Section Two: Excel

Excel is part of the Microsoft family and is a powerful spreadsheet program designed for data organization, analysis, and storage. Its versatility makes it a must-have tool for freelance writers, especially when managing their business’s administrative and financial aspects.

I love using Excel to organize my to-do lists and invoices, arrange important data, create briefs, keep track of my monthly gigs, and more.



  • Versatile Data Management: Excel allows for the organization of almost any type of information, from client contact details to project timelines.
  • Invaluable for Financial Tracking: Perfect for keeping tabs on invoices, payments, expenses, and income.
  • Customizable Templates: Numerous templates are available to help manage various tasks, including budgeting, project tracking, and scheduling.
  • Advanced Analysis Features: Offers sophisticated tools for data analysis, such as pivot tables, charts, and formulas, which can provide insights into your freelance business.
  • Steep Learning Curve: The basic functions are straightforward, but mastering Excel’s advanced features can be challenging without dedicated learning time. Thankfully, writers don’t have to go too deep into those features.
  • Cost: It requires a Microsoft 365 subscription, adding to your overhead costs if you’re not already subscribed for other needs.

Tips for Writers

  1. Start with Templates: Excel offers a wide range of built-in templates for budgeting, invoicing, and project planning. These can simplify setting up your spreadsheets.
  2. Learn Basic Formulas: Familiarize yourself with simple formulas like SUM, AVERAGE, and COUNT. These can help automate calculations (like how much money you’ve made so far this month!), saving you time.
  3. Use for Submission Tracking: Create a spreadsheet to track your article submissions, including dates, responses, and publication statuses.
  4. Organize Your Invoices: Keep a detailed record of invoices and payments. Use conditional formatting to highlight overdue invoices or unpaid work.
  5. Plan Your Content Calendar: Excel is excellent for planning out your content schedule, allowing you to visualize deadlines and ensure a steady workflow.

Cool Features for Writers

  • Conditional Formatting: Automatically changes the formatting of cells based on their contents, which is ideal for tracking invoice statuses or deadlines.
  • Charts and Graphs: Visual representation of your earnings, submissions, and other metrics can provide clear insights into your freelance writing business.
  • Tabs: Hold and organize multiple projects, ideas, and more within a single document using the ‘Create Tab’ function, turning the document into a digital filing system.

Common Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Ctrl + N: Create a new workbook
  • Ctrl + O: Open an existing workbook
  • Ctrl + S: Save the current workbook
  • Ctrl + P: Print the current sheet
  • Ctrl + Arrow Key: Move to the edge of data regions
  • Ctrl + Shift + L: Toggle filters on and off
  • Alt + E, S, V: Paste special
  • F2: Edit the selected cell
  • F4: Repeat the last action or toggle absolute/relative references in formulas
  • Ctrl + T: Create a table from the selected date range