Working as a freelance writer had always been a goal of mine. It sounded like such a dream! You get to write for a living, (virtually) meet fun people, tell their cool stories… and all you need is an internet connection and your laptop, right? What could be better than that?
When I finally launched my own copy and content writing business, I will admit, I was a little bit naive. Turns out I actually did need more than just my laptop.
While there are several services I utilize in my day-to-day as a writer, I wanted to share with you all of the FREE apps and websites that I use the most.
Disclaimer: some of these apps have paid program options, but the free versions have been completely fine for me!
Like Illustrator, but more accessible. I use Canva on the daily, whether it’s for creating resume templates, mood boards, Instagram stories, or quick social graphics for a client.
My favorite feature, though, is the Schedule to Pinterest button. I create my pins on Canva, click that button in the top right, throw a title and a description in there, link to my blog post and either post immediately or schedule for later!
I wanted to type “life-changing” just now, but that’s a bit dramatic. It does definitely save me a lot of time, though. Canva is also a great alternative if you don’t have a Tailwind account (for Pinterest scheduling)!
Full disclosure: I used the free version of Canva for years, but recently upgraded Pro. However, I still wanted to include this app on my list of ‘free’ resources, because the free version is completely adequate for almost every project.
Two words: game! changer!
I’d always heard great things about Slack, but I never had a reason to use it until now. About a month ago, a client added me to one of her Slack channels for a project we were working on together. Why did no one tell me this was basically AIM?! The ‘90s baby in me was ecstatic.
Now, I create ‘channels’ (glorified group chats) for any task that’s big enough and invite everyone to communicate that way. For those of you that actually have a normal work/life balance, this feature may seem like a nightmare, but I love the idea of people being able to reach me for a quick question here and there. In my world of hard deadlines and fast turnarounds, it is so helpful to eliminate the waiting game after sending a question via email.
I also love how you can share files and separate tasks within channels, and make certain channels private so they can only be accessed by your intended audience. Slack is a huge time-saver.
One of my clients recently introduced me to AirTable when she shared a spreadsheet with me, and I instantly fell in love. I have never felt more organized in my 26 years of living. It’s like Excel on crack. (Am I allowed to say that on my professional business website? Whatever, it’s true.)
I know this post is supposed to explain why I’m obsessed with these apps, but when it comes to AirTable, you won’t be able to understand just how revolutionary it is unless you try it out for yourself.
If you create an account, you’re going to find yourself creating random @$$ things to make spreadsheets for simply because you want to utilize its cool features.
AirTable also has the option to view their ‘bases’ as a spreadsheet, KanBan, grid, form, gallery, or calendar, and you can organize the content in so many different ways. It’s almost overwhelming… but it’s worth it.
I could talk about how much I love Notion all. day. long. This app is the absolute best… everything! To be honest with you, I don’t even know what Notion is actually classified as, because it has so many capabilities. As their meta description states, it’s “all your work, all in one place.” (Who’s their copywriter? That was good!)
I use Notion for organizing my literal entire life: to-do lists, newsletter notes, organizing client notes, keeping track of project, managing finances, content planning… you name it, I use Notion for it.
There is a slight learning curve at the beginning, but once you’ve got everything figured out, you’ll realize how truly wild it is what you can accomplish with this powerful site. I cannot believe it’s free!
Of course, there are paid memberships, but as I mentioned earlier, I use it for everythinggg and I’ve yet to see a need for upgrading. There’s a per-page limit on how much you can embed (things like photos and documents, etc), but I’ve never reached that limit.
Notion is compatible with tons of other apps, too, like Google Drive. And speaking of…
A tried and true must-use. I’m sure everyone under the sun uses Google Cal, but for some reason, I didn’t become one of those people until about three months ago. I know I’m late to the party, but I never will be again now that I use Google Cal! (How cheesy was that sentence? I promise I won’t be that cringeworthy while writing your copy).
My accountant advised me to keep track of all of my meetings virtually as opposed to the old school pen-and-paper method I’d been using my entire life, so I hopped on the bandwagon and set up my calendar on Google.
I was instantly seduced by the color coding and the embedded Google Meet feature. I’ve become one of those people who says things like “if it’s not on my calendar, I’ll forget about it” and “I’ll send you a Cal invite.” You can make fun of me if you’d like, but don’t knock it ‘til you try it.
(Side note: I also use Google Sheets to track my expenses and earnings, Google Docs for all of my notes, Google Slides to share monthly content calendars and captions with clients, and Gmail for all of my work emails.
Anyone want to Gchat? Because it feels like the only thing I’m not using is Google Hangouts. And I refuse to use Google Home because those things freak me out.)
This one may seem a little odd to some of you, but I live in my Facebook groups. I have become one of those typical Facebook moms who feels the need to comment on any relevant post.
Believe it or not, I meet about 85% of my clients through Facebook groups. They’re such a good place to interact with like-minded business owners and creatives, ask for input or advice, search for other freelancers to work with, or to conduct research.
Prior to freelancing, the only Facebook groups I was a member of were the one I created for my son’s Zoom 1st birthday party (pandemic probz) and Official Peloton Moms (you better believe I’m marked as a ‘Conversation Starter’ in that one).
I have met so many talented people through these Marketing-focused groups, and have even ended up hiring some of them myself. Mark may be selling my data to advertisers but at least he’s providing me some really fun clients, right?
(Side note: watch The Social Dilemma on Netflix if you haven’t yet).
This is another one that may surprise you. Whenever I tell anyone in my family about a fact I learned on TikTok, they automatically roll their eyes and dismiss me.
But what they don’t know is that between all of the embarrassing dances and the bizarre stories, there are a lot of people on that app creating some very beneficial content. I have learned some of the best Marketing tips, SEO hacks, and writing tactics from scrolling on TikTok.
In fact, I’ve found so many great accounts dedicated to sharing Marketing tips that I’ve compiled a list of my favorite TikTokers for business here!
If you haven’t tried any of these apps yet, I’d highly recommend testing them out to see if you also find them to be as helpful as I do!
Although, I have to warn you to stay off of TikTok until you’ve clocked out for the day… you’ll get sucked in pretty quickly. And then it’ll be 11pm, and you’ll realize you’re sitting in the dark, staring at the screen, asking yourself what happened and when the last time you blinked was.
(I’m definitely not speaking from experience or anything.) Moving on… should you be interested in learning more about how I got my start as a freelance copy and content writer, click here.
If we haven’t had the chance to *virtually* meet yet, hi! I’m Sara Noel—website copywriter and marketing mentor for creatives, copywriters, and all-around cool people. If you like my content and you want even more BTL in your life, here are a few ways you can connect with me:
Subscribe to my newsletter! I send one marketing tip, once a week – and, according to my subscribers, it’s “the best marketing newsletter on the Internet” and “the only reason to wake up on Tuesday mornings.” So… yeah. You’ll love ‘er. 😏 Click here to subscribe!
Check out my services. I write website copy, sales pages, email sequences, blog posts, and brand messaging guides for entrepreneurs of all kinds! Maybe you’re my next favorite client.
Read the rest of my blog. It’s home to everything from copywriting tips, to marketing education, to freelance advice, to portfolio-worthy projects… if you like this post, you’ll love the blog. Here’s a quick roundup of my most popular posts.
Sign up for my web copy course. Actually, it’s not *only* about website copywriting—I also teach modules on copywriting basics, developing your target audience, search engine optimization, blogging, and email marketing.
Enlist me as your mentor. I have an entire in-depth blog post about my one-on-one consulting process for new and aspiring copywriters, if you’re interested in having a big-sis-style mentor to help you grow your freelance copywriting business & get results.
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