Have you ever used MS Word to write your blog posts and wondered if there was something more blogger-friendly out there?
As a blogger, you have unique needs. More than fancy features and formatting, you want:
- A place to capture all of your ideas
- A writing tool that cuts out distractions
- A way to find and remove embarrassing grammatical errors.
Fortunately, there are plenty of writing tools around to help you do all of the above.
In this post, I’ll share some of the most powerful writing tools for bloggers. I’ll also cover Mac, Windows, mobile apps and web apps.
The dreaded writer’s block is part and parcel of every blogger’s life. But things become much easier when you have a long list of existing ideas to work on.
This is why every serious blogger I know maintains a central repository of ideas. These can be anything – blog post titles, new angles for older posts, marketing hooks, etc.
The tools I’ve listed below will help you capture and organize all these ideas:
Evernote usually sits at the top of the list for any serious note-taker, and for good reason.
As one of the first “online notebooks,” Evernote lives up to its promise to help you “remember everything”. It is also available online, as a desktop app (Mac and Windows) and as a mobile app (both iOS and Android) so you can jot down ideas wherever inspiration strikes.
What makes this particularly useful for us bloggers is the search functionality. You can make an unlimited number of notebooks and quickly search through them.
Best of all, it is free to use, although you would need to upgrade to the paid plan to unlock more features.
If you’re like most bloggers, you spend a good part of your day just reading other people’s blog posts.
But sometimes, you just want to file away an interesting blog post and read it later.
This is where Pocket can be incredibly useful. Simply install the Pocket extensions (for both Firefox and Chrome) and click the icon in the browser when you land on an interesting page.
Pocket will archive the page and format it for easy reading.
If you download the Pocket app, you can read your saved articles anytime – even if you’re offline.
Pocket also has thousands of integrations with cool apps (such as Twitter) to make saving articles even easier.
Drafts (iOS only)
What if you just want to quickly take notes without scrolling through half a dozen menus and buttons?
This is where Drafts comes in.
Drafts was designed from scratch as a “write-first, organize-later” type app. Everytime you open the app, you get a blank page so you can jot down your inspiration right away. This design choice fits the writers’ workflow perfectly.
But there’s more: once you’ve got your notes down, you can use one of the many pre-built ‘actions’ to get more from your notes.
For example, you can automatically send the note contents straight into your Dropbox.
A lot of serious content marketers swear by Trello, and it’s easy to see why.
Trello is a ‘kanban’ style project management tool. You create a ‘board’ which can have multiple ‘lists.’ Each ‘list’ can have any number of items.
You can use these lists to store and organize your ideas. Once an idea moves past the ‘ideation’ to the ‘production’ stage, you can drag and drop it to another list.
For example, you might have four lists on a board – “Ideas, “To-Do,” “Editing” and “Published.”
You can then manage your ideas like this:
- Raw ideas go into the ‘Ideas’ list.
- Finalized ideas go into the ‘To-Do’ list.
- Once you have a draft of an idea, push it to the ‘Editing’ list.
- Once the post is live, drag it to ‘Published’.
Ultimately you can craft your own workflow by setting up the lists that matter to you.
This will bring much needed clarity and control over your editorial process.
The writing tool is the blogger’s sanctuary. This is where you’ll spend the bulk of your time; writing and editing your content.
A poor writing tool will make you want to tear your hair out with annoying distractions and errors (remember ‘Clippy’ circa Office 2003?). A great one will make writing sheer joy.
Below, I’ve compiled a list of writing tools for all platforms, budgets and experience-levels.
Dragon Naturally Speaking
I always tell bloggers to write like they speak – conversationally.
An easier way to do that is to actually speak to your computer. This is where Dragon Naturally Speaking comes into the picture.
Dragon Naturally Speaking is a speech recognition tool that lets you fast-track document creation by transcribing text through voice. Unlike the speech recognition tools of old, Dragon has a very high degree of accuracy – much more than Google Voice or Siri.
Also, Dragon recognizes industry specific-terms and acronyms from a wide-range of industries such as healthcare, legal and small business to ensure transcription accuracy.
In case of errors, the software is also capable of learning new words and phrases, giving you a completely personalized experience.
Google Docs is fast becoming the writing tool of choice for a great many bloggers, writers and marketers.
It’s easy to see why:
With Google Docs, you can invite team members to collaborate and edit documents in real-time (great for working with guest bloggers too). The close integration with Gmail also makes it easy to share your content with others.
Other features include automatic saving, pre-created templates, and powerful add-ons such as speech recognition and label creation. All helping to ensure your attention is focused on the task at hand.
It can also work great for hosting lead magnets.
Scrivener is essentially a project management tool masquerading as a writing tool.
Originally built to help novelists write complex projects, Scrivener has quickly become the go-to writing tool for serious bloggers.
Scrivener’s design focuses on creating ideas as ‘virtual index cards’. You can write your ideas on these cards and shift them around to create the structure and flow of your content. It also helps you take and organize comprehensive notes and make quick edits across lengthy documents.
Most bloggers will find Scrivener overkill for everyday blogging. But if you do a lotof writing and creating of lengthy documents – such as eBooks, guides etc. – you’ll find it an incredibly powerful ally.
Bear Writer is an iOS-exclusive writing application designed for copious note taking.
It supports writer-friendly features such as basic markdown support for quick text formatting, a focus mode for distraction-free writing, and the ability to export content to alternative formats such as PDFs.
Another unique feature is the ability to organize and link thoughts through hashtags. For example, you can add the #idea hashtag to any paragraph that contains an idea. When you search for the ‘#idea’ hashtag, all of those paragraphs will show up.
This makes content creation and organization much easier.
Before your content goes out to your readers, it’s always a good idea to put it through a proofreading tool.
Spelling and grammatical mistakes are embarrassing and will hinder the impact of your content.
Now, I must point out that you shouldn’t completely rely on proofreading tools.
The truth is that no tool will catch every error and they can’t take your personal writing style into account.
That said, they can still spot a lot of errors, so they do work well as an ‘extra set of eyes’.
Thrive Headline Optimizer
Thrive Theme’s Headline Optimizer is a WordPress plugin which ensures your headlines have maximum impact.
All you need to do is create several headlines, add them to your post in WordPress, and it will automatically begin split testing each one using statistical analysis to determine a winner. This headline will then automatically be shown to your readers.
What I love about this tool is that it doesn’t rely on social media traffic to work out which headline is performing.
CoSchedule Headline Analyzer
Need a quick estimate of the impact of your headline?
Take a look at CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer.
This free tool measures the impact of your blog posts headlines, email subject lines, and social messages. Simply enter your headline and the tool provides a score based on usage of uncommon words, power words, and emotional words.
Statistically speaking, headlines that contain all of the above word types tend to perform better on social media.
Use this tool to weed out underperforming headlines before your post goes live.
Inspired by the sparse writing style of Hemingway, the Hemingway App analyzes your writing for mistakes and highlights them visually through color coding.
Hemingway can automatically detect complex words and phrases, unnecessarily long sentences, and an overabundant presence of adverbs. Besides detection, it can also offer simpler alternatives to complex phrases.
The tool is available for free online, although there is a premium desktop version which lets you access advanced features such as offline use, exporting privileges, and the ability to directly post content into a CMS.
One of the things I love about the desktop version is that it’s a fairly minimal word processing tool. This makes it a great alternative to some of the writing tools mentioned above.
WhiteSmoke is a word-processor and grammar checker designed with non-native English speakers in mind.
The software uses an advanced algorithm to detect not only grammatical mistakes in your content but offers tips on how to improve style, tone, and clarity. Think of it as a Grammarly alternative built for writers who struggle with casual English-language expression.
Although you can use it as a writing tool, you’ll get maximum benefit from using it to proofread and grammar-check your written content.
This tool is available both online and as a desktop app.
While most bloggers may build their blog with a platform like WordPress, they usually use a completely different tool for writing their posts.
Having the right tools can ensure you never forget ideas and that your copy is optimized to drive engagement with your readers.
Use this list as a starting point to discover your next favorite writing tools. Try them out at your own pace and see which ones fit your workflow and writing style.