The Best Free Writing Tools for Your Business
If you’re a small business owner, you may well be writing your own marketing materials and online content. For some, this task is a joy and for others it’s a slog. Whichever category you fall into, your efforts need to read well and engage your audience. But how can you spruce up your words before sharing them with the world? There are plenty of free writing tools around. The trick is to know which ones to use and when.
At Full Height Copy, we’ve tried and tested the good, the bad and the ugly. Here’s a quick summary of six tools that cover all the bases you need to improve your business writing.
This tool is a life and time saver for email marketing and blogging. Your headline is the first thing that readers and search engines engage with. It sells your content. Or not. Luckily, you don’t have to take a chance on the strength of your chosen title. Headline Analyzer by CoSchedule allows you to play around with ideas until you hit the spot.
For a free online tool, it’s pretty powerful and it couldn’t be easier to use. Punch your headline into the search bar and wait a few seconds for the report to generate. The result is a visual representation of your headline's strengths and weaknesses.
Word balance - a breakdown of the percentage of common, uncommon, emotional and power words. It explains why you should include a balance of these types of words in your headline and offers suggestions for improvement.
Length analysis - a review of the structure, grammar and readability, with tips.
First and last - highlights the first and last three words of your headline. When skimming content, these are the words that people tend to read.
Keywords - more of a reminder than a tool. This section points out that your headline needs to contain searchable keywords to rank online. We’re not too impressed with this feature. It seems to take a random stab at the keywords you might be targetting and it often gets it wrong.
Sentiment - indicates if your headline is positive in sentiment.
Previews - shows you what your headline will look like in Google search results and an email subject line.
We suggest using the tool to create a title that scores 65 or above. Try not to get too bogged down in the results. It can become addictive and there are better ways to lose hours of your life.
Ernest Hemmingway was well known for his concise writing style. It's no surprise then that the Hemmingway Editor is concerned with clarity. We recommend using it as a first pass after writing to tighten up your text.
So what can this gem of an app do for you?
Hemmingway teaches you to be a more effective writer by highlighting:
Overuse of adverbs and passive voice.
Phrases that have a simpler alternative.
Sentences that are hard to read, or very hard to read.
The software flags suggestions for improving the text and generates a readability score.
You can use the tool for free online or pay a reasonable one-off fee for the desktop app. The free version offers the same depth of analysis as the paid version. The only difference is that you can't save, export or directly publish your work.
Once you’ve made improvements to your text with Hemmingway, you can run it through Grammarly for a final mop up.
Grammarly is one of the most popular proofreading tools on the market. The free version has plenty to offer and if you write often, it may be worth investing in one of the premium options.
In the free version, the online editing tool/desktop app checks basic grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors. It's quick and easy to use. Paste or upload a document to the platform and answer a few questions about its purpose and tone. Hit 'Done' and the process begins.
The app first identifies potential issues and offers alternative suggestions. It also tells you how many other issues you could rectify with the premium subscription. Crafty. Once you’ve made the adjustments that you want to make, you can run a downloadable report that covers:
An overall score compared to other comparable documents that Grammarly has checked.
Word count – characters, words, sentences, reading time and speaking time.
Readability – word length, sentence length and readability score.
You also have access to:
MS Office add-in - allows you to run checks in Microsoft Word and Outlook emails.
Browser extensions - for Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Edge. Vet your writing in Gmail, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr and most other places on the web. The tool is currently in beta test mode for Google Docs via Chrome. This has been a long time coming, but coming it is.
Grammarly works on pretty much every device, including Windows, IOS, Mac and Android. It's therefore, a great tool for editing both in the office and on the move. It's not perfect though. You can't yet use it with Apple's iWork or edit your work offline.
This text scanning programme lets you know if your document contains overused expressions. It doesn't tell you how to make your writing more efficient, but it does highlight stock phrases to remove. There's nothing flashy about Cliche Finder. It does what it says on the tin (pun intended).
5. Microsoft Word’s Read Aloud
Microsoft Word users can find the Read Aloud function within the Review panel. It's primarily designed to be an accessibility tool but it's great for editorial tasks too.
Use it to highlight:
Typos and punctuation errors that escape the spell checker.
Long, complex and hard to read sentences.
Pace and flow.
We find this function particularly useful for checking texts that are designed to be spoken, such as speeches and scripts.
6. Human Editor
You can't beat a bit of human intervention when it comes to writing. We'd advise passing your writing by a skilled editor or proofreader before publishing. Even the most powerful editing tool can miss errors and opportunities for improvement. Consider having a designated editor for all your written projects.
Do you need to use free writing tools?
You might be tempted to think that if you’re a half-decent writer, you don’t need the help of tools. If that’s the case, we’d encourage you to rethink. There’s always room for improvement and it’s easy to overlook mistakes in a busy office environment. At Full Height Copy, we use a mix of paid and free writing tools to check and double check every piece of work. And we're better writers for it. Every day is a school day when it comes to the written word.
And if all the above sounds like more time and effort that you’ve got, we’d be delighted to write your marketing materials and content for you.