So, you’re a writer who wants to start a blog?
Or perhaps you’re a writer who wants to find the perfect tools to write the next great novel.
There’s just one problem.
There are thousand of writing and blogging tools and software programs, some of which are free, some of which are expensive, and all of which look promising.
How do you decide what to use and what to skip?
I’ve spent a lot of time testing and using these writing and blogging tools. I dumped the tools that added no value to this site, and I paid for ones that helped me grow an audience and write better articles and stories.
On this regularly updated page, you can find a list of what I’m using right now on Become a Writer Today.
Nothing is going to replace the hard work of turning up every day, but these tools will help you complete your job faster. Share on Facebook
These are all tools I like, recommend, and most importantly, trust. Everything here will help you become a better, smarter and a more productive writer.
For Your Website
If you are starting a blog, you will need a domain name and a hosting provider. Buy a .COM domain name that you have complete control over. Next, contract a reliable hosting provider for your website.
Whatever your choice don’t buy the cheapest hosting provider you can find. When something goes wrong with your site (believe me, it will happen), you’ll need reliable customer support.
Once you’ve bought a website domain name and contracted a hosting provider, install WordPress. Services like Typepad, Blogger and Tumblr may be user-friendly, but if you’re serious about blogging, you will outgrow them.
With a self-hosted WordPress website, you:
- Will always own and control your website
- Spend less money in the long run
- Never have to worry about your URL changing because you forgot to pay a monthly bill
Finally, SumoMe is an all-in-one tool that enables me to gather email addresses, set up a share bar on the side of my blog posts and also track how people interact with posts and articles on this site.
When your blog is live, ask readers to subscribe to your blog as soon as possible, and provide your readers with quality advice and writing via email.
I use ConvertKit. This is an email service built for for writers and bloggers. You can use it to create email courses based on your book and to send educational and sales emails to the right readers at the right time. Unlike a lot of other email services, it’s easy to use, and ConvertKit even supports marketing automation
I also use Google Apps for Work. Essentially, this enables me to send and receive emails from the ‘BecomeAWriterToday.com’ domain (bryan[at]BecomeAWriterToday.com) using the Gmail interface.
I use LeadPages to create landing and squeeze pages for my books. I also use it to create sign-up forms for my mailing list. To see it in action, click on any of my subscribe links. So far, LeadPages has helped me double my opt-in rates.
Unless you’re blogging about design, don’t get too caught up in the design of your blog. You’re better off spending time writing great articles and books and building relations with other bloggers.
To save time, buy a premium WordPress theme that gives your site a professional look and feel.
I use Eleven40 Pro.
This is a premium WordPress theme by Studiopress, and it comes as part of the New Rainmaker Platform. StudioPress also offers a number of other quality WordPress themes, including a theme of the month.
For Your Book
Recently, I used 99Designs to find a designer for the cover of my new book: A Handbook for the Productive Writer, and I was delighted with the results.
If you want a professional design for your online business, 99Designs is currently offering a free power pack upgrade for new customers.
Your title of your book is just as important as the cover. If you need help coming up with a title for your book, check out Pickfu. For a small cost, you can test various titles and get real-world feedback on what works and what doesn’t.
Finally, KindleSpy is a great tool that will help you see what books are selling on Amazon and how much they earn. Then, you can use this information to increase sales of your book.
Your blog posts need quality images that look good on your site and on social media.
Fotolia provides royalty free and premium images. You can buy premium images individually or sign up to a plan that starts at EUR14 a month.
Alternatively, Canva makes it easy to create your own using a drag-and-drop editor.
Remember to pick images that are marked as suitable for commercial use if your site has a commercial focus.
For Social Media
Blogging and social media go hand in hand. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of social media tools that can help you manage your presence on networks like Facebook, Twitter and Google+.
I use Buffer to share content from my favourite websites across my networks of choice.
Whatever your choice, it always makes sense to spend time creating and promoting your valuable content.
For Becoming a Better Non-Fiction Writer and Blogger
If you want to get published on quality websites like Fast Company or Copyblogger, I can’t recommend Jon Morrow’s course Guest Blogging highly enough.
Jon Morrow is the former editor of Copyblogger and KISSMetrics.
In this premium course for non-fiction writers and bloggers, Jon and his team will teach you how to come up with quality blog post ideas every time. And Jon will show you how to rise about crowd with your ideas and your writing.
His team will help you pitch editors, get published and turn your new readers into raving fans.
Every writer and blogger needs ideas for posts, and ideas can strike you at any time of the day.
I use Evernote to record ideas for blog posts during the day. I also save articles I like into Evernote as part of my personal swipe file. You can read about how I take charge of Evernote here. I’ve also been known to use one of these.
Scrivener makes it easier for writers to organise their ideas and manage more complicated writing projects. You can learn how to use Scrivener here.
For writing faster and converting speech to text, check out my guide to how I use Dragon Dictate.
Finally, if you keep getting distracted while writing, use the app Freedom. It will disable your internet access for a pre-determined period, allowing you to focus on writing and not on cat videos!
If you’re serious about blogging, you’ll spend a lot of your time reading blog posts on other blogs. I like getting updates about my favourite blogs via email, and I tame my inbox using inbox zero.
I recommend installing Pocket on your phone, so you can save blog post and articles from Feedly onto your mobile and then read them on the go. I read eBooks on a Kindle Paperwhite, and you can find out why here.
I also spend at least an hour a day listening to audio books on my smartphone that I purchased from Audible. If you sign up, they’ll give you your first two audiobooks for free.
If you’re starting a blog, there are a few blogs I recommend reading (apart from this one!). Subscribe to:
Write to Done – This website will teach you how to write, finish and publish great posts.
Copyblogger is staple reading for anyone who wants to write online.
I also spend a lot of time listening to audiobooks on my smartphone using Audible.
This service is owned by Amazon and for a little over EUR10 per month, I can buy one audiobook every 30 days. They offer a 30-day free trial. Highly recommended.
For Further Reading
A blog about writing wouldn’t be much use if I didn’t recommend a few books to get you started. Here is my always up to date list of great books to read.
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