5 Favorite Free Resources for Freelancers
They say you have to spend money to make money, and there is some truth to that adage. But when you’re working for yourself as a freelancer, every penny counts. It’s so helpful to have access to tried and true free resources online. There are, of course, way more than just 5 tools but these are some I’ve used that have really helped me do my job.
Every writer and online marketer knows that the headline can make or break a post. We’ve all done it. We read the headline and formulate our thoughts before we even click on the link. Many of us also allow headlines to scroll by on social media and don’t bother reading the entire article at all, even if we decide to comment on the content. (We’re all guilty of it!)
This is what’s caused the rise of so-called Click Bait. Online content is only useful if someone bothers to read it. But click bait has become just as problematic. So the only solution is to write a concise but clear headline that encourages a reader to check out the entire post. The CoSchedule Headline Analyzer is a free tool that can help you do just that.
If anything in the world is true, writers are their own worst editors. They can absolutely edit anyone else’s work with great detail and accuracy, but their own is significantly more difficult. Why? Well, we wrote it, so we see what’s in our head sometimes and not what is actually on paper or screen.
In my process, I usually leave an extra day after I’ve completed the content to step away from it and then return to read it over one last time. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t missed things. The Pro Writing Aid free grammar check tool can really help you make sure there isn’t anything truly embarrassing in your final product.
I often work with an amazing graphic designer, Rowan Arts. But there are some projects that are just way too small to keep bothering her every time. If I need to put a graphic on a blog post, I need to be able to do that myself. I can then use that graphic to share on social media, but each social media site has different optimization requirements as well.
Canva is a great tool for this. They do offer a professional version and after using the free option for quite some time, I did spring for the paid account. It’s been totally worth it for me and my business. I set my colors, uploaded my logo and fonts, and use the tool to resize images for what I need. But you can certainly use it free and get access to great design tools to get started.
Bloggers for years have known that a photograph included in a blog post gets way more clicks than one without any pictures. This is what’s caused the rise of social media platforms like Instagram, which has effectively eliminated the blog to focus entirely on the photos. But pictures come with their own baggage. For far too long, bloggers were just pulling images off the web and using them without any credit, but that caught up to the industry pretty quickly. It makes sense. If writers want to get paid for our work, photographers should be paid for theirs, too.
Even wanting to be fair, photographs are often expensive. You can buy stock photos or use creative commons images with attribution. But if you want a quick and easy solution, I like Pexels. Everything on the site is available to use without attribution, but it does give users the option to provide compensation. The site also has a way to sort photos by color, which can help with branding.
Finally, every freelancer knows that organization is key. Yes, it’s important to have an organized workspace, but it’s equally important to make sure you organize your time. I use a two-fold approach. I have a planner on my desk. (My planner of choice is Get it Together with Sarah’s Scribbles!) But online, I use a tool called Trello.
Trello allows you, even in their free account, to create boards to help you keep track of ideas. So I use my planner for deadlines. I also use the boards to put down ideas, like the one for this blog post, before I’m ready to write it. Then I can schedule it out on the calendar and figure out when it can make something happen. Trello is especially great for collaboration if you work with other bloggers, designers, or clients.
It won’t surprise you to learn that I used every one of these tools to help me with this very blog post. But I want to hear from you, too. What online resources have you found that help you stay engaged, productive, and organized when working for yourself?