As a freelance author, wife, and mom of two young children, I’m always on the lookout for certain things online. Whether it’s a recipe for a more edible version of the Tofurky® fiasco I served up last year during my family’s annual holiday meal, arts and crafts to keep my girls occupied while I work, or a smartphone app to help me stay in touch with my clients, I can find it all online. But last spring the process of finding that kind of information became a lot easier, not to mention faster.

Contemporary Bloggers Need Current Hardware

For those who enjoy the lightning speed and tech-savvy features of Windows 7, brace yourselves for my next statement. Until last spring I was still clinging to a dinosaur of a desktop computer that operated with an archaic version of Windows XP. I know; I know. Why didn’t I try Windows 7? Why didn’t I upgrade? The truth is, I was comfortable in what I knew and mistakenly assumed it was good enough to get by. I had no idea what I was missing.

Before you go looking for new tech tools, make sure your hardware is current. If you’re not sure what to get, the internet is a great place to start researching. A lot of my information came from listening to Affiliate Buzz’ host James Martell’s helpful podcasts. While they cover a broad range of topics with a wide array of guests, one of my favorites featured his son Justin. It even offered advice on upgrading my smartphone to, well, something smarter! Once my hardware was updated, I turned to the internet to look for new technology to help me get success as a professional blogger. Here are some of the ones that impressed me, and if you’re a writer maybe they’ll help you as well.

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Word Processor

Something that stood out across all the various types were the amount of free word processors that are available for writers, students, and anyone else who doesn’t have a copy of MS Office. Two that stood out over the competition were RoughDraft and OpenOffice.

White Boards

Usually associated with web conferences or online classrooms, whiteboards allow groups to collaborate and compare versions of their work. I introduced one of my clients to Writeboard, a web-based whiteboard, and it’s now our primary method of communication. You can even find white boards for iPad which allow you to work from anywhere – just make sure to use an iPad security cable lock so your device doesn’t disappear if you have to turn your attention elsewhere.

Writer’s Block

This is the bane of all writers, no matter what the medium for their work. The Imagination Prompt Generator stimulates the writer’s daydreams, putting them into reality with a starting phrase or sentence. Another useful tool is The Story Starter, which boasts over 300 million sentences to help inspire new written work.

Dictionary & Thesaurus

I still have the Webster’s dictionary and Roget’s thesaurus that I used through high school and college. But when I’m working online it’s just more convenient to pull up a website. My personal favorites are powered by tried and true names like Cambridge and Merriam-Webster, but also include new variations like Urban Dictionary, which defines slang, and VisuWords, which uses graphics.


This one is tricky. Are you going for grammar, or grammar and style? MS Office 2010 allows users to toggle between the two options in its auto-correct feature. However, websites like Grammar Girl offer podcasts that help remember standard grammar rules, and PolishMyWriting has a free service called “After the Deadline” that checks spelling and grammar while also offering style suggestions.

Thanks to online tools for bloggers, my blog has more followers and page views than ever. The content is compelling, and because I can do more work in less time, I was able to pay more attention to updating the appearance to better match my contemporary writing style. And of course, I still use some of the resources from my days of slogging through the web on my former dinosaur of a machine. Podcasts on James Martell’s site covering topics like using social media to increase blog traffic, effective use of backlinks, and staying organized are also a big help plus the resources found on

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