The 5 Most Useful Tools for Online Writers

Updated on April 30, 2020

The Top Online Writing Tools I've Used in my 5 Years as a Paid Writer

I've been in the business of writing for a paycheck for a little over five years now, right before I entered college. In that time, I've learned what works and what doesn't. The most basic tools of the trade are the ones I keep coming back to, and while they seem simple to me (as they might to you if you've been in the game for a while as well,) I'm still surprised by how many new writers don't know how or where to find them! So I thought I'd compile a list of the 5 things I really couldn't live without in my career as a freelance writer. (Yes, you can still get paid to write these days! Who knew?)

The Tricks and Tools that Online Writers Use Most

20,000 pages of cat pictures later, Jimmy finally sat down to pen the great American novel.
20,000 pages of cat pictures later, Jimmy finally sat down to pen the great American novel. | Source

1. Google Keyword Tool

Google's Keyword Tool is by far the best (and cheapest!) way to figure out what keywords your target audience is looking for. This tool is especially effective for targeting long-tail keywords without a lot of search competition. All you need is an associated Google account (typically the one you use for Gmail or AdSense). The tool is a bit tricky to find, so here are some simple directions:

Go to the Google AdWords page, hover over the green Tools menu, then select Keyword Tools from the menu options. Simply type in your desired keyword or keyword phrase, narrow your search by category, if desired, and click search! You'll find a list full of recommended keywords that real users are searching for that would make great titles for your freelance writing. The list can be divided into global search results, meaning that x number of search engine users are searching for the keyword phrase worldwide, or local search results, meaning that x number of search engine users are searching for the keyword phrase close to you. Local search is best for locally-oriented content like small business ad copy.

You can even sort the results by the search volume and competition. Competition is divided into High, Medium, and Low. The amount of competition depends on how many matching search results there are compared to the amount of users searching. A search term that is used by only a few websites but that hundreds of thousands of users are searching for each month would be a Low competition search term, for example. You want to target Low and Medium competition search terms to use in your writings, because you're more likely to get featured at the top of the search results and reach more readers that way!

In-depth SEO keyword strategy is a Hub for another day, though! ;)

Mini Google Keyword Tool Tutorial

Google Keyword Tool is a great way to target long-tail keywords for good SEO!
Google Keyword Tool is a great way to target long-tail keywords for good SEO! | Source
Google Keyword Tools search volume results page, great for targeting local search readers!
Google Keyword Tools search volume results page, great for targeting local search readers! | Source

2. Keyword Density Calculators

Alright, I'm going to give you the magic formula when it comes to calculating keyword density for freelance writing that requires SEO. Ready to take a trip back in time to your 3rd grade math class?

(# of keyword uses / total word count) x 100.

Simple! But we writers are not known for our love of math, so if you're anything like me, you use a keyword density calculator to at least check your work. Fortunately, there are plenty of great sites that do the job for free!

3. Grammar Checkers and Spell Checkers

Freelance writing requires paying close attention to spelling and grammar, but sometimes errors slip through the cracks. Fortunately, there are so many great free (or free trial-based) grammar checkers and spell checkers out there. My favorite to use is GrammarBase, which has an extended free version available online. Grammarly and AP Style Checker (StyleGuard) are two examples of paid software that I recommend for full-time writers just because it's nice to have something that's always available and guaranteed to catch even the most advanced writing mistakes. The AP Style Checker is a must if you're going to write ad copy professionally, but it's not at all necessary for hobby writers.

It's important to note that many people use these wonderful freelance writing tools as a crutch, and those people never grow as writers as a result. If you plan to work in the writing industry, whether on a full-time, freelance, or even recreational basis, it's important to develop your own internal grammar and spell checker. However, free grammar checking and spell checking software is indispensable! You should use grammar checking software as a 24/7 proofreader to act as a second set of eyes before you submit your content. There is even a free UK spellchecker that will review your document for Americanisms and American spellings and correct it to proper UK English!

4. Online Word Counters

Yes, Microsoft Word has a built-in word counter, but for freelance writers who don't have this relatively expensive software, or others who simply prefer to work online and avoid Word's many crashes, online word counters are a great tool to have in the repertoire.

Personally, I like to use an online word counter so I can easily cut and paste my documents in the same window. It's a nice, clean text format and it helps to keep you on track without switching back and forth between windows.

Funny Tutorial on Becoming a Better Writer

5. Coffee: Gift of the Writing Gods

Espresso comes from a Brazilian word meaning Magic Writer Juice. Probably.
Espresso comes from a Brazilian word meaning Magic Writer Juice. Probably. | Source

Caffeinated Beverages

No, I'm not being tongue in cheek. Caffeine certainly has its naysayers, but it's the only drug I'll ever take and it has gotten me through the last 5 years as a professional writer! Whether it's that extra push to get out of bed when you don't have a designated time to show up at work, or a last minute crunch to meet a late night deadline, here are some of the best tools this writer uses to keep on task and fully functional.

Calling all writers! Pick your poison.

What's your favorite form of energy for writing?

See results

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


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    • modernalchemyst profile imageAUTHOR


      9 months ago

      I'll have to check this out, thanks for the info!!

    • CopywriterMartinWensley profile image

      Martin Wensley 

      9 months ago

      AFAIK, this list is almost complete, except for content audit apps.

      For example atomicreach. It gives a visual analysis of the potential of your content.

      I know that a possibility is that you see these kind of apps snake oil and didn't include them because of it.

      Seotester online also has content audit tool. Both of these are free.

    • HealthNFitnesstip profile image

      Akhilesh Jain 

      2 years ago from Rajasthan, India


      I never thought about keyword density word while writing post to my blog, but since i have now bookmarked your article page. Hope next time i will receive more visitors to my blog as compared to earlier.

      Thanks a ton !

    • profile image

      Harry Nguyen 

      5 years ago

      I prefer the excellent word count tool than those word count tools introduced.

    • modernalchemyst profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Hi Caleb, thanks for your comment! :)

      I don't always do the keyword density calculations either, but I do find it useful for articles that I want to draw a lot of traffic to. If it's just a blog post, not so much. Hope you find the other tools helpful!

    • Caleb Melvern profile image

      Caleb Melvern 

      7 years ago from Philippines

      This hub is so useful! I've always relied solely on MS Word for checking all the stuff you have mentioned, except of course for keyword density but I don't really care about that. Maybe I should use these tools for my next article.


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