One of my favorite aspects of writing and creating is finding tools that help speed up the process and make it more efficient. The ultimate goal of any writer is to get the words out and in front of an audience. Whether this is writing a blog post, email, or book…we all wish we had more time, a bigger audience, and better production. The tools I list below are some that have helped me write smarter, better, and faster. I call them my Nerdy Tools because they help break writing down to a science and increase productivity across the board. Any of the tools, apps, or sites listed below are personal recommendations and a few have affiliate links because I believe so strongly in what the product has done for me in my writing. Would love to hear what you might want to add to this list!
Scrivener: The best tool for writers to get their ideas out, organized, and onto the page. Scrivener has so many benefits over Microsoft Word that it is hard to list them all. Check out this video to learn more and spend the money…you won’t regret it.
Draft: An awesome online platform for writing. Nothing fancy but extremely powerful. Can publish directly to WordPress or Kindle. Great editing features and you have to love Hemingway mode when it doesn’t allow you to do anything except write.
Google Docs: The free way to stay organized, write, and share with anyone in the world. I don’t understand the benefits of Microsoft Word after using Google Docs.
BlueHost: I’m an affiliate for BlueHost for two reasons. First, they have the cheapest web hosting and one-click installs for WordPress sites (how awesome is that!). Second, they pay their affiliates really well – If you ever want to sign up for a new domain and host your own blog or website – use Bluehost…and click my link if you want to donate to the cause!
Thesis: I currently use Thesis on this blog and my Ajjuliani.com blog. I love it. Powerful and simple…can’t beat that. Thesis is a framework for WordPress that allows you to do certain things that other WordPress themes cannot do (see my homepage). Thesis is also one of the best WordPress themes for SEO, and who doesn’t love a little more traffic from Google!
Genesis: Big fan of Genesis and have used it for a few different blogs I’ve made for people. People like Jeff Goins use Genesis and swear by it. Very similar to Thesis in that it is a framework for WordPress and does a good job with SEO and email connections/marketing.
MailChimp: I currently use MailChimp for all of my email lists and subscribers for ajjuliani.com blog. It has powerful autoresponders and list management built in, and integrates with almost every service out there (like Leadpages and SumoMe below). It is not on the priciest side for email management, but does cost more than some services. MailChimp is a great platform to start out on if you are new to email marketing and lists…also has a decent free plan.
MadMimi: I like MadMimi because it is so simple and easy to use. I’ve recently been using it more and playing around with it on this blog and a few others that I own. It is not as powerful as MailChimp but I’m not sure I need all those features. It is also about half the cost of MailChimp so I might be making a full switch sometime in the near future.
ConvertKit: Nathan Barry has created a very cool email marketing platform (especially for authors). I’ve used ConvertKit and really enjoyed it. Nathan’s users (including himself) have had a lot of success driving blog traffic and book sales with ConvertKit.
The Steroids for Email Subscribers
LeadPages: The secret to writing nerdy is to have a consistent communication channel with your audience. However, if you want to build that audience then LeadPages is a must. Their landing page templates, leadboxes, and squeeze pages have everything an author needs to build an email list fast.
SumoMe: The guys at AppSumo have put together one of the best free resources I’ve ever used on a website or blog. SumoMe is a free plug-in for WordPress that allows you to collect email addresses in a variety of ways (slidebox, smart pop-up, list builder, and more). Check it out asap!
Compfight: Free commercially licensed pictures from around the web (quality varies).
Unsplash: Free high-quality photos that are updated each week (my favorite source).
The Noun Project: Free (and some paid) flat icons on every topic/subject imaginable.
Fiverr: Spend $5 to get a variety of services including logo design, cover design, podcast intro/outros, and a lot more (quality varies so try to find someone with a great portfolio and solid reviews).
99Designs: High quality design from thousands of designers in a contest style format for covers, logos, and any type of graphical/design work. One of the best resources for professional covers out there!
Creative Market: Found this recently as a very cheap and different type of market for creative pictures/covers/artwork and themes.
Books for Writers
This Book Will Teach You How to Write Better: The title says it all. The book covers a lot of copywriting techniques and strategies, but really you can implement them to any type of writing.
How to Tell a Story: Free from Donald Miller but worth my email address! I think he does an awesome job simplifying the storytelling process to the nuts and bolts of what readers care about. He’s got a great track record as well so it is advice worth listening to.
Strunk and White: The classic.