This post was written by TCCS member, Sandra Muller
Work smarter with these resources for freelance copywriters
As freelance copywriters, we need more than a fancy logo these days to stay in the game.
Here are ten fabulous tools for freelance copywriters that will improve your productivity, give you an edge, and help you become a better copywriter.
1. Text to Speech
Having your work read out loud by someone gives you a sense of where your words don’t flow well. It can also help you pick up duplicate words and typos, which are hard to see when you proofread your own work. But who has an assistant standing by ready to read their delightful words?
From Text To Speech is a free and easy-to-use online text to speech service.
Simply copy and paste your text into the window, and create your audio file. It takes up to 50,000 characters, gives you the option of American, British accents, and even lets you choose a narrator. The British readers sound more natural than their American counterparts.
And while Emma has a lovely lilt, Harry made me want to copy and paste chapters from an erotic novel.
As your words are read back, you can make note of any awkward phrases, typos or strange punctuation.
Whenever I fire up Trello, I know busy days are ahead.
Do you ever have those weeks where leads appear from everywhere and you lose track of:
- the copywriting projects in your pipeline
- what you’ve promised to do (and by when)
- where you’re at with your current gigs?
Trello is the perfect way to keep track of your projects and tasks during busy times, and see at a glance what work is coming up and what needs to be done.
Most of the time I get by with my brain. But that’s becoming increasingly addled and unreliable.
Trello is like a giant whiteboard and to do list in one, only cleverer. And it’s available as an app in case I need to access it on the go.
The basic version is free.
I’m one of the most visually illiterate people around. But Canva helps me create graphics that don’t look my three-year-old whipped them up on my iPad.
(Hurrah for Paint with Peppa!)
The templates are easy to use, and the social media posts are appropriately sized for each platform. There are plenty of templates and designs to choose from – some are free or as little as one US dollar – or you can upload your own.
Take care, though.
If your procrastwriter likes the pretty things a little too much, you too might be sucked into the vortex of creating just one more pretty graphic for social media.
Hashtagify.me is a neat tool for researching Twitter hashtags. The more appropriate the hashtag is to your content, the more you can amplify the reach of your content.
Coming up with social media snippets for clients can be a pain. but Hashtagify.me helps you find the right hashtags to attract your target audience and widen your reach.
5. Rescue Time
Not for the faint of heart, Rescue Time is a desktop and mobile app that keeps track of just how much time you’re spending wasting on social media, websites, email and other applications.
Procrastiwriters be warned. Seeing how much time you’re wasting can feel like a slap to the face.
If you need some forced control like a game-addicted teenager, you can set up rules to block certain websites once you’ve reached a set time limit. (I haven’t been brave enough to implement the restrictions yet.) You can check your dashboard at any time or wait for the weekly report to see just how far you need to hang your head in shame.
I swear it was my three-year-old who played Cooking Fever for two and a half hours last week. No, really.
Toggl is the timesheet recording software I use to track time spent on time-based projects. You can use it on its own, or integrate it into other tools such as Asana, Xero and Basecamp.
What I love most about using a timesheet system is it stops my procrastiwriter in her tracks, and makes me focus on the project I’m trading dollars for time on.
As soon as I start recording my time I focus on the task I need to be working on instead of all the shiny objects luring me.
7. Tomato Timer
If you haven’t heard of the Pomodoro technique, it gets you to focus on your work in blocks of 25 minutes – the perfect antidote for procrastiwriters everywhere.
Apparently, 25 minutes is the mystical and optimal number of minutes our brains can focus on a single task. The Swedes came up with this, or maybe it was a German. Whatevs, it must be right ‘cause it works!
When your 25 minutes are up, you take a five-minute break, and reset the timer. Then you work for another 25 minutes and take another five-minute break. And after a few sessions, you take a longer break.
Tomato Timer is a simple website with a 25-minute timer and a horrible ‘beep beep’ that lets you know your 25 minutes are up. Personally I don’t need it after the first two rounds, because by that time I’m in the zone.
8. Get Pocket
There are two kinds of people in this world – people who love Evernote, and the rest of us normal people.
If you’re a normal person like I am, you’ll love Pocket. It lets you easily save and tag cool links you come across on social media or websites.
It even has a mobile app for saving content on the go.
I’d be a very embarrassed copywriter if it wasn’t for Grammarly. This wonderful piece of software picks up the typos and errors that my lovely self and Microsoft Word’s grammar and spelling checker both miss.
Sometimes we argue about the placement of commas, or ending a sentence with a preposition. It even sniggers at my penchant for trying to shove the letter D into privilege every. single. time.
But I’d rather be red-faced in front of Grammarly than in front of my client.
I never send a draft to a client without first exposing it to Grammarly’s pernickety gaze.
Don’t skimp. Get the paid version and the Microsoft Word add-in.
Oh, and if you manage a team of writers you can also use its plagiarism check to make sure they’re not cheating on you.
As freelancers, we sometimes say “Yes” to projects when we really shouldn’t. The fear of the work drying up leads us to stockpile jobs so we can pay our Netflix subscription during the bleak days we’ve predicted.
(For the record, Dear Freelancer, there’s always more work. Always.)
My inability to say no often has me returning to my computer after my little boy has gone to sleep.
We’ve all heard how the blue light of our screens is bad for us after dusk. It can result in poor sleep, and make it hard to fall sleep after working late at night.
Well, Dear Freelancer, if you too find it hard to say “No” then I have the perfect tool for you – Flux.
Flux is a free application that can automatically change the colour of your computer display to suit the time of day. Instead of blue light at night, it emits a warm, yellow tone. It makes me sleepy (which isn’t always a good thing), but I have no trouble getting to sleep after working late at night. Double thumbs up from this copywriter.
These are just some of the tools in my copywriting toolbox that help me save time and keep me focused when my procrastiwriter wants to take control. And unlike your more traditional tools, I’m more than happy share.
Over to you:
What are your favourite freelancing tools that every copywriter should know about?
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As an online content specialist, she loves working with small and large businesses to help them attract, engage and convert their ideal client. Sandra also loves to write blog posts, newsletters, articles and eBooks.