Many free online writing tools can make you a better writer, which in turn can help boost marketing success for your business. Check out some top tools.

Writing is tough, even for writers. For some people, writing is a painful task best put off as long as possible; it’s about as fun as taxes.

That’s a shame. Because troublesome as it may be, writing is one of the best skills to have. Being able to write good content for your small business is a major asset, especially when it comes to raising capital, marketing and public relations. Being able to write articles for prestigious publications is one of the best ways to get your name out and demonstrate your expertise.

It would be nice if you could write more easily, huh? It’d be great if it wasn’t a dreaded task. If you could write more easily, more frequently, about topics you know people would be interested in, that would be A Very Good Thing.

There are a slew of writing tools to help you do just that. You may not end up using every one of these, but you should know they all exist. I’ve selected one or two tools for each of basic tasks of writing – finding topics, crafting headlines and editing your copy. Many of these tools are free to use.

1) Grammarly

This extension for the Chrome browser lets you be your own editor. Grammarly will check your copy for typos, misspells, basic grammar faux pas and any other copywriting no-nos. Put in just two or three minutes with this to avoid those dreaded typos and other writing embarrassments.

Copy of Grammarly
Use Grammarly to avoid the most obvious and common writing mistakes. (Screenshot, Grammarly.com)

2) Hemingway Editor

Good writing is clear writing, and the more people can understand what you write, the more likely you are to be read.

The Hemingway Editor (just $9.99) helps you write more clearly. This excellent tool tells you the grade level of your writing, then it highlights your text to show which sentences are hard to read. It also highlights adverbs, passive voice and phrases that could be simplified.

Hemingway Editor
Don’t write copy that’s hard to read. Use The Hemingway Editor to make sure you’re understood. (Image: Screenshot, Hemingwayapp.com

3) CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer

Writing success is all about the headline. Botch it, and even a great article will get skipped over. Get the headline right, and you could almost pair it with a weak article and still gets lots of views and shares.

The CoSchedule headline analyzer assesses headlines in several ways. First, it gives you a score of how good your headline is. That score takes into account SEO factors and social sharing history of the words you’ve used. The tool can even analyze the sentiment of your headline – whether it’s positive or negative.

Use this tool try out at least ten different headline variations of your next writing piece. It’s a 5-minute task that could literally triple your results.

Headline Analyzer
CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer tells you the effectiveness of your headline. (Image: Screenshot from Headline Analyzer)

4) Atomic Writer

This Chrome browser extension scores your blog posts according to several measurements, like how well your content fits an audience’s knowledge level, how well the title works, and how complex your writing is. According to the developers, it can get you significantly more traffic and shares than if you managed all that on your own.

Atomic Reach
This is the free version of the Atomic Writer tool in action, analyzing an already-published page. (Screenshot, Atomic Writer)

5) BuzzSumo

What’s the number one thing that stops people from writing? Not knowing what to write about. BuzzSumo can help. It shows you the most-shared content for a keyword or URL. You can sort the results by time or by content format.

When you’ve found the settings you like, look at the results and try to see some trends. Are any particular topics hot? Do the headlines use a certain formula? Could you apply any of those formulas to your headlines, or write about any of those topics.

Bonus: If you know which keywords and topics you want to write about, HubSpot’s Topic Generator can roll out five headlines for any three keywords you put in. They’ll give you even more if you register with the site.

Copy of HubspotBlogTopicGenerator
While BuzzSumo can show you which content is most popular, Hubspot’s Topic Generator can give you a slew of headlines based on the keywords you give it. (Image: Screenshot, Hubspot)

6) Google Docs

I couldn’t skip a text editor, could I? There are literally dozens of apps, tools and programs to write in. If you don’t have MS Word, you’re most likely using Google Docs to write in. That’s the best online writing editor, but if you’re working on a tablet (either Mac or PC), iA Writer is a favorite, too.

7) Dragon Naturally Speaking for PC or Apple’s Dictation app for Mac

Despite how much the other tools might help, some of you are still going to hate writing. In your case, finding the right editing tool may not help. You don’t really want to be fussing around with sentences. You just need the simplest, fastest way get what’s in your head down on paper.

These dictation apps make it is so easy you’ll almost feel like you’re cheating.

Dictation does take a bit of getting used to, but once you’ve got the hang of it, you can crank out copy at a rate that would make a speed typist jealous. If you really don’t want to bother cleaning that dictated copy up, it’s OK to hire an editor.

You could potentially write an entire book without ever touching a keyboard with this method.

8) Evernote or Trello

Writing often involves research. Lots of research. Tools like Evernote are an ideal way to gather, sort and find the information you need fast. That can save you a lot of time .

Another common thing writers need is a way to manage and sort ideas. Ideally, that same system will also have a way to manage deadlines, communicate with clients about specific elements of a project, and be able to show co-workers or senior staff the status of a project.

Trello is an ideal tool for this. Many writers swear by it. They use it every day. And Trello also integrates with a dizzying array of other tools, which only increases its usefulness.

Trello
Image from Trello.com

9) Coffitivity

Some people benefit from background or “white” noise to keep them focused. There’ve been scientific studies to prove it. If that’s you, try Coffitivity. It simulates the background sounds of being in a coffee shop.

Don’t care for coffee shops? Would you rather be in a remote writing cabin? Then try Noisli . It has several sound choices, like rain, or thunder or a crackling fire.

Coffitivity
Some people love background noise when they write. Coffitivity makes it sound like you’re in a coffee shop. (Image: Screenshot, Coffitivity)

10) StayFocusd

This Chrome extension lets you limit how much time you can spend on specific sites. Want to limit yourself to 30 minutes of social media per day? Want to block yourself from eBay while you’re at work? This is the extension for that.

StayFocusd
Can’t keep yourself off certain websites? StayFocusd can do it for you. (Image: Screenshot, StayFocusd)

Conclusion

There are far more writing tools than what I’ve included here, but these are the best of the best. They can show you what to write, how to write about it clearly, and how to shape your piece so it’s more likely to get shared. I hope that makes you more comfortable and confident as you write.