Freelance writing – an activity that is as much a profession as it is a passion; you can never truly walk away from it, nor ever “retire.” Once you start honing your writing skills, you’ll never stop looking for resources for writers to improve your ability as a wordsmith.
Correcting your grammatical errors, adjusting your tone, learning how to start and end articles with a bang or getting the most out of your research… you will spend years striving to perfect all of these skills. It’s all one big daunting task, and you may find yourself wondering how the best writers got so good. Fortunately, there is help at hand! Over the years, online tools have appeared to make writing easier for you and to help you get the most out of your skills. Here are our top five online resources for writers:
The best writers have a wide-ranging vocabulary and avoid repetition like the plague. It makes for awkward reading when a writer only seems to use one or two adjectives over and over again. Some clients will downright reject text that hasn’t been proofread and edited to get rid of repetition.
The easiest way to get yourself out of this situation is with a thesaurus. It offers you synonyms and antonyms for adjectives, nouns and adverbs you’re tired of using. Personally, we recommend Thesaurus.com. It not only gives you alternative words with the same meaning, but also color codes the words according to usage and relevance. This allows you to pick the most fitting term for your purpose.
“To err is human,” they say, and there is no bigger truth. However, your clients and readers aren’t likely to forgive you for making glaring mistakes in your books or articles. Make sure you always have an ally at your side for your real-time proofreading.
For years now, the best grammar-correcting tool, hands down, has been Grammarly. With over 15 million daily users, this is an extremely useful app whether you’re writing for a living or just updating your social media status every few days.
The (paid) premium service offers more functionality, but Grammarly’s free version still allows you to spot and replace grammatical errors, repetition, typos and weak adjectives. It is also integrated with Gmail and social media, making life even more efficient for online content writers. You can also use Grammarly on Google Docs and WordPress blogs.
One of the worst things that can happen to a writer is having their precious work stolen – especially if the plagiarized content is one of their main sources of income. Even worse, however, is when other writers deliver you content they’ve copied and pasted from somewhere else. Not just annoying, but potentially illegal too.
Copyscape is an incredible tool that allows you to check the internet for any plagiarized versions of your website (on its free version). Upgrade to the premium plan and you can also check offline text. Need to catch content thieves and lousy freelance coworkers red-handed? Copyscape is on the case.
Sometimes you need something less “academic” when it comes to understanding grammar rules. Reading what other people have to say is often more useful. Luckily, you don’t have to spend hours trawling through Google search results – Stack Exchange has this covered.
It has over 170 communities of Q&A boards about everything from music to sci-fi, coffee to 3D printing. It also uses a system based on upvotes, tags and recommended answers to help you navigate. The first port of call for any English writer is the English Language & Usage board. Here you’ll find explanations for classic grammatical stumbling blocks like the difference between lie and lay and answers to questions like “Do I need an article here?”
5. The Writing Cooperative (on Medium)
The final one of our resources for writers is an especially interesting one, as it’s so much more than just a place to go when you’re having writing woes.
The Writing Cooperative was built on the famous blog-publishing platform Medium that has taken the world by storm since its 2012 launch. Medium was created by Blogger founder and former Twitter CEO Evan Williams to provide a space where writers and reporters could create content longer than 140 characters.
As one of the platform’s top publications, The Writing Cooperative contributors work together to create excellent content in many different communities. Writers can even earn cash for each successful piece written on Medium. Cool, huh?
Their slogan says it all really: ‘A community of people helping each other write better’. This part of Medium offers tips, guidance and personal accounts from writers to writers.
If you want to learn from people who are just like you, but a few steps further ahead, then The Writing Cooperative is where you’ll find them. You can read a great article and help the author out by giving them a few claps.
Now that you know the top five online resources for writers, you can fight your writing block head on, this time with a bit of help. Don’t forget, though: these are only five of many resources you may find useful while honing your writing skills. Don’t stop searching for new resources that will make your life easier and help you grow as a freelancer.
And if we’ve missed any that you think should be on this list, go ahead and add them to the comments below. That’s the point, isn’t it? We’re here to help each other out, inspire and improve, so the more places to find pro tips and tools, the better.