32 Resources for Better Online Writing

Writing online is no easy task. Whether you write for clients or for your own business, your job includes coming up with great content ideas, ensuring articles flow well, and avoiding grammar and spelling mistakes that may undermine your content goals.

Luckily, there are plenty of tools online that can help you improve your writing skills, get organized, and help you deliver stellar content each and every time. Here’s a list of 32 of the best resources for online writers.

best-writing-resources

Finding Inspiration

Writer’s block can happen to anyone. Beat it by using the following tools to find trending topics and get inspired.

  1. BuzzSumo: a great way to find topics that are trending on social media. Enter your keywords or a URL into their search bar and you will get an overview of popular topics. You can use it to flesh out an existing idea or to find a different angle on your topic.
  2. Quora: use this to find questions in your niche that aren’t answered and use them as a topic for your next blog post. Even if all the questions are answered, you can still provide a different outlook through your original content.
  3. Portent’s Content Idea Generator: here’s a fun tool that can help you find a unique angle on the topic you’re writing about. Enter your keyword and it will come up with a title for your article or blog post. You can continue clicking until you find an interesting idea.
  4. HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator: if you’re working on your editorial calendar and need to generate a few ideas at once, use this to generate a whole week’s worth of topics based on the keywords you enter.
    inspiration

    She’s inspired from above. Or eye-rolling at Google Trends. 

  5. Google Trends: similar to BuzzSumo, it allows you to stay on top of trending topics. It tracks the most current trends using internet search terms and it can filter them based on your geographic location.
  6. LinkedIn Pulse: another great way to see what’s trending and what your industry is talking about. It pulls the content from your network and the channels you follow. You can also check out Google Plus’ What’s Hot section, Facebook’s Trending Section, and Twitter Trends.

Research

Sometimes you need to find credible sources for your article and provide useful statistics and data. The tools below will help you with all your research needs.

  1. The Free Library: it contains a massive collection of periodicals from hundreds of leading publications covering various topics such as business, communications, entertainment, and more. The article collection includes articles dating back to 1984 as well as newly-published articles added to the site daily.
  2. Google Scholar: if you need scholarly articles to back up what you write, look no further than Google Scholar. You can search thousands of sources including articles, theses, books, abstracts, and court opinions.
  3. Help a Reporter Out (HARO): connects online publishers and content creators with brands and relevant expert sources. Useful for getting first-hand insights, quotes, and opinions.
  4. ProfNet: another way to get relevant experts to quote in your story. Sign up as a journalist, submit your request, and the website will connect you with the right people for your article.
  5. Atlas: if you need charts, graphs, or other types of data visualization, give this a try. The tool allows you to search for any topic imaginable and it will give you a graphic based on recent research data. Use it to get background information or fresh data on a topic you’re researching.

Grammar and Style

No matter how good your command of the English language is, checking grammar, spelling, and style is essential and can save you from embarrassing moments. The tools below will ensure your writing is in tip-top shape.

  1. Grammarly: checks your writing for common grammar and spelling mistakes, shows suggestions to improve your style, tells you which words are overused, and even checks your content for plagiarism. It’s available as a browser extension, web tool, and desktop app.
  2. Hemingway App: if you tend to get wordy in your writing and need to rid your articles of any fluff, this tool will help to to get rid of any sentences that are too complex and improve readability.
    hemingway

    Rare photo of Hemingway working on his latest smartphone app.

  3. Readability Score: writing for the web requires a different style of writing than what you’ve used in college or high school. Your readability score will tell you how easy or how difficult it is to understand your article and give you suggestions where you can improve.
  4. GrammarGirl: a must when you need quick and dirty grammar tips. Simple explanations that go straight to the point will clear up any confusion when it comes to grammar rules.
  5. Use English Punctuation Correctly: this article gives you a crash course in English punctuation along with a downloadable cheat sheet.
  6. Common Errors in English Usage: avoid making some of the most common mistakes in the English language with this tool. You can read the entire book online, download it as an ebook, or get a daily tip on Twitter.

Dictionaries

The following tools will help you always find the right word or phrase for your article as well as make sure the phrase you’re using doesn’t have any negative connotations.

  1. Dictionary.com: will help you define the meaning of a word, find synonyms and antonyms, and listen to audio pronunciations. They also have a blog full of useful grammar tips.
  2. Thesaurus.com: if you need just a synonym or antonym, this online thesaurus will have your back. It contains more than three million synonyms and antonyms and offers the ability to filter search results by relevance, word length, and complexity.
  3. Urban Dictionary: the internet brought along many new phrases and words that have completely inappropriate meanings. If you’ve heard a phrase that you think would be perfect for your article, run it through the Urban Dictionary first to ensure you’re not crossing any boundaries.
  4. Idioms and Phrases: for all those times when you need a play on words or the right phrase to spice up your article, this section of the Free Online Dictionary will generate the correct idiom and show you how to use it.
  5. The Elements of Style: considered to be the writer’s bible, this online version of the classic book will show you how to use the rules, when to break them, and help you improve your writing overall.

Organization and Productivity

Whether you’re blogging for yourself, for clients, or working on your next novel, you need a way to organize your ideas.

  1. Evernote: store all your ideas, organize them into notebooks, and clip articles from the internet for your research. It comes as a desktop app, phone app, and a handy browser extension.
  2. Trello: if you need a way to keep track of your deadlines and different writing projects, add Trello to your workflow. Create boards for different categories, clients, or chapters of your book to get an instant overview of where you are in the writing process. You can even collaborate with your clients, other writers, and editors.
  3. Toggl: track time spent on writing projects and improve your productivity. It’s a simple tool that you can use on the web or as a browser extension.

Writing Apps

stained-glass-clarity

Only stained glass windows can sacrifice clarity for beauty. Writers, not so much.

There is no shortage of writing software available today. If you’re looking for a Microsoft Office alternative, look no further than these apps.

  1. Google Docs: gives you the ability to collaborate with someone on a writing project. You can see the edits in real time and share your documents with everyone. Best of all, your documents are stored in the cloud so you don’t have to worry about backing them up.
  2. Byword: if you’re looking for a distraction-free writing app, Byword could be the tool for you. It’s available in an iOS and Mac version that lets you write in simple markdown. It syncs with DropBox and even lets you publish directly to WordPress, Blogger, Medium, and Tumblr.
  3. Scrivener: even though it’s touted as a program that will help you publish your next book, many bloggers and writers swear by it, and use it on a daily basis. Use it to create outlines, flesh out your story, organize your writing, and more.

Writing Blogs and Communities

  1. Men With Pens: a site written by freelance writers full of useful advice. It also features opinionated pieces and a dose of snarky humor that will not only improve your writing but help you take your business to the next level.
  2. The Renegade Writer Blog: full of great advice aimed at freelance writers, from the authors of The Renegade Writer.
  3. WritersCafe: if you want to expand your network and meet other writers, sign up for an account with WritersCafe. This is an online writing community where writers can post their work, get reviews, befriend other writers, and much more.
  4. Writing.com: whether you want to share your writing or offer feedback to other writers, this is the website for you.

Polish Your Writing

Writers can face many challenges on a daily basis, from finding ideas to making sure their writing conveys the right message and tone. Use the tools above to polish your writing and impress your readers and clients.

 


Portrait from Rambles and Researches in Thuringian Saxony was cropped for size and is in the public domain. Ernest Hemingway by Toronto History is licensed under CC BY 2.0 was cropped for size. Rose Window, Basilica de Sagrada Familia by Aditya Karnad is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Brenda Barron is a writer from southern California. When not writing about blogging and business, she’s spending time with her family and knitting.

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