One of the things a freelance writer has to keep track of, apart from deadlines and invoicing and that sort of thing, is word count. If an editor says they want you to provide an article of 800 words, they mean an article of 800 words, not 1000 words or 600. While you might be able to get away with a few extra or too few words, you need to be as close to the specification as possible.
One of the curious things I’ve discovered is that different applications provide a different word count for the same document. Try it: find the word count of a document in Word, Pages and Google Docs: they’re all different. Hence my comment that you might be able to get away with a slight deviation from the target length.
I’ve been using WordCounter for all my articles for quite a while now, for three reasons.
Firstly, it’s convenient. If, say, I wish to find out how many words I’ve written in one of my blog posts, I don’t have to fire up Word or anything else: I can just copy and paste the text into WordCounter.
Secondly, using it for all my articles provides consistency, which is handy when sending several articles to one editor.
Thirdly, it means that whatever device I’m using and whatever application, I can obtain a word count as long as I have internet access. For example, I might use a notes app to write an article on my Kindle Fire, which for some reason won’t let me access Google Docs. No matter, I can still get a word count.
WordCounter provides other information too, such as the number of unique words you’ve used and how many times you’ve used words (word density), the reading age of the piece, how long the average person would take to read it and, bizarrely, how long it would take you to have written the article by hand. More usefully, if you’re working on a presentation, is “speaking time”.
Here’s a screenshot to give you a better idea of what all this data looks like:
And here’s another section, showing word density:
Although I’ve been using WordCounter for ages, I’ve only recently registered on it. The cost is zero, but it enables you to maintain a log of your activity, I am hoping to see an upward trajectory!
Here’s the link to WordCounter again.