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
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
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!
Keyword Density Calculators for SEO Content Writers
- Realtime Keyword Density Calculator
Calculator for search engine optimization Keyword Density shown in Real Time.
- A new and accurate tool: Keyword Density Analyzer
This powerful checker, a keyword density analyzer, takes in account paragraph separators to correctly calculate the keyphrase density of real contigous keywords.
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!
Free Grammar Checker and Spell Checker Software
- Free Grammar Check
We are glad to announce free grammar checker. You just need your text and 10 seconds of your time, simply copy-paste your text and see your grammar errors.
- Free Online Spell Checker - check any text (English, French, Spanish, German, Italian)
A free online spell checker. Spell check text in English, Spanish, French, German and Italian, also includes a medical spell checker, word counter and character counter.
Paid Grammar Checker and Spell Checker Software
- Associated Press Stylebook
- Grammarly | Instant Grammar Check - Online Proofreading
Grammar check, instant proofreading, and plagiarism detection. Improve your writing with Grammarly - the leading online English grammar checker
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.
Online Word Counting Programs
- Word Counter
- Word Count Tool - Free Tool to Count Number of Words. Word counter!
Word Count Tool, a free online tool to count the number of words from a block of text. A free word counter!
Funny Tutorial on Becoming a Better Writer
5. Coffee: Gift of the Writing Gods
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.
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.
Joey (author) on October 08, 2019:
I'll have to check this out, thanks for the info!!
Martin Wensley on October 07, 2019:
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.
Akhilesh Jain from Rajasthan, India on August 19, 2017:
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 !
Harry Nguyen on February 02, 2015:
I prefer the excellent word count tool http://wordcounttools.com than those word count tools introduced.
Joey (author) on June 04, 2013:
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 from Philippines on June 04, 2013:
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.