Every writer knows the feeling. You sit down to work on a project and … nothing. Nada. Zip. Your deadline is approaching and your page is blank. You have encountered, once again, the content creator’s arch nemesis: writer’s block.
As awful as writer’s block can be, there may be something worse. Even after all is said and done, you’ve dotted your i’s and crossed your t’s, and you put your work out there for the world to enjoy, it doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. In this Digital Era content is about much more than the words on the page. The endless possibilities for formatting, images and interactive elements are enough to make anyone’s head spin.
But take heart! You’re not on your own. The following 15 apps and programs will do just about everything you need to create outstanding content. And best of all, most of them are free. From writing content to choosing fonts to taking screenshots to editing graphics to creating video, this arsenal of tools will set you up for the success your hard work deserves.
Writing and Content Creation
Online content may be more than just text, but the actual words on the page are a necessary foundation. Content must be clearly written, well-worded and free of typos and grammatical mistakes. These tools will help you build a solid foundation for your content.
Whether you are best motivated by the promise of reward or the fear of punishment, Write or Die will offer the necessary incentives to keep you on task as you are writing. Inspire yourself with music and background images in Stimulus Mode, incentivize yourself with cute puppies in Reward Mode, or risk losing all your vowels if you don’t meet your goals in Consequence Mode. Try the web version for free or buy the desktop version.
Even the most talented writer misses a typo now and then, and few things are more frustrating than finding an error right after posting your finished work. GoProofreading is an online proofreading service to the rescue. In addition to checking spelling and grammar, Goproofreading can check for plagiarism and even makes style and vocabulary suggestions to improve your writing. Also you can use free proofreading analogue – paperrater.com.
If you find yourself up against an impossible deadline and the words just won’t come, put EssayMama’s team of expert writers to work on your project. EssayMama writers are highly educated native English speakers just waiting to provide you with research and writing assistance for the perfect essay. Check out their competitive pricing for writing assignments, or visit the EssayMama blog for free tips and resources.
For the easily distracted writer, Quabel eliminates all the bells and whistles of most word processing programs. Using the straightforward online interface a writer can set goals, track progress, and simply get it done. When you are done writing and ready to add in all the fancy formatting, Quabel allows you to export documents in multiple file types.
Styles and Fonts
Before readers can become captivated by your brilliant content, you first have to catch their attention. Displaying your content in a unique font is a perfect way to do just that. You can increase the immediate visual appeal of your content by using a memorable and distinctive font—and the options are practically endless.
If you’re bored with the dozens of fonts available in MS Word, check out Dafont and choose from over 25,000 fonts. You can sort the fonts by popularity to see what’s hot right now, or find that one-of-a-kind font by browsing themes such as Graffiti or Decorative.
What if instead of browsing all the options you could just do a quick Google search and find your perfect font? Well, Google Fonts essentially lets you do just that. Pick your category (Serif, Sans Serif, etc.), specify your desired thickness, slant and width, and watch as Google presents you with an eye-catching font to match your writing.
Tools for Screenshots
Screenshots often provide a necessary supplement to your content. Whether you are writing a how-to article or sharing an entertaining Facebook comment on your blog, a screenshot elevates your text to the next level. Do more than just hit the Print Screen button your keyboard with these free programs.
Monosnap is a free, easy-to-use app for capturing and editing screenshots. It allows you to capture all or part of your screen, add text and arrows, blur parts of the screenshot to keep them private, and save your final product to the cloud or to your device. You can even capture short videos of what you are doing on your screen.
If you need to capture all or part of a web browser page (including more than just the portion visible on your screen), Awesome Screenshot will do just that. This browser add-on also lets you modify your screenshot with text, arrows and blurring. Upload your customized screenshot to the app’s website and access and share it via a unique URL.
Jing allows you to capture still images, animation and basic video up to five minutes long from your screen. Enhance your image with captions, and share it quickly and easily via IM, email or social media.
Images and Design
Every content creator is likely to have a project that requires more graphics than just screenshots. The following tools allow you to add a professional-looking graphic design touch to your work without paying for a complicated design program. Free and simple-it doesn’t get any better than that.
Canva is a free online tool that makes design straightforward and accessible. Simply create your free account and get started making stunning graphic designs with your own photos or Canva’s library of hundreds of images and fonts.
Take your graphics straight from Canva to ThingLink to create interactive images to make your content stand out. ThingLink allows you to create links within your image and embed it in a website or social media. Readers can interact with additional information via your graphic without ever leaving your page.
PicMonkey lets you edit and touch up photos, design pictures for banners, cards, etc., and create collages. The PicMonkey Blog has dozens of tutorials and how-to articles to provide tips on both the basics and more in-depth use of PicMonkey.
Infographic and Video Creation
If a picture is worth a thousand words, how much is a video worth? Put the finishing touches on your content with these free tools for creating infographics and video. Your work is sure to leave its mark.
Do you love to write cover letters and resumes? No? Welcome to Visualize.Me. This site is a free tool to create a visual resume. Skip the conventional bullet points and present your skills and qualifications in a unique, unforgettable infographic.
Wideo markets itself as an online video tool that is both easy and fun. Users can choose from a selection of video templates to customize or start from scratch to create and share animated videos. Wideo provides tutorial videos and easy step-by-step instructions to create the ideal video for your project.
Transform your plain text into a memorable, interactive infographic. Piktochart offers 100% customizable themes to create your own infographics and build your brand. When how you say something is just as important as what you say, Piktochart can help your content go the extra mile.
Now that you have an arsenal full of tools to defeat writer’s block, boring formatting and lackluster text, go forth and create awesome content for the world to enjoy!
How About Helping Versus Pitching Top Bloggers?
I often get pitched guest post ideas from bloggers I do not know. Although I appreciate the offer I never take up these folks on their offer because I do not know them, their brand or anything they do. No way do I have the time to actually research the individual; I am a busy bee. Another email bites the dust. I either ignore the email or note guest posting closed long ago on my blog, then include a link to one of my eBooks, like this branding eBook.
Who guest posts on my blog? People who generously helped me, asked for nothing, expected nothing and relaxed. Relaxing is key. Bloggers who help me from a chill vibe often befriend me if they practice writing to hone their blogging skills. From there, opportunities multiply fast. Sweet backlinks on top blogs often flow your way. Traffic and profits increases slowly, steadily expand over time. Blogging buddies supply you with blog post ideas through their questions and problems. Everything grows because you helped top bloggers versus pitching them aka asking them for help. Even if you pitch a valuable guest post idea, the guest post idea serves no value unless you publish the guest post on a trusted, authority blog boasting a huge, loyal readership. Pitches seem worthless until content and links actually appear on top blogs, going live and public, for the world to see.
I often advise helping bloggers freely for months before considering any ask or pitch. Most times, blogging buddies invite you to guest post on their blogs. Blogging success flows to generous people because you get what you give. This is one of the advantages of blogging. Give freely, relax, trust in the process and receive easily. Place your needs to the side. Take care of your fellow blogger. Help them out via a retweet, Facebook Share or perhaps by promoting the blogger on your blog. Nobody needs to struggle blogging. Nobody needs to spend 4 hours daily sending blind pitches to blogging strangers. How about this? Spend those 4 hours patiently, persistently and generously helping people in your blogging niche. Help fellow bloggers to earn their trust. Assist fellow bloggers to befriend fellow bloggers. The split second you earn the trust of any blogger, you plant seeds for a beautiful, thriving, warm friendship. Gaining the trust of fellow bloggers inspires traffic and profits to flow to you. Forget the concept of pitching. I pitched 2 people during my 6 years of running Blogging From Paradise. One blogger pitch served as an experiment with an established, pro blogger and the other pitch served as the direct way to guest post for a 2 million member blogging community.
My 13,500 plus backlinks on Blogging From Paradise flowed to me after I pitched only 2 souls. Imagine that for a second. Observe the raw power of making friends, helping people, expecting nothing and being generous. Capitalize on the passive element of befriending bloggers through generous service. Tonight I will spend 90 minutes walking around my neighborhood. During that hour and a half, my blogging buddies will promote my blog and spread my word. Ditto for my 8 hours of sleep tonight; my blogging buddies grow my traffic and profits around the clock, adding an immensely powerful, passive element to my blogging campaign.
Being generous has some serious perks.
Should You Blog About Everything?
Blog about everything? I know this idea may be on your mind. Newbie bloggers especially ponder the idea.
I know blogging about anything on your mind seems like a good idea to new or even struggling bloggers. Maybe you gain mojo because you post daily, blogging about anything popping up in your dome. But this is a bad idea. Nobody should blog about any and every topic for the clear reason that nobody follows a specific blogger based on the blogger’s random thoughts, save world famous celebrities who built up a big following through some other niche.
Imagine a movie star begins blogging. Movie stars boast tens of millions of fans around the globe. Anything the star does, people hang on their every word, right? Imagine the icon publishing posts on a wide range of topics interesting to them. People read because of the star, not because of the wide range of broad topics. But imagine being a new blogger with zero followers. No movie stars read this post. Readers head for the hills the moment you change topics because no jack of all trades bloggers build credibility. Who has the time, energy and focus to be an expert in 5, 10 or 20 niches? No one does.
Blog About Everything?
Humans specialize. Doctors and lawyers do one thing and do it well because where attention and energy goes, grows. Imagine if your doctor delivered mail and picked up garbage professionally, too, working 2 jobs in addition to their medical practice. Would you trust her doctor skills? No. Of course not. People trust specialists because specialists devote all professional time and energy to one venture. Generalists? Nobody trusts someone who tries to master 2 or 5 or 10 skills simultaneously because thousands of other people master 1 skill, in these areas. We follow specialists and trust specialists. Generalists fade away.
If you want to blog about everything just ponder the specialist versus generalist point. Blogging about everything is trying to be a generalist. Nobody trusts you. Even though blogging about everything seems easy, seamless and almost effortless, people stop following your blog on each topic change. Imagine blogging about puppies one day. People who love puppies find your post, read it, enjoy it and follow your blog. Tomorrow, you publish about Chinese food. Puppy readers – who followed you for puppy content – skip the post…..most stop following your blog because puppy fans want only puppy-themed content. You just lost readers, for good.
Change Topics Lose Readers
Visualize the following day; you publish about relationships. Everybody stops following your blog. Perhaps a few relationships-focused folks read the post. But you lose trust the moment you shift topics again. Ultimately, who builds a large, targeted, loyal following, blogging about relationships? Relationships bloggers who blog about relationships 100% of the time. Specialists devote all blogging energy to mastering one topic, spending thousands of hours covering the topic, become skilled and trusted in the niche, build credibility and become successful. All multi topic bloggers blogging about everything fade away and vanish.
The world makes room for specialists. Generalists? Nope.
Pick one blogging topic. Blog about one thing. Focus on one discipline. Be a specialist, not a generalist, to be a leading blogger in your nice. Face your fear of releasing multiple passions to make room for a single passion. I know you fear letting go. I did too before creating Blogging From Paradise.
Google loves specialists too. Google turns its cyber nose down at generalists. I scanned a popular blogging key phrase a few moments ago. Guess what? I rarely note SEO but tidying up one blog post with some details for optimizing helped me reach page one on the search engine. Why? I specialize in the blogging tips niche. Apparently. Google interpreted through its complex algorithms that I published thousands of valuable blog posts on a single topic 100% of the time, virtually. Google traffic rocks. Impress the search engine gods by gaining search trust. Specialize. Stick to one blogging topic. Never blog about everything.
Let go the urge to blog about anything that comes to mind. New bloggers need release this notion to build the foundation for a successful blogging career. Specialize by picking one niche you love blogging about. Be a specialist, not a generalist, to succeed with your blogging campaign.
Do you want to be a pro blogger who circles the globe? Buy my eBook:
Avoid this Blogging Wake Up Call to Enjoy the Journey
Blogging need not be a lesson in harsh wake up calls. You can and will largely enjoy the journey by knowing this: success finds generous bloggers. Let that idea firmly impress onto your mind. Be with it. Allow the idea to worm its way into your consciousness until being generous becomes part of your being. Helping people for free boosts your skills and increases your exposure. Skilled bloggers with massive exposure become successful.
But one wake up call seems to find most bloggers who refuse to learn this lesson. Bloggers need to struggle, fail and suffer because they try to get money and traffic by focusing solely on receiving methods, versus giving generously of their time and talents. Imagine this scenario; a blogger writes and publishes one blog post weekly. Cool. But the blogger sits around and does nothing else blogging-wise for the remainder of the week. Hmmmm…this is not being generous, guys. This is being stingy. Bad move. At week’s end, the blogger did not make a penny of profits. Panicking, the blogger immediately analyzes their various income streams. How can they maximize profits through the streams? What is wrong with their income streams? Did they pick the right streams? Or did they pick the wrong streams? What gives?
Struggling bloggers then spend 2, 3 or 5 hours analyzing their income streams, focusing all of their attention and energy on the GETTING aspect of their blogging campaign. Terrible idea. Why? The reason why you struggle to get is because you refuse to give generously of your time, energy and talents. The income streams? Nope; not a problem. Your lack of generosity is the problem. The wake up call is most bloggers focus heavily on getting when struggling to drive traffic and profits when they should be focused heavily on giving generously. Giving generously leads to greater blogging profits. Instead of writing and publishing one blog post weekly, how about writing and publishing 2-3 posts weekly, weaving some stories into your blog posts? How about you spend 4-8 hours daily generously reading blog posts, commenting genuinely on blog posts, promoting other bloggers and yes, promoting yourself, too?
Put in the giving time to make getting easier and easier. No need to slam into the cold, hard wake up call of focusing selfishly inward, trying to pin your struggles on inanimate, lifeless income streams. You have a giving problem, buddy. Time to be generous. Time to step it up. Write a guest post daily or perhaps, every 2-3 days. Go ahead. Do it. Begin video marketing. Build bonds with bloggers. Help them out. Practice writing. Gain invites to guest post on blogs from your niche. Blogging becomes more fun, more enjoyable and flat out easier if you put in the time, generously helping folks.
Focus heavily on giving. Your star will shine if you generously serve people. On the contrary, blogging and life become so much harder if you obsess over your income streams, analyzing, over analyzing, focusing, wasting precious time and energy on getting, when you should be giving more freely. Blogging feels more fun, too, when you focus heavily on giving, because we were designed to give, to be generous and to serve folks. Doesn’t it feel amazing to help people? Of course, it does. Enjoy the blogging journey and avoid this painful wake up call….plus….you get to sleep in, hehehe 😉
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