You know most people think we’re idiots, right?
I mean, why would we go through all the trouble of starting our own business when we could just get a job?
We could do as we’re told, quit working at 5pm, and watch TV for the rest of the night. Why make it hard for ourselves?
To be honest, they’re right.
It is a stupid thing to do.
Starting your own business requires a ton of hard work. It takes time and dedication to learn all the skills you need to get off the ground.
You have to know how to write. You have to know how to market. You have to know how to sell.
And we don’t have the luxury to stop thinking about our work when the clock hits 5pm. Once you choose this lifestyle, it creeps into your mind and you find yourself thinking about it all the time.
But once it starts working, man does it feel good. Seeing that hard-earned cash roll in makes it all worth it.
But again, it takes time. Lots of time.
To help you speed up the process, I’ve put together a list of tools and resources for you to use to supercharge your freelance blogging. It ranges from tools to get ideas quicker to resources that will give you a kick in the butt.
All of them are free or have a free plan. Don’t worry if it seems overwhelming, I’ll give you a PDF with all the links so you can keep it close.
Become an idea machine
- Brian Dean’s Skyscraper technique is required reading for anyone who has to write. It teaches you how to come up with ideas that are guaranteed to succeed.
- Quicksprout will help you see what content did well on other sites. You can use this info to get ideas that have a high chance of succeeding. The blog is also a great resource if you’re interested in marketing.
- Buzzsumo is similar to Quicksprout in that you can see what content got shared a lot. You can search for the most shared content on a certain topic and see who shared those articles. This is useful when you want to promote your post.
- MindMeister. This free mind mapping tool will help you organize all the ideas that you have floating around in your head. Also useful for outlining blogposts. The free version allows you to have up to 3 mindmaps at the same time.
- Topsy shows you what content was popular in the past. You can search for what was shared a lot, or you can search for content that has a lot of links.
- Google keyword tool. It wouldn’t be much of a resource list if I didn’t include Google’s keyword tool. If you’re going to spend hours writing good posts, you might as well spend the extra 20 minutes finding good keywords.
- Ever get stuck coming up with a good headline? This content idea generator can help you with that. Just fill in your subject and watch how it generates headlines. Some headlines are better than others, but it will get your creative juices flowing.
Write like a pro
- If you need to brush up your English grammar, the University of Ottawa provides a free course. Great if English isn’t your first language.
- You might get an assignment that will make you write about a boring topic. This presentation about technical writing tells you how to write about boring topics without being boring.
- Hemingway App. This free app will check if your sentences are easily readable. It tells you which sentences are becoming hard to read and what parts of your text can be made clearer.
- Grammarly is an advanced spelling and grammar checker. Not only does it check if you wrote everything correctly, Grammarly looks at the context it is written in. For example, it can detect whether you should use “you’re” or “your” without any difficulty.
- The power of storytelling. In this article, Alex Turnbull explains how telling a story at the beginning of Buffer’s blog posts boosted their engagement by 300%.
- 317 words that will instantly make you a better writer. You can’t make a list about writing without mentioning Jon Morrow at least once. The guy knows how to write. In this post, he lists 317 words that will make your posts a lot more powerful.
Market like the best
- SumoMe is the Swiss army knife of marketing tools. It has pretty much every tool you need to market your website: nice looking share buttons, pop-ups, contact forms, and more. It’s free and I highly recommend it.
- How we reached 1 million people by guest blogging. Groove is a startup that’s incredibly open about what they do and how they make money. In this article, they explain how they got featured on major blogs and show you the results of their posts.
- Email1k. If you have a good email list you can sell pretty much anything online. This free course will teach you the best and fastest ways to grow your email list.
- How to get 1000+ subscribers from a single post. This is a great case study about how a good post combined with the right promotion can lead to massive success.
- How to 100x the effectiveness of your next guest post. This one’s clever and I recommend it a lot. The author, Bryan Harris, often gets 500+ emails from a guest post. This article explains how he does it.
- The definitive guide to copywriting. Copywriting is everywhere. You have to use it when writing blog posts. You have to use it when writing to clients. You have to use it for seemingly simple things like writing an email. Copywriting is the difference between getting a reply and getting ignored.
- How to make that one thing go viral by the people behind Upworthy. While I’m not a fan of click bait, this slide deck reveals some of the techniques Upworthy uses to make their posts go viral. Some of their posts have millions of shares.
- Ever wonder why content goes viral? The guys from Buzzsumo analyzed 100 million articles to see if popular content has things in common. The results are pretty interesting. They talk about how long your posts should be, what the most effective headlines are, and much more.
- Ultimate guide to email marketing. Like I said before, if you have a good email list you can pretty much do anything online. This guide takes you from setting up the technical stuff all the way to optimizing your email campaigns.
- How to network with people. Networking has a bad rep. It’s often associated with schmoozing and manipulation. John Corcoran’s blog teaches you how to network properly.
Get stuff done
- How the hell does Buffer create so much content? Buffer (a social media tool) has a team of content creators that produces four 1500+ word, highly researched articles every week. “Team” might be a bit of an exaggeration, as there’s just two of them. This article explains how they get so much done.
- How writing 1000 words a day changed my life. To get good at writing, you need to write a lot. Once you commit yourself to write a certain number of words every day, the results can be incredibly.
- RescueTime will show you what you’re wasting your time on. You’ll know exactly how much time you spend watching cat videos. Gives you a good kick in the butt.
- Tomato Timer. I’m sure you’re familiar with the pomodoro technique. In short, it’s periods (usually 25 minutes) of highly focused work followed by 5 minute breaks. This handy little timer will let you know what to do and when to do it.
- Forcedraft (a.k.a Kryptonite for procrastinators). Just pick the amount of words you’d like to write and press start. Forcedraft will block everything (and I really mean everything) until you have reached your quota. You’ll get a lot of writing done because, well, you won’t have a choice.
- Cold Turkey is Forcedraft’s less dramatic older brother. It allows you to block distracting websites for a certain amount of time. Once you hit start, there’s no way of turning it off until the timer ends. You’d be surprised how much you can get done if you block Youtube for 3 hours.
- Pocket. Ever had to do research for a post and end up wasting hours reading a bunch of articles? Instead of reading them right away, pocket lets you save articles so you can read them later. That way you stay focused on the task at hand.
- IFTTT, or “if this then that”, is a way to put the internet to work. Let’s say you want a text message when someone comments on your blog. Just set it up and IFTTT does it for you.
- How to get motivated when you don’t feel like it. Some days you’re going to feel like a mess. That’s ok, though. It’s pretty normal to have an off days once in a while. This article by James Clear helps you through it.
- Transform your habits. Working on pure willpower alone isn’t going to get you very far. To get lasting success, you’ll need to build habits that will support your business.
- Sometimes you just need a little boost. The GetMotivated Reddit will help you with tons of inspiring quotes and images.
- How to stay focused when you get bored. It’s always exciting to start a new project. After a couple of weeks, when the excitement starts to wear off, it becomes harder and harder to stay motivated. This article shows yu how to do it.
- Mindtools has a nice collection of mental techniques you can use to perform better. Topics range from how to make decisions, to how to get motivated.
- Steve Pavlina. I was pondering whether or not to link to a specific resource of his, but then I remembered that his whole site is awesome. You’ll find articles on a lot of different topics.
Supercharge your freelancing
- Hacking Elance. Ah…Elance. It can be a complete mess of people trying to squeeze work out of you for as little money as possible, or it can be a great source of income. Daniel DiPiazza explains how to get the best jobs on Elance.
- Double your freelance rates by Brennan Dunn. Brennan grew his freelancing business into a fully fledged agency. He develops apps, but his techniques apply to any kind of freelancing.
- Ultimate guide to getting freelance jobs from Writers in Charge. It takes you through the whole process of starting out as a freelance writer.
- Yesware. There’s nothing worse than sending an email, only to get ignored. You start wondering if your email ended up in the spam folder or if they’re just not replying. Yesware is a gmail plugin that lets you track if people opened your email.
- Sign contracts over the internet using HelloSign. It has a free plan that allows you to get 3 documents signed per month. Documents signed with Hellosign are legally binding. Maybe now the fax machine will finally die.
- Freedcamp is an open source (a.k.a completely free) collaboration tool. It allows you to create a workspace where you can share files with different people.
- Organize your outreach efforts with Streak. Originally a sales plugin for Gmail, you can use it to keep track of your conversations with (potential) clients.
- Followup CC reminds you to follow up with people. Great for when you’re sending out a lot of pitches and you’re not getting replies back.
- Different types of clients and how to deal with them. While freelancing you’re going to meet a lot of different clients. Some can be good, some can be bad. This resource tells you how to handle the under-valuer, the family friend, and much more types of clients.
- Compfight allows you to search Flickr images. You can filter out by license, meaning that you can see which images are free to use.
- Death to the stock photo is a great alternative to the cheesy stock photos that dominate the web. You get a different pack of high-quality images sent to your inbox every month.
- Picjumbo. Another alternative to horrible photographs. You can filter by category and the images are free.
- Unsplash. Like death to the stock photo, you get images sent to you. The difference with Unsplash is that you get access to their previous images as well.
- Gratisography provides high quality images free of any copyright restrictions. Great if you’re looking for images to use on your blog.
- Canva is like Photoshop but for non-techy people. You can just drag and drop different parts. You also have access to a whole library of different design elements. Plus they have this handy guide to 74 stock photo resources.
What to do next
Now you have a bunch of tools you can use to become better at freelance blogging. Don’t get caught up in trying them all out at once. Take your time, pick one you like and try it out. Here’s what I want you to do now:
- In the comments below, tell me what resource you liked the most.
- Save this post by downloading the PDF version (get it here).
- Remember those people who think we’re idiots? Go tell them to stick it.