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9 Tools that No Serious Online Writer Should Be Without

by Sherice Jacob

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!

56 Comments

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Sherice Jacob

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.

56 COMMENTS

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  1. Anonymous says:
    May 3, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    What’s up, yeah this post is really nice and I have learned lot of things from
    it on the topic of blogging. thanks.

  2. Abdu Rahim says:
    October 16, 2015 at 3:01 pm

    Doing SEO and keyword research? Your marketing software should be able to help. But if it can’t (or you’d like to augment your data), Google’s Webmaster Tools can be a great help. You can check things like the number of indexed pages on your website, submit your site to Google so you’re getting crawled and indexed, and even disavow bad inbound links. It also can give you information on search queries that have a large volume of impressions but low click through rate.

  3. Amit says:
    September 12, 2015 at 12:19 am

    Similar to cliche finder, I offer this Word macro that checks for and highlights jargon. Also displays a ‘jargon density’ – http://jargonbuster.repairtxt.com/

  4. Jacob hunter says:
    July 12, 2015 at 12:03 pm

    Buy buffer editor if you like to do text editing or coding with ipad fast and efficiently. buffereditor.com

  5. Hunter says:
    June 22, 2015 at 7:23 am

    Hi Sherice,
    nice collections
    One addition
    notesmartly. I find it useful for research and writing puposes

    http: //blog.notesmartly.com/25-most-inspiring-quotes-on-productivity-by-successful-people/

  6. June 18, 2015 at 11:48 am

    Hey Kathryn, great post! Zenwriter is essential for good clean creativity. I would also check out Hemingway App to make your writing more bold and clear by highlighting long, complex sentences and common errors.

    Also “Steller: Interactive Storyteller” to add some visual elements to your story.

    keep up the great work!

    • June 18, 2015 at 7:42 pm

      Nice additions, Aaron. I especially like the Hemingway App. I’ll need to check out the others. Thanks!

  7. Amit Kumar says:
    May 4, 2015 at 1:34 am

    Hii Sherice,

    Thank you so much for sharing this detailed and helpful list of some best Distraction-Free Writing tools for writers. From the above list, I would love to try Zen Writer and StayFocusd.

    thanks again. Keep helping !!

    • May 4, 2015 at 10:08 am

      Hey Amit,

      Thanks for your feedback! Those are definitely tools worth trying! Let us know how you do with them. 🙂

  8. fleur says:
    April 20, 2015 at 1:37 am

    I’m a content marketer and personally I’m using this writing platform named Wording Lab. I like how the layout is kept simple, without any flashy-distracting advertisements.

    They have this tool called the Tone Analyzer, which helps to analyze if your writing sounds too positive or negative. True enough, I copied and pasted a couple of news article to test out the function, and all of them were found to be neutral! (which is what news articles are supposed to be i believed!)​

    Anyway, if you guys are interested, the link is:
    WordingLab

    • April 20, 2015 at 9:10 am

      Thanks, Fleur. Great tool. Just a thought: If you’re writing journalism, yes, you want objectivity and neutrality in your reporting. In content marketing for a brand, you often want to have a position. You should be for some things and against others.

  9. March 18, 2015 at 5:30 pm

    Kathryn Aragon
    Appreciate you sharing

  10. Terry says:
    March 18, 2015 at 5:29 pm

    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.

    • March 18, 2015 at 6:40 pm

      That makes sense. Thanks for the clarification, Terry.

  11. Glynis says:
    February 21, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    This is a great resource for those of us just starting out! I downloaded Unstuck at one point and then never got around to trying it out. Now I’ll have to take another look!

    • February 22, 2015 at 8:39 am

      Awesome! Good luck with your writing. 🙂

  12. January 21, 2015 at 9:12 pm

    Thanks for sharing! I’m going to bookmark this and post a link to your page from my blog!

  13. Chad says:
    January 17, 2015 at 5:28 pm

    I use Scrivener, MasterWriter, and DropBox almost exclusively. Between those 3 programs, I can work across both my laptop and desktop.

    Scrivener can go full screen, provide word frequencies, and keep all my research material in one place. Masterwriter can do the thesaurus, dictionary, parts of speech, and words that rhyme. Obviously DropBox allows me to sync the projects across multiple devices.

    • January 18, 2015 at 9:39 am

      Nice set-up, Chad! Thanks for sharing. Have you ever used Onelook.com? It’s a reverse dictionary that’s my go-to resource when looking for just the right work.

  14. Cheri says:
    January 4, 2015 at 10:56 pm

    I have used two tools to help me polish my writing – myWriterTools and myWordCount. The first program helps me find improperly used words, cliches, jargon and even converts from British to American English. myWordCount counts characters, words and phrases in my document and points out overused words and phrases in my writing. It even helps me find my long, unreadable sentences so I can fix them.

    • January 5, 2015 at 9:38 am

      Sounds like a really useful tool, Cheri. Thanks for telling us about it.

  15. December 29, 2014 at 11:07 am

    Hi Sherice & team,

    Great article and thanks for sharing. I heard majority of them but not everything yet. So going to try them out!

    Thanks for sharing the awesome list with us all!

    • December 29, 2014 at 5:18 pm

      Excellent, Reginald. It’s a great list. I’m sure you’ll enjoy them.

  16. Kateryna says:
    December 10, 2014 at 4:02 am

    Hi Kathryn! Thank you for your comment 🙂 The shortcodes are replaced by wordpress server-side, which means the search engine never will see them. If you run the following search, you will find several sites using one of the H5Ps content examples: https://www.google.com/webhp?ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=%22Which%20genus%20does%20the%20Strawberry%20belong%20to%22

    • December 10, 2014 at 9:05 am

      Good to know. Thanks for clarifing, Kateryna.

  17. Kateryna says:
    December 9, 2014 at 3:07 am

    Good article. Realy usefull for freelancers. I think it would be really usefull to focus little bit more on content creating plugins, because in the end the most important for a website is to be attractive for users.
    There is a great solution from h5p.org (wordpress.org/plugins/h5p/) to create for free highly cusgtomized and interactive content like interactive vidoes, images, quizzes etc. I really like this plugin because you can create various summaries, images with hotspots and even games with html5.

    • December 9, 2014 at 9:35 am

      Interesting plugin, Kateryna. But I’d be careful if you’re using content to attract organic traffic. Won’t the shortcodes prevent the article from ranking in search engines?

  18. ANBU says:
    December 1, 2014 at 5:07 am

    Nice tips this is very usful for all thank you so much…………

    • December 1, 2014 at 9:37 am

      You bet, Anbu. Glad you found them useful.

    • Neil Patel says:
      December 1, 2014 at 12:58 pm

      Anbu, glad you found the article helpful. Looking forward to hearing more from you.

  19. November 17, 2014 at 7:17 am

    StayFocusd saves me from procrastination every single day!) Thank you for the article, I have found many interesting tools for myself, like Cliché Finder.

  20. August 22, 2014 at 10:40 am

    Thanks for compiling and sharing this great collection of tools – I’m sure it will help a large number of people in the trade.

    BTW, Cliché Finder is a great tool, but you’d be out of luck using it if your text contains some special characters like quote marks (single/double) etc. It simply throws up an ‘Unhandled exception’ error if you run such text through it.

    (While I’m not sure what programming/scripting languageit has been coded in, I’m quite sure all it would take to fix this is a simple function call to strip all special characters off before processing the text.)

    • Neil Patel says:
      August 22, 2014 at 1:49 pm

      Rich, thanks for the heads up and for providing such great feedback. We look forward to hearing much more from you!

  21. Chris Hall says:
    July 13, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    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!

    • Neil Patel says:
      July 13, 2014 at 9:43 pm

      Chris, glad you found it helpful. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  22. August 23, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    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.

  23. Kim Lokan says:
    July 31, 2013 at 5:30 am

    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.

  24. Writer says:
    June 27, 2013 at 11:51 am

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

  25. Alex says:
    June 16, 2013 at 5:31 pm

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

  26. Name says:
    May 29, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    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.

  27. John Lee says:
    May 27, 2013 at 10:07 pm

    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 28, 2013 at 9:45 am

      Aww, thanks, Lee. We love to hear comments like that!

  28. May 22, 2013 at 8:09 pm

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

    • May 23, 2013 at 7:35 am

      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! 🙂

  29. May 22, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    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.

  30. May 22, 2013 at 4:15 pm

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

  31. May 22, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    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 at 4:11 pm

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

  32. Cassie says:
    May 22, 2013 at 2:03 pm

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

  33. Kumar Gauraw says:
    May 21, 2013 at 10:50 pm

    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 22, 2013 at 4:10 pm

      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 🙂

  34. May 21, 2013 at 4:36 pm

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

  35. May 21, 2013 at 12:46 pm

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

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