If you have ever started a new job you know it can take awhile to feel like one of the team. There are references to specific customers and clients, inside jokes that coworkers make repeatedly, and random nuances to the rules and procedures that take some getting used to. The same adjustment period occurs when joining most new groups or cultures. But if you are lucky, someone reaches out and shows you the ropes.
As an agency, we always suggest that our clients blog. Even if we are doing the majority of the blogging, it is always good to have someone writing about the business from the inside. Our clients’ staff can always offer a perspective that we can’t.
With that in mind, I wanted to create a post giving our rogue bloggers out there an inside look at some of the tools being used by longtime content writers. Take a look.
If you type something like “tools for brainstorming” or “brainstorming apps” into google, you will probably end up with about 50 mind mapping programs. Personally, I don’t find mind mapping to be an incredibly useful process, but if you do, this app provides an easy way to make sure your thoughts stay clean and organized.
It probably won’t help you generate any brilliant ideas on the spot, but I have found that one of the best ways to make sure you are creative when it counts is to take note of any ideas you have throughout the day. Evernote is a tool that can be used on the web or as an app and it essentially works as a virtual note pad. You can create new notes, style them however you want, ad images and attachments, and revisit them later. Jot down your creative ideas throughout the day and then revisit them when you need to. This is a grat way to get inspired and start a good brainstorm train.
Sometimes you just can’t find that perfect title or tag line. Sometimes it just won’t come. If you have a deadline (which most times you do) you don’t want to spend 30 minutes trying to make your title “just right.” In times of need, check out Awesome Title Generator. All you need to do is plug in your keywords and you’ll be presented with a list of 700 titles, headlines, and content ideas. A lot of them won’t be worth your time, but when you need to get your creativity into gear, looking at a few hundred random headlines can help.
Definitely one of my favorite tools and a must have for any content writer. Grammarly provides users with specific suggestions and corrections on grammar, readability, and spelling. The great thing about the app is that you don’t have to work within it to receive its benefits. Grammarly works as a plug-in, offering up suggestions when you are typing emails, responding to messages via chat, and working on a google doc. You will need to put down a little cash if you want access to the premium version (worth it), but the free version works great as is.
Hemingway works a little differently than Grammarly, providing suggestions exclusively on readability. While I wouldn’t recommend it as a stand-alone tool for editing, it can be instrumental in improving your writing, especially if you don’t have someone around to give your piece a read. Hemingway tells you when you might want to go with a different word choice, when you are using a passive voice, and when you are using too many adverbs, and if a sentence is too long or too complicated,
While I find Prowriting Aid a little less practical than Grammarly or Hemingway, it is an incredible resource, especially for those with more analytical minds. The app checks for things you would never think of including writing style, overused words, sentence length, redundancies, cliches, vague and abstract words, transitions, homonyms, complex words, pacing, and more. It is the true powerhouse of editing tools, though with everything it checks for, it is easy to get lost in a constant cycle of correcting (remember the perfect writing to a computer isn’t necessarily the perfect writing).
Focus is one of the best tools you can have in your writer’s tool belt. I can’t count the number of times I have walked into the office completely prepared to write a specific article and then been distracted by email after email, random social media notifications, and calendar updates. Focus allows you to block yourself from specific notifications and websites for a set period of time so you can get your writing done without any disruptions. You can do this manually or schedule certain sites to become blocked automatically at specific times of the day. Don’t worry, you can always unblock yourself in the middle of a session if something pressing comes up. The downside to this tool is that it isn’t free, however, there is a 30-day money back guarantee, so you might as well give it a try.
Self-Control works a lot like Focus. You have the ability to block yourself from certain websites for a set period of time while you write. Why have I included it if it essentially does the same thing. Well, for one thing it is totally free, but the real reason I’ve included it is because it is absolutely insane. Once you set your block time, you will be absolutely blocked from visiting the sites you chose. No matter what. Even if you close the app and restart your computer you will still be stuck. So, if you are someone who has absolutely no self-control, Self-Control is for you.
This app takes a slightly different approach to the constant distractions the internet promises. You set your amount of time on each website or app for a given period of time (ex. 2 hours of Facebook in a day). This won’t stop you from logging on to your favorite websites while you work (assuming you have time left) but it will allow you to limit the amount of time you waste in a day (assuming you aren’t doing anything productive). It is a great way to make sure you spend the amount of time you want to each day doing actual work.
You might be the kind of individual who hates the clutter of working with a lot of tools. Maybe a simple editor is the only thing you need. Everyone has different tastes, preferences, and processess, so experiment with these tools, look up a few more and find the things that really help you write efficiently, effectively, and passionately.
Want to learn more about the world of blogging? Download our Curated Collection Blog Post Template. This simple tool can help you gather the information that your readers find truly valuable.