There are three kinds of jobs: easy to obtain but with poor compensation, hard to obtain but with great compensation, and then there are writing jobs. Writing, as a profession, doesn't fit into either of the first two categories. It's both hard to master and difficult to secure steady work, and excluding the odd bestselling novelist, most writers don't strike it rich. Instead, it's a job about passion. Most writers write because they love to write. They can't imagine doing anything but writing. Sometimes that means foregoing the comfort of a 9-to-5 job with benefits in lieu of consistent freelance work.
Of course, to be a freelancer, you are essentially your own boss. You have to be your own motivator, organizer, editor, and even accountant. Thank goodness, there are apps for that! Freelancing is hectic work, so anything that can make your job easier is more than welcome. The iPhone and iPad App Stores are rife with apps that can assist you in your day-to-day work, help you stay organized, and help you earn a living wage. Let's get started.
Before you get started, you need to minimize the clutter and maximize your efficiency. A few simple apps will take care of the heavy lifting for you.
This one comes standard with your iPad or iPhone, so you really have no excuse not to take advantage of it. The layout is brilliantly simple, and it syncs up with your iCal or Outlook calendars. It's imperative to keep track of your meetings and deadlines if you want to be taken seriously as a freelance professional. Hopefully, once you really get your foot in the door, your calendar will be full.
If you're like most people, you move from device to device as the day wears on. If you're juggling multiple projects, you need to keep those important files handy, no matter where you are. Dropbox is the most popular cloud resource around for a good reason: it's reliable and easy to use. With Dropbox in your arsenal, you'll actually never leave home without your files.
It's imperative to be well informed and have a broad knowledge base that allows you to undertake projects from multiple disciplines. You don't have to know everything, but you at least need to know where to look.
Wikipanion Plus for iPad
Everyone knows that you're not supposed to use Wikipedia as a source. That's true in academia and in the professional setting. Nevertheless, it's still useful to get some background on a topic, and the references at the end of each article can point you down more scholarly paths. Wikipanion Plus is not the best looking Wikipedia app (that award goes to Discover — Wikipedia in a Magazine, free, app2.me/4164), but it's easily the most useful, thanks to a built-in queue that lets you bookmark or store offline entries to read later. As a jumping off point for research, it's indispensable.
As expansive as Wikipedia is, it doesn't cover everything. For those writing in fields more closely aligned with mathematics and science—or if you simply need lots of detailed statistics—you'll want to head here. Consider WolframAlpha to be a sort of hive mind, a collective brain that houses nearly everything we as a species have come to know. Ask it a question, and you're more than likely to get the answer you seek.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary HD
Dictionaries are a writer's lifeblood, and nobody puts out an English language dictionary as well as Merriam-Webster. Earlier this year they released this gem of an iPad app, which not only looks outstanding, but also comes packed with features. A built-in thesaurus, example sentences, and voice search will help you (accurately!) spice up your copy, all while saving you precious time.
AP Stylebook 2011
You need a dictionary to assist you with issues of grammar. Likewise, you need this stylebook to help you finesse those words to perfection. Assuming you are working as a journalist, the AP Stylebook is your guide to acceptable word choice, voice, spelling, and style. With this app in your pocket, you won't need to memorize every minute detail, and it's great to have at your side whenever the occasion arises.
Reeder for iPad
As a freelance writer, you can never be sure where that next assignment will come from. As such, you have to be prepared for just about anything, and that means staying abreast of current events across a multitude of professions. Reeder taps into your Google Reader account, letting you quickly access numerous RSS feeds. Its design is simple, and you can rapidly separate the wheat from the chaff, starring important stories for later reading and ditching the unimportant fluff.
Now that you're all set, it's time to get your hands dirty. Ditch the pen and paper, toss out the typewriter, and box up that old computer. While you may want to invest in a Bluetooth keyboard, you can easily write your masterpieces on your mobile device.
Writing is an art, and like all artists, writers need to create a work environment conducive to their craft—which means eliminating distractions. IA Writer provides this sort of seclusion in app form. Gone are the multitude of distractions that come jam-packed into the major word processing suites. This app lets you stop worrying about font size, alignment, and formatting, and start writing.
Now that you've written your story, it's time to give it all the flourish it needs to look professional. Pages for iOS is not quite as robust as its Mac counterpart, but it's more than capable of getting the job done. You can easily export to .doc (or .docx), and with the upcoming additions to Apple's free iCloud service, you'll be able to instantaneously sync your work-in-progress between your iPad, iPhone, and Mac. In fact, you don't really need a Mac at all.
Even if your work is not for a blog, it's still a great idea to keep a personal or professional blog. Here you can let your potential employers get a taste of your writing style, and you can easily provide them with writing samples. Blogsy effortlessly connects you to WordPress, Blogger, Flickr, Picassa and YouTube, allowing you to maintain your portfolio with ease.
You'll need more than just access to phone and email to be successful in this world of split-second communication. Always being available via instant messaging and regularly touching base with your professional contacts is critical.
If you've obtained work from a number of organizations or individuals, you'll need to stay in touch with them. Meebo, much like its web counterpart, keeps you connected to all your contacts (it even lets you know via a notification when your connection eventually times out so you can reconnect). It integrates seamlessly with a host of networks—Facebook, AIM, Google Talk, and the like—so you never miss an important conversation.
Half of your job is writing; the other half is networking. LinkedIn keeps you connected to past and current colleagues and provides you with ample opportunities to make new ones. The app is not as functional as we would like, considering you can't update your profile in-app, but it has a gorgeous interface and makes it fun to browse for new leads and keep up with industry news. Keep an eye on your inbox, as you never know who might view your profile and take an interest in giving you a new contract.
Just as you aren't necessarily working regular hours, your pay is not regular, either. Working freelance requires financial planning.
Mint.com Personal Finance
As a freelancer, you're not counting on a regular paycheck. Your pay might come from numerous sources and at different times. It's imperative that you budget accordingly, and Mint's app lets you keep track of all your incoming revenue and outgoing expenses.
You're not a full-time employee, so it's likely that you're getting paid without income tax deductions. You'll need to make sure you pay your taxes quarterly or at the end of the year. Expect a new free app for 2011 later this year, but the premise is the same: prepare your taxes directly from your iPad and e-file them without delay.
As the Internet grows there are always new avenues for writers to pursue. Keep your eyes peeled for additional work, stay informed, and most importantly, keep your iPhone and iPad handy.
iOS5 and You
With each iOS update, new features are added that are
beneficial to the mobile professional. Copy and paste made a huge impact with iOS 3.0, multitasking opened up new doors with iOS 4.0, and with iOS 5.0 this fall, you're getting Reminders. As your workload increases, you'll need to set milestones for yourself, and Reminders will help you organize your milestones by alerting you at the appropriate times and places (thanks to GPS integration). The new Notifications center will also help you keep track of alerts if they come in rapid succession.
You may have already developed an affinity for Google Apps, especially Google Docs. Although there isn't an official app for these, the web version for Mobile Safari has been gradually improving. Newly created docs are now fully editable, and older docs can be made editable by their original creator. The features are not as plentiful as in Pages, but the ability to edit simultaneously with peers is a huge plus, especially if you are collaborating on a story. Make sure to bookmark it or create a home page icon for quick access.