my favorite resources from start to finish
I’ve been asked about my favorite writing tools so I decided to devote an entire blog post to the programs that I use the most often for blogging and client work. They all serve very distinct functions but I have a backup or “honorable mention” for each one. You’ll also find screenshots of the programs that I love most but not as well-known. I hope it helps!
Check out my favorite writing tools from start to finish. It’s a long one ladies and gents!
Microsoft Word – I use MS Word to draft my documents if I’m not blogging directly in WordPress. This allows me to do a word count and check my spelling and grammar thoroughly. The only downside is if I copy & paste into WordPress there’s reformatting to be done. It doesn’t take long but it’s an extra step for sure. Another reason that I like to write in MS Word is that it makes it easy to send a writing sample to clients or potential employers in PDF. It’s much easier do it this way vs. the reverse when I need to send a writing sample fast.
Google Docs – I only write in Google Docs when I’m writing content for clients. This allows me to send the client a draft and get their revisions and comments all in one place. There are so many benefits to using Google Docs for writing and editing. It’s a huge timesaver. I can share the document with my client, collaborate and make all of my updates right in the program. It automatically saves it in real time without having to save in Word and resend. I highly recommend using Google Docs for client work even if that means copying/pasting from another program.
Grammarly – I adore Grammarly. Seriously, if you’re not using Grammarly as an editing tool you’re missing out big time. I have the app downloaded directly into my computer so it catches errors in all correspondence including emails and documents…yes, WordPress too. It may not catch everything but it’s another check and balance. I’m currently using the free version but I’ll be updating to the paid version ASAP for $139.95.
Hemingway – Hemingway is not just an honorable mention. It’s another holy grail program that I use when editing my writing. Hemingway believed that most writing should aim to be read at a middle school level. This app catches run on sentences, passive voice and funky wording. I can’t count how many times it has saved me. It takes long complex sentences and makes them clear and concise. I use Hemingway in conjunction with Grammarly for client work. Highly recommend the free version!
Stock Photo Sites – I won’t go into much detail here since I have an entire post dedicated to my favorite stock photo sites.
Pexels – I love Pexels. It’s free with high-quality images for download. I’ve never had any issues resizing images for my blog or client work. It’s my go-to site for stock photos. Enough said!
Pixabay – If I can’t find what I need on Pixel, I head over to Pixabay. This site is hit or miss for me but it’s one to keep in your back pocket.
Social Media Scheduling Tool
Buffer – Buffer is easy and affordable for scheduling social media posts. It’s also incredibly user-friendly. The free or “Individual” account lets you queue up to 10 posts at one time on 1 platform each. You can schedule posts across social platforms including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google + and Pinterest. I use the Awesome plan for $10 month to schedule for up to 10 different accounts. It’s perfect for managing social media for others as well as personal accounts.
Two more things I love about Buffer…the analytics and RSS Feed features. The analytics tracks your best performing social media posts. You can “Re-buffer” them which I do often. You don’t have to go in and recreate the wheel. If it’s gotten a few clicks and good reach just queue that baby up again! The RSS Feed is great as well. You can go in and add relevant sites that coincide with your brand. For instance, if you’re a beauty blogger you can go in and add your favorite beauty publications and bloggers and pull their content in as well.
- Coschedule – I’ve used Coschedule on a trial basis for a couple of weeks. I liked it for the ability to collaborate as a team but ultimately I couldn’t justify the price when Buffer can do the exact same thing for $10/month. Coschedule has a calendar and can access WordPress for the purpose of pulling in blog posts but it still wasn’t worth it to me. It’s all the rage amongst bloggers and if I had a heftier budget and more team members to collaborate then I might go for Coschedule.
2. Hootsuite – Before Buffer I used Hootsuite. It gets the job done but I find the interface a little confusing. You can manage and schedule the same social platforms as Buffer but there’s something about the setup that perplexes me. Check it out below.
Photo Editing Tool
Canva – I’m in love with Canva. I’ve signed on and haven’t looked back. Although I’m familiar with Photoshop it can be cumbersome to log in so if I need to get something done fast (which is usually the case) I use Canva. I’ve tested the paid version “Canva for Work” and didn’t see a big benefit other than it lets you use your brand colors and fonts. Personally, that’s not a huge deal for me so I’m using the free version and I’m quite happy with it.
I love that I can use custom dimensions but the preset template sizes for social media are my best friend. Canva also has great free images that you can use or images that are $1 each. I also use it for my freebies and will be using it for my eBook.
Photoshop – I don’t have to say much about Photoshop. It’s complex and best for larger projects. That may not be the case for others but it’s always my last resort if I can help it.
Note Organization Tool
Notes (IOS) – I keep my iPhone handy in case I ever need to quickly jot down blog post ideas or notes. Content ideas come to me at the most awkward times so instead of letting them get away from me I jot them down quickly. I highly recommend getting in the habit of taking notes as they come vs. waiting or shrugging them off. It’s handy to have an ongoing list of blog posts or article topics to refer back to.
1. Journal – I’m a writer so naturally I prefer the written word. It helps to see words written down on paper. I’m the queen of notebooks and journals. I even having my own line of journals which I’ll be posting on this site in the near future. There’s a running to-do list in my journals along with ideas for content and my goals.
2. Evernote – I’ve used Evernote for years. If I need to flesh out notes in depth, I use Evernote. It allows you to add photos, text, audio and make lists. It’s a great tool that many people are already aware of. I have the app on my iPhone and on my MacBook Pro and they are synced up. Clients have also sent me notes via Evernote and it’s extremely user-friendly.
Edit Flow – I use the Edit Flow editorial calendar WordPress plugin sporadically to plan my content in advance. I’m not super consistent with it but my goal is to step it up and start planning and batching content weeks or months in advance (ambitious much?). I’ve heard great things about using an editorial calendar to create cohesiveness with content and I’m all about that. My next post will be my favorite WordPress plugins. See I’m starting to plan my content already! Check out the screenshot below.
iCal – This can a good backup plan to plan content in advance. It’s not the best but it gets the job done in a pinch. However, I highly recommend Edit Flow because you can track your posts.
My Favorite Headline Analyzer
Coschedule – I won’t lie to you. Writing headlines is not my favorite thing to do but it’s extremely important. It can make all the difference in your content getting read and shared. You should focus on it as much as you do the rest of your writing. I use Coschedule to determine the effectiveness of my headlines. Coschedule analyzes the length, effectiveness and sentence structure of your headline.
Emotional Marketing Value – The EMV is a tool that copywriters use to measure the emotional effectiveness of their copy. The art of copywriting is about reaching people through emotions hence the name. I recently found this tool and while it’s hit or miss it’s better than nothing. When in doubt use both tools together and revise as needed.
Whew! If you read to the end then “Bless Your Heart” as we say in the South. I hope you found a few new tools and resources to whip your content into shape. There are a ton of other tools but these are the ones I find myself using time after time.
I’d love for your to share your favorite writing tools. Which tools do you swear by?