What Kind of Software Would Help You as a Writer?

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on January 25, 2011 in Freelance Writing Business
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I'm affiliated with a software developer and we're in talks to work on a joint project. As of now it looks like that project will most likely be for a market of writers. Before we make any final decisions I wanted to put it out there for you. What kind of software would make your life easier as a writer -- either as freelance writers or indie publishers more specifically?

  • Do you want software that helps you manage files, client details or other organizational tasks?
  • Do you need software that would help with project development and management?
  • Do you want some kind of advanced editing software for your indie published works?

The one area we absolutely won't work within is invoicing / financial management. There's too much liability in that area when talking about connecting to people's financial accounts, it would be a conflict of interest for the developer due to other work, and frankly I think there are plenty of options already available on that front.

Other than that, we're completely open to suggestions. So please, leave a comment below and tell us what kind of software solutions you're most interested in as a writer. This would be for a long-term project, but before we begin the real work on feature planning and development we want your feedback. After all, the software would be for you.

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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She began writing for clients in 1999 and started her first blog in 2004.

She owns 3 Beat Media - a publishing and client services company which operates All Indie Writers as well as several other websites and blogs including The Busy Author's Guide and BizAmmo. Jenn comes from a background in online PR and social media consulting, having owned a small PR firm for several years before choosing to pursue a full-time writing and publishing career.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names in the areas of children's fiction, mysteries, and horror fiction. Jenn is an active member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and currently serves as the organization's Assistant Coordinator of Promotions and Social Media.


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16 Comments

  1. Jennifer Mattern January 25, 2011 Reply

    Hmmm. I’m not sure if that’s something he’d know how to do (I know even things like Dragon Naturally Speaking have taken years to get even remotely close, and that involves voice training), but I’ll definitely add it to the list to run by him. :)

    I like the marketing tracking idea too. If we go with something along those lines I’ll be sure to post announcing it later to get feature requests so he knows exactly what people want. :)

  2. WebMistresGina January 25, 2011 Reply

    I’d actually like something that would help with focus and time management. I had found a listing, but it mostly had stuff for Macs (and I’m a PC) or it was simple enough that Outlook could be substituted.

    Actually, could there be software that would integrate with Outlook or Google calendar (for instance) that could focus on managing time? Like, there was a really good program that would turn off/block social network sites or sites that you spend too much time on that aren’t work.

    Oh and could it be free? I’m not big time, so paying for software is on the low scale for me right now.

    • Jennifer Mattern January 25, 2011 Reply

      If you can think of the Mac program that looked good, do let me know so I can have him take a look at the features and such involved. :)

      As for it being free, the full version won’t likely be. This is a commercial endeavor (a way to finally make more from this site for me, and a way to let him earn more through independent development work to see if it’s something he might want to pursue more in the future). But what I’m trying to convince him to do is have a “light” version for free, and then keep the advanced version as the paid version. It sounds like we’re on the same page with that for now, so more than likely the basic functionality will be free with whatever we put together, but until we have a final decision on the product, features list, etc. and we’re ready to go to market, I don’t want to make any promises on that front.

  3. Tony Smith January 25, 2011 Reply

    I’d like to see a more robust spinning program on the market so that I could take old articles and reuse them as unique content. The current spinning programs take so long to use that it’s arguably easier to just rewrite the articles.

    • Jennifer Mattern January 25, 2011 Reply

      That one I’m really not sure about. I’m very against spinning programs on a personal level because even though there might be legit uses, they’re more often than not used in content theft and plagiarism — not something I’d be willing to associate this site with since I’d be sponsoring the program and handling all of the marketing and PR behind it. Sadly the scum of the earth has already done too much to ruin the reputation of that niche, and that’s not something I’d want associated with the reputation of this site or this overall audience. :(

  4. Cathy Miller January 25, 2011 Reply

    I love the idea of tracking for marketing. I use an Excel spreadsheet that tracks the tasks (I recreated it from CJ Hayden’s Get Clients Now book). I planned on getting it more automated, but have not gotten around to it.

    It tracks tasks and dates completed, but, like Lori, I’d like a more automated follow-up (since I do that manually, any automation is a step up). :-).

    Then I have a separate goals & objectives. Automating that would be cool. Then you could incorporate marketing objectives, but one system that tracks targeted goals and month-to-month status would be great. I know there are software programs out there for setting goals, but one with a freelance writer bent would be great.

    I also like your idea for advanced editing. I recently read of something for MS Word that can be used to check the duplication of words. I think it’s an add-on to Word (I have to find that post). I tend, especially in blogging, to overuse certain words or phrases. An automated editing that picks up repeated words could be helpful, along with other automated editing.

    Can’t wait to see what you come up with.

  5. Tony Smith January 25, 2011 Reply

    I see your point Jennifer. It’s definitely a case of bad apples ruining the bunch. I was looking at it from a productivity viewpoint as a working freelancer, but I can see how many seedy Internet Marketers would exploit a program like that.

  6. Lori January 25, 2011 Reply

    Top on my wish list would be a program that allows me to tape and transcribe interviews on my computer. I think Google Voice comes close, so I may have already found that solution.

    Next is help with tracking my marketing. I do okay, but I could do better. Any software that allows me to build client lists and track each one, including giving me reminders for follow-ups, would be super.

  7. Diana January 25, 2011 Reply

    Management software is a desperate need at my office. (Well, desperate in the fact that I NEED it, not that I’ve looked real hard for it ;p ) Something that manages files/projects/clients in one big package would be nice (if it can fit copies of the invoices in there, gravy). Or the time management stuff mentioned above would be grand too.

  8. Wendy S. Johnson January 25, 2011 Reply

    I vote for organizational software. That would be great to be able to organize my files for easier access. It would also be great if it were a software that wasn’t too difficult to figure out how to run. I seem to lack the ability to learn programs like that quickly.

  9. Jess Haynes January 25, 2011 Reply

    I believe the most helpful software across the board would be a project planning/calendaring system. It should allow you to outline project steps and then automatically add them to your calendar, syncing with popular programs (by creating a calendar file) and/or being available for printing. I would use this to plan projects and to create a marketing calendar, as well as CRM by creating this with each client, potentially even leads. I would LOVE to have a tool like this.

  10. Sarah January 25, 2011 Reply

    i’m not sure if this is software or if there is a free version already out there, but I would love to have a calendar on my website that a client can request to input their project, I can accept and mark off the time, and then we are both emailed “X hours for week X?2011 to X/X/2011. Then other clients can come in and see whether time is available or not.

    I’ve really tried to maintain my own calendar for projects, but I have found that everyone …just readjusts the timeline so then I’m the idiot scrambling to work round the clock to make it work.

    In regards to the marketing ideas/software suggestions – I probably wouldn’t go there as an excel sheet works well enough for me (why complicate things), but who knows.

    • Jess Haynes January 26, 2011 Reply

      Sarah, you may want to try using Google Calendar on your website for that. I am fairly certain that, at a minimum, clients could check your availability on that.

      And re: spreadsheeting your marketing info, maybe you could share your methods since other freelancers seem to need help in that area.

  11. That’s funny!

    I want a software that can WRITE FOR ME! ;-)

  12. Fiona Johnston February 25, 2011 Reply

    Above blogsite is the nearest to a website so apologies for this. Anyway, when I am writing, my favourite software is New Novelist. I have been toying with the idea of updating but I am sitting on my hands for a while. Two other pieces are WriteItNow4 and Movie Outline but NN is the best as it stimulates the thought processes.

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