As freelance writers, it sometimes feel like we’re on our own against the turbulent waters of the digital ocean that we call “the internet.” However, the internet is a double-edged sword and can work in your favor if you know where to look. In this article, we’ll take a look at some notable websites and freelancing resources to spark your creativity, bring some clarity to your prose, and take your freelance career to the next level.
Google Keyword Planner
If you’re writing content online, you have to know about Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. Additionally, if you’re looking for ways to integrate SEO into your writing, your first stop should be the Google Keyword Planner. By taking advantage of the data that the planner has, you can tailor your writing to reach the largest audience or find similar subject matters that can help you spin your articles towards niche audiences. Best of all, you can see how many people are actually interested in what you’re writing about, as the Keyword Planner indicates how much competition there is for each keyword/phrase.
Daily Writing Tips
If you ask me, writing is an endless process of learning and refining your craft. If you’ve grappled with the appropriateness of the Oxford comma or the difference between “faze” and “phase,” look no further than the appropriately-titled Daily Writing Tips. What makes DWT a great resource is that every topic has a discussion afterwards, where users emphasize how the rule applies and when to disregard if necessary. With an extensive archive, this website will take your writing to the next level…daily! (Note: should I have included a space after the ellipsis in the last sentence? Hmmm… )
Freelancing Resources: Trello
Writing isn’t always a solitary endeavor. If you’re looking for a collaborative system that also can help you interface with clients and subcontractors I recommend Trello. Trello uses an interesting system of cards and boards that creates a virtual pushpin-corkboard, where you can not only version-control your work, but also provide comments per task, the state of completion of the work, and so forth—all things you’d be able to do in person… but online!
I’ve extolled the virtues of Trello before, so for more in-depth applications to enhance your freelancing wizardry, click here.
Freelancing Resources: HARO
Need an expert-source to complete an assignment that you are working on? There’s a website for that and it’s called HARO. Short for “Help A Reporter Out”, HARO is an invaluable website if you’re looking for a community of professional sources that are willing to respond to your particular queries. Vice versa, if you have expert credentials, you can form relationships with other journalists that can expand your network. As a hidden and somewhat sneaky motive, you can view other freelancers’ complete queries. Now, I’m not advocating that you should “snipe” another person’s ideas, but you can get a sense of what editors may have approved for publication and the level of quality it takes to be hired. In other words, HARO is the gift that keeps giving. Plus, it’s free.
Freelancing Resources: Dictionary.com
This might seem like the most obvious entry on this list of helpful writing websites, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used Dictionary.com to check my definitions. Short of having one on my desk, the site provides accurate definitions, synonyms and antonyms (on the related Thesaurus.com), and word origins. Simple stuff, but having correct information is mandatory in this profession.
Freelancing Resources: Urban Dictionary
I know what you’re thinking—this can’t possibly be a legitimate tool for freelancers, can it? Au contraire, mon frère! If you want your prose to be more colorful in a modern way, Urban Dictionary offers a plethora of definitions for what the kids are using these days. In other words, you can stay relevant and notice trends that may have slipped beneath your radar. Not only that, but you can check out colloquial/slang speech from the past that can shed light on the historical context of certain terms. Of course, it is full of user-generated content, so be aware that not all definitions are what they seem. Tread carefully and be sure to cross-reference your word usages. At the very least, you’ll be amused by the ever-expanding creativity of people out there.
Freelancing Resources: Writers Helping Writers
Just as you’re reading this article to find out about the art of freelance writing, there are a number of bloggers who regularly update their websites with valuable information, like Freelance With Us. I find that most writers are willing to help other people out, as they themselves have probably had to figure out how to overcome the various struggles of becoming a successful freelancer. And, it can’t hurt their bottom line by promoting their platform, right?
Freelancing Resources: Trendhunter
It can be difficult to find just where the elusive zeitgeist is these days. The award-winning website Trendhunter is a resource for finding what is popular and trending on just about any topic imaginable. When looking for fresh topics that editors salivate over, Trendhunter organizes popular articles, infographics, and almost unlimited information on any topic—even searching by “freelance writing” yields the newest trends, backed with up-to-date statistics that can add zest to your material. There’s also TrendHunter PRO, which offers even further crowdsourced insights from the TrendHunter’s community.
Freelancing Resources: Reddit
The ever-popular Reddit takes advantage of the hive mind and offers multiple opinions (and puns) on niche topics. You’ll find a variety of opinions that can fuel your creative curiosity. What’s really fascinating about Reddit is that its user-generated content is neatly organized by category in things called subreddits (which function just like forums). The sheer volume of information may be overwhelming, but the variety of opinions (organized by a voting system) can arm you a wide-ranging array of opinions on just how deep some topics can be. For instance, a topic that reads “what are you currently obsessed with?” yields some shockingly honest opinions on user’s personal habits, favorite bands, medication, leisure activity, books, and so forth, with users commenting on the threads based on their own personal opinions.
Though not as formal as HARO, you can find sources of common people not experts per se but people who are willing to voice their opinion simply by directly messaging them. Be careful, though. This website is incredibly educational and addictive. They have lots of cute cat pictures, after all…
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Even though writing is fairly solitary profession, you don’t have to go it alone. If you’re looking for a complete resource for how to further your freelance career online, FWU will be releasing “The Online Writers’ Companion” in October to provide all the answers to all the questions freelancers have. Stay tuned to Freelance With Us for more updates and information on this essential guide.