Writing requires discipline, focus, talent, sacrifice and a thick skin, so I have no idea how I’ve managed to survive this long without my editor noticing my fundamental lack of these skills.

What I do have though is an awesome arsenal of tools and web applications that help paper over any cracks in my expertise.

From idea generation, to writing without distraction, to creating jargon-free copy, these 17 tools should also help you improve your own craft and hopefully stop you from banging your head against the keyboard for too long.

For when inspiration is lacking…

Portent’s Content Idea Generator

Enter any subject you like into the generator

Then be inspired by the results…

Sometimes you have to hit refresh. Although I am keeping hold of ‘Shocking ways digital marketing can make you better in bed’. 

Hubspot’s blog topic generator

Just enter a few nouns into Hubspot’s tool

And be provided with an entire week’s worth of frankly excellent sounding topics…

The content of the first one should include the words ‘cheesecake’, ‘LEGO’ and also my office address.

Google Trends: Hot Searches

Check out what’s hot in search right now with this live tool, which will fry your brain if you stare at it too long.

Soovle

Type any keyword into Soovle and it will automatically search for the most popular terms across a wide variety of search engines.

Content Marketing Ideas Generator

This tool is based on our very own Periodic Table of Content Marketing, just enter a target audience and a discipline that they will benefit from, then you’ll be presented with 20 ideas for content.

Improve the quality of your text...

The Readability Test Tool

Type your page’s URL in to the Readability tool’s search field and it will give you a breakdown of how easy it is to read.

Surprisingly a recent article I wrote about tag management can be understood by 13 to 14 year-olds.

Tag management: it’s the new Hunger Games.

Hemingway 

Adopt the understated economic prose of Papa himself with the Hemingway app, which helpfully highlights all of the unnecessary garbage in your text.  

Grammarly 

Grammarly is a beautifully designed web app that accurately highlights any grammar, spelling and punctuation errors in your text.

Unsuck-it

If you write for a popular digital marketing blog (ahem) it’s difficult to avoid business jargon, but here at Econsultancy we do try our best. The Unsuck-it app helps you find an alternative, or even just an explanation.

Easy on the Hooptedoodle

My favourite essay on the art of writing is this piece published in The New York Times by my favourite author Elmore Leonard…

These are rules I've picked up along the way to help me remain invisible when I'm writing a book, to help me show rather than tell what's taking place in the story. If you have a facility for language and imagery and the sound of your voice pleases you, invisibility is not what you are after, and you can skip the rules. Still, you might look them over.

Click below for the rest…

Write without distraction...

Zen Pen

Simply a blank web page that allows you to write freely with only the very basic text adjustments allowed.

Ilys

Ilys asks you to tell it how many words you want to write. Then when you begin writing you can't go back, delete or edit anything until you have completed your word count goal. When you have reached your goal, only then can you edit your text.

Other fun/helpful/cool stuff...

Hipster Ipsum

A simple ‘lorem ipsum’ generator is handy for generating dummy text for any occasion, but why not update the dead language of Latin with some up-to-the-minute random hipster balderdash?

Rhyme Zone

Sometimes you just need a rhyme. Don’t ask me why. It doesn’t happen all the time.

(Click here for the tool)

Cliche Finder

The Cliche Finder tool is as useful as a... as a... uh... very useful thing indeed.

Copy and paste any text into the tool and see how hackneyed it might be...

Unsplash

Avoid an expensive takedown notice or invoice from Shutterstock or Getty by using the glorious, high quality and copyright free images from Unsplash.

Here have some more free image resources: Eight free image resources for your website or blog.

The Guardian Style Guide

Do you cap-up Air Force One? Is it Mum or mum? Is there a hyphen in U-turn? Oh I could spend all day in this glorious place.

Further reading

For more help on creating written content from the blog, check out…

Christopher Ratcliff

Published 12 March, 2015 by Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff is the editor of Methods Unsound. He was the Deputy Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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Comments (19)

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Ian Jindal

Ian Jindal, Founder and Editor in Chief at InternetRetailingSmall Business Multi-user

What a joyous post! Learned a great deal - while also putting off a writing deadline.

over 2 years ago

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Ross Howard, Global Account Manager at Inbox Insight

Love the article and some great tips here! I love the cliche tool and keen on Hemingway.

Coming from B2B land - All I'll say is the temptation with a random blog idea generator is that you can spend time writing whatever it spits out, even if it's not in line with your content strategy, or the real information needs of your target audience.

I'd try to base as many decisions as possible on user data when choosing what to write. This could be based follow ups to the most popular pieces you've written, top forum questions posted by those that match your personas, top google searches in your industries - anything that answers the needs of your ideal customers.

Cheers!
Ross

over 2 years ago

Ayshea Elliott

Ayshea Elliott, Business Owner/Operator at Mrs

Really useful and interesting thank you, I will be bookmarking lots of these.

over 2 years ago

Chris Holden

Chris Holden, Director at ECOM

Hipster Ipsum is brilliant. Think I had a pint of Post-ironic Heirloom Taxidermy in Brewdog the other day..

over 2 years ago

George Harris

George Harris, Founder at Web Method

Genius. Walking the line between useful and entertaining.

over 2 years ago

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Candice Driver, Sales Manager at Crimtan

Yes, really interesting - thanks

over 2 years ago

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Jill Chiappe, CEO at BeCoachable

Hi Christopher,

You gave an awesome list of tools which i never heard off. Its my pleasure top find this informative post.

Thanks!

over 2 years ago

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Jeffrey Aspacio, Employee at Open Access BPO

I will share this page to our content marketing team. This is a great resource for them.

over 2 years ago

Stephen Fair

Stephen Fair, Managing Partner at Sponge New Business

Wonderful stuff! The Guardian style guide is a solid bookmark (forwarded to the business development team here too - so many great tips).

over 2 years ago

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Mr Makr, Sr Executive at Solid SEO Tools

A superb list! There are a few I have yet to try. There is however one more tool, a project of mine, that I’d like to share with you – http://solidseotools.com/ – admittedly, this tool has kicked off it’s journey few months back and by this time got very positive response from the user. Basically it’s a multipurpose based free online tools website. Users have found it useful for plagiarism checking, article rewriting, word counting, link analyzing, keyword position checking and many more.

over 2 years ago

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Jacqui Miholos, Social Media at Marketing Sweet

Great article Christopher. These are some really great tools for content writing and blogging!

over 2 years ago

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Amit Sharma, Founder at Repairtxt.com

If you like unsuck it, I have a jargon highlighter that also provides the 'jargon density'. It's a Word macro, so very useful and ready at hand -

jargonbuster.repairtxt.com

about 2 years ago

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Joanne Twelvetrees, Business Development Executive at Corporate Innovations

Great post - learnt so much. Fantastic for an experienced copywriter or a new one, just starting out. Thank you.

about 2 years ago

Mellissa Webster

Mellissa Webster, Content Creation Specialist & Social Media Strategist at OnlineInkwell.com

Great group of tools. When I started out ghostwriting, I relied heavily on Portent's Content Idea Generator, since I was writing for 100's of clients in various industries. It was a great help when I had to come up with 12 catchy headlines that had to do with whiteboard paint!
Now that I've started my own content creation and social media management company, I'm always looking for tips and tricks to streamline my job, so thank you for posting!

about 2 years ago

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Julie Petersen, Content marketer at AskPetersen

Thanks for this awesome list of tools. As a writer I like Hemingway App the most, such a clever machine. Have you used http://www.plagtracker.com/ or https://www.essaymama.com/ ? I use these tools from time to time. Keep on posting new lists!

over 1 year ago

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Ahsan Naeem, Founder at www.10funfacts.com

That's a very helpful post. The tools you just mention is soo helpful for me. Thanks

over 1 year ago

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Feeroz Hasan, Freelancing at Professional

Wonderful job. This assistance matters most for content writers to develop some fields. Thanks and Regards. Feeroz Hasan (www.pinpointblogs.in)

9 months ago

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Aj K, validationera at validation

The list of tools mentioned are truly worthy. I have been using some since a while but got a good list here. Thanks AJ Malaji ( www.webtecky.com)

9 months ago

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Chetan B, Digital Marketing at Travel Genie - http://www.travelgenieapp.com

The list of tools are amazing. Really helpful for a new blogger like me.
Thanks for the same.
Chetan -- http://www.travelgenieapp.com/blog

4 months ago

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