Copywriting apps

I run regular 2-day copywriting courses, and we cover a lot of ground in that time. But people often ask me: ‘How can I remember and implement all of this advice?’ So below I’ve listed three copywriting apps that have helped me, and many other writers, to avoid common mistakes and create consistently good copy.

The links below are to web apps, which are available online through your standard web browser. They’re all free, so check them out for yourself and see if they work for you (some ask for personal data before you can use them).

Please note – I don’t get any commercial benefit form you using these copywriting apps. These are objective and unbiassed recommendations.

1. Hemingway app

Hemingway copywriting app.

Use it: www.hemingwayapp.com

It’s easy to slip into bad copywriting style, such as:

  • Passive voice
  • Long complex sentences
  • Unnecessarily long words

Good writing style is a habit that’s formed with practice. The Hemingway app speeds up this process by showing where you might be going wrong.

Paste your copy into the app and it will highlight passages that have potential issues. It’s an awesome time-saver and a handy reminder of what to look out for in your copy.

2. Coschedule headline analyzer

Coschedule headline analyzer copywriting app.

Use it: coschedule.com/headline-analyzer

Headlines are essential. A good headline will turn a browser into a reader.

I’m a little wary of an algorithm telling me what works, but I find this tool gives you some useful feedback on how to improve what you’ve written, including:

  • Common words
  • Uncommon words
  • Power words
  • Emotional impact
  • SEO benefits

As with all copywriting apps, I wouldn’t slavishly follow every piece of advice it gives. Use it to get ideas for improving what you’ve written.

(Grammar hounds beware – they’ve misspelt the word ‘its’ on this website. I’ve forgiven them.)

3. Answer the public

Answer the public copywriting app.

Use it: http://answerthepublic.com

It’s tough to constantly think up new ideas for content. I love Answer the Public because it gives you plenty of inspiration.

The app draws on data from Google search suggestions and other keyword tools to give insights into what people are searching for. You can use this to create content based on search demand.

Enter your content topic into Answer the Public and you’ll get dozens of ideas for things to write about. And best of all, you know it will be interesting to an audience because they have searched for it.

Summary

These three tools are just the start. There are many more copywriting apps and web tools out there.

I’ll update this blog with more recommendations soon, but in the meantime if you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments.

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I’m a one-man band, a lone wolf, a high plains drifter.

Which is all just to say, I’m a busy freelancer.

I don’t have any staff, so every bit of work – I need to do it myself. There’s a long list of things that my work involves, but let’s just say that it goes from selling myself to doing the admin.

Ugh, the admin.

So… I’ve spent 8 years as a freelancer now, and I want to share some things that have helped me to become more productive and more efficient.

I wouldn’t say that I’m a freelance ninja just yet, but all this has helped me make a start. And stopped me going insane.

1. Book keeping

I still remember the days and nights I spent scrambling through 12 months’ worth of receipts and listing them in a spreadhsheet.

I’ll never get those hours back.

Fortunately a fellow freelancer showed me Receipt Bank.

Now I scan the receipts when I get them and Receipt Bank automatically uploads them into its online platform.

Cue a chorus singing ‘Hallelujah’ accompanied by visuals of unicorns dancing under rainbows.

At this time of writing Receipt Bank costs me £9.99 a month. That’s much less than I’d pay for a book keeper.

And it leaves me to do the work that I enjoy (hint – it’s not book keeping).

2. Invoicing

Another massive time-saver. If you send a lot of invoices, use Free Agent.

Don’t ask why, just do it.

Alright, here’s why. It makes the process of sending and tracking your income and outgoings so much easier.

It takes feeds from Receipt Bank (see above) so you get a real-time view of revenue, costs and profit.

3. Staying organised

Here’s where I get geeky.

I love tracking my time. I just do.

I realise that not everyone shares this passion, but there’s a few things that made a difference for me.

The Pomodoro technique

Such a simple idea, but such a life-changer in terms of getting work done and being focused. You can read all about the Pomodoro technique here, or read this brilliant book.

Essentially it’s about focusing on one thing in 25 minute blocks of time, without any interruptions and without straying from the task. Then take short breaks in between to re-evaluate your priorities.

Try it. You won’t look back.

To ensure I work strictly to the pomodoro technique I use the focus app on my MacBook Pro and iPhone, but there are plenty of alternatives out there.

Tracking work time

How much time are you spending on each project? What proportion of your working day do you spend on admin?

I was alarmed and intrigued by data that suggested that people spend up to 28% of their work time on email. And don’t get me started on social media.

I decided to consciously measure my time throughout the working day. I use a wonderful app called Office Time to do this.

There are a few key benefits to this:

1. I can see where I’m wasting my time.

What I found is that I can often spend too much time on the less useful stuff. The stuff that feels important but really isn’t.

Like reading emails. Or doing admin.

2. I can prioritise my most important work.

Thanks to the reporting tool on Office Time, I can now instantly see how my time prioritisation is going.

And it’s worked. After analysing my time I have now changed the way I work, and put more into my higher priority work.

Summary

So there it is. Three things I do that have made my freelancing career more productive.

I am a total geek about this stuff, so please let me know if you have any tips, recommended apps or general advice about organising your working life. Email me or leave them in the comments below, I’d love to hear them.

 

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How much social media is too much social media?

by ttucker23 on January 27, 2017

Image from Black Mirror, Season 3, Episode 1: Nosedive
Image from Black Mirror, Season 3, Episode 1: Nosedive

Do you find it hard to keep up with your social media? All those feeds to scan, all those posts to share, those Snapchat streaks to maintain?

Let’s face it, social media is great, but it can burn you out and get you down if you’re not careful.

That’s why every few months I take time out to review my usage of social media, both for personal and business reasons (I work for myself so often the two are entwined).

When I review my social networks, I want to determine:

  • Am I getting value from the networks I use?
  • Do I provide value for my followers and friends?
  • Is this a good use of my resources (mainly time)?

The results of my social media audit are interesting (at least to me)…

Here’s a snapshot of my social media usage

Social media apps.

I use seven social networks at least daily or weekly:

  • Facebook – mainly with friends and family
  • Facebook messenger – more intimate conversations
  • Twitter – mainly for business
  • Linkedin – 100% for business networking
  • Instagram – a bit of fun
  • Snapchat – experimentation – I like to see how new channels ‘work’ (it’s relatively new for me this one)
  • WhatsApp – exclusively for use with my tennis club pals, organising matches and get togethers

On a more random basis (say a couple of times a month) I’ll look at the following:

  • Goodreads – I’m an avid reader of fiction, non-fiction and poetry. I like to share what I’m reading and find out what others are reading too.
  • Pinterest – when I get time (not often) I’ll take a look at my feeds and update my boards. I mainly use this for inspiration.

There are a bunch of apps I use that have ‘social components’. I don’t normally think of these as social media, but they do provide great community benefit, for example:

  • MyFitnessPal – inspiration from others on maintaining healthy habits
  • Flipboard – keeping up to date with news and insights from recommended sources
  • YouTube – I tend to use this for looking up bass guitar videos (as bass player I’m addicted to Scotts Bass Lessons at the moment) and movie trailers

What have I learned from reviewing my social media usage?

Taking time to review this gave me a few insights:

  • If you’d have asked me off the top of my head, I probably would have said that my limit was three or four social media channels. It’s much more.
  • Each social channel fulfils a very specific need for me. If I can’t easily see how it fits into my life it gets dropped.
  • My ‘experimentation’ channels are the place where I try to define what purpose the channel has for me. I dropped Path after it filled no need in my life.
  • Twitter is the channel that I consume the least. It’s become much more of a one-way channel for me, although I do have some exclusive connections on there that I value. And it’s great for covering events and occassions– it’s how I’m keeping up with the Australian Open tennis at the moment, for example.
  • Many of my most used apps have some kind of ‘social component’ that radically improves the experience (MyFitnessPal, Flipboard, etc).

So that’s me right now. I’ll probably do this again in six months to see what’s changed.

I’d love to hear what you think. Which social channels do you use? Which are the most important to your life and work?

Please feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments below.

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One of the highlights of 2011 for me was the APA Content Summit 2011, which took place in London last November. As always it was a fascinating event (disclosure – I work as a consultant with the APA) that presented attendees with many interesting ideas to digest about the future of content and publishing, but […]

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Apple’s Siri and what it means for the user experience

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Siri, the iPhone’s killer app Like millions of others, I queued for the iPhone 4S last week (I don’t usually queue for new products on the day of release, but this time I was keen as my 2-year-old iPhone 3GS has been regularly crashing on me). There are many improvements (especially if you’re upgrading from […]

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