Even the experts will tell you that blogging isn’t easy. Whether you’re a creative writer trying to get traction, or a small business owner crafting content as part of your marketing strategy, it’s easy to get bogged down by inertia, lack of inspiration, editing, and SEO needs.
Writing for the internet is not like writing internal communications, for newspapers, or for your own experimental expression. Not only do you need to create engaging articles that draw in (and keep) readers, you need to outfit those articles with the correct keywords, formatting, and media to attract the attention of search engines as well.
Your issue might be a lack of search optimization knowledge, or it might be writer’s block. Luckily, we live in an era of a plethora of free or inexpensive digital tools, which can help all of us to be better and more productive writers and bloggers.
Bloggers with any goal, of any skill level, will do themselves a favor by exploring what using the following 9 best writing tools can do for them:
The 9 Best Writing Tools in 2019
- CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer
- HubSpot’s Blog Idea Generator
- Hemingway Editor
- OneLook Reverse Dictionary
- Yoast SEO
We’ll dive into each one individually.
Wordable is a tool that lets you upload Google Docs drafts to WordPress, fully formatted and with images included, in just a few seconds. Many of us know the pain of writing up a blog post in a Google Doc, then copy and pasting it over—just to find that the formatting is all off and all your time spent working on the spacing and headers and font was a waste.
If you value your time as a writer and a creator, Wordable is a no brainer.
2. CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer
One of the most difficult parts of writing a blog post is coming up with a headline. Your headline needs to be informative, powerful, and engaging. It needs to have a certain number of words and/or characters. And it should never be click-bait.
You could spend hours tweaking your headline blindly, or use CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer, which gives your headline idea a score based on a number of factors, including the use of emotional or uncommon words, your “first and last” word choices, and even the sentiment. (Hint: Write one that is strongly positive or negative, not neutral.) Content with a bad headline is rarely read, no matter how good the body copy, which is what makes the Headline Analyzer one of the best online writing tools on this list.
3. HubSpot’s Blog Idea Generator
Here’s the thing about blogging: You can’t just do it “every once in awhile” or “sometimes.” One of the keys to success is having a regular blogging schedule, as a part of your content marketing strategy, and sticking to it. Not only will readers come to expect your content, but you’ll be better at writing it because you’ll have more practice.
The problem? Coming up with ideas. That’s where a tool like Hubspot’s Blog Idea Generator comes in. Input up to five nouns related to your niche or industry, and the generator will come up with as many as 250 blog titles for you to riff on. Not every suggestion is a winner, but the sheer number of ideas will be enough to help you get the ball rolling every time you need to.
Writing on a computer is advantageous in so many ways, it’s easy to forget about the ways in which it hinders us. It’s easy to get distracted by the world of information and communication just a few keystrokes away with most text editors, like Google Docs or your WordPress.
One of the better options for remaining focused while you write is using Calmly. Calmly is a simple platform with a simple mission: keep you writing. You can use it to tune out everything else on your computer screen while you write. In “Focus Mode,” you can go as far as tuning out everything but the paragraph you’re working on. You’d be surprised how much more you get done when you can only focus on the next line of your article.
It doesn’t matter if you’re an award-winning journalist or a writing newbie: No one likes transcribing. If you want to interview someone—an expert in a field, a fellow business owner—to provide more insight and context, but dread the idea of transcribing their answers, use Otter.
Otter is one of the better transcription apps available today. You can generate conversation transcriptions instantly, including breakdowns by speaker, and additional information such as keywords and searchable text. No more spending countless hours rewinding and rewriting—because sometimes, the best writing tools are ones that help you write less.
Great writers aren’t always great editors, as this helpful writing assistant teaches us on a daily basis. Grammarly—which functions as an online text editor as well as a browser plug-in, so all of your writing across all platforms is scrutinized—reviews your writing for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. The premium version also checks for plagiarism (unintentional or otherwise) and vocabulary enhancement suggestions.
If you don’t have access to a copy editor who can look over your blog posts before you post them, a tool like Grammarly is the next best thing.
7. Hemingway Editor
Our first time through a new article or story, we tend to overwrite. We add extraneous words and clog up our copy with passive voice. In an ideal world, we’d all write a bit more like Ernest Hemingway, the master of short and direct language. Or we could just use the Hemingway Editor.
Copy and paste your first pass (or your second or third) at a blog post into Hemingway, and this free editor tool will highlight your long sentences, complicated word choices, and nouns that are acted upon by verbs (rather than the more active, direct language). You’ll be surprised how much easier it is to read your articles once you remove the window dressing.
8. OneLook Reverse Dictionary
Few things can halt the momentum of writing quicker than having a word on the tip of your tongue that you just can’t remember. And few things halt a reader’s interest in your writing quicker than encountering the same word or phrase over and over.
Solve both of these issues, among others, with the OneLook Thesaurus, which lets you describe a concept (in a word, or in a sentence) and gives you a list of related words and phrases. Use the results to give your writing more variety and verve, and avoid cliches and repetition.
9. Yoast SEO
For the non-SEO savvy among us, there may not be a better WordPress plug-in than Yoast. If you blog with WordPress, Yoast will help you write SEO-friendly copy, keep you focused on your stated keywords, automatically suggest links to other topics, and avoid Google penalties for things like duplicate URLs and poor site functionality.
Don’t leave yourself out on an island as you write. These are some of the best free writing tools—or cheap writing tools, at least—out there today. Whether you need help focusing, or writing to impress Google as much as your readers, use these apps, platforms, and services to make the process easier without sacrificing speed or quality.