Work smarter not harder. This idea might seem irrelevant if your job is to write. But whether you write copy for articles, social media, email, print or video, I guarantee there are tools to help you write better and more efficiently.
Here are five that I’ve used:
It’s the go-to spell checker for most writers these days. You can get it as a browser extension for free. If possible, I recommend springing for the premium version. It integrates into Word and offers added features like a plagiarism scanner and more improvement metrics.
This tool is as simple as it is useful. Named after the author known for his concise, unadorned prose, Hemingway gives your copy a readability score. They say to aim for a 6th or 7th grade reading level. Beyond looking for sentence length and excessive adverbs, it will also suggest simple synonyms for overly complicated words. I like this feature a lot.
People don’t buy the best products. They buy the products that are communicated the clearest.
–Don Miller, CEO of StoryBrand
StoryBrand is a tool that helps you construct a more understandable brand story. With summary cards for “character,” “problem” and “transformation,” these flowcharts can help you distill your message so that anyone can understand it. Plus, it’s easy to collaborate by sharing these “BrandScripts,” allowing others to edit and comment.
- GatherContent(free trial)
You’re writing copy for a website. You put everything in a Word doc, send it to a colleague, they add comments and send it back. Sound familiar? Soon you’ve got five different versions of the doc and the file name looks like a Russian novel.
GatherContent is a platform that lets you set up custom templates and then collaborate on them in real time. Think Google Docs on steroids. This one is particularly good if you’re managing a team of contributors.
- TWO-FOR-ONE: Headline Tools
We know that the headline is the most critical part of any content. If someone only reads one line of your copy, they’ll read the headline. But what makes a good headline?
According to the free Sharethrough Headline Analyzer, it’s:
- Longer length
- Use of “human” words like friend, laugh, brother
- Mention of a brand or, even better, a celebrity or thought leader
- Use of Sharethrough’s own proprietary “context words” (explanation here)
For example, the headline for this article scored an above-average 72 for optimal length.
And for even more help lifting your headline game, there’s the Advanced Marketing Institute’s Headline Analyzer. With more “proprietary analysis technology,” this one will give your title an Emotional Marketing Value and then categorize it as either Intellectual, Empathetic or Spiritual.
The tool defines a good headline as one that uses 30% or more EMV words. For reference, the headline of this article uses 46% EMV words and has a predominantly spiritual appeal.
Any writing tools I missed?
I’m sure there are countless more. Especially as you get deeper into specialized areas. What free online tools do you have bookmarked right now?