Congratulations! You’ve chosen to work in a field that looks like it may actually keep you employed for at least the next few years. According to Smart Insights, content marketing was rated ahead of big data, marketing automation, and mobile marketing as the top digital tool of the year.
While this is great news, it also means stiff competition in an already crowded market. Thankfully, the era of the content farm is over, (Unless Vice is right, which it’s not) and to stand out, you have to consistently produce polished, insightful work that’s fresh, personal, and actually valuable. You have to create quality content and accept nothing short of being an amazing writer and marketer. Sorry about that, it’s time to crush it.
Last week Kathryn Aragon wrote a great piece on what it means to write quality content, which offers two fistfuls of insight and clear direction. For those of you writing your way up to pro-status, we’ve put together a list of 10 content creation tech tools that can help you hone your craft and make you a better writer. These aren’t the kind of tech tools that are going to do the job for you, which is a good thing, because it means you have time to get great fast—before the bots come and steal your job. (Even the NYT is afraid).
First things first: In order to up your writing game, you need to minimize mistakes. Grammarly is a free tool that works wherever you write online – email, social media, etc. – to help you polish up your writing before making it public. It’s built by the world’s leading linguists and uses powerful algorithms that correct grammatical mistakes and also catch spelling errors and poor vocab. It’s an instant confidence booster for content writers.
Research has shown that writers who use big words and fancy talk come off as less intelligent than those that can adeptly present thoughts and ideas in a straightforward and simple matter. That’s where the Hemingway app comes in handy. The app highlights long, complex sentences and common errors to signal points in your content where you might be rambling a bit or sounding a little too haughty.
Sometimes when it’s 11 pm and you’re still staring at a blank page, you can use a little inspiration for your writing. Write.pls is a curated selection of articles and essays about writing that are intended to help those in the dreaded “what in the world will I write about” phase. It’s full of great advice and actionable tips for things like growth hacking and effective email writing. Obviously around here we use Oz for idea generation when we’re stuck, but you can read more about that on our homepage.
OneLook Reverse Dictionary
This has been around for awhile, but it’s a good one to have in your bag of tricks. OneLook Reverse Dictionary lets you find those words that are lost somewhere between your brain and the tip of your tongue. For example, you could search for “urge to travel” and a list of words and related concepts will come up that will guide you to wanderlust or other terms you might be looking for. It’s also a helpful tool for idea generation as it will help you explore concepts and themes that you might not have extrapolated to on your own.
Every writer knows that in order to get better at something you have to do it every day. But how many of us actually stick to that plan? Daily Page is an app that helps keep your writing on track by providing a new writing prompt every morning. You have the rest of the day to write a page and then submit it either privately or publicly. You’ll be surprised at the improvements you see in your writing when you engage your creative side on a regular basis like this.
Becoming a better writer sometimes boils down to being able to see the trees and the forest at once. Paragraphs helps you focus on what you’re writing in a minimalist way that prevents you from getting lost in the woods, as we’re prone to do when caught up in a whirlwind of ideas. When you start typing, the interface “melts away” so all you see is what you’re actually writing – it helps you enter a sort of otherworldly state where you and your work become one.
There’s nothing worse than having your Gmail, Facebook, Twitter and ten other tabs open while you’re trying to wrap up a story. Your thought process turns into a butterfly, just briefly landing on an idea before fluttering away to the next one. There are heaps of distraction-free writing tools out there but FocusWriter is my favorite because it works across most platforms and also includes timers, alarms, goals, statistics on how well you’re doing and more – which is great for writers who want to motivate themselves with a tangible analysis of their productivity.
Scrivener is an awesome tool for idea collection and writing scraps so that your brilliant thoughts don’t slip away, never to be seen again. It is an alternative to Windows and is a much better choice for longform writing. You can keep notes, collect research, outline and organize your writing in order to keep your thoughts and your
work clear and focused.
Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve always been a fan of any app that uses the Fibonacci sequence. Ink Paste does so to help you improve your vocabulary by reminding you of the meaning of the words you look up. Once you sign up, the app will send you an email with the word’s definition at intervals based on the Fibonacci sequence – after day 34 you’ll have it committed to your long-term memory and your colleagues will surely take note of how dense your vocabulary is becoming.
Okay so this is a bit of a cheat because the software tool is still in progress, but it’s so cool we had to include it. Network scientists at Indiana University have developed a new computational method that can fact-check a body of knowledge in a way that is comparable to human fact-checking. Good writing equals accurate facts so we’re excited to find out more about when this tool will be made available to the public.
Writing for the web is steadily getting more and more competitive and only the greatest content is delivering results. These content creation tech tools can help you face the dreaded blank screen and come up with new ideas as well as polish and refine the work you’ve already put down on paper.