Windows Live Writer was a surprising free utility offered by Microsoft as a way to post to multiple blogs with many of the modern conveniences of more powerful software like Microsoft Word, which the company killed off as a legitimate way to blog by having it produce garbage-filled HTML code. I still haven’t bothered to go back in and see if the new Microsoft Office 2010 editions generate better blog and web code when Microsoft Word is used to create blog posts via its “Share” function. WLW, on the other hand, created pretty decent code that was fully compatible with many blogging platforms including WordPress, which is the preferred software for me as a freelance writer.
As it turns out Windows Live Writer comes with plenty of useful features, although the one that ended up making me install Writer and stick with it was a real-time word counter that updates as you type your blog post. Professional writers are constantly asked to produce blog posts of a specific length, or at least a minimum word count, and getting a running total is one of the best ways to improve your productivity as a writer. For those of us who are fast-typing bloggers who like to include plenty of information including background material, research citations, what the exceptions to the rule are, and just plain old facts in our blog posts, it can be easy to run up to and past 500 words quickly.
Unfortunately, there is no extra reward nor higher paying writing gigs for those who exceed the 500 word word-count. Making a living as a freelance writer means making the best use of your writing talent and hours. Doing so requires not writing too much “extra” for free. This is especially true if you are going to write for low-paying freelance writing gigs. At $10 per post, for example, you better hit the supposedly SEO-optimized 300 word-count length and move onto the next thing as fast as possible, or you’ll just be working for minimum wage. But, with a word counter guiding you, a good writer can crank out such mindless articles in 10 minutes or less, which turns that $10 per post into $60 per hour, and that ain’t so bad.
Lately, there have been a few things about WLW that have made me long for a new version or an alternative software. I haven’t really found a blogging program that I like using enough to ditch Windows Live Writer, so an update to WLW seems like the best way to go. Fortunately, there is a Windows Live Writer beta download available now.
The WLW beta comes up with a splash screen on startup that says Windows Live Writer 2011 beta. That gives you some idea of what the target date for the finished product looks like. I have typed this post in the new Live Writer beta, and so far, so good, although I haven’t really tried to do anything other than type and post.
It does look like my settings were imported into the new software install, so I don’t have to re-enter all of my blog account information, which is a big time-saver. The interface looks clear and similar to the Office Ribbon toolbar interface, albeit with much fewer functions. If I’m lucky, looking up “previous posts” in the linking function has been tweaked. Right now, I get a very painful lag because I have several blogs configured and each has plenty of previous posts to go through. I’m hoping for some sort of caching or the ability to limit the previous post lookup to a single blog or domain name, but we’ll see.
Also, on first glance, it appears that Microsoft has righted a wrong-headed move it made with Windows Live software earlier where it forced an installation of an unrelated Seaport service onto your computer. I checked Process Explorer for seaport.exe and didn’t see it running, so hopefully that is true, and not just an indication of the boys in Redmond being more sneaky.
In the meantime, if you are using Windows Live Writer to produce your freelance writing business blog, or for some other purpose, you can download it now from Microsoft.