There is an old expression in the Web world that states, "Content is king." This expression emphasizes the importance of good, well-written unique content that is sharable, easy to follow, and search engine friendly.
While the rules of content creation for the purposes of SEO (search engine optimization) and content marketing may fluctuate from time to time, there is no question that having good, unique content that is well written on your site is a benefit.
In this article, we will take a look at some useful apps, Web-based resources, and utilities that can help you create better written content for your site.
For a lot of writers, the tool you use to write with can have a substantial impact on the quality of your output. A lot of people prefer minimalist writing apps that free you from distractions while others enjoy an advanced writing environment that gives them plenty of tools to work with.
iAWriter for OS X and iOS is one of my personal favorites. It provides a clean, minimalist interface with integrated Markdown support, spelling and grammar checking, and quick-look word/character counts.
iAWriter's Focus mode gives you the ability to see the sentence you're actively working on more clearly, while taking everything else and putting it in the background.
It also includes integrated support for .docx files from Microsoft Word which gives you drag-and-drop Markdown conversion.
At $4.99, it beats out many similarly featured apps out there.
The Hemingway Editor is available as a free Web utility, but can also be purchased and ran locally on either OS X or Windows ($5).
Hemingway has two primary modes of operation. The Write mode gives you a clean, distraction-light layout which you can write in. It includes Markdown support, as well as instant HTML conversion.
What sets it apart from other utilities is its Edit mode, featuring a readability display that gives you an idea of the grade level of your writing. In general, if you are writing for a public audience, you should try to keep it at a 7-10th grade level, or less.
This editor is great at picking out sentences that are a bit more difficult to read than others, making it easy to make those quick edits. Its detection of passive voice phrasing needs a bit more work as it doesn't have a great grasp of context, but it isn't a complete deal breaker.
There are dozens of apps like these for OS X, Windows, and Linux. Among some of the more popular are: ZenWriter (Windows), WriteMonkey (Windows), WriteRoom (OS X), and FocusWriter (OS X, Windows, Linux).
Many writers also continue to rely on more powerful word processors as they have a more advanced feature set and the ability to export text in a variety of formats. Microsoft Word, Google Docs, and Apache OpenOffice among them.
We have also listed some of our favorite Markdown editors in a previous blog post.
Writing good content means having a good grasp on your subject, as well as a few tools to help you improve on your writing skills. There are a number of great Web-based resources out there that can help you hone your craft.
Grammarly is one of the most powerful grammar checkers on the Web. It will scour your content for a number of common issues, including many that even the best word processors out there don't check for.
It also checks for plagiarism, which is a useful tool for editors that work with a larger writing staff, or in cases where user-submitted content is accepted.
The basic Web tool is free, but you will need to cough up $30/month if you want to take advantage of its full suite of features and extensions.
Grammar Girl is a great resource for writers that want to check their grammar. If you aren't 100% sure about the difference between their and there, or affect and effect, this is the site for you.
Thesaurus.com and Dictionary.com are also outstanding resources for times when you need to find another word to describe something, or simply to check and make sure that the word you used is really the one that should have been used.
Factbrowser is another great resource which enables you to find reliable research statistics to back up the premise of your content. Need to find the research that shows that most hotels have mobile apps? This is the place to look.
Often, you can find excellent tools to improve the content on your site that can be used directly from the backend of the site itself. WordPress and Joomla have extraordinary developer communities behind them, and each has an entire library of plugins and extensions that can make writing great content easier.
One example is the Jetpack plugin for WordPress which has an integrated proofreading utility that can be accessed within the text editor in the backend. Just give the Proofread button a click and it will check your content over for spelling, grammar, and even style issues such as Clichés and bias language.
If you use a lot of code alongside or within your content, RokPad is an excellent alternative to a WYSIWYG editor for Joomla. It has a number of useful tools including syntax highlighting that will make creating that mix of text and code easier.
With a little effort and the right tools, you can dramatically improve your writing experience and create rich content that your visitors will keep coming back to enjoy.