“I want to start blogging but I’m not a very good writer.”
Maybe you’ve thought that before. And if we’ve spoken one-on-one, there’s a good chance you’ve uttered those exact words to me.
Here’s the truth: most people I speak with tell me they don’t consider themselves a writer.
And I can understand why!
Writing feels intimidating. There’s immense pressure to organize your thoughts in an elegant way without sounding clunky.
But if you have a business, writing is a non-negotiable skill. Everywhere you turn, you’re faced with tasks that require writing: Blog posts, email newsletters, Instagram captions, Facebook ads, and Tweets (just to name a few).
Enhancing your writing will help you connect and communicate with your audience so you can grow your biz. So today, I want to share my favorite writing tools to help you improve your prose!
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Books and Courses
1. Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing
If grammar isn’t your forte, you’ll love Grammar Girl’s course: Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing.
I loved this course because I was able to finish it in one day. It’s to-the-point, fun to watch, and packed with actionable writing tips.
This course is free on two different platforms (as long as you have a membership).
First off, premium LinkedIn users can enroll in Grammar Girl’s course for free. Luckily, LinkedIn offers a free 30 day trial of their premium membership, so you can take the course during your free trial if you choose to sign up.
You can also take this course on Lynda. Many public libraries offer free Lynda memberships so it’s worth checking if your library includes access with a membership.
2. Everybody Writes
Everybody (whether you consider yourself a writer or not) should read Everybody Writes by Ann Handley.
This breezy read will catch you up on writing basics and provide simple tips to drastically improve your writing.
Whether you’re crafting social media copy (Instagram captions, tweets on Twitter or Facebook ads) or you need to write landing page copy for your latest product, Everybody Writes will help you jazz up your text so its compelling and enjoyable to read.
3. Savvy in SEO
If you’re going to blog, you’ll need to learn search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is the process of driving free, organic traffic back to your website through search engines.
Here’s a quick example of how SEO works: Let’s say you sell hand-crafted leather dog collars. Every month, there are over (roughly) 20,000 Google searches for “leather dog collars”. With SEO, you’re going to optimize your website to show on the first page when someone searches for “leather dog collars”. Then, they click on your website, see your products, add to cart, and bam! That’s it! That’s more potential customers, leads, and clients for you on auto-pilot.
SEO has such an incredibly high ROI; you’re leaving money on the table if you choose to ignore it for your biz.
My SEO ebook gives a straight-forward approach to SEO content writing so you can drive targeted traffic back to your website through your blog posts.
Do your business a favor and get yourself a copy of this ebook!
If I could only use one tool to help me write for the rest of my career, it would be Grammarly (affiliate). Grammarly is a free and premium tool to help you catch errors and polish your writing.
The free version is a great place to start. But if you’re wanting a bit more, the premium version will give you access to even more handy features.
The premium version:
- suggests sentence re-writes for clarity and brevity
- highlights overused phrases and boring words, while giving you suggestions so your writing isn’t bland
- gives you access to plagiarism detection: a must for those who outsource their writing
- allows you to tailor the editor based upon your goals (pictured below) where you can set the audience, formality, domain, tone and intent of your piece
I’ve been using the premium version of Grammarly for a couple of years now and absolutely love it. It integrates with Microsoft Word, Google Docs, WordPress and many other apps.
5. CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer
Here’s an example I put in: “Feeling sad? 10 fast ways to overcome homesickness“.
CoSchedule gave me a score of 72 (out of 100) along with a breakdown of my headline, and tips to improve my score!
6. Hemmingway App
When writing online, you should aim to write at an eighth-grade level. Of course, this depends on your audience; writing to a bunch of scholars with PhDs? Grade 8 writing likely won’t cut it.
But most adults read anywhere from a sixth grade to 12th grade reading level.
Hitting that sweet spot around grade eight ensures your audience can understand what you have to say.
Here’s where the Hemingway App comes in.
The Hemingway App will grade your writing automatically so you know whether or not it’s suitable for your audience.
But remember: grade eight is just a suggestion for the average internet user. You should research your audience and determine their reading level and write at the level best for them.
7. 750 Words
In one of my University courses, we spent the first 15 minutes of every class writing in our private notebooks. There was only one rule: no erasing allowed. And nobody, not even our professor, would read our notebooks.
The purpose? To warm flex our writing-muscles.
Enter 750 Words.
750 Words digitizes this concept. A few times a week, log into your 750 Words account and write. The idea is to write 750 words per day, but honestly, I recommend doing what feels natural; forcing yourself to write may make you loathe it over time.
Here’s my latest except from 750 words, where I wrote about snow:
The above writing won’t win a noble prize, however, I still enjoyed writing without any rules.
8. Cliché Finder
- “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
- “Home is where the heart is.”
- “If you play your cards right.”
The above are all examples of clichés, and within your writing, it’s best to limit them as much as possible.
Typically, clichés are specific to language and region, so they likely won’t make sense to all your readers. They’re also overdone and boring.
This is something I’m working to improve; my work is sprinkled with clichés.
Cliché Finder highlights clichés in your writing so you can replace them with more vibrant language.
Time to Become a Better Writer!
You know the tools, now it’s time to put it into action. Take the next 15 minutes to write whatever you want, either on your laptop or pen to paper. Schedule time into your day to write and see how much you improve over the next month.
You got this!
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