Write On! The 10 Best Online Tools + Apps For Writers
Have you ever been hit with a great idea only to let it evaporate away by not finding the time to jot it down? If you’re not the pen and paper type, but you’re searching for ways to help you improve your craft, why not coax out that inner writer with the best writing tools and apps that the web has to offer? Whether you’re pages into your first novel, posting an article to your blog or sharing content between multiple users, these 10 tools are sure to make writing manageable, shareable and distraction-free.
1. Penultimate (Free): If you’re already a loyal Evernote user, than you’ll love their iPad app. It’s free of clutter, but packed with tools. All of your notes are searchable and available to you on any computer or mobile device.
2. Storehouse (Free): This iPad app offers a simple way to tell a story by combining text, photos and wonderful layouts. Tell your story from any device, anywhere. You can share travel adventures, culinary journeys, short stories or journal entries. Storehouse is there for you to design your own tale to tell in whatever way you want to tell it.
3. GoodNotes 4 ($6): Have you ever heard of digital ink? GoodNotes 4 is where you get it. This app for iPads and iPhones lets you take handwritten notes, sketch diagrams, mark-up PDFs and organize every last one of them. If you want to feel like you’re truly touching pen to paper, check out Adonit’s Jot Stylus, which works seamlessly with the app.
4. Draft (Free): Draft’s goal is to give writers what they need to be better at what they do. This free site is a strong believer that all writers, even the greats, don’t do it alone. Draft gives you the option of inviting people to pick at your words. If you like the suggestions your friends or editors suggest, Draft is able to track those changes and allows you to accept or reject them. Another nod to great writers is Draft’s Hemingway mode, playing off of the idea that writing and editing are two separate entities. When Draft is set to Hemingway mode, you can only move forward; no deleting, no going back. It’s meant for you to write now and edit later.
5. Poetica (Free): It’s all about collaboration in this space where writers can get a little help from their friends. Whether you’re writing a WordPress blog post, an email in Gmail or drafting a document in Word, you can share it on Poetica to get another pair of eyes to glance over it. This site can save your work and import PDFs. If you’re in need of a proofreading tool, then Poetica is your answer.
6. Penflip (Free): Fans of GitHub’s platform better give Penflip a go. Creator, Loren Burton said, “It’s not a stretch to imagine the usefulness of a GitHub platform for non-developers — authors, teachers, students — though as much as I search, I can’t seem to find one. So I’m building it myself.” Penflip’s platform (built off of none other than GitHub), operates for hosting, collaborating and publishing writing project like novels, eBooks, textbooks, research papers and more. A great asset of Penflip is the opportunity to work offline and make your projects public or private, but private projects come with price.
7. Shareist ($10): Shareist is a button for your web browser that helps you plan, produce and distribute content and measure results. First, capture text, documents, links, videos, tweets, quotes or images. Then, Shareist lets you tag and comment on them, essentially turning your inspirations into social media posts, personal notebooks, blog posts, email newsletters or eBooks. This will be your go-to content market platform where you can connect all the services that you already publish to (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, WordPress, Constant Contact). Plus, it can be used individually or as a team.
8. Writer Pro ($20): Writer Pro is a writing suite that boldly goes where no other writing app has gone before. It’s no wonder it’s dominating the app store rankings. Most would say it’s because of the app’s workflow design, which helps writers develop their writing. Writer Pro creates an environment for users to focus on the task at hand, streaming the writer through a process of getting ideas out in “Note,” fleshing them out in “Write,” progressing to “Edit” for refinement, then on to “Read” when complete. If you’re looking for a tool to guide you through the writing process from start to finish, Writer Pro is it.
9. Grammarly ($12): Don’t have an editor but need another set of eyes to help perfect your writing? Get Grammarly. This tool is akin to your very own grammar coach that can proofread and correct up to 10 times more mistakes than a regular word processor. Grammarly also helps you avoid plagiarism and improves your text by correcting grammar, word choice, spelling and style mistakes.
10. WriteRoom ($10): This word processor throwback is essentially a blank sheet of paper for Mac users; a full-screen writing environment with a minimalistic approach, unlike the cluttered word processors of today. Writing without distractions is WriteRoom’s forte. No need to fiddle with embellishments. It’s just you and the screen, simple as that.
Help a writer out! What other online tools and apps do you find helpful to your life as a writer? Share with us in the comments below!
Welcome to Selfmade Finance School, our new money series with Block Advisors to help small business owners with their tax, bookkeeping, and payroll needs year-round. This week, we explore the tax implications of bringing family members into your business.
The question for today is this: Does hiring your family members make sense for your business? Let me be clear. This is not a piece about whether hiring your family members makes sense for your relationships with those family members. As someone who is part of a family business, I could fill up a lot more than 600 words on my opinions about that. For today's purposes, we focus on whether it makes sense from an overall "good business and tax implication" perspective. As it turns out, there is a decent amount of tax nuance when it comes to employing your family. Let's break it down based on relationship to the employee:
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Spouses Who Are In Business Together
Personally, if I had to be in business with my husband, it would not go well. However, many couples build viable, strong businesses together and I say, good for them! Depending on how you have your business entity structured, it will make a big difference on the tax treatment of you and your spouse working as partners. Because a business jointly owned and operated by a married couple is generally treated as a partnership for Federal tax purposes, the spouses must comply with filing and record keeping requirements imposed on partnerships and their partners. The election to file two Schedule C (Form 1040) forms, (one for each spouse) permits certain married co-owners to avoid filing partnership returns, provided that each spouse separately reports a share of all the businesses' items of income, gain, loss, deduction, and credit. Under the election, both spouses will be subject to self-employment tax and on net earnings from self-employment and receive credit for Social Security earnings.
One Spouse Employs Another
If you have a dynamic where your spouse is an employee of your business, then your spouse's wages are subject to income tax withholding, Social Security and Medicare taxes. If you are self-employed (not a corporation or a partnership), your spouse's pay does not have to be included in your federal unemployment tax account (FUTA) contributions and payments. However, if your business is a corporation or a partnership you must include that spouse's pay in your unemployment tax contribution calculation.
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You Employ Your Child
First, let's be clear. I work in my family business, but I am an adult, so I am treated just like a normal employee. However, if you, for example, run a family restaurant and want to hire your children under 18 to work for you, there are some tax benefits. But first, you should check with your state for rules on how many hours minors can work (in non-agricultural jobs) and reference the Fair Labor Standards Act for information on limitations on the kinds of work children can perform.
"This is an often overlooked or under-utilized strategy. Paying your children for true services they provide in your business can be a powerful tax-saving tool," says Cathi Reed, Block Advisors Regional Director. "If you are a sole-proprietorship or single member LLC, and the child is less than 18 years of age, the business is not required to withhold FICA or payroll taxes. The child can use his or her standard deduction against income you pay."
You Hire Your Parent
Oh dear. If you are brave enough to do this, know that you will need to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes on your parent's wages and make the appropriate withholdings, but you don't have to pay unemployment taxes. Now all you have to do is convince your parent that you are the boss. Have fun with that!
Is Hiring Family Members Worth It For The Tax Benefits?
"There are some positive tax advantages to hiring family members. It's important to treat a family member like any other employee. Hiring your children can result in substantial savings for businesses. Make sure your child has real, age-appropriate work to do and a reasonable pay rate, comparable to other employees. Consult with a Block Advisors small business certified tax pro to ensure that you are complying with all requirements," advises Reed. "Block Advisors, a team within H&R Block, is dedicated to meeting the tax, bookkeeping and payroll needs of small business owners year-round. To start working with the tax experts at Block Advisors, visit blockadvisors.com."
In my opinion, you should not hire a family member solely because of the tax benefits. You should always hire based on whether that person is right for the job and keep in mind how this hire could materially impact your relationship with that person and others in your family. Finally, as I mentioned, make sure you have a tax professional on your team when making these determinations. As you can see, things can get a little tricky!
*All details were sourced from IRS.gov and blockadvisors.com