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…