THREE THINGS YOU’LL GET FROM THIS ARTICLE
1. A list of writing software tools (with links to them) for your level of experience
2. The editing software we’ve tested
3. Links to software that will help you optimise your blog for search engines
You’ve finally made the decision to get your business blog up and running or put that client email list to work. You’ve made yourself a cup of coffee. You’ve put your phone on silent, or at least you did after you read that. Sat down in front of the computer and prepared to write the best piece of content ever marketed.
By now, you have read our articles on how to write for your business, and know exactly what you’re going to write about. You’re only missing one thing—the writing tools to get that content down on the page.
Don’t start stressing now, we’ve got you sorted; there are a myriad of tools that can make writing easier. Follow our easy process and you’ll have your content ready to go in no time.
First pick your writing tool from our beginners or advanced programs, then have your work edited (find out why you shouldn’t do it yourself and what to do if you have to DIY) and finally optimise it.
Writing tools for beginners
If it’s your first time creating marketing content for your business Quabel is a great place to start. Everything is easily stored online with searchable labels. But the true beauty of Quabel, and the reason it was created, is simplicity. There’s nothing to distract you with Quabel’s clean simple design palette. They’ll even let you set yourself goals, which can be helpful for first time writers.
Unfortunately, Quabel doesn’t have an app, so if you get a burst of inspiration on-the-go you’ll have to save it up. In its attempt keep it simple, Quabel has also foregone an all-out filing system. While documents can be easily tagged and the titles can be searched, all your work will sit in one big feed. So, if you like things to be nice and orderly Quabel may not be the tool for you.
Quabel is free, but an upgrade to premium will cost you 3€ a month ($4.57 AUD at time of writing)
Evernote is everywhere. It’s on the web. It’s ready on your phone when you get that great idea on the bus. It’s waiting on your tablet for you to get home. It’s there at work, on your desktop for you to finish that article you started last night. And it’s synced for you across all your platforms.
Unlike Quabel it’s got a pretty sophisticated filing and search system. You can sort all your work into notebooks, create tags for topics—there’s even an atlas function which will show where you wrote your note. Even better, the search function looks inside your notes—not just at their titles.
Of course, there’s always a trade-off. With all those functions simplicity isn’t on the cards. There are a lot of buttons, with a lot of functions; even finding the trash can be a little tricky.
Evernote basic is free but if you need more space and more features you can upgrade to Evernote plus for $29.99 p/a or Evernote premium for $56.99 p/a.
If you’re used to using Microsoft Word you’ll feel right at home with Google Docs. Its setup is familiar and this can make getting started nice and simple. You’ll just be working with a boosted version. Docs saves as you go and stores all your work in your Google Drive. Just login with your Gmail account. Like Evernote, Docs has a great filing system that you can access from anywhere.
What really makes Docs stand out from the crowd is integration. It integrates with your mail, drive and some really great Add-ons. These are what bring Docs out of the beginner category. You can start with the simple setup then as you work up to the advanced category use Add-ons like Vertex42 Template Gallery, to have your style match across all your work. You can even move into the editing phase here with Kaizena Mini, with its highlighting and feedback tools.
Like all the big players Google does have its downsides. While Google Drive (your filing system) and Google Docs automatically sync, you’ll need both apps if you want to be able to look at the inspiring pictures you’ve saved for your blog and write at the same time. This can take up valuable space on your phone or tablet. Furthermore, there isn’t any software for your computer so you’ll need to be online to get all the benefits out of this one.
Writing tools for advanced bloggers
Working with Ulysses III will certainly give you the strength “To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield”. This program is designed to help you write in any and every way it can. In particular, all the commands you need to work with Ulysses III are on the keyboard. You shouldn’t have to lift a finger over to the mouse. It’s also got a top notch filing system, that mirrors the one on your mac.
Like all the advanced tools we’re recommending Ulysses III allows formatting to be done with a markdown system, including embedding images. This is definitely a pro and a con for Ulysses III. It’s great once you know how to use the markdown system but it can take a while to learn.
Sadly, this app is for Apple users only and while it’s a one off payment, Ulysses III will set you back $69.99.
Byword is another Apple only advanced tool, but if you’ve got a mac it’s definitely worth your while. If you can’t wait a second after you finish writing your content to get it out on the web Byword is for you. Not only can you get it up on your WordPress website with an easy plugin, you can send it straight to Tumblr, Blogger and Scriptogram too.
Byword’s design is schmick, there’s no other way to describe it. And they pull it off no matter whether they’re wearing an iPhone or a desktop. Byword’s design keeps distractions to a minimum. You can get in, publish and get out.
Just like Ulysses III, Byword lets you use a markdown system—but you’ll have to learn how to do that first. As you can tell from the note-by-note discussion of filing systems for the above tools, we like organisation. Byword is unfortunately a bit lacking in this area. While you can filter your notes through the search function the pile of documents down the side of the screen just isn’t that appealing.
Byword won’t break the bank either at $17.99 for mac and $9.99 for iPhone. But, unlike most other purchased apps, you’ll still need to pay for other add-ons, such as the plug-in that allows you to publish to WordPress.
Scrivener is the only advanced tool we’re talking about that works on a PC, which makes it a cut ahead of the bunch—at least in some ways. While Scrivener is designed for long form writing (novels etc), it can also be a great tool for content creation. If blogging seems like a big chore Scrivener can break it down for you into manageable chunks and auto format your document with the click of a button. This is where Scrivener breaks away from the competition. You can organise your work however you want. Take it apart and put it back together to fit your style. This can really be invaluable for your content creation—Scrivener allows you to build and rebuild for a better end product.
We also like how well Scrivener plays with others. Even if it doesn’t have apps of its own (they are in production though) you can sync with, or export your work to other apps like Evernote.
Scrivener definitely lacks the simplicity of the tools in our beginners section, and can take a while for you to pick up. But, overall it’s a definite winner with it’s combination writing and editing tools.
One of the golden rules of writing (we’re talking about writing of any sort, even writing your own name) is DON’T EDIT YOUR OWN WORK. See the shouty capitals we used to say that? There’s a reason for them, editing your own work never turns out well. We’re not going to go into detail here. We’ve got a whole article on it, that will explain why you do in fact need an editor.
But, if you’re still only dipping your toe into the waters of content marketing you can always start with a little help from Hemingway. Pop in all the text you’ve written and Hemingway will tell you everything that’s wrong with it and how wrong it is. Hemingway will point out which sentences are too complex, when you’ve used passive voice, an adverb and help you make better choices all round. Hemingway is aimed at simplifying your writing, which is perfect for business blogging and newsletters because it’s important you reach out to as many people as possible.
However, using a program like Hemingway will never achieve the careful natural touch that you’ll get with a human editor. We’ve got a few other bones to pick with Heminway too. No saving—unless you buy the app. Which is unfortunately only for desktop computers. But at least it’s a good deal, all that editing for only $9.99.
As we said before an editor is a key asset for any content creation. This is where Wordy comes in. Wordy is a great site that will hook you up with an editor at any time of the day or night. Unlike Hemingway, this one is human and that comes with a lot of perks. In particular, you can get a specialised editor who has knowledge of your field, you can communicate to them the tone of the piece and you get up to three re-edits per text. They’ve even integrated right into some of the most popular publishing systems (WordPress, Google Drive, Mailchimp etc).
While we can’t sing the praises enough of having a proper editor, there is a trade-off for using Wordy. Price. Their lowest plan will set you back $49, that’ll get you 1,650 words. That may not seem expensive, but the tally can really add up. If you’re monthly newsletter is 500 words and an article on your blog is around 1000 you’ll be out of words in a month’s time. Moreover, just like writing, editing can take time. If you’re on a tight deadline Wordy could push you right over that limit.
If you’ve made it this far, we hope you know what SEO is by now. If not read our step-by-step guide. SEO is your chance to make your online presence work for you. There are some great tools on the market to help you optimise your website and any content you put out.
Inbound Writer is like your own content fortune teller—and not the shoddy kind with a scratched crystal ball and fake warts. Inbound Writer will predict the traffic performance of content before you’ve even written it. Once it gets to know you and your website it can help you find the right topics to write about and explain why your content has or hasn’t performed. This is definitely an advanced tool, but the great part of hiring Inbound Writer is they’ll do all the tricky stuff for you.
If you read our step-by-step guide then you may not need tools like Inbound Writer—you can do it yourself, which might be a good idea unless you’re willing to fork out. Services from Inbound Writer start from $200 a month and we took a peek at their Facebook, they’ve got a lot of content but not a lot of engagement. Shouldn’t they have been able to predict that their own articles weren’t going to be hits?
Scribe is another great piece of software for optimising your content. They’ve got a three step process ‘research, optimise and content’. Their research helps you find the right words to write with. And once you’ve got your writing ready to go they’ll help you edit to add in even better keywords. Scribe tweaks your whole website to attract more attention and then help you link it up with other sites and more content to up your traffic.
Similarly to Inbound Writer, Scribe isn’t cheap with their basic plan going for $97 a month, whilst their ‘professional’ service comes in at $247 a month.
We had a look at their Facebook too and they’ve got the same issue as Inbound Writer—they’re all dressed up but no-one’s invited them out or wants to come visit them either.
The next step
The moral here is that you can’t rely optimisation software entirely, it can certainly help you out by getting the search engines to find you. However, if you want people to engage with you, it’s the content that matters. Now that you’ve got all the tools you need it’s time to start writing. If you still need some inspiration try our article on how to make content engaging or just try procrastibaking and make some chocolate chip cookies instead.