Are Writers Stuck In An Attic?

Writers generally aren’t the sort to implement much technology or cutting-edge applications in their life. Some do; most don’t. We get a nice computer, we make sure our word processor runs well, and that’s that. Our software budget for 2009? It probably has a big fat zero next to it.

Other freelancers, like designers and coders, have an edge on writers. These software wizards aren’t afraid of technology, and they benefit all the time from applications they integrate into their business. They’re enjoying a better workflow, more profits and streamlined collaboration.

What the heck are writers waiting for?

The right applications and resources can help you get more out of your day. More time, more money and more enjoyment. Personally, I feel those three qualities of life aren’t luxuries. They’re necessities.

Here are a few top application picks that other freelancers use to get ahead – and you can use them, too.

Active Collab – This little beauty of a project manager is a great application for writers who aren’t on their own and who work as a team. This application helps streamline workflow while enhances file sharing and communication, letting you stay on top of client projects.

FreshBooks – Freshbooks really cut down on the time a writer spends on bookkeeping, turning invoicing and collections into a breeze. Just a few clicks and you can email your client an invoice for fast collections. It goes right into your PayPal account, too.

QuickBooks – Speaking of accounting, many writers don’t maintain their books properly at all, resulting in a mismanaged business and money losses. There’s really no excuse for that. QuickBooks is easy and helps you stay on top of your business without you having to learn to be an accountant. It comes in a desktop or online version, too.

And if you really hate accounting? Check out IAC-EZ, a fantastic alternative. Seriously. Go. Shoo.

Wufoo – This little beauty is the neatest form builder ever seen. You can create all kinds of forms, like surveys, questionnaires and more, then integrate them in your website to capture information. That saves you time from asking customers routine questions.

Sugar CRM – Writers tend to have a lot of customers, and each of them different from the next.. Some are one-time clients; some are repeat clients. Some have standard pricing; some get discounts. Managing your customers effectively and organizing the information shaves a great deal of time off your workweek.

So what about you? Are you with the times or writing in the dark ages? If you have software, applications or tools that you find a real lifesaver in your freelance writing business, let’s hear it.

And if you’re searching for an application to help your day go by faster? Let us know. Maybe someone has the perfect solution for your needs.


  1. says

    Hi James,
    I like “Men with Pens” too! I’m a truckingbloggerand talk radio show host getting ready to launch a writer blog and web radio writers talk show. I’ve had to learn, even as a writer, a lot about diff. kinds of software, viral marketing, social site networking. Waaaaaay more than I ever thought but I’m glad I did, in fact I still am learning. I’ve found a lot of writers, freelancers specifically are very knowledgeable when it comes to tech stuff. Plug-in’s(like headspace2) help, meta tags still matter, linking is paramount, FTP savvy is a must(with freezip of course), html so you can manage a little ad moola, and, oh yeah then there’s the craft of writing…..hmmmm…in an age of technology it really is a good thing as writers for us to know that we can go a lot farther, faster and learn more quickly. If you follow the top fiction writers for ex., they are all over the place on the web(and off). It’s really about trying to understand,learn,and then use the technology to do an old fashioned thing…get your name and work out there.
    Keep writing! Daniel

  2. says

    I agree, what a great article! Is there any project manager program you know of like Active collab for a writer working on his/her own? I could really use some help with work flow and time issues. Something other then Outlook or goggle calendars….
    Thanks again.

  3. says

    Beware of projecting your own impressions onto an entire group – many writers are all over the new technology. My seriously sexy iGo stowaway keyboard means that I can write anywhere, anytime, while uber-writers like Warren Ellis are so electronically connected they’re practically cyborgs.

  4. says

    @ Andy – I think it’s a question of comparing what you get out of the service versus what the cost of it might be. Say it’s $15 a month, but every month you get 10 people filling out the forms… that’d be worth it, in my eyes, if the info is valuable to your business. If no one’s filling them out, then sure, it’s time to revisit!

    @ Luke – Actually, I’m pretty cautious about projecting my impressions on an entire group. That’s why I use wording like, “Many writers I know,” or, “Most writers…” There will always be exceptions to the rule, but the bulk of writers that I know (and I know a few hundred) really do live in the dark ages and feel a pen and paper is all they need.

    Good on you for that keyboard – I’m jealous! (Now I have to look into it, lol)

    @ Daniel – You’ve got a great point there – all the technology in the world won’t save you if you’re living in an attic. Get out, get known and make waves.

    @ Jessica – I had a look at IAC-EZ and know the founder’s mission with it, and I have to say that the whole app is one of the best I’ve ever seen – and free trial? Rock on!

  5. says

    Another invoicing option is Time59 ( It’s targeted at solo professionals and is a great solution if you don’t need (or want to pay for) the multi-user capability of Freshbooks. Bottom line: If you are solo and bill by the hour it is definitely worth a look. The first 30 days are free.

  6. says

    Hi James,

    Thank you for mentioning activeCollab. We are glad to hear that you find it valuable enough to recommend it to your audience. In the future we’ll focus even more on tools designed for teams working on larger content projects like software documentation, books etc. Stay tuned.

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