15 Best Apps for Freelance Writers

Here’s my roundup of 15 best apps for writers. Let me know if I’ve missed anything!

The beauty of smartphones is you can work on the go and have amazing tools at your fingertips to keep you at the cutting edge of the writing game. The downside of smartphones is the sheer volume of options. How do you know which apps are time savers and which are time wasters?

Best Apps for Writers

I should say right off the bat these are my personal choices, customized for the type of freelance work I do. So know that when I say “best” this is subjective. They may not work for you—fair! But if you’re looking for some apps to try out I hope this is an awesome point to help you cut through the overwhelm, maybe save some time testing apps, and get back to your writing!

Content Planning

There is so much pre and prep work for freelance writers. If we don’t stay organized we’re doomed! These are my best apps for freelance writers who want to keep their stress levels down and their desks clutter-free.

Trello

I wrote about my love affair with Trello and how it is helping me stick to my blogging content calendar. However, I also use it for my freelance writing. I create a board for each client and include due dates, assignments, research, etc. and another board for one-off freelance gigs. It’s so much better than flipping through my notebook or digging through email threads trying to remember the focus of an article, when it’s due, or who to send it to.

Basecamp

I didn’t choose Basecamp, Basecamp chose me. This project management software is perfect for teams, so if you’re one of a team of other writers, editors, project managers, designers, developers, etc. you will LOVE this tool. Each project has it’s own space and to-do items and discussions live within the project so you don’t have to do a lot of emailing (I mean, you can if you want). I love that you can put your thoughts into the Basecamp project when you have them, then come back to it when you’re working on it and see all your brainstorms, uploads, photos, (whatever!) in once place.

Feedly

Part of my content strategy is sharing useful articles with other freelance writers and also seeing what people in my industry are talking about. Feedly is how I discover and track content from around the Internet. You set up your lists based on RSS feeds from blogs you want to follow or allow Feedly to suggest blogs based on keywords. As new posts are available, Feedly pulls them into your feed and you devour them as you have time. You can save articles for later, push them to your social sharing apps, and more.

Editing

Even if you’re working with editors you still need your writing to be as clean and correct as possible when submitting work. There are loads of tools you can use but I like to keep my editing simple. These are my best apps for freelance writers to help with editing.

Microsoft Word

For the most part I use Microsoft Word for writing, and I keep my language and grammar checking on with my customized settings but off for auto-correct. Part of my process is to go through my work, reading aloud before submitting.

Hemingway App

This is such a neat tool for helping you rework long, rambling sentences and making stronger word choices. It also helps you change passive voice to active voice (IMPORTANT!), which not only strengthens your writing but also communicates your message better.

Grammarly

Yes. You need to care about grammar. You don’t need to go out and police others’ grammar, but you do need to check your own. This app helps you find mistakes and improve your writing.

Images

When I started freelancing I didn’t need to provide my own images, but these days it’s more like 50/50. You don’t need to be a graphic designer to produce high quality images, you just need to know which tools to use. Here are my best apps for freelance writers for creating awesome images.

Canva

The moment I heard about Canva I knew it was for me. It’s a web-based photo editing tool where you can create branded images, beautiful graphics, and more using pre-made templates or designing your own. It’s easy to use—kind of like a scaled-back Photoshop—and allows you to store your brand colours, images, and templates to use over and over.

Pixabay

Can’t take your own photos? Don’t have time to shoot? No problem. This free stock photography site offers more than a million images and videos including illustrations and vector graphics. It’s worth checking out.

Social Media Planning and Scheduling

I don’t know if you’ll ever get the same answer when asking what someone’s favourite social media tools are. People’s needs and preferences range so much, plus there are always new apps to check out. I’ve tried a LOT of them and will give you my personal best apps for freelance writers who are trying to plan and schedule their social media.

Hashtagger

I wrote about this app when I explained how to find and use hashtags but it’s worth mentioning again here. It’s such a great tool! There are lots of hashtag discovery apps, but this is the one I like for finding popular hashtags around a certain word or phrase when I’m on the go. As in, I’m in the middle of posting and I need hashtags! The app is minimalist—your only option is to search for hashtags. You do this by typing in a word, pressing search, then selecting the hashtags from the list. You can copy up to 30 then paste them all at once into your post or comment on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, etc.

Hootsuite

There’s a lot to love about Hootsuite. I used to use it for all my social media but I’m finding it has certain limitations so I’m using a couple new tools, which I’ll outline below. However. I’m still team Hootsuite for all of my Twitter management. I schedule posts, track analytics, and keep an eye on the Twitter lists I follow. It’s easy to organize and keeps me sharp.

Recurpost

This is a new tool in my arsenal but I’m done with my testing and think it’s a keeper. This is a “productivity enhancement tool,” which is a fancy way of saying you can manage your social media for multiple platforms from its dashboard. In this way it’s a lot like Hootsuite but where it has a leg up is the content library. Here, I can add evergreen posts and create a schedule around the different libraries. What does this mean? I can not only schedule my social media but I can have it repeat on whatever schedule I desire. I have all my evergreen blogs set up in Recurpost and they now drip out to my chosen social networks on the schedule I set. It is awesome!

Later

Like Hootsuite, this is a social scheduling and planning tool. Unlike Hootsuite, it’s a visual planner. What does this mean? You can plug in your social media posts for the next week, month, whatever, and see how it looks as a collection—this is especially powerful for Instagram. You can also save images, captions, and hashtags in the tool for easy re-use. Once your post is scheduled it either publishes it for you sends a push notification (on Instagram) when it’s time. I’ve used this tool for the past month or so and so far, I like it. The visual plan helps me see how each image works together and helps me stay on brand.

File Storage

If you’re like me, then you’re working on multiple computers, devices, and networks on any given day. What this means is you need everything within easy access. Yes, you can drag your external hard drive around but you can also put everything you need in the cloud. Here are my best apps for freelance writers for working in the cloud.

Google Drive

If you use Google Docs, Forms, and Sheets, then you already know how awesome a partner Google Drive is. You can keep all your documents, images, and whatever else in one web-based place. You can share documents or folders with the click of a button and you can collaborate on documents with ease, adding comments and track changes as needed.

Dropbox

This is similar to Google Drive but more people use it (at least in my circles). Used more for file sharing than anything else, this is a great way to send huge files back and forth. I use it in my podcast editing work and find it not only easy to use but quick and efficient. I have multiple Dropbox folders for different reasons and I can customize which folders download to which computer so it stays clean and simple.

LastPass

You need secure passwords and you also need to log into different accounts a zillion times per day on different devices. And, if your day-to-day work is anything like mine, then you’re logging in and out of various client accounts all the day long. There is NO WAY you’re remembering all those passwords and you are NOT keeping them in your phone or on a notepad. You need them in a password safe. I love LastPass because I can use it on any computer or device and only need to remember ONE password. All the rest are stored in the password safe and are there when I need them.

The beauty of smartphones is you can work on the go and have amazing tools at your fingertips to keep you at the cutting edge of the writing game. The downside of smartphones is the sheer volume of options. How do you know which apps are time savers and which are time wasters?

Well, that’s my roundup of best apps for freelance writers. Hope you can find something awesome to help make your writing life more efficient.

Do you have any suggestions for best apps for freelance writers? Let me know! I’m always looking for new favourites.

Surprisingly, These Are My Top Five Apps

Of course I use a lot of apps, as most people with a smartphone do. Because you have to use apps to use your smartphone.

But when I began thinking about the apps I use the most, like every day, I realized I use some more than I thought I did.

Top Five Apps I Used in 2012

IMDB

I know, right? Exactly WHAT am I doing using this app every single day? Through some serious reflection I came to the understanding that I talk about arts and entertainment constantly. I like knowing trivia, following the careers of certain entertainers (ones I like and ones I’m amused by mostly), and answering the question “Where do I know this actor from?”

What I’m still trying to figure out is if this is a seriously bad habit, an uncontrolled addiction, or an interest I’ve been ignoring.

Instagram

It’s funny because I don’t actually use this app much, maybe once a week. However, I scroll through the posted photos two, three times a day. It’s probably the layout, so phone-friendly. I actually prefer other photo services to Instagram but they don’t have as good apps.

So…thanks everyone I follow for posting such interesting and addictive photos to keep me coming back!

Words With Friends

To those who have followed this blog for a while, it should be no surprise I’m crazy about Scrabble. However, it should also be no surprise I’m not a fan of the actual Scrabble game because of the “Scrabulous incident” a few years back. Turned my stomach.

WWF is a really great second—it’s interactive and of course it helps that everyone I know plays it so there are always loads of games on the go.

Dropbox

I started using Dropbox a couple years ago for work…and it kind of snowballed from there. Everything is integrated with Dropbox. Everything. OK, not everything, but a lot. I know cloud-based systems are all over the place now, so why stick with the old guy on the block, but I haven’t adapted to any other system as quickly as this one. I love that I can go from my work computer to my phone, to my home computer, to my tablet, and back again.

I especially love not having to remember external hard drives or thumb drives anymore. And emailing myself documents? Pft. That’s so 2011.

Facebook

This app is the one I’m least enthusiastic about including in my Top Five. Because it hardly ever works anymore and I resent how much I rely on Facebook to keep up with my friends.

My goal for 2013 is to replace this app in my Top Five with something more important, like Podcasts, or my Calendar (those are both in my Top Ten).

Other apps in the up-and-coming category? Here’s the shortlist:

  • Songza (recent discovery, haven’t given it enough time yet)
  • Cineplex (love it, quite handy)
  • Run Keeper (if it’s going to make the Top Five, I’m going to have to get running more!)
  • Netflix (what can I say, I’m a loyal convert)
  • Hootsuite (ask me more, love this service)
  • Scramble (My resolution for 2013 is to finally BEAT my sister-in-law at this game ONCE!)

And now is my official plea for your app recommendations. I’m always looking and welcome your suggestions! Happy New Year!

Let Me Gush About OtterBox

A while ago I acquired an iPhone, and with it I purchased an OtterBox. It ran me about $50 but after a number of drops I deemed the case an excellent purchase.

However, the case proved somewhat destructible (note: it was a stranger’s dog who I hold responsible for the breakage) and although only the case was injured and not the phone, the broken corner weakened the integrity of the rest of the case and the cracks just kept coming.

After putting up with the case for a while I began to fear for my phone’s safety and decided it was time to replace the case.

I did what any Millenial would do (hey, I’m kind of a Millenial, I’m between generations): I went to social media.

A lot of people told me to ditch the OtterBox and go for the $90 LifeProof case, which is reportedly “unbreakable” (I’d be interested in testing that claim out, in case anyone from LifePoof was wondering). But one comment held my interest—apparently OtterBox has an excellent warranty.

What did I have to lose? I went online and filled in the form. However, it froze up on me so instead I emailed customer service with my inquiry. After a couple emails and a couple hoops (I had to send some specific information and photos) I received this email:

Hi Robyn, We have good news and not so good news. We’ll go for the not so good news first.

Not so good news: The replacement OtterBox Defender Series case for the iPhone 4 you requested has been discontinued, and we no longer have inventory of the exact case and color ordered to fulfill your request.

Good news: We are still able to replace your case! We have an all-new palate of Defender Series colors that are compatible with both your iPhone and the new iPhone 4S. You will notice a slight difference in the cutout around the camera on the front and back as well as a new, more robust silicone outer layer, but all other features remain the same.

Woohoo! Good news indeed!

Truth be told, I was more than ready to retire my pink case anyway.

I ended up going with “graphite” and it arrived at my doorstep less than a week after I chose my new case. I am impressed, thankful, and willing to promote OtterBox to everyone I encounter.

The entire way through this process I kept thinking how great customer service and an excellent warranty policy really makes a world of difference. So, thanks OtterBox. And I hope you get way more than $50 worth of free PR.

Slow Cooker Apps (why aren’t you free?)

Literally, it’s such a crock. Well, and figuratively.

There are a few slow cooker specific apps out there and zero, count them, zero are free (at least as far as I can tell). They range in price from $0.99 to $3.99 and don’t contain enough information to convince me to decide it’s worth the cost when I could just search online for thousands of slow cooker recipes—with helpful user comments/suggestions—at my fingertips.

Such a crock! How can you charge for something I can easily access for free? Are these recipes really that much better than all the other ones I have access to?

Maybe.

But I’m not paying to find out.

However, here are two that caught my eye.

My first problem is although I can find the web page for the Crock-Pot iPhone Application it is nowhere to be found on the app store.

Actually, that’s the entire problem. Because regardless of if it costs or not, it’s, you know, missing. But at first sight I thought the app was interesting because Crock-Pot is nearly synonymous with slow cooker so you’d naturally assume they’d have the best recipes. Or I would.

This book, The Art of the Slow Cooker caught my eye when I started researching slow cooking so when I saw the app, of course I took note again. Unfortunately it costs $3.99 so there is no way I’m checking it out. The app does. The book is $16.41. I suppose I could get it out of the library but two people have already lent me slow cooker cook books so I really think I have enough.

Plus I do believe I have one more waiting at the post office for me and I think you’re going to be really excited about it too hint hint.

Anyway, so yeah. I read the description and learned there are only 30 recipes so I have no idea why they think I need to pay four bucks for this app. Will it change the way I cook? I saw no promise of that.

The only app I paid four bucks for was Monkey Island (OK and for Monkey Island 2) and that’s a lifelong friendship deserving of my money. This book? We have no relationship.

The other kind of hitch is the description clearly states the app is on sale for $1.99. However, the price is a firm $3.99 so I feel a bit wary of this product and everything to do with it. But it did catch my eye. I like the title, I like the cover. But it’s not enough, unfortunately.

While I’m very sorry I can’t recommend any slow cooker apps here are my top three cooking apps, where you can find slow cooker recipes:

  • Obviously the All Recipes dot Com Dinner Spinner. You have quick access to tons of recipes and if you’re bored, you can spin the Dish Type, Ingredients, and Ready In (time) categories. It really is fun, although like I’ve said before not super practical.
  • Food Network Canada. I don’t actually use this app too much, but I like it. It always recommends a handful of recipes based on season or whatever and I like to check them out. Plus you can filter search by all kinds of really great methods including by Occasion, TV Shows, and Hosts. Handy! I mean, if I had the Food Network it would be handy.
  • Canadian Living. I find I use the Canadian Living website more than the app, but it’s a nice app too. They have recipes of the day, which is great for new ideas, and they also post their blogs in this app, so it’s not only cooking but all sorts of stuff like crafting and other health and wellness articles.

Hope this list is useful! Did I miss anything?

PS. This is my 1,000th post. Wowzers.

Day 13 Wrap Up & Thoughts about Smartphones

I love it when something happens in the poll. There were lots of votes on Day 13, and some great back and forth between second, third, and fourth positions.

We need a good Cinderella story every now and then. About an underdog coming from behind and winning the race. Me? I like one every night, but I digress.

Stats after Day 13 of Voting

Of course, The Canadian Moose continues to dominate with 95 votes and 42.41% of total votes. But, wouldn’t you know it, Conversing with Strangers had a strong day and is sitting pretty in second place with 38 votes and 16.96% of the vote.

Third position is currently held by Hats over Cooking from Scratch by one vote. Quite the race for bronze.



Sometime this week I plan to launch a “How the Poll Works” FAQ page in the top menu. Hopefully I’ll have the details ironed out by then so January’s poll and the options contained in it will start seamlessly and we will sail smoothly and fairly into 2011. Suggestions are welcome! And random thoughts of nothingness!

Also, I have the option of offering a “mobile-friendly” version of my site. I had my boyfriend check it out on his iPhone.

“I think this is more for people with your kind of phone,” he said.

My kind of phone is an original Razor (read: not a smartphone) and I do not browse les Interweb with my kind of phone. Not only is the browser painfully slow, but it’s text-based (read: basically useless) and I wouldn’t check my blog with my phone. No offense, blog.

But, to confirm, I checked the stats from the last year. What did I find? Since this time last year:

  • 413 people have visited this blog on a mobile device
  • 413 of those mobile devices were smartphones
  • 353 of those visits were from iPhones
  • 29 of those visits were from iPads
  • The remaining 15 visits were from Blackberries, Androids, Samsungs and Nokias

My conclusion: I probably won’t use the mobile-friendly settings since they add extra clicks to get to this site (minimum two), it’s largely text-based, and there doesn’t seem to be a need.

That said, let me know what you think. I can’t test any of the mobile features so let me know if there is anything I can do to make this page more mobile-friendly on my own.

Five days till Christmas!

Don’t forget to vote!