Tag Archives: Content Writing

Turn into a Great Content Writer With These 12 Productivity Apps

apps-to-become-a-great-content-writer

Whether you’re writing content for yourself or for your clients, it is always a race against time. There never seems to be enough content. To make a difference, you need to be a prolific content writer. If you want to cover more platforms like your own blog, Medium and LinkedIn, you must write more. If you want to improve your search engine rankings you need to cover all your topics. When you need to cover all your topics, obviously, you must write a lot.

The good thing is, these days technology is always there to help you. Writing content doesn’t always mean having to sit in front of your computer or laptop (yes, people still use these). Connectivity is no longer a problem these days. If you store all your files in the cloud you can access from any device. Better, if you use a cloud-based word processor like Google Docs, you don’t even have to worry about storing and syncing your files. Provided you can run Google Docs, you can access your documents anywhere.

Not just Google Docs, if you publish your content using WordPress then the blogging platform has an app that you can install on your mobile phone. The same goes for Medium.

This means, no matter where you are, you can write. Whether you are a writer or a content writer, your writing tools these days are always with you.

There are many productivity apps that can help you become a great content writer. As a content writer, being productive means being able to write whenever you feel like it, whenever you get an idea. It also means being able to manage your content and being able to publish it on the go.

Listed below are the 12 productivity/writing apps that can help you turn into a great content writer. I use most of these apps. At one time or another, I have used all these apps. I keep jumping from one app to another depending on what I want to achieve and what level of writing work I’m handling.

Microsoft Word mobile app

Microsoft-Word-logoThroughout all these years I have been a consistent user of Microsoft Word. I like the word processor. It gives me all the features that I need. On the PC, it even has a “blog” template that allows me to write drafts and then directly post them to WordPress. Since I also make other changes that can only be made to WordPress, I publish the post in draft mode.

For years it was impossible to use the Microsoft Word mobile app because the interface would act the way it works  on a PC or a large tablet. You couldn’t see the contents of the document on a mobile phone because they would become tiny.

Recently, around 6-7 months ago, they have introduced an alternative mobile layout. This allows you to work on your document just like any other text editor on your mobile phone. This is a great improvement.

OneDrive as my Cloud Drive

onedrive-logoI can seamlessly use Microsoft Word on my mobile phone because I store all my documents in OneDrive. The documents are immediately synced, wherever I have installed OneDrive and Microsoft Word. So, suppose I’m working on my PC, on a document. Then I need to move away. I’m sitting somewhere and only my mobile phone is there. When I want to, I take it out, launch the Microsoft Word app and my document is there. It syncs in real-time. You can feel that OneDrive for Microsoft must had been an afterthought: it is not as good as Dropbox and Google Drive in terms of interface and usability. But it works for me.

Google Docs for collaborative writing and word processing

Google DocsI was using Google Docs heavily before Microsoft Word became friendlier on my mobile phone. If you are using Google Docs and if you don’t have Microsoft Word, and if you are doing just word processing, you don’t miss Word much.

Google Docs is one of the best word processors for mobile phone. It immediately syncs all your documents; you can work from anywhere. It is not a very heavy app. You can tap on it and start writing without even naming your document.

Xmind as a mind mapping tool

xmind-logoI use Xmind not just to work on complicated marketing and management plans but also to organize my thoughts when working on longer blog posts.

Xmind is not my particular choice for the mind mapping tool because there are many such tools available. You can install a mind mapping tool on your desktop. You can use a mobile app. You can also use it within your browser.

If you haven’t used mind mapping for writing, try it out. You will be surprised to find how simply you can organize complex ideas.

Jotterpad text editor for Android

jotterpad-logoA lot of times I work on text files. Text files are lighter and there are less distractions. There is a great selection of text editors for PC. Jotterpad is an excellent text editor for your mobile phone. It has different settings and layouts. It even allows you to use your own font settings. Being a text editor, you can launch it in a jiffy and start writing. It’s pure writing.

Dropbox cloud drive

Dropbox is one of the oldest cloud drive and file syncing apps and services. It is one of the first cloud storage services I started using. These days I don’t use it as my main cloud storage device because I use OneDrive that comes free with my Office365 subscription.

I was their Premium user. Then I stopped using their premium services once I started using OneDrive.  When I started using Jotterpad, I needed to install Dropbox because it uses Dropbox to sync files.

If you don’t have access to OneDrive then I can say that Dropbox is the best file syncing service you can find. It is much more efficient. It is quite sleek. Its interface is not as rickety as OneDrive’s. Microsoft Word works with Dropbox too.

WriteMonkey as desktop editor

writemonkey-logoIf I’m using Jotterpad on my mobile phone, I need to have a nice desktop version of a text editor. 90% of the time I do my content writing on my PC. For the PC, so far, the best text editor that I have used is WriteMonkey. It has the best features of all “distraction free” writing apps you may have tried, especially among text editors. It covers your entire desktop when you are writing. It lets you customize your layout. You can have your own fonts and custom font colors. It even plays a typing sound!

Google Keep as a notetaking app

google-keep-logoGoogle Keep is the lightest notetaking app these days. Whenever you think of notetaking you think of Evernote, but Evernote can be very heavy. Besides, on your PC or laptop you don’t even have to Google Keep. You can use it in your browser window.

But, for Android and iOS there are very light Google Keep apps that you can easily install.

In Google Keep you don’t even need to name your notes. Create a new note and make a note of whatever you feel like. It is going to be there when you are writing.

You can also tag your notes so that you can find them when you need them.

Trello as a content publishing organizer

trello-logoTo be frank, I started using Trello recently, reluctantly. But once you start using it, it is quite a useful app for organizing your content writing schedule.

I’m not still sure how you would use Trello for your specific need, but this is how I use it:

  • Create a new list called Blog Titles.
  • Whenever you want to add something to the list, you “Add a card”.
  • Keep adding blogging ideas to the above list – there is also a provision to add descriptions and URLs (research data).
  • Create a new list called Blog Titles – In Process.
  • When I start writing a blog post I drag the card and drop it in the Blog Titles – In Process list. If I’m working on multiple blogging ideas, I can track on which blog posts I am working.
  • Create a new list called Blog Titles – Published.
  • When I publish a blog post (including publishing and broadcasting) I move the card to the Blog Titles – Published list.

I have created these Trello three-list combinations for various projects to track ideation, actual work in progress, and then completed work.

OneNote as a great information organizer

onenote logoAgain, I started using OneNote because it comes free with my Office 365 subscription. Before that I was using Evernote Premium. OneNote is bulkier and bit rickety compared to Evernote but Microsoft is constantly improving it.  I have seen improvements within days.

Compared to Evernote it is much more flexible and there are great ways of organizing information. There is a browser add-on that lets you clip important bits of information right from your browser.

Hemingway Editor to help you avoid writing complicated sentences

hemingway-editor-logoI have just started using Hemingway Editor. Since I’m used to writing in Microsoft Word, I feel a bit awkward. It’s also annoying when suddenly you sentence turns yellow or red. But, the more I use it, the more I realize its usefulness.

It is helping me keep my sentences shorter and simpler. This way, a single sentence can contain a single idea. I have this habit of creating long sentences.  I tend to capture multiple ideas with single sentences that unnecessarily complicates them. Unlike Grammarly, Hemingway Editor doesn’t do much proofreading. So far, I have observed it doesn’t bother with spelling or grammar mistakes.

Its primary focus is on tracking how many adverbs and adjectives you are using. It tells you whether you are using passive voice or active voice. It keeps track of sentences that are hard to read.

The only problem as of now is, it doesn’t seem to have a mobile version.

Noisli to drown the noises around you

noisli-logoAs a writer the biggest problem you may face, are the distractions around you. The sounds. You can hear the sounds around you. Some construction is going on. Kids are playing on the street. People are chatting with each other. TV is playing in the drawing room. Your neighbor has just formed a rock band.

Noisli helps you keep all these distracting sounds away so that you can concentrate on your writing. It creates white noise. It can also play soothing music. You will need a headphone or earplugs to use it. You can either install an app on your mobile phone or you can use it within your browser.

All these apps and services that I have listed above may not all be necessary for turning you into a great content writer. But, in their own ways, they help you write better.

After years of content writing for myself and my clients, what I have realized is, writing needs to be continuous. If you can’t write, your writing groove dissolves. There is no on-off switch. The legendary Indian writer Munshi Premchand was known to have this on-off switch. After his 9-to-5 job he could come home and start writing. If someone came to meet him, he would entertain the guest, and then get back to his writing. He lived in a crowded neighbourhood. He had many kids. He took care of his domestic responsibilities unlike many other writers. Despite that, he has written timeless classics.

But most of us don’t have that on-off switch. So, when the switch is on, we would like to draw greatest mileage. When an idea strikes, we want to be able to write it down immediately. When you want to access that particular bit of information, you should be able to access it no matter where we are. When we want to write, we should be able to write, whether we are sitting in front of the PC or we are fiddling with our smartphone. Technology, with all its distractions, fortunately, allows us to do that.

How to Write Extremely Fast and Better [infographic]

While I’m in the process of writing a post on how different writing apps help me in content writing, Daisy from Custom Writing has sent me this infographic to publish on my blog. The title of the infographic is, 15 Ways to Write Faster.

Why there is a need to write faster?

If there is a need to write faster there might be two reasons for it:

  1. You are actually writing very slow
  2. There are many factors that are stopping you from writing the way you would actually write

Life these days is full of distractions. Try to write a paragraph and suddenly you will start receiving phone calls, notifications and whatnot. Even if there is no intrusion, there are so many things to occupy your mind that it’s very difficult to focus on a single task. Writing requires lots of focus and single-mindedness.

If you make your living as a content writer there is all the more reason that you should be able to write faster without compromising on quality.

If you can make good money with content writing per assignment, you can use all the time you want. But if you don’t get much you must compensate with more assignments and this requires you to write faster.

Here is the infographic:

Importance of content writing throughout the sales funnel

Content writing is not just about improving SEO – although without content writing there can be no SEO, but that’s another matter.

Throughout your sales funnel, high-quality content plays an important role. Even small oversights can send your prospects away to your competitor.

Read Content matters at every layer of your marketing funnel.

Typically, a sales funnel looks like this:

importance-of-content-writing-throughout-the-sales-funnel

As you can see in the image, normally there are four stages in your sales funnel:

  1. Awareness and education
  2. Interest
  3. Decision
  4. Sale

Actually, there should also be an after-sale section in the sales funnel but normally it is not included (it should be).

The need to make your customers and clients aware and educate them about the benefits of your product or service underpins the essence of content marketing.

These days I’m working with a client who is planning to launch his service. He believes that most of his clients are unaware of the benefits of the services he is planning to offer. Hence, in the beginning, he wants to focus on the “awareness and education” part of the sales funnel through his content. For that he is hiring my content writing services.

Content writing for awareness and education

awareness-and-education-with-content-writing

In this phase of the sales funnel, you may be targeting, typically, two types of customers (or clients):

  1. Those who are totally unaware that they need your product.
  2. Those who know what they need but don’t know how to find a solution and where to find it.

The first type of customers under this stage of your sales funnel, those who are unaware that they need your product, need to be educated. They have no idea what they are missing.

Suppose, there is a company that is going through work-management chaos, but it has never crossed their minds that a tool like Slack or Asana can help them streamline their operations. They might not even be aware of the concept of some “project management” tool.

Since they don’t know that such a tool exists, they may not even look for it. Although, day by day it’s becoming very difficult to manage their projects.

You need to make these people aware. You need to educate them through targeted content writing.

Again using the project-management-problem scenario, one of the managers may search for “how to solve project management problems”, or “cannot manage projects properly”, or “project management tips”, and such.

If you are selling a project management software, wouldn’t it be nice if people searching for such solutions come to your website?

A good example is Open Forum by American Express. The blog provides hard-core business advice. People don’t even have to be American Express customers. They may not even know what sort of services American Express provides. But they have business-related problems and solutions to these problems exist on Open Forum. When they visit Open Forum, when they visit it regularly, they begin to realize that many of the business problems that they face can be solved by using some of the American Express financial solutions.

You can apply the same content writing technique to make people aware of your product or service and educate them about its benefits.

During this phase, it is also important that you capture email addresses of your prospective customers so that you can send them regular updates. It is only due to the strength of your content writing that people subscribe to your mailing list.

Content writing during the “interest”phase of the sales funnel

the-customer-is-interested

In the interest phase of the sales funnel people are interested in a solution. They need to be convinced. They have different options in front of them. Through consistent and quality content writing you must convey to them there is a great solution to your problem that exists and it exists with you.

This is the phase when they know that (referring to the above project management problem) there are various project management software solutions available for their particular problem.

You need to keep in touch but not in the conventional sense.

Provide them valuable content on an ongoing basis. Keep their interest alive by providing them quality content on a consistent basis. Without being pushy, constantly, subtly, keep communicating to them how your solution can solve their problem.

He or she may explore other options available in the market. All the more reason you stand out by continuously publishing quality content on your own website as well as using other platforms. You should be visible and your content writing should be relatable to your business.

The decision-making stage of your sales funnel

the-customer-is-ready-to-buy

At this stage, your customer is ready to buy from you. This is a crucial stage. Often the customer develops cold feet (because he or she finally must shell out money). At this stage, you should reassure him or her that he or she is making the right choice.

Your existing content plays a very important role. Your content writing needs to hook your customer who is about to buy from you so that he or she is not distracted or, there is no confusing information on your website to change his or her decision.

You must have noticed that above I have continuously used the expression “phase”, but suddenly I started using “stage”.

I did that purposely.

A phase can last for a long time, in many instances, even years. A stage, on the other hand, is short and hence, more crucial.

The importance of content writing when the sale has happened

content writing for existing customers

Your job is not done as soon as the sale has taken place. Through high-value content writing you can always keep in touch with your existing customers. The chance of selling to an existing customer is 60-70% while the chance of selling to a new customer is 5-20% (source).

Many companies claim that 40% of their business comes from existing clients so, feeding high quality content to existing customers – customers who have already purchased from you – is as important as, and in many cases, even more important than, writing content for completely new customers.

How can your content writing help you keep in touch with your existing customers?

  1. Provide answers to all their after-sale questions so that they don’t have to depend on your support team.
  2. Create a comprehensive FAQs section and regularly update it.
  3. Send email updates solely to your existing customers with new offers or complimentary offers or related offers (based on their past purchase decisions). Cross selling, for example, and up-selling.
  4. Create an online community through your blog and bulletin board where your existing customers can interact with their fellow customers and interact with you and fellow customers.

The importance of content writing throughout your sales funnel needs to be well defined and recognized. Optimizing and publishing high-quality content throughout your sales funnel can help you create a tightly packed, high-performance sales-funnel that turns casual visitors into hot leads and hot leads into paying customers and paying customers into repeat customers, on an ongoing basis.

5 website content writing tips you can start using immediately

5-content-marketing-tips-you-can-use-immediately

Quality website content writing is one of the toughest tasks faced by businesses and entrepreneurs eager to use content marketing to promote themselves. This Content Marketing Institute research says that more than 78% B2B content marketers find writing quality website content the most challenging task to achieve while implementing their content marketing strategy.

Read Writing persuasive website content.

Although website content writing tips typically may include telling you how to write great website content but when you are writing content for your website, it’s more than writing great content: it is understanding your audience, understanding their problems and aspirations, before beginning to write content.

The main website content writing tips are:

  1. Write a great, attention-grabbing headline
  2. Mention the most important information within the first paragraph
  3. Organize your text using headlines, sub-headlines and bullet points
  4. Use very simple language and shorter sentences to make it very easy for people to read
  5. Offer quick solutions people can implement immediately

Website content writing is all about performance and whether you follow 5 tips or 100 tips ultimately what matters is how much business your website content writing generates. So, when I talk about website content writing tips I don’t just focus on writing well, I also focus on the issues faced by your prospective customers and clients and then writing website content to address those issues.

Another thing that you need to keep in mind while writing content for your website is that we live in times when average attention span is very low. You don’t have an hour to put across your point of view to your visitors. They may leave your website within a couple of seconds. To that extent, I think writing content for newspapers and magazines is much easier compared to writing content for websites because when you’re writing content for websites your content is fighting with hundreds of distractions and your users’ ability to move on with a single click. The moment they come to your website you need to grab their attention.

How do you grab attention? You can start with a killer headline. Read A good list of killer headline creating formulas.

Listed below are

5 website content writing tips you can immediately use in order to create high-quality, engaging content

Create a list of your main keywords and search phrases

A major part of website content writing is writing your content using your keywords and search phrases that people may use in order to look for your website or your service or your business.

Read Does keyword-rich content help you improve your SEO?

This is why it’s very important to understand the psychology of your prospective customers and clients.

In most of the cases they are not looking for products and services, they’re looking for solutions. So, when you are writing content for your website, talk about solutions and benefits rather than features.

Use your keywords and search phrases while creating your title and while writing the headlines. This is a tip you can start using right now. Do some basic keyword research using Google Keyword Tool and Google Trends.

Write for your visitors and not for search engines

When you get too bogged down by the idea of writing for search engines you don’t write good website content. Remember that it’s humans were going to read your content.

Read How to write content for humans but optimize for Google and other search engines.

Of course, search engine crawlers and algorithms are going to process your content but remember these days your search engine rankings don’t depend only on the number of times you have used your keywords and search phrases within your website content.

It is just one of the factors.

There are many factors that affect your search engine rankings and all these factors can only be affected by quality writing. Use your keywords, but write in a conversational style, in an engaging style. Try to solve problems instead of harping about your product or service greatness.

Keep everything above the fold

In order to access useful information people shouldn’t have to scroll down. This is more important when you are writing business website content. Whatever important you want to say about your product or service, bring it up within the first paragraph or within the first 1-3 paragraphs that are visible without someone having to scroll down the page.

Don’t ignore mobile users

A majority of businesses these days access your website or blog using a mobile phone or tablet.

So, always write your website content keeping them in mind. Write shorter sentences. Use shorter paragraphs. Highlight important portions. Make your text scannable. Use simple language that people can read even in shaky environments (for example riding a train or bus). Use clear language. Remember that you are not aiming for a literary award. You don’t want to confuse your readers.

In fact, many suggest that you use as many familiar words as possible so that people don’t have to wonder what you are trying to say.

Don’t assume people already know what you’re talking about

Remember that most of the people coming to your website will be coming from links other than your homepage. They will come across your links in search engine results or other websites so they may not have any clue what you’re talking about.

So, a very important website content writing tip is that paint a complete picture whenever you’re writing a web page or blog post. Even when you are introducing concepts you have already talked about, link to those concepts and briefly explain them.

These are the main 5 website content writing tips that you can start using immediately in order to create great content for your website or blog.

Although you may come across a blog post talking of 15 website content writing tips or even 50 website content writing tips but they are primarily the subsets of the tips that I have mentioned above. Stick to the fundamentals. Empathize with your readers. Use the language that they use (use keywords and search phrases). Offer them solutions they can use immediately. Make your content readable on all devices.

Should content writing come first or web design?

should-content-writing-come-first-or-web-designMany times my clients (especially web design agencies) send me a design/layout and then ask me to create content that fits into that layout.

So, I was pleasantly surprised when recently one of my clients, after having a look at what I had written for her organization, decided to ditch the design she already had. She insisted that first I should have all the content ready and then the web design will be done around the content.

This is a new development: that content should be written within the various sections of the web design. Sometimes they insist that you just write 100 words because one section of the website will not accommodate more than 100 words. So, whether the message needs more words or not, you have to fit everything into 100 words.

This happens mostly because people these days by predesigned templates and most of these templates are made to look aesthetically pleasant whether they can accommodate content flexibly or not.

I believe if web design takes precedence over content writing, you are worried more about the looks and less about your conversion rate. Are you getting a web design because you like the design or you want to do business with it?

Design and content need to be modular these days, especially when more and more people may access your website from their mobile devices. I’m not saying you have 25 paragraphs of content on a page and then you design a website that can go on and on vertically – nothing wrong in that by the way.

But you need to keep in mind that it’s the content that is going to do business for you. It’s your content that is going to convert people. It’s your content that is going to get you better search engine rankings. It’s your content that is will engage your visitors and turn them into customers and clients.

Hence, if there is a choice, content writing should always come before web design.