“You’re just writing, how hard can it be?” Unfortunately, that’s what a lot of people think about content marketing. Everyone knows how to put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard), and that’s all there is to being a writer, right? Wrong. So, so wrong.Whether you’re writing a blog post or editing a whitepaper, it’s hard work. You can’t just say whatever you want to say, any way you want to say it.
A content marketer needs to string their words together as delicately as a diamond necklace. We need to worry about a thousand and a half different things, like:
- The SEO value of your content’s title
- How clickworthy and shareworthy that title is
- Word count – too much or not enough?
- Format & organization
- Readability and how easy it is to scan
- Brevity and clarity
And we actually have to entertain the person reading those words we “slapped together.”
Thankfully, one benefit of being a tool junkie like myself is that you always know the right tool to turn to. And the good news for you is that I’m not selfish enough to hold them close to the vest. Add these writing and editing tools to your arsenal to start producing better content:
1. Topic Selection: BLOGABOUT Blog Title Generator
Created by IMPACT Branding & Design, BlogAbout should be the first step in your content creation process. It will help you nail down your topic and working headline. Head over to the tool once you have a vague topic you want to write about.
For example, let’s say I’ve decided to write a blog post about productivity tips. But that’s as far as I’ve gotten.
BlogAbout will help me determine what angle or approach to take by using fill-in-the-blanks. So once it gives me something like “Should You ________? __ Things to Consider First,” I can think about different topic keywords to fill in.
You can fill in the blanks right in the title generator. And if you don’t like the result, just click ‘refresh’ until you find something that fits. Any titles you want to develop into actual content, click the heart icon to save them. That’s my favorite feature – they’ll email you your titles at the end. No more forgetting brilliant ideas!
2. Headline Writing: CoSchedule Headline Analyzer
Now that you have a working title, it’s time to write a headline to inspire clicks, shares, and subscribes. For that, my favorite tool is CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer.
Like other headline analyzers, it looks at how much punch your word choice packs. But this one is specifically for blog post headlines. So it gets much more specific (and helpful) than generic analyzers.
CoSchedule shows how your headline will look in SERP results, helping you check the SEO value of your title. It also analyzes your word choice, headline structure, sentiment, keywords, and more.
Have I mentioned how helpful it is?
It actually makes you a better writer. I know that my headlines have improved since using this daily. And I’m talking my original headlines, not ones that have already been optimized with CoSchedule’s help.
I used to type in my first idea and get blasted with a score in the “red zone.” I would struggle for a great headline. Switching a word here and there to try to come up with something good enough to publish. (I always try for scores of 65 or higher.)
But by doing that, I’ve learned a lot. I know what “power words” to use and where to place them for the biggest benefit. And my brain automatically places the most important words at the beginning and end. I guess I run through the analyzer’s steps in my head without realizing it.
Of course, be careful of having too much fun with this one. It’s important to know when “done is better than perfect.” Sure, you can try to write a headline 1 point higher, but is it worth the time for every title?
3. Writing Your Draft: Google Drive
WordPress is amazing, and using other content management systems makes me sad. But as amazing as it is for managing content, Google Drive is my favorite place to write.
Google Docs provides a simple and clean writing environment. It also doesn’t hurt that we’re all used to the “word processor look.” Google Docs feels familiar, friendly, and unintimidating. Perfect for productive, focused content creation.
But as basic as it looks, it can actually do a lot to help you write. For instance, inserting links. When you highlight text and click on the icon to add a link, Google tries to match up with the right URL. It won’t work for things like keyword-rich anchor text or obscure blog posts, but it makes linking to any homepage so easy. Look at how easy it is to link to GetResponse:
You can also use the research tool instead of constantly switching tabs. Turning it on adds a search panel to the side of your screen. There you can conduct Google searches for supporting examples, data, whatever you need.
Of course, since we’re talking about Google, there’s also a host of add-ons you can install for more power. For content marketing, you might want to install a workflow/approval add-on for team collaboration. There’s even an add-on to create WordPress drafts from Google Drive documents.
4. Making Edits: Hemingway App
The biggest editing mistake a writer can make? It’s thinking that editing is just cleaning up spelling, grammar, and typos. You’ve already made sure that you’ve said everything you needed to in your draft. But could you say it better?
Editing is where you should take a step back from the content and look at its overall effectiveness. Yes, that includes catching any typos or grammar mistakes. But it also means that your content is clear and concise, sounds like “talking” more than “writing,” and is easily scanned.
Hands down, this is the tool for that.
Named after the author known for his direct and concise writing style, Hemingway App will show you how to simplify your content. From hard to read sentences to unnecessary adverbs, it shows you the parts of your post that will slow the reader down.
Marketing copy such as blog posts should be written for an 8th grade reading level, tops. So aim for that when editing in Hemingway. You can also choose to set your own quotas for each of the different highlighting categories. I like to try to get to a 6th grade level.
Just because a blog post makes the points it needs to, and is grammatically correct, doesn’t mean it’s an effective piece of content. If you want your posts to better your business – drive signups and sales – you need to be methodical about your writing.
Build a toolbox of resources that will help you convey your thoughts in the best way possible. What do you use to get your blogging game on point? Share in the comments below!
About the Author: Brittany Berger is the Content & PR Manager at Mention, where she reads a lot and writes even more. She likes her media social and her Netflix non-stop. Connect with her on Twitter at @bberg1010.