I’ve published many web articles over the past twelve years I’ve been writing. During that time there have been a few online writing tools that have helped me along the way. When I started walking down this path I had to learn a lot about writing, and the fact of the matter is I’m still learning. I think writers are always learning. That’s what’s nice about the job.
In this article I want to show you a few things that can save you some time and help you write better, maybe even make some money.
Merriam Webster Online
Words are the heart of the writers life, and what would words be without a dictionary. Dictionaries are these fantastic tools chronicling the English language in alphabetical order. I’m sure you know that, and I’m pretty sure you know what they are for. But I kid you not, plenty of writers could spend more time in a dictionary while they write. Myself included.
There have been plenty of times when I thought a word meant one thing, and went to the dictionary to find it meant totally something else. I’m sure I am not alone in this area, and there’s nothing more embarrassing to someone who calls themselves a writer when they get caught using a word in wrong context, not to mention the use of homonyms and spelling in general.
Working in words gets interesting when you can’t quite find the meaning you want to express. The best goto tool I have found is a thesaurus. I personally have a hard copy of Roget’s thesaurus on my desk. When I’m searching for a word I like the feel of a book in my hands, but I’m an old-school guy in that respect. In fact, I remember when libraries had card catalogs. That’s a way back in time.
But Thesaurus Online is a good enough tool for you to find almost every different word meaning similar in meaning to spice up your writing.
One important word about using a thesaurus: don’t go to the thesaurus just because you think ‘ordinary’ words aren’t good enough. Writing peppered with words that aren’t usually used in the context of the subject aren’t just funny, there a dead give away the writer isn’t confident in their ability with the English language.
I can’t sing enough praises for WordPress.com. With a few mouse clicks anybody can have a full function blog rich with amenities, for FREE! WordPress.com is affiliated with WordPress.org, but the two organizations serve different purposes.
I bring up WordPress.org because a lot of people ask what is the difference between the two WordPress sites. Simply put, WordPress.com is a site where you can host a free blog with WordPress the company. The company will maintain all the inner workings of the blog so all you have to do is pick a theme and write. WordPress.com is a freemium site and you can upgrade to different levels to get different functionality.
The largest missing link from free WordPress.com is the ability to add plugin functionality and use of any third-party theme. WordPress.com simply won’t let you do this at the free level, and this is important because much of the famous WordPress flexibility comes from add-ons called plugins.
A Local Library Card
Most writers I can think of love libraries. I’m one of them. Sometimes when I’m feeling a bit blue or just looking for something to do I’ll walk the stacks of my local library. But there is another great reason to be a member of your local library. Electronic access.
Libraries have evolved to keep pace with the online world by offering a ton of online services. I have access to an enormous amount of online information otherwise inaccessible to me because I have access to my library’s website. Your results may vary, but any writer worth their salt goes to, and uses the library.
A Cloud Reader With eBook Subscription
There are two major players in the eBook realm, Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble nook. You want one of these systems simply because you can have in the palm of your hand hundreds of books and you can get their cloud reader to access your personal library on a browser. This is a handy thing to have.
If you’re serious about writing then you need to get serious about reading. You should be reading about craft, you should be reading about mechanics, you should be reading history, fiction, philosophy, and much more. Once you get plugged into an eReader system you will expand your access to reading material exponentially.
An UpWork or Freelancer Account
Chances are if you’re looking to get into writing you want to make money at it. The easiest way to make money writing is getting yourself involved with UpWork or Freelancer.
These two sites do the best job of being writers together with people who want to buy writing. Work on these sites can be low, and the fees they take can be high. But if you’re looking to get your foot in the door and build a portfolio, one of these two sites will do the trick.
Some contracts pay well on these freelance sites, but the competition is tough. When you decide to hook up with UpWork or Freelancer remember this, the secret is in how you prepare your bid. I have gotten my best, high paying job on these freelance sites by paying attention to what the buyer wanted and writing my proposal to meet that need. If you simply cut and paste the same proposal for every job you’re going to get stuck in the low paying job rut.
A Word About Wikipedia
The great thing about Wikis is that anybody can hop online and start editing Wikipedia. The bad thing about Wikipedia is anybody can hop online and start editing Wikipedia.
When you hold yourself out as a writer you are assuming a code of ethics, at least if you hold yourself out as a legitimate writer. Wiki is a great tool and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t use it, but the fact is I more often than not spend time sifting through search engine returns looking to find high quality information, especially if I’m writing about health, fitness, or nutrition. I feel most comfortable when I find a site that is peer-reviewed, or has a .gov or .edu domain. While we are talking about it, don’t cut and paste the work of somebody else. Plagiarism never works in the long run.
The Final Word About Online Writing Tools
The web is a great place to work. It’s also like the wild west sometimes. To survive in the long haul think about ethics early. Honesty, hard work, and diligent writing is the best way to build a writing business. It is possible to make quite a bit of money writing on the internet, it is also a lot of work. But the great thing is you get to write.