about doing less, but better. If you feel stretched too thin, overworked but unfulfilled, and like your days are slipping away in a sea of tasks, I highly recommend this book. One of the best things I learned from it is to say 'no' more often.

The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan - follows a similar approach and goal as the Essentialism book. Great if you want to narrow your focus in different areas of life so you can hit meaningful goals.

Getting Things Done by David Allen - for me, this is the go-to system for 'stress-free productivity' because it relies on different inboxes and strategies to process items in those inboxes so I can get things done. If you seem to hold too many things in your head at any one time, this book is for you.

Indistractable by Nir Eyal - the author says that being indistractable is "finally doing what you say you will do." This book will help you understand internal and external triggers and distractions so you can make time for traction in important areas of your work and life.

Hyperfocus by Chris Bailey - learn the four types of distractions and interruptions, the importance of taking intentional breaks, and when to pay attention or let your mind wander. You'll learn how to take charge of your attention.

Invest Your Time by Matt Sandrini - internalize the difference between wasting time and investing time and develop a mindset of approaching all activities with intention.

Grab any of these books in a Kindle format (which can cost less than paperback/hardcover), which also works with a free Kindle app (works on Mac, PC, iOS, and Android). If you prefer audiobooks, check out a 30-day free trial of Audible.

Best courses for freelance writers

Skillshare courses are excellent because they let you zone in on a specific topic, pick a 20-60 minute course on it, and go through the whole thing in an hour or two. Below are some of my favorites. Keep in mind: for premium courses that require a paid subscription, you can sign up through these links and get a free month of Skillshare, and you can cancel any time.

10x Marketing: Content Marketing That Stands Out & Gets Results by CoSchedule's Garrett Moon
Writing for Brands: Freelancing in the Age of Content Marketing by Contently's Brian Maehl
Creating Content That People Love to Read (and Google Loves to Rank) by Raelene Morey
Content Marketing: Blogging for Growth by Single Grain's Eric Siu
LinkedIn Freelancing: Your Guide to Finding Clients through LinkedIn by Christopher Dadd
Mastering Productivity: Create a Custom System that Works by Thomas Frank
Get Unstuck: Beat Procrastination for Once and For All! by Jill McAbe
Please note that some links on this page are affiliate links, which means I might get a small commission if you make a purchase through these links. I use, love, and recommend every resource mentioned on this page, and would never suggest anything I don't believe in.