9 Tools that No Serious Online Writer Should Be Without

by 21 05/21/2013

When it comes to writing for the web, competition is steadily growing fierce.  We’ve had it drilled into our heads that “content is king” but great content is what gets results.

The thing nobody ever tells you, though, is how you are supposed to create all this great content.

If you dread staring at a blank screen and fret about coming up with something ground-breakingly awesome, don’t worry. You’re not alone.

It’s worth noting that the resources you’re about to read aren’t the “same old, same old” lists of sites and apps almost everyone already knows about (Google Docs and Evernote, anyone?).  They also aren’t particularly suited for fiction writers, screenwriters or individuals looking for guided help to create meaningful characters, plots and other story devices.

That said, however, if you want to produce better web content faster, these apps, websites and software programs can turn a blank screen into a creative bonfire.  Let’s take a look!

Wordcounter

wordcounter

Wordcounter helps you spot overly used words in your writing

More than just a simple word counter, this online service will help you spot overused words in your writing, even down to the smallest “ifs,” “ands” and “buts,” if you want it to be that detailed.  As a bonus, if you’re writing with a slant toward SEO, you can also use the Wordcounter to track the number of keywords in a document.

Cliché Finder

clichefinder

Cliché Finder – almost the best thing since sliced bread.

If you’re at your wit’s end with clichés, you don’t need to go back to the drawing board. You just need to check it with Cliché Finder.  This neat tool will find and uncover hidden clichés in your writing — phrases that have been used so much by so many people that they’ve lost their original punch.

Creativity Portal’s Imagination Prompt

creativity

The imagination prompt is full of ideas for your next blog post or article

If you hate blogger’s block, the Imagination Prompt can help by giving you a simple writing prompt to get you started.  Prompts can be as simple as “What is truth?” to as complex as “Tomorrow, I will do it differently…here’s how.”

You can also add onto these prompts by giving them your own twist, such as “What is truth in advertising?” or “What Sets Your Product Apart from the Crowd?”

Unstuck App

unstuckapp

Unstuck lives up to its name by combining over 50 tips and nearly a dozen tools to help you “live better every day.”

Unstuck promotes itself as an app to get “on-demand coaching whenever you need it.” It offers mind maps, to-do lists and other tools that help you break things down into manageable chunks.

Stuck moments can be anything from “I want to repair my relationship with my dad” to “should I go back to work or not?” to “How do I get my 12-year-old to eat healthier?”  Unstuck is built on the principle that all you need to reach a solution is to let everything out, clear your head, and create a workable plan with workable goals.

For writing, Unstuck can help you clarify the goal of your article or post and find your writing groove by creating different milestones that organize what you want to say while helping you avoid going off on a tangent.

Zen Writer

zenwriter

Zen Writer embraces the simplicity of writing – without all the distractions.

Zen Writer is a software program under $10 that minimizes distractions (like checking your email or Facebook) by encompassing the entire width and height of your screen and making you devote it solely to writing.

Therapeutic music and natural scenery show in the background (which explains the program’s 60+ MB size) and all the extra stuff you might expect to find in a writing program — such as formatting, headings and tables — are stripped away so that it’s just you and your words.

Byword

byword

Write a document on your PC, then finish it on your iPad

Byword is a neat app available on both Windows and Mac App stores that lets you write something (whether it’s a new chapter, a blog post or any type of written content) on one device and share it with others.

You can export your writing to HTML, PDF and rich text, and the device syncs to iCloud and Dropbox as well.  This is a great way to jot down thoughts, new topic ideas or creative inspirations as they happen, then follow up with them later.

Readability

readability

Readability simplifies and streamlines web pages for easier reading while stripping out the clutter

Readability is not so much a writing app as it is a reading one.  It removes all the clutter from web pages, giving you a simple, easy-to-read document that you can then save to read later on your iPhone, iPad or Android device.  With a clean, uncluttered view, you can finally get to reading all those articles and posts you saved for later.  Readability is also available as an extension for Firefox.

StayFocusd (Google Chrome app)

stayfocusd

StayFocusd allows you to limit the time you spend on distracting websites and online games

True to its name, Stayfocusd is a Google Chrome app that lets you limit the time you spend on time-sapping websites.

It’s incredibly customizable in that you can temporarily block entire websites, subdomains, and even in-page content like videos and games.  You can also choose how long to block them out, so if you absolutely, positively have to water your plants on Farmville, you can do it in an hour.

Synchroedit

synchro

Synchroedit is a collaborative writing software that lets multiple users in different locations work simultaneously on the same document

Ever wish that you and your colleagues could work on the same file without passing around different versions or accidentally overwriting the other’s work?  With Synchroedit, you can. This multiuser editor  lets multiple users edit the same document at the same time, online.  Because Synchroedit is fully WYSIWYG (What You See if What You Get), you can employ common formatting styles like bold, italics, indents and list styles.

What are your favorites?

Got a writing tool you can’t live without?  Whether it’s an online service, a program or an app, share it below in the comments and tell us how it helps you!

About 

Sherice Jacob helps website owners improve conversion rates with custom design, copywriting and website reviews.  Get your free conversion checklist and web copy tune-up by visiting iElectrify.com.

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21 COMMENTS

Sharon Hurley Hall

Some good tools here, Sherice. I’m definitely going to try the Creativity Portal.

May 21, 2013 Reply

Kathryn Aragon

I like that one too, Sharon. That, and Byword. Great list, Sherice!

May 21, 2013 Reply

Kumar Gauraw

I like ByWord very much. I think it’s kind of neat to be able to write a document and manage across multiple devices and operating systems. Thanks!

May 21, 2013 Reply

    Sherice Jacob

    Isn’t that cool, Kumar? I love how varied all the apps are and how easy they are to use across different devices. Readability is a must-have for me… that and Evernote :)

    May 22, 2013 Reply

Francois

Thanks for this cool selection of apps. Exactly what I was looking for.

May 22, 2013 Reply

Cassie

Great article! I will be checking out Unstuck for sure.

May 22, 2013 Reply

Emma Siemasko

I LOVE this list. There are so many of these I want to try out, particularly ZenWriter, Unstuck, and StayFocusd. Thanks for the awesome resource.

May 22, 2013 Reply

    Sherice Jacob

    You’re very welcome! Stayfocusd is next on my list to try :) Let me how how it goes!

    May 22, 2013 Reply

Kirsten Nelson

Cliché finder! I’m totally using that one! Thanks for putting together this list :)

May 22, 2013 Reply

Stuart Gamblen

Good list. Quite a few here I havent seen before which is great.

Personally I really love iA Writer for creating blog posts or doing any sort of writing. It’s totally distraction free and is cloud based so will sync across your desktop, tablet and phone. Great little app and very reasonably priced.

May 22, 2013 Reply

Bryce Propheter

Surprised Google Docs (now Google Drive) isn’t on here. Best way I’ve found to collaborate on writing… And it’s free.

May 22, 2013 Reply

    Sherice Jacob

    Hi Bryce – I appreciate the suggestion, but as I mentioned in the article, I tried to avoid tools that I figured most web writers would be familiar with (like Google docs) but you’re right, it is excellent for collaboration and you can’t beat free! :)

    May 23, 2013 Reply

John Lee

This is truly a valuble list of tools, I wish there were more blogs like this that showed tools for the sake of contribution and not just to market a poor affiliate program.

May 27, 2013 Reply

Name

I’ve been thinking of giving zen writer a try, looks perfect for when you are engaged in a long writing project, like writing a book.

May 29, 2013 Reply

Alex

Try the Power Thesaurus – a crowdsourced tool for finding the best synonym or antonym.

June 16, 2013 Reply

Writer

Great list – Cliche finder and Creativity portal seem very promising. The only things I use now is an old fashioned Thesaurus and Spell Checker.

June 27, 2013 Reply

Kim Lokan

Wow! I love this list. I have checked them out and I’m def. going to use some of them for my content writing. Thanks.

July 31, 2013 Reply

Peter D. Mallett

This is a helpful list. If you do a lot of submitting of work, Sonar3 is a free program from Spacejock software that works well and is easy to use. I use it for everything I submit.

August 23, 2013 Reply

Chris Hall

Wow, great list! I like the cliche finder, but my new favourite nowadays is definitely scriblers.com, been trying it out recently, and love their editor!

July 13, 2014 Reply

    Neil Patel

    Chris, glad you found it helpful. Thanks for sharing :)

    July 13, 2014 Reply


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