My favourite writing tools
There are lots of writing tools out there designed both to improve your writing or just make your life easier. If you’re the one in your business tasked with coming up with ideas or writing, it really does help to have a few of them to hand. Here are the ones I use most:
Typos are the devil’s work! They slip in unobtrusively, are very difficult to spot if you’re writing or proofing your own content and can irritate the hell out of some of your readers. Frankly, you can’t have enough help in the battle against them, and if you can afford it, get someone else to proofread your writing for you.
But, if you can’t and it’s just you in the fight against errors, then a great little tool is Grammarly.
It’s easy to install, highlights errors and suggests corrections. Great for if you’re working online, it doesn’t mean you don’t still have to check and re-check but it’s good for a belt and braces approach. You can even choose between American and English to help avoid those little anomalies of language such as our quirky old use of an “o” in the word colour or an “s” instead of a “z”.
Oh, how I love this one and so will you if you’ve wasted a few hours trying to beat WordPress’ readability scores. It’s really easy to use and understand and tells you all sorts of things, for example:
- if your sentences are too complex or long,
- if there is an easier word you could use,
- If you’ve used too many adverbs,
- if you’ve used the passive voice rather than the active!
If you’re prone to waffle, long sentences, corporate jargon etc. etc. jog on over to the Hemingway App on the double!
I’m guessing most of you have heard of Evernote? I love it because it’s not too complicated. I can write notes and ideas down when sitting through a carol concert or school play (not that I’m not paying full attention to my little ones of course) and can dictate into it when I’m walking the dogs. And there it all is on my desktop when I get back. I’ll never get rid of my trusted notebooks but Evernote certainly cuts down on the number I need and I like the fact that you can share your ideas with others.
I am a little obsessed with character and word counts but then I have to be. But then so do you, if you’re writing your own Meta data. One of the tools I use a lot is this little title and description counter tool. It’s particularly important if you’re not the one who is going to be uploading things on to the website. WordPress and Wix etc. often tell you if you’re under or over the character limit but if you’re not doing that bit, you won’t necessarily know and your beautifully written Meta title could get truncated!
Keyword research tools
I have to confess that I’m a promiscuous beast when it comes to keyword tools and I play around with a lot of them. Google has its own of course but I also use a mixture of Ahrefs (it’s not cheap but worth it if you’re using it a lot) and Mangools which has a free option which includes 5 lookups per 24 hours and 50 Keyword suggestions per search.
Thesaurus and a Dictionary of Idioms
Now here’s a crazy idea! Not every writing tool has to be digital. I do use an online version of Thesaurus but I also have a good old-fashioned paper version as well as several dictionaries and a dictionary of idioms, synonyms and antonyms. Sometimes, when you’re just stuck (either with an idea or a repetitive word), all it takes is a quick flick through the pages of one of these and hey presto …blockage unstuck!
Talking of paper based tools, as you’d expect, I’m both registered with and own copies of lots of copy and content writing resources which I dip into from time to time. My favourites have to be Drayton Bird’s How to Write Sales Letters that Sell, anything by Andy Maslen but in particular his Copywriting Sourcebook and Letting Go of the Words by Janice Redish – an absolute must read!
Google trends and other content idea generators
Talking of getting unstuck, coming up with new ideas for content which people are genuinely interested isn’t always easy. A good starting point, if you’re looking for something topical is https://trends.google.co.uk/trends/Google followed by Google auto-suggest – you know, when you type something into Google and it suggests other searches for you.
Another really easy platform to use is Pocket. I’ve got Pocket synced on my phone, laptop and desktop as well as integrated with Evernote. Just type in the subject you’re interested in and it throws up lots of content which you can read or save. This is great for just coming up with ideas or sharing interesting and relevant content.
Buzzsumo and Quicksprout are two great platforms to use to help you not just come up with ideas but also giving you a good idea of what works and what doesn’t. And no post would be complete without a quick mention of Hubspot’s blog title generator which is possibly the easiest tool you’ll ever use!
This post has the potential to be endless, and perhaps I’ll publish a sequel in the new year. There are simply hundreds of tools to help make your content writing easier and this is really just a handful of the ones you could choose. But I know it’s Christmas, time is precious and you have probably wasted enough of it, if you’ve read this far (but thank you).
Blog writing and other forms of content look set to remain a vital part of your marketing for the foreseeable future and even if you’ve chosen to major on video, you still need inspiration and material. I hope some of the above helps make the process of coming up with ideas and getting them written (even if that’s in a script), just a little easier.
If you’re still struggling, do drop me a line. I have a really comprehensive blog package and am just about to launch an upgraded version! So while I’m reluctant to call myself a tool, I might just be your most useful tool of 2018!
Happy Christmas one and all, and a wonderfully prosperous new year to you all!
PS. I had some lovely images to go with this post but “computer said no” and I lost the will to live!