I am sometimes asked ‘What writing apps do you use?'
‘What are the best blogging tools?'
Now, I'm both an author and blogger, and I enjoy testing the latest and greatest writing and blogging tools.
So, on this regularly updated page, you can find a list of writing apps and blogging tools I rely on.
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.
Please note this page contains some affiliate links meaning I get a commission if you sign up via this page.
The Best Writing Apps
So, do you want to know what are the best writing apps?
Well, remember that pen and paper worked just fine for William Shakespeare, and you should always put your craft ahead of any tool.
That said, there are several great writing apps and tools that can help you write faster.
Here are the ones I recommend:
I can’t recommend Scrivener enough as a writing app.
I use this book writing software to write feature articles for newspapers, long-form content, reports, books and more. In the past, I used Scrivener for blogging. These days, I use it mostly for long-form writing.
Scrivener goes far beyond a regular word processor such as Microsoft Word. This app makes it easier for writers as well as students to organise their ideas and manage more complicated writing projects, using both the desktop tool and mobile writing app. It's also available on iPad.
Scrivener also has plenty of keyboard shortcuts to speed up the writing process. If you need help, you can learn how to use this book writing software faster by taking this course by Gwen Hernandez.
IA Writer is my favourite distraction-free writing app for short blog posts and articles. While Scrivener is great for managing large writing projects, this writing app is perfect for smaller ones.
This writing app for iPad, iPhone and Mac helps writers overcome distractions through a feature called the Focus Mode.
The writing tool also has a full-screen mode that highlights the line you are currently typing and fades out everything else on the document. This is one of the most ingenious features I have come across for focusing your mind on the current point, which is rather useful especially in creative writing projects.
I use IA Writer on my laptop, desktop and mobile. It's an elegant, easy-to-use word processor and it syncs my writing across all of my devices.
Other minimalist writing app alternatives include Byword and WriteRoom.
Ulysses is a more feature-rich alternative writing app to IA Writer.
For instance, it has features such as Markup-Based Text Editor, keyboard shortcuts so that writers can be faster, a library to organise all notes and documents, set writing goals, publish directly to WordPress and Medium, and so on.
It includes mobile and tablet writing apps. Arguably, it's not quite as distraction-free as IA Writer, but it helps you organise both small writing projects (like a blog post) and large ones (like a book).
I use GSuite as a writing app to collaborate with other writers and editors.
Well, Google Docs comes part of G Suite and as a word-processing software goes, it's easy to use and works anywhere. I also use the rather generous Google Drive cloud storage to back up my writing, notes, source files, images, writing prompts and more. And, I can access my writing on the go (and update my Google docs) using the mobile app.
G Suite G Suite also enables me to send and receive emails from the ‘BecomeAWriterToday.com’ domain (bryan[at]BecomeAWriterToday.com) using the Gmail interface and also gives you additional storage for your images, files and more.
toolThe biggest advantage of Google Docs over Microsoft Word as a writing tool is its easy-to-use collaboration features. Everyone who has access to the file can work on it simultaneously.
Each user can leave comments on the document which is great for making clarifications or requesting changes during the writing process. Google Docs allows you to see the entire document history and the specific changes each user has made to the doc.
I use Evernote to record ideas for blog posts and book chapters during the day.
Jotting down notes immediately when ideas come to you is a fantastic way of capturing random moments of inspiration as well as overcoming writer’s block. So this is certainly a note-taking app worth exploring.
I also save articles and writing prompts I like into Evernote as part of my personal swipe file using the mobile app. This tool also has several other features worth exploring such as dictation mode which will easily allow you to transcribe your voice notes as text, integrations, team collaboration and more.
You can read about how I take charge of Evernote in this guide. Bear is a popular alternative to Evernote.
I use this application to check my blog posts and book chapters for typos and spelling mistakes. The premium version of Grammarly has powerful features that also help you to improve your writing skills.
It provides several editing recommendations such as avoiding passive voice, using shorter sentences, alternative word suggestions for using a broader vocabulary, and so on. Many of these features are also invaluable when you need to trim your word count.
You can find out why I like this premium grammar checker in my 2018 Grammarly review.
Ginger software is an affordable alternative to Grammarly.
I recommend the Ginger software writers who don’t consider english their primary language. It enables you to translate documents written in Spanish, french, german and more into english and check for grammar errors.
Ernest Hemingway famously said:
“If I started to write elaborately, or like someone introducing or presenting something, I found that I could cut that scrollwork or ornament out and throw it away and start with the first true simple declarative sentence I had written.”
That's easier said than done.
The good news is that writers can use Hemingway Editor to improve their writing skills. Paste your text into the application and it will provide suggestions for removing an unnecessary word here and there such as adverbs or tautology.
It also suggests reframing specific sentences from passive voice to active voice and much more. Hemingway is quite useful when you wish to reduce your word-count without leaving out any essential points from your article.
I use iMindMap to create mind maps for articles and book chapters. This writing app enables me to finish articles faster.
I recommend outlining as a way of working for non-fiction writers who want to increase their daily word-count.
This approach works particularly well if you then dictate your mindmaps as articles.
iMindMap is the most advanced mind mapping tool available today but cheap alternatives include MindNode and MindMeister
Dragon Dictate or Dragon Naturally Speaking
I use dictation software to write 1,000s of words per hour when up against a deadline, something I just couldn’t pull off with a word processor.
Dictation is not like typing, but it's a skill worth learning.
Olympus WS-852 Dictaphone
Ok, so technically this isn't a writing app. However, I sometimes dictate articles into this device, upload the file to Dragon Naturally speaking and transcribe it.
It enables me to write while away from my desk or while walking. It's also faster than typing.
Rev is another useful dictation app for writers.
Using the iPhone or Android app, you can dictate a draft into your phone and then upload to Rev for transcription by a human at $1 a minute.
Alternatively, if you interview someone for writing better non-fiction articles, you can save time by transcribing these interviews. It's more accurate than using a dictaphone but at a cost.
The Best Self-Publishing Tools (And Services)
Once, you've written your book, it's time to self-publish it. To do that, you'll need a book cover, an editor and a great title. You'll also need a book that looks great on all devices.
These self-publishing tools (and services) can help you do all of those things.
KDP Rocket is an easy to use tool for researching keywords and popular books on the Amazon story. I interviewed Dave Chesson, the creator of this tool, and he told me “marketing and writing should go hand in hand”.
KindleSpy is a great tool that will help you see which books are selling on Amazon and how much they earn. Then, you can use this information to increase sales of your book.
I used 99designs to find a designer for the cover of my book: A Handbook for the Productive Writer, and I was delighted with the results.
I… love Vellum.
One of the trickiest parts of self-publishing is creating a book that looks good. Or at least it was. With Vellum, you can create beautiful looking e-books and print books in minutes. I prepare all my books for self-publishing with Vellum, and it's a delight to use.
Your book title 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.
If you want to find a book editor, proof-reader or cover designer, Reedsy takes all the hassle out of it. When you sign up, you get access to a community of self-publishing professionals that are ready to work with you and on your book.
The Best Blogging Tools
So you want to start a blog.
Or perhaps you're wondering what are the best blogging tools?
In short, start your blog using WordPress and self-host it on a domain you own. Then, you can worry about tools.
Now, here's what I use:
If you’re starting a self-hosted WordPress blog, consider Siteground for your web-hosting needs. They’re reliable and secure, and they will take care of all your technical queries.
To save time, buy a premium WordPress theme that gives your blog a professional look and feel. I use Eleven40 Pro. If you don't like it, Studiopress also offer a number of other quality WordPress themes for your blog.
I sometimes get asked ‘What tools do you use to market your blog posts successfully?
When you evaluate apps for writers, you should also think about how to market what you write.
Sumo 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 shares, likes and tweets.
ConvertKit is an email service built 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 reveal more in this ConvertKit review.
LeadPages is a drag-and-drop software tool that you can use to create landing pages and more for your blog.
It will also help you grow your email list faster. And, as blogging tools go, it's easy-to-use. I wrote a detailed LeadPages review explaining how I use this blogging tool.
Canva is a design tool for non-designers.
If you're a blogger or author on a tight budget, you can create images for your posts and even book covers for free or for just a few dollars. It takes the headache out of design.
Blogging is time-consuming, and so is using social media to promote your work.
With MeetEdgar, you can automate some of your social media work and spend more time writing. It will help you build up a library of and schedule social media posts in advance.
I use this tool to promote new and old blog posts, videos and also to share updates with readers. MeetEdgar also helps me drive traffic to this blog.
Other Apps and Tools
I use these tools and apps for research, to become more productive and, well, to hit my deadlines.
As a writer or blogger, research is part of your job.
I spend at least an hour a day listening to great audiobooks on my smartphone that I purchased from Audible, and I listen to two audiobooks a month. If you sign up, they’ll give you your first two audiobooks for free.
(Don't forget to check out my list of great books and audiobooks)
Trello is a powerful project management tool that will help you collaborate with others and get things done.
I use this free app to manage my writing, to work with an editor and also to take charge of to-do lists on various blogging projects. Head over to the app store to install the free iPhone or iPad app and keep track of your projects on the go. Trello has a free Android app too. In-app purchase options allow you to access premium features.
Zoom is a great conferencing tool, but why do you need it?
Well, when you want to talk to blog readers or interview subjects for your book, this simplifies all that. You can even record your video calls and host group calls and online meetings.
You might also want to Zoom has features that also enable you to record your video calls and host group calls and online meetings with readers or blog subscribers.
There are plenty of similar tools, but Zoom’s voice quality is far superior than most free apps and you can clearly hear every word people say during the call.
If you keep getting distracted while writing, use the app Freedom.
It helps manage one of the biggest distractions that writers face- the internet!
It will disable your internet access for a pre-determined period, allowing you to focus on writing and not on cat videos! This app comes recommended by everyone from Tim Ferriss to Oprah.
Steve Martin's Comedy Masterclass
Yes, the various courses are taught by top-rate professionals, it's affordable and you get life-time access to your materials alongside useful lesson notes.
I highly recommend Steve Martins' course to help you develop your comedic writing skills.
In 25 video lessons, Steve Martin teaches you everything from finding your voice to nailing your act. I've taken this class and it's perfect if you want to inject more colour into your writing. Masterclass also provides a number of other writing courses from the likes of David Mamet and James Patterson.
If you want to write comedy, this course is for you.
Ok, ok… this isn't a tool but guest posting is the fastest way to grow your blog.
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.
A Final Word on Writing Apps and Blogging Tools
There are thousands of writing apps and blogging tools, some of which are free, some of which are expensive, and all of which look promising.
I’ve spent a lot of time testing and using these writing apps 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.
As you can see there are many blogging tools and writing apps, and each will solve specific problems for you, but your craft should always come first.
Pick a tool or app from this list if it solves a problem for you and then get back to what counts.
Filling the blank page and building lasting relationships with your readers.
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