25+ Must-have, Free Tools for All Content Writers

Content Marketing Trends 2014
Whether you are a blogger, content writer or copywriter, the right tools can save you time, money and effort. And we all know that the one thing content writers are short on is time. These tools are sure to make you more productive and will also give you an edge in writing SEO friendly posts.
I’ll share with you these content writing tools because they make my life a lot easier and I wish the same for you. I don’t know what I’d do without them. They are lifesavers when I’m in a hurry, on a deadline and need to finish that web page, whitepaper or post.
They are all free!
So here they are:

Writing Tools

All good content writers need tools of the trade – tools that will hone their writing skills or simply help them understand a word!
1. Thesaurus.com: is an essential tool in these days when Google thinks that you are a spammer if you use the same keyword more than a few times in a post! Thesaurus mercifully gives you synonyms and related terms. It’s great to write Hummingbird-friendly content as Hummingbird looks for synonyms and related terms to determine how relevant your article is to the user’s query.
2.Dictionary.com: an old favorite for looking up the meaning of a word.
3.Reference.com: I was writing content recently for a highly technical industry and reference.com was a huge help to me. Not only did I learn the meaning of essential terms, I also learned when they were used.
4. Yahoo style guide: There are many style guides online, Ap Stylebook and Chicago manual being two of the most popular. The Yahoo style guide used to be free and was an amazing reference. In 2013, they started selling it on Amazon and charging $10. AP Stylebook costs only $25 a year. You have other free style guides such as The National Geographic Style Manual and the Wikipedia Manual of Style.
5. Encylopedia.com is more like a search engine of many sources. It includes encyclopedias, dictionaries, and thesauruses with word origins, and abbreviations.
6. Factbrowser: is great for finding statistics and trends
7. Brainy quote is perfect for finding the right quote to spice up your post.
8. Purdue University’s OWL (Online Writing Lab): The Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University houses writing resources and instructional material that help with general writing skills, grammar and punctuation.
9. Writers workshop is a University of Illinois resource. It addresses common problems in writing such as dangling modifiers, homophones, run-on sentences and sentence fragments. A quick read of the workshop’s everyday grammar will strengthen your grammar and your writing abilities.

Image Editing Tools

10. Piktochart: is an easy-to-create application for infographics. What I like about them is that they have these quick 1-minute helpful videos that explain how to use it. You can add graphics, text, charts and customize them.
11. Easel.ly:is still in beta. It makes it easy to create infographics online.
You can select a theme, your objects and shapes, put in some text, and you can have a good-looking infographic in a short amount of time.
12. Infog.ram: You can create infographics and interactive online charts. It’s free and easy!
13. Greenshot: As I travel through the web, Greenshot allows me to easily capture anything on my screen. It even has a basic image editor. Of-course, I’m so used to Photoshop that I automatically edit my images in there.

SEO Tools

14. Keyword Planner: After Hummingbird, the main faux pas is keyword stuffing! But it’s still important to know the types of keywords that attract readers to your page. It’s more important to know a cluster of keywords than one single keyword. Even though Google has taken away their keyword tool, the keyword planner lets you plan keyword groups. Even though, it’s a tool meant for people using Adwords, it’s free and anyone can open an Adwords account.
15. Tag Crowd: You can create your own tag cloud from any text to visualize word frequency. Again this tool helps you to know what your post looks like to search engines with word clouds and word frequencies.
16. Inbound Writer: I like to use this tool to check if I have the right keywords or focus terms in my document.
17. WordPress SEO by Yoast: A very popular SEO tool for WordPress users. I use All in One SEO pack for WordPress. It lets me write the metadata for my post.
18. Content Experiments: is a great conversion testing tool. It’s right inside of Google Analytics which makes it easy to use for everyone that has a Google Analytics account. It allows you to increase the value of your existing websites and traffic, as you can test your site content and design. You can show several versions of a page to different visitors. Google Analytics measures the efficacy of each page version, and with a new advanced statistical engine, it determines the most effective version. If the user performs the action you want them to perform you know that you have hit upon your winning version of the page. It’s very effective in determining which copy works better.

Tools to Keep You on Schedule

19. Google Calendar: is a good time-management tool. You can use Google Calendar to schedule events, meetings, share your calendar, import, export or sync a calendar. You can also create tasks and to-do lists.
20. WordPress Editorial Calendar: I love this simple tool to plan my posts, at least for the month. Many content marketing professionals use their editorial calendars to plan content for the entire year.
21. Trello: I’ve used Trello to collaborate with others on projects. Since the basic tool is free, it’s ideal for small businesses or non-profits that need to coordinate content with multiple authors. Projects are represented by boards, which contain lists corresponding to tasks.
22. Evernote: is a great content curation tool. I like to use it to keep notes of everything that I see on the web that will help me with my future content writing.
23. Dropbox: Dropbox is a free service that allows you to store up to two gigabytes of data in a folder that resides on the company’s servers—and any other place you need it. The folder syncs to your computer, smartphone and other Web browser-equipped devices. There’s nothing to configure, and it’s surprisingly fast. You can use it to quickly sync files between your devices, and, since it’s available anywhere, it provides an easy way to get a hold of information on the go.
24. Hootsuite: You need to promote your content on different networks. At the same time, you don’t want to be a spammer by constantly promoting your own posts. I like to use Hootsuites schedule feature to schedule posts for different times. Buffer is also good for this purpose.
25. Add-ons for Gmail: Two add-ons for Gmail that help in efficiency. One is Boomerang – you can write an email now and schedule it to be sent automatically at your chosen time. You can also use Boomerang to take messages out of your inbox until you actually need them. Boomerang will archive the message. At the time you chose, it will be brought back to your inbox, marked unread, starred, or even at the top of your message list. There are times you need to make sure you follow up within a specific time frame after sending a message. You can select to only be reminded if nobody replies, or regardless.
Rapportive: is another useful add-on for Gmail. It shows you everything about your contacts, not only your gmail contacts but your Google+ contacts as well from right inside your inbox. You can immediately see what people look like, where they’re based, and what they do. You can establish rapport by mentioning shared interests. You can grow your network by connecting on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and more.

Your turn

Which are you favorite tools that help you write better, quicker or make you more productive? Please share them in the comments below. We’ll all benefit from the info. Thanks.

Comments

    • says

      Thanks for your feedback, Tom. ‘ll certainly try Lastpass. I’ve heard that Roboform is also a good password manager. Haven’t tried either. But am looking around for one. Thanks for adding to this list.

  1. says

    Gazalla thanks for sharing this list. Love piktochart because of its ease of use.

    You did me a great favour by sharing these awesome list. Thanks also for reminding me about encyclopedia, because most writers know these tools exist but forget to tap into these tools which are excellent time saver.
    Peter Kanayo recently posted..Do Business Like A SnakeMy Profile

    • says

      Thanks, Reginald. Yes, Yoast, Evernote and Dropbox seem to be everyone’s favorite. I need to get my files up on Google Drive. It makes so much sense to have them anywhere, anytime. Thanks for adding to this list:)

  2. says

    A couple that I find invaluable are Feedly, in which I have around 100 rss feeds across a whole range of topics. It’s essential in helping keep on top of things in fields that matter to me.

    I also use Pixlr a lot as a free online image tool. Really useful for doing simple editing of images.
    Adi Gaskell recently posted..Peer to peer meets self storageMy Profile

  3. says

    Excellent list, Gazalla. I was familiar with many tools mentioned here but there are a few good finds. I shall bookmark this one and return to it when I am looking for new tools.
    By the way, one cool tool I like to use for photo editing is Snagit. It’s not free, but not expensive either (like 79$ or so) but very helpful to crop, insert captions or objects in a picture, etc.
    Cheers,

    • says

      Gotta try Snagit, Frederic. Thanks for adding to the list. I guess I’m so loyal to Photoshop that I rarely venture to try another tool. But there are certainly some cheaper alternatives and very often, you need to make tiny modifications and a simpler tool can just as easily do the job.

      • Kim says

        I second Snagit – it’s a fantastic screen capture tool. The scrolling option to capture an entire webpage, rather than just what appears on-screen is invaluable for sharing draft webpages for approval before live posting.

  4. Matt says

    Have you tried our Keyword Eye (keywordeye.com) tool? It’s a visual keyword research tool which is useful for quick keyword brainstorming. Hope you find it useful :)

  5. says

    Hi Gazalla,
    Great list. Factbrowser seems very interesting. Never heard of it before. Thanks.
    For “Tools to keep your on schedule” I would highly recommend you check out and maybe even include Brightpod.com – it is a project planning and content calendar for marketing teams (which includes content creators).

    Cheers,
    Sahil
    Sahil P. recently posted..My iPhone home screen #nomailMy Profile

    • says

      It looks interesting. And it says, sign up for free. Thanks for adding to this list. I think that I’ll need to actually compile a separate list with all these interesting suggestions in the comments:)

  6. says

    Hi Gazalla,

    Great list I’ve just added a few to my bookmarks for future reference. I find theausurs really helpful and a great way to spice up content that would otherwise be boring to read.

    Cheers

    Chris

    • says

      I agree. Thesaurus.com is a good search engine for content marketers and anyone in online marketing – I would say for anyone, period. Thanks for your feedback.

  7. says

    Hi Gazalla, you’ve come up with a pretty useful list. Like Buffer, Hootsuite too is a great tool but to get most of Hootsuite you need a paid plan.

    Another tool to help you & your team stay organised is Contentcloudhq.com – the editorial project management software that combines a powerful editorial calendar, task management and an impressive Idea Room to brainstorm with your team.

    The WordPress plugin is free for a team of upto 4 users.

      • says

        @Gazella, It’s live. Also, its plug-n-play architecture gives you the flexibility to take out the platform from your network anytime without disrupting your publishing process. So, no strings attached :)

  8. says

    Evernote is a must for me. I signed up a year ago but didn’t do anything with it until last month. It’s been a lifesaver to keep all my daily activities and schedule organized. Naturally I’m a procrastinator, and have to fight those tendencies and Evernote seems to help remind me to get things done. :)

    Also another very helpful tool that I use to monitor my time and keep me productive is ManicTime… It monitors everything you do on your computer and gives you a breakdown on what you did and how long you spent doing it.

    Many of the tools you have on your list I’ve never used before, but will definitely try them out. Thanks
    Michael Monturo recently posted..5 Writing Tools That Will Keep You Distraction-FreeMy Profile