What’s the biggest tool that we have at our fingertips… and yet we can’t touch it?
There are many types of tools to help us make things as knowledge workers, creators and makers.
Some are visible such as the humble pen and its second cousin, paper.
Others are invisible. Like the internet.
So what is the size of this invisible tool?
By the end of 2022, it was estimated there are 5.3 billion users of the internet, it also hosts 1.8 billion websites that are connected to over 2 billion personal computers and 6.92 billion smartphones.
We use the internet to find information via search engines, get our entertainment and buy goods and services online.
The estimated number of web pages in the Google index is around 30 to 50 billion. However, the internet as a whole is home to trillions of different pages. Also, there are more than 2.4 million searches that happen through the search engine every minute.
Instead of watching television we now stream our video entertainment via the internet. The most used paid streaming service is Netflix with 209 million subscribers worldwide and a revenue of $30 billion in 2021. The most used free streaming service is YouTube, with 2.6 billion active users in 2022 and revenue of $8.6 billion in 2021.
There are also over 9 million e-commerce stores with over 2.1 billion customers.
How and when did the internet start?
We often take the internet for granted. But it is good to step back and dive into its history to get some perspective and maybe rediscover its awesomeness.
I was alive at its birth and I continue to watch its evolution with a child’s eyes.
The hidden network that lurks on phone lines and is hosted on computer servers started on January 1, 1983. But it didn’t become generally usable until the first web browser (invented by Tim Berners Lee in 1990 and called the “WorldWideWeb”), gave the internet a friendly face.
Suddenly the internet had a user interface that allowed normal humans to play with it. You no longer needed to be a mad scientist with a PhD gifted with the dark arts of software programming skills.
The first widely popular web browser was Netscape invented by Marc Andreessen which made its appearance in 1994.
I discovered the internet in 1995 and despite the slow speeds at the time I was hooked. The revelation for me? I no longer needed to go to the library to borrow a book to find information.
I now saw that the world’s consciousness and learning was global and available in my home.
Why does it matter?
The writers of the past had two tools. Pen and paper.
The internet has provided two important tools embedded within the world wide web. Platforms to publish on and social media to market and distribute.
The modern writer has a publishing and marketing tool in their pocket. It’s your smartphone.
The writing game has changed over the last decade and there are now multiple tools that help us create, manage, host, store and market our writing and creations.
Many are either free or low-cost.
There are many technology tools that can help freelance writers be more productive and successful in their work.
These tools can help your grow your sales and profit from your writing whether it is your main business or an online side hustle.
10 tools all writers need
Here are the 10 top tools that are commonly used by freelance writers. Most of these are free or low-cost:
Grammarly is a writing tool that helps writers check for grammar, punctuation, and style errors in their writing. It can help writers improve the clarity and readability of their writing, making it more polished and professional. – Free plan to start
Hemingway is another writing tool that helps writers improve the readability of their writing. It provides feedback on sentence structure, word choice, and more. – One-off fee of $19.99
Google Docs is a cloud-based word-processing tool that allows writers to create, edit, and collaborate on documents in real time. This tool is useful for writers who work with clients or collaborators remotely. – Free
Trello is a project management tool that helps writers keep track of their tasks and deadlines. It allows writers to organize their work into different boards, making it easy to see what needs to be done and when. – Free entry level
Canva is a graphic design tool that helps writers create visually appealing images and graphics to accompany their writing. This can help writers make their work more engaging and shareable on social media. – Free
Communication tools are also essential for freelance writers, as they allow them to communicate with clients, editors, and collaborators in real time. Slack is an instant way to keep in touch. – Free for the first 90 days
The Pandemic made “Zooming” a verb like “Googling”. Creating a relationship and networking now often starts with a Zoom call – Free
This is the old school Zoom but is still a tool to have in your back pocket for catching up from anywhere in the world for a face-to-face video meeting. Its claim to fame was being able to use it for low-cost international calls. – Free
Nothing is more frustrating than working on something for hours and your computer crashes and all your work disappears. Having a reliable automated backup solution like Google Drive can help freelance writers safeguard their work and have easy access to it from any device. – Free
I’ve left this last (but it should be first priority for writers).
WordPress drives over half of the world’s websites. So it is almost your “go to” website that you need to look at as a writer. And you can start for free. Having your own publishing platform to display your work and build a personal brand that you have control over, own and build online credibility is priceless. It is a digital asset that you should continue to invest in.
One of the main benefits of WordPress is the fact that it is free, however, as we all know, free doesn’t always mean completely free. To build a website with WordPress.org, you will first need to find a hosting company to host your website – Free
Wrapping it up
I use most of these tools and some I have only started to use recently. And this includes Google Drive, Trello and Slack.
I started a WordPress blog in 2009 and used it to host my writing, where I published and shared my posts with the help of email and social media. Within a few years, I was generating over 5 million visitors a year to jeffbullas.com.
That step into online publishing as a blogger changed my life.
These tools can help you as a freelance writer be more productive and efficient in your work, allowing you to focus on the task of writing and delivering high-quality work to clients.
You just need to work out what type of online writing and business model works for you.