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When you’re trying to bootstrap a freelance writing business, free tools are the way to go. To help you save money as a freelancer, here are nine of the best free tools for freelance writers I’ve used to grow my business over the past five years.
Growing a freelance business takes time and hustle. You’ll also need some great tools to help you.
And while you do need to spend some money to make money, you don’t need to shell out cash for every single aspect of your business. In the name of trying to keep my business expenses low, here are some of the best free tools I’ve tried.
These are all tried-and-true tools that I still use on a regular basis. So if you’re looking for a solid solution for proofreading, invoicing, communicating with clients, or more, you’ll want to check out the tools on this list.
1. Hemingway App
When you’re writing content for a client, you want it to be good. You don’t want to submit an article full of errors, wordy sentences, or other problems.
But, you might not want to pay for a service to help you with proofreading.
The Hemingway App can help. You simply copy and paste your work into their editor on your browser. Then, it color codes suggestions for you.
Here’s a screenshot of their main page, since it has some examples you can see.
On the right-hand side of the screen, you can get an overview snapshot of your writing. It lets you know the readability and grade level, word count, and other basic information.
Underneath that, you can see the color coded errors, and find out more about them. I really like using this app to help me find complex sentences in my writing. When you’re writing for an online audience, shorter sentences tend to work better.
So, this is a quick visual way to locate problems and get them fixed.
Personally, I find it easiest to fix one paragraph at a time, and then copy and paste it back into my original. I find if I try to do the whole thing at once, the formatting tends to get a bit wonky.
2. Wave Apps
When you’re a freelance writer, you likely aren’t going to wake up every other Friday with a paycheck deposited into your account. Instead, you’re going to have to invoice your clients when it’s time for you to get paid.
No invoice = no payment
And no payment is never a good thing. So, you need a plan for invoicing on a regular basis.
I used to use just a Word document that I had mocked up into an invoice template. While none of my clients complained about this, and it did work, it wasn’t very easy for me to track.
If I wanted to go back and look at a record, I had to remember what I’d saved the invoice as, and try to find it.
So about a year into my freelancing, I went looking for a better option. But, I didn’t want to pay a fortune to send an invoice.
As I researched, I kept coming back to Wave Apps. It looked like it’d do everything I needed it to do, so I signed up.
I’m still using their free plan, and I love how it works. I can:
- Customize my invoice with my branding
- Save multiple clients for quicker invoice creation
- Have ACH or CC payments enabled
- Track my cash flow over time
- See what invoices are due in the next 30 days (or a longer period of time)
- Quickly pull up customer statements to see how much each individual client has paid over time
It does everything I need it to, and I really like the way my invoices look. Here is a blank one – I’d need to fill in the details before I sent it to a client. And of course, my additional contact information is under the pink box. That way my clients have it for their records.
Note: Once I receive payment, I enter the information into my Excel Income Tracker. This is where I keep my business records, to make tax time easy. Wave Apps also has some features that could help with that, but I prefer my tracker, since it’s what I’m used to.
Yes, there are fees for payments, similar to what you’d see taken out from PayPal. However, this is common with nearly any invoicing service that you use, so it’s not just Wave.
I know, you went into freelance writing to write – not to create images for blog posts. But, you’ll find that many clients want you to include an image or two.
In fact, now I pay for the pro version. But, I used the free one successfully for years.
And you never know…being able to create images can be a great upsell for you to offer.
When you’re applying for a freelance writing gig, your email address matters. People are going to notice.
So if you’re still using the same crazy email from high school, it’s high time to get a more professional sounding one. If you can’t get just your first and last name together, do what I did and tack the word “writing” onto the end.
You want people to look at your account and not think spam. And if they can tell what you do, that’s even better.
Of course, I also have my paid email address from Google Suites. That allows me to use ConvertKit to email my list without breaking spam laws. But, for 90% of my freelance writing needs, I use my free Google email address.
If you don’t have a good email, sign up for one today. It’ll just take a few minutes, and you’ll be ready to land some clients.
While I mostly use this for the coaching side of my business now, I have used it in the past to help schedule freelance writing discovery calls.
By setting up a Calendly, you can:
- Quickly share your available time with potential clients
- Let them pick a time that works for them
- Include any directions for the meeting (phone number, Zoom room id, etc.)
- Stop the emailing back and forth over meeting times
It’s saved me a lot of time, and I don’t feel bad about having office hours. Before I’d be like, “I’m available any time on Friday” only to find out my client is on the east coast and wants to do an early morning meeting, that’s WAY early over here on the west coast.
It just works well and keeps explanations of times and things to a minimum.
But, on the free plan you can only have one active event at a time. So, you’ll want to think about the best way to set that up. I currently have my coaching one active, as you can see in the screenshot below. But, I also have a writing one that I can switch to active if I need to send the link to a writing client.
You’ll want to go in and check your schedule each week, to make sure it stays up to date. That way you avoid having to reschedule when you realize you actually have a doctor appointment on Tuesday and shouldn’t have scheduled a meeting.
If you need a way to schedule meetings, definitely look into Calendly.
Now that you have a meeting scheduled, how do you actually connect with your potential clients? My number one method is through a phone call. (I live in the boonies and my internet stinks…)
But, phone calls aren’t always the best option. If potential clients are in a different country, the fees can quickly add up. It’s much more economical to use a platform like Zoom.
With the free plan, you can easily host a 1:1 call. Just remember to actually download the software before your meeting is supposed to begin, or you’ll be late.
You can also use Zoom to jump on a call with someone to interview for a post. It can be a great way to get expert insight to help you piece stand out.
7. Headline Analyzer
Writing great content is important as a freelance writer. But, if no one clicks through from your headline to read it, your piece will go to waste.
This free tool for freelance writers can help you with that. You can use it to write top-notch headlines that catch potential readers’ eyes.
You will need to create a free account to get started. But once you do, you can test different versions of your headline to see how they compare, and get tips for improving them.
With the free account, you get three premium headlines, which include a lot more information. And while this data is wonderful, you can still write great headlines without it. With the free version, you can get a basic score and
I recommend installing the Headline Studio extension browser. You can use that to quickly test your headlines while you’re still in WordPress, so you don’t have to open another tab or anything.
Keep in mind that this service does have a premium service – so you’ll have to keep telling them you don’t want to upgrade.
Note: If you have a WordPress blog, you can also access a headline analyzer through there. Here’s what it looks like:
And yes, I do recommend having your own website as a freelance writer, at least eventually. This post shares some great examples with you to help you get inspired.
8. Google Calendar
If you don’t turn your freelance writing assignments in on time, you won’t be a freelance writer for long. You have to stick to your deadlines.
However, when you’re a busy mom, your brain space can sometimes get taken over with all sorts of other things. It can be easy for a deadline to slip your mind.
To help, you need to use a calendar. I use a combination of Google Calendar and my favorite planner.
Since the planner isn’t free, I wanted to touch base on Google Calendar for this post. You can use it to keep track of your deadlines, have clients share a content calendar with you, and make sure you don’t overload any one day.
I highly recommend giving yourself a deadline a day or two before your “real” deadline. That way if life gets crazy, you can still turn it in on time.
If you tend to forget about tasks, set up reminders on your calendar. This way you get a notification or an email when a deadline is approaching.
9. Google Drive
I’m sensing a common theme in these free tools for freelancer writers, are you? Several of them are from Google.
In this case, it’s a way for you store your files on the cloud and share them easily with your clients. And though I prefer to write my drafts in Word, nearly all of my clients throughout the years have wanted my work submitted via an editable Google doc.
Just be careful that you don’t get overloaded with digital clutter on your Drive. Use folders to keep things organized, and that way you can find something when you’re looking.
9 Top Free Tools for Freelance Writers
With the nine free tools listed above, you’ll be able to:
- Improve your writing
- Invoice your clients
- Keep your deadlines organized
- Communicate with clients
- Write great headlines
They really are all you need to get started in this business. For more tips on bootstrapping a freelance writing business, read this post. In it, I share the steps I used to write my way out of debt and start supporting my large family as a writer.
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Lisa Tanner is a former teacher turned homeschooling mom with 11 kids. She's also a successful freelance writer. Lisa enjoys helping other busy moms find time to start and grow a side hustle of their own.