Tools for Getting Started
As a freelancer just getting started, I knew right from the beginning that my budget was going to be small…really, really small. So small that I gave myself six months to invest in basic business necessities, such as a website, logo and business cards. But when it came to finding the necessary tools to actually start freelancing, I knew I couldn’t wait that long.
But hallelujah! The internet is full of amazing free tools that are free, free, free. Most of the time, I’m a bit skeptical about free stuff, but these programs are meaty and professional. If you’re a blogger just starting out, don’t buy expensive office suites or subscriptions. Try these ones out first!
Images are so important. You can’t have an eye-catching website without bright, beautiful imagery. But we are all critics, and if we see a bad or unprofessional image, we will judge harshly. Stock image sites are extremely expensive, and for good reason. As the wife of a photographer, I understand a picture taker’s frustration of competing in a saturated market when it’s so easy to just steal pictures or take them ourselves.
Don’t steal pictures, whatever you do. The company you’re writing for could be faced with thousands of dollars in fines. Practice good photo-acquiring methods by always going with stock images that are 100% free to use.
That’s where Pixabay comes in. This website is a FREE stock image site. Their catalogue is quite impressive and you can find extremely beautiful imagery.
Other recommended free stock image sites:
Adobe Creative Suite is so expensive for people just starting out that it’s generally thought of as an investment. However, there’s a reason why it’s so expensive. Each program is so dense with tools that you can do literally anything you can think of. However, for content writers, we don’t necessarily need all the bells and whistles to add imagery to blogs. Most of the time, we just need to do a simple logo overlay.
If your clients want to brand all their images with their logo, iPiccy is the perfect free website to do just that. The basics of photo editing are there, and it’s easy to use and membership is free (and they don’t bombard you with emails).
Many companies use Dropbox’s easy, intuitive service. The cloud-based storage site enables you to share multiple file types with your clients AND to edit them using Microsoft Office online. The online Microsoft versions are a bit limited but they work. You have to pay for more space but if you’re just starting out, the storage amount is perfect.
I will be the first to admit that autocorrect functions and word processors have made me an extremely lazy speller. Sometimes I know how to spell a word but my fingers get it wrong every time. Grammarly corrects your grammar and spelling when you’re online and offers insightful advice on how to fix syntax. If you’re writing for a Canadian company, be warned. This product only seems to have American or British spelling standards, so watch out for misspelled words.
5: Mail Chimp
An email service that’s totally free for up to 2000 subscribers, Mail Chimp is one of those mammoth programs that takes some getting used to, simply because there’s so much that it offers. But it’s intuitive, helpful, clean and there are a million and one resources to help you get started.
Other email marketing tools:
- Constant Contact (Free 60 Day trial)
6: Google Drive
If you’re like me and you’re terrified of the idea of your computer crashing, Google Drive gives you peace of mind knowing that your work is backed up every time you type. It provides ample storage for all your documents, plus the word processor is pretty darn good and extremely reliable. And, like Dropbox, you can share your files with colleagues or clients.
WordPress is a powerful webmaster tool and blogging site. It’s relatively intuitive and you probably don’t need to watch tutorials before jumping right in and writing your first post. If you’re a freelancer, you’ve probably used their webmaster to post something on their site. If you want anything more basic than a .wordpress.com subdomain then you have to start paying, but it’s perfect for the occasional blogger.
Other free blogging sites to check out:
Believe it or not, GIFs are extremely effective. I’ve been frequently asked to use GIFs instead of images because they’re funny and impactful. I’m still trying to figure out how to properly attribute a GIF (there doesn’t seem to be a clear rule about it), but it doesn’t seem to follow the same rules as regular images.
9: Podcasts & Audiobooks
There is a vast world of knowledge out there that is ours for the taking. But if you’re a freelancer, chances are you don’t have a lot of spare time. That’s why you have to get your entertainment while grocery shopping, working out or designing your next email template.
There is a wealth of useful marketing and freelance writing podcasts that are an excellent free resource for people just starting out in this business. As I’m quite new to freelancing, I’m always listening to the wisdom of other….plus, if you haven’t listed to the Lore podcast, you don’t know what you’re missing.
I’m going to take a wild guess and say that if you’re a writer, you’re probably a reader. Reading is what started my love of writing, and I’m sure that feeling is universal. These days, new books are getting expensive (thanks for that Amazon!), so if you don’t want to break the bank buying the newest thriller or business development book, Overdrive is an amazing alternative. As long as you have a tablet or e-reader, you can access a bazillion books online for free from your local library. The Toronto Public Library has tons of great online books. The only downside to Overdrive is that you sometimes have to wait for an online copy to be “free,” as libraries buy a handful of licenses.
Do you have other go-to online resources? Shoot me a message to tell me how your list is better than mine!