The Tools I Love for my Writing Business

Valentine’s Day has come and gone but love is still in the air – at least when it comes to the Word Carnival I take part in every month. The thing is, I’ve already talked about romance and my writing business, so this month I’m going to do something different and share the tools I love for my writing business. I’ve written about this before, but here are some new additions to the list:


Writing – the Easy Way

Dragon Naturally Speaking – this tool has saved my bacon multiple times. Most writers get wrist-ache occasionally, and it could be a sign of carpal tunnel or RSI. I’m no exception. On the days when the wrist straps won’t cut it, Dragon ensures I can do the work I need to do and not miss a client deadline. I recently upgraded to the latest version which works even more smoothly, integrates with external sources and features some cool phrase template features. Click the link above to check out my review of the previous version.

Saving My Research

Pocket – I’m always looking for new ways to bookmark and save the stuff I like. I used Pocket a while back when it was called Read it Later and have recently returned to the fold. One click saves something to read later and I can tag it if I want to. Then I usually download it on my phone and read it at my leisure. It’s become a great way to keep track of research for different projects. Runner-up: the Send to Kindle Chrome and desktop tool from Amazon.

Keeping Track of Numbers

Wave Accounting – While I’m not scared of numbers, I don’t enjoy tracking them, but in the past year I’ve moved from my Excel spreadsheet to an online accounting package, Wave Accounting. I like the at-a-glance reporting on the financials of my writing business and they have recently added the ability to send estimates from within the web application. I can invoice in different currencies too, which is vital as I have clients paying me from 5 or 6 countries.

Making Images Pop

Pixlr – this is an online photo editing tool. I only started using it recently, but it’s come in handy for enhancing and adding text to images to accompany posts. Since one of my goals this year is to market myself more through the blog on, this will be very handy.

Social Sharing – Content curation is hot and as a writer I read a lot of stuff I want to share. makes it easy for me to do this from a single location. Once you set up a topic, link your main social media profiles to your account and grab the browser bookmarklet you can share anything simultaneously – and can even edit the update for the different networks. It integrates with my other favorite tool, Buffer, too!

Business Networking

LinkedIn – OK, maybe love is overstating the case for LinkedIn, because I don’t really love ANY social network (that’s a discussion for another post), but I love the connections they help me to make. In the past, I’ve made lots of friends using Twitter and Facebook, but I’m now focusing on LinkedIn to connect more with the clients I want to serve. For me, less is more, which is why I pared down the groups I belong to so that I can focus my interaction on the ones I enjoy. And more is more, which is why I’ve made a point of posting something to my LinkedIn company page or profile a few times a week.

What tools do you love that make it easier to do business?

This post is part of the awesomeness that is the Word Carnival, originated by the fabulous Tea Silvestre, the Word Chef. Click the link to read more posts on this month’s theme: All You Need is Love.

Image: Matthew Allard/Flickr

About Sharon Hurley Hall

Sharon Hurley Hall has been mentoring writers here at Get Paid To Write Online since 2005 to help them improve and build sustainable and successful writing careers. Check me out on Feel free to connect with me online on Google+.


  1. Your post reminds me that it’s time for me to upgrade my Dragon. And the bonus is that I learned about a lot of cool tools! Thanks for sharing these, Ms. Sharon. I’m particularly intrigued by…will let you know how that goes.

    • The new version is totally worth it, Tea. With all you share on marketing, I would think that would be a good fit for you – look forward to hearing how it goes. Oh, and I’ve reviewed it in detail a couple of times, so let me know if you need the links. 🙂

  2. It’s your fault I’ve started using buffer — and I LOVE IT, so thank you for that tip.

    I’m all about Siri dictation. But back in the day I used to be a Dragon Naturally Speaking kind of guy. Dictation tends to add a little bit more flavor into what you’re writing, more so than what you would pen out while writing polished prose.

    Your new website is looking really cool, I’m excited to see what you do there.

    Things like Pocket and Instapaper I have a hard time using because I never get back to them to read them or share them out. Any tips on that? Do you add it into your weekly system maybe?

    Thanks for some great recommendations – I’ll be adding a few of these into the mix!

    • I’ll gladly take the blame for Buffer, Nick. 🙂

      What’s made the difference for me with Pocket is my smartphone. When I’m on the phone, I use it to save things I want to do something with when I’m at the computer. I check through about once a week to make sure I’m up to date. When I’m at the computer, I save things I know I’ll want to keep as a reference. I don’t use it for short posts; usually for in-depth tutorials or resource lists.

  3. Nice list, Sharon! I’ve heard of Dragon and I know plenty of people swear by it but I never tried it. It sounds like it could be good for me except I’d probably have to learn to speak a lot more slowly 🙂 My brain whizzes pretty fast.

    I use Instapaper, which is similar to Pocket but I have a soft spot for its developer. It works perfectly for what I need it for, which is bookmarking all those ideas that come by the dozens.

    I also use Google reader with an IFTTT function that sends anything I “favorite” to an Evernote folder…. sounds complicated, but at the end of the day whenever I find an article that I want to keep, all I have to do is click the star and it gets stored in Evernote so I can refer to it later.

    I love anything that makes life easier!

  4. So pleased to have read your review on Dragon Sharon, will be gifting this to my husband who is a copywriter and whose long hours at the keyboard have begun to show! And thanks for the scoop on Scoop it 🙂 What a simple but excellent tool. Is buffer the same?

    • Glad to help, Sandy. My husband, who is also a writer, uses Dragon all day, every day.

      Buffer is a multiple social sharing and scheduling tool. I use it a lot for the Carnival posts to avoid overwhelming my Twitter stream. It simply means that the buffered tweets (or LinkedIn and Facebook shares) appear in my stream at times I’ve previously set). It’s a great tool!

  5. Been a fan for while, Sharon, and I love the simplicity and the concept.

    I knew it would be risky to read your post since I was certain you’d send me off in all kinds of directions to check out all kinds of tools … and you have! LOL!

    I possess a big affinity for tools, in general. Even the kind we use in the real world. You know … like when you need to grab a pipe wrench to fix a plumbing problem. Most women would probably cringe to know I have three tool boxes in my garage. 😉

    Thanks for sharing some awesome resources!

    • Oh, you’re one of those people, too, Melanie? The web is littered with my profiles on sites and web apps I tried. Some I’ve abandoned; others I use all the time. I just can’t stop myself from trying them. 🙂

  6. Great new tools for getting writing and blogging done. I’m on the fence about scoop it though. Tried it but found it hard to use. Ok, Sharon, with your endorsement I’ll try it again.

  7. Sharon which version of Dragon are you on? I have it (got it over a year ago) but go frustrated with how slow it went and that it seemed to fail to understand or recognize common words.

    On another front, may I say I love your mind. It’s flexible enough to be creative, yet I can almost see the thought process and logic.

    • I’m using Dragon 12, Nicole, and it rocks! While it can integrate with practically everything on your computer, I prefer to use it as a straight dictation tool – it’s much faster that way. And you need to train it to your linguistic quirks. When I first started using it, I had some trouble with plurals but now it works like a charm.

      Thanks for the kind words. 🙂

  8. Love new toys and I always know your toy box is full of good ideas, Sharon. I dabbled with Dragon, but have not used it for a full-fledged project. I’ll have to re-visit it.

    I’m with you on the paring back, Sharon. I simply cannot handle all the platforms out there and feel good knowing that I am totally okay with that. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing your list, Sharon.

    • I once used Dragon to dictate a dissertation, Cathy, and back then it wasn’t as good as it is now – I’m definitely a fan, as you can probably tell.

      Yes, there are a lot of platforms – I can feel that post coming on. 🙂

  9. DUDE! I had used Pocket before but never heard of Send to Kindle – what an awesome tool! Checking that out, and, and Wave. So many good resources here, thank you for sharing! (I have the Dragon app on my iPad but haven’t used it much yet…I totally should though, especially for when I get ideas but I’m too lazy to find a pen and write them down. 😉 )

    • Send to Kindle is a keeper, Michelle – since I take my Kindle with me most places, it gives me the advantage of being able to read articles on a bigger screen than the one on my phone. 🙂

  10. I’ve always wondered about the dragon tool…but Siri hates me and seems to think I am difficult to understand, so after she made me all self-conscious I’ve stayed away!

    Great list here!

  11. Hello Sharon,
    Wow!!! what a great post and ii loved it. the tools you mentioned are truly worth to check out. Thanks

  12. You know I’m another Dragon nut Sharon. 🙂 But lately I’ve been using Swype (an android app also from Nuance) more for voice-to-text. It’s more portable which is great, and I can’t wait to “write’ while gardening this spring. But it’s actually been more accurate for me too, which is strange since their full software trains to recognize your voice. I just use it with Google Drive when I want easy access to the files on my laptop without having to transfer things.

    • Ooh, thanks for that, Jenn. I have an Android phone and had heard about Swype, but somehow I’d thought it was just an alternative text input app – now that I know you can dictate with it, it’s much more interesting.

      Update: Downloading it now! 🙂

      • The built-in voice recognition in Android is pretty good in its own right. But it doesn’t acknowledge some commands we might need when writing — like “new paragraph” and “quotes.” That’s the biggest reason I switched to it. If Android’s default had all of the editing options I need, I’d probably stick with it. But in the meantime Swype is awesome. 🙂

  13. LOVE Swype, Jenn! It’s fantastic for voice recognition. Also, the newer Windows 7 computers all seem to come with Voice Recorder built in, which is the same as Dragon and seems to be just as accurate.

    Sharon, thanks for the list. I’m going to give Pocket a try, for sure, as well as the others. LinkedIn — I like it, too. Probably my favorite way to get in touch with potential clients.

    • Thanks for your input, Lori. I think I’ll soon be a Swype fan-girl. I was disappointed when Dragon withdrew its Android product; I never realized it was because they had Swype!