Tag Archives: writing resources

The Essential Freelancers Library

By Amanda Smyth Connor1219898_old_books____2

Every writer should have a solid library that consists primarily of the books that you find most interesting or most inspirational in terms of improving your personal creativity and writing style. However, there are a few basics that every freelancer should have at the ready to prevent you from getting into a sticky situation.

1. The Associated Press Stylebook. This is a no-brainer and most of you are probably in possession of this, however, if you are one of the last holdouts, do yourself a favor and buy a copy. This book will clearly outline how and when to use specific vocabulary, grammar and punctuation while also outlining basic media laws. I’ve been an editor for six years and I pull out this book at least once a week. It’s worth its weight in gold.

2. The Chicago Manual of Style. You need this book because not every client who hires you uses the AP style. Plenty of clients still prefer the Chicago style over the AP style, plus it includes updates for digital media guidelines. Cover your bases and have both of these style books at the ready.

3. The Elements of Style. This elegant little book is a guide to the principle elements of writing. This book is not a rule book like the first two entries in this post. It serves as more of a basic road map for writers of all levels to follow on their journey to improving their writing skills.

4. The Writer’s Block. This kitschy little book has pulled me out of more than a few situations whereupon I found myself staring at a blank screen with a blank mind for hours on end. It comes complete with “786 ideas to jump start your creativity” that include writing exercises, spark words and tips for finding inspiration. It’s cheap, it’s fun and I like to reference this little block-shaped book every few months when my creativity well runs dry.

Have I forgotten anything vital? What are your favorite reference books?

Amanda Smyth Connor is a SEMPO-certified SEO specialist, has managed online communities and nationwide marketing campaigns for several start-up and  Fortune 500 companies, and has been an editor for more years than she can remember. She also runs her own wedding planning company, Hummingbird Bridal and Events, throughout the northeast.

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One of my favorite royalty-free image sites is the cleverly named StockXchng.com. Browse from over a quarter of a million free images, and you can even create an account to upload your own. Want to get paid a small fee every time somebody uses that pic of your dog catching a frisbee with an exploding sand castle in the background? This is your first step into a larger world of images and royalties. You won’t get paid by Stock Xchng, but you might learn where to shop your photos from the community that’s grown around the site.

There are plenty of resources on this site for photographers and those who need images, and Stock Xchng just got new servers so the site moves faster than before…very nice indeed. By the way, Freelance-Zone.com has used images from this great resource on more than one occasion, so we figured it was time to give them some love.


Deborah Ng’s FreelanceWritingGigs.com is one of our favorite resource sites. There is a good mix of traditional gigs with blogger opportunities, and the presentation is top notch. One of my personal compaints about some writer’s sites with job listings is inherent user-unfriendliness. Not so with FreelanceWritingGigs.com.

For new writers, this site is a treasure trove. Jennifer Chait’s “So What” should be required reading for anyone who presumes to put up a blog about…anything. I am also a big fan of “writer beware” articles, and the piece warning about a content site called Giant Wow made me about as happy as I can get without a “paid on acceptance” check involved.

As a full-time writer, I find FreelanceWritingGigs.com quite useful in a number of areas. Anyone who doesn’t scour a fellow writer’s links section is cheating themselves out of gigs and networking opportunities. It’s also the chance to meet new people in the same boat–all still waiting for paychecks due two months ago, hunting high and low for another chance to throw some words together for money and make them stick. Your friends might not understand your job, and your family may still think you’re on some kind of extended vacation, but your fellow writers understand.

If you aren’t familiar with this excellent resource, hop on over and get acquainted with FreelanceWritingGigs.com. Highly recommended.