By Andrea Cerny
Let’s face it: blogging can be hard sometimes.
It’s a rare writer indeed who can craft a unique and engaging blog post from start to finish without having to stray from the word processing screen at some point or another.
Tools and resources are a crucial part of the blogging process. They can help make the blogging process easier and your content more effective.
Fortunately, there are a number of free online tools available that you can take advantage of. Here are a few of our favorites!
Tools for the Blog Planning Process
Google’s Keyword Planner can be used for more than just your AdWords campaigns! I like to use it during my blog planning and keyword research.
If you’re trying to decide which specific keyword to focus on, you can search for new ones using a phrase or general category. If you already have a specific focus keyword in mind, you can use the Keyword Planner to get an idea of search traffic volume and trends. You can easily browse related keywords to focus on if your original one isn’t up to snuff.
The Keyword Planner is free to use via your Google AdWords account.
This simple tool is great for when you have a broad topic in mind but you’re not sure exactly what to focus on. It’s also fantastic for general brainstorming sessions.
Just plug in one to three general words related to your topic and the Blog Topic Generator will give you a list of five specific blog title ideas that are related to your topic. Use the titles as written or put your own spin on them.
Tools for the Blog Writing Process
3. Tomato Timer
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management technique based on the idea of working in multiple bursts of uninterrupted, distraction-free focus with short breaks in between. The Tomato Timer app serves as a simple timer so you can easily utilize the technique.
This app is great for boosting your productivity during any project; however, it’s especially helpful during the writing process. It’s easy to become distracted when you’re trying to think of what to write next or when you’re experiencing writer’s block.
Personally, I find this app most effective when I’m working against a deadline. It forces me to be mindful of distractions and pushes me to keep working.
If your blog is in WordPress, we highly recommend utilizing this plugin. Simply enter your focus keyword and Yoast will offer an analysis on how to better optimize your content for SEO purposes.
The other super helpful element of this plugin is that it gives you a preview of how your blog post will appear in SERPs. Plus, it easily allows you to edit the title tag, URL, and meta description for your post.
We find the free version of Yoast SEO to be quite beneficial in and of itself, but they also offer a paid Premium version with more features you might want to explore.
Tools for the Blog Editing & Revision Process
Boring content doesn’t work. Plain and simple. It’s important to make sure your content is colorful and vibrant so your reader is engaged and keeps coming back for more.
During the editing process, be on the lookout for overused, bland words — especially verbs and adjectives — that can be replaced with something more effective. Plug the offending word into a thesaurus and see if you can’t find a new word that better illustrates your point. You’d be surprised how big of a difference this simple exercise can make in your overall writing quality.
Our favorite thesaurus tool is Power Thesaurus – a simple online tool that ranks synonyms based on user votes. They even have a Chrome extension that I use on the daily.
This web-based app is a great tool for your editing process. Simply put, it helps you streamline your content and make it easier to read.
To use it, simply copy and paste your content into the app. You can even compose your blog posts in the app from the start. Hemingway will identify hard-to-read sentences, complex words, adverbs (which are often unnecessary), and passive voice. It also provides you with a readability score by grade level, which you can use to ensure you’re not writing above the level of your target audience.
The Hemingway online app is free, but they also offer a paid desktop version so you can edit offline.
Another web-based app you plug your content into, this super smart app analyzes your content to identify typos and common grammatical errors and suggest fixes.
Want a little extra bonus? The Grammarly Chrome extension jumps in and helps you with your other web-based writing, including emails and Facebook posts and messages.
Grammarly is free, but you can opt for the paid premium upgrade for access to more features.