Every content writer has a preferred set of tools that help during the writing process. Some writers use many expensive programs to achieve simple tasks. Others rely on shareware or cracked copies of MS Word. But that’s all not the real deal. If you want to become a professional, you need solid tools, that don’t screw you over. Only if your workflow is easy and stable, you will find the inspiration and time to actually focus on your writing.
In this guide I will show you four of my favorite writing tools, and explain how I use them. And the best thing is, they are all completely free.
WordPress is the worlds biggest blogging platform. In the recent years, it has also become one of the most commonly used content management systems in the world. In fact, about every third website nowadays is built on WordPress. And most importantly, it’s completely free.
A premium subscription will give you a few more options, like a custom domain name, extended hosting and a page builder. If you are hosting WordPress on your own server however, there is not much reason to buy the premium version. In the long run, a premium theme might be a good choice. But also a free WordPress template can already be extremely powerful. A growing community of developers and users helps the software to grow and expand its reach.
WordPress has enabled a lot of interesting opportunities for me to grow as a content writer. I am running my own website, as well as several blogs. Many clients book me specifically because they know my proficiency with WordPress. Being able to work and train with it for free, has enabled me to work a lot more effective on WordPress websites, compared to any other CMS. In the range of the most popular free editing and web building solutions, WordPress is in its own league. And it will probably stay like this for many years to come.
You learned about the new and hyped “distraction free” mode in your favorite editing program? The good old Notepad++ Editor never distracted you in the first place, with all its fancy functions. It is the typical case, when having no features actually becomes the best feature!
If you are working with text blocks in a complex template, if you are copy-pasting meta content, or you are just taking notes, Notepad is there for you. Editor usually comes preinstalled with every Windows copy. If you are working with Mac, TextEdit does the same thing.
The best thing about these basic editors is, that they add absolutely NOTHING to the text you are working with. No formatting, no font changes, no headline tags, place markers, line breaks or anything else. If you want to make sure, that that your text is plain, when you copy it into your website, editor is a great tool. I often have an Editor window open, while copying between different documents, editors and web pages. Just to remove unwanted formatting.
Last but not least, Notepad is incredibly fast. There is no other text software, that will be ready to work within a fraction of a second. There might be prettier text software, but Editor is certainly the simplest and fastest.
Google docs has become very important for many writers, as well as businesses. It’s much simpler in its functionality than MS Office, but its ability to share your work makes it so fantastic.
You can not only share, but also collaborate in many ways, other text editors can’t. After you turned on link sharing you can give access to read, comment or edit together in the same file. That makes it extremely efficient and fast, when working with a team. And don’t worry, all changes are tracked, so if your co-workers delete your work, you know exactly who did it. Secondly, don’t bother. Google docs automatically safes all changes made and allows you to go back in your revision history. So you can restore any document version from before any problems occurred.
At the same time, it’s incredibly fast, as long as your internet connection is somewhat stable. If you don’t have internet, you can also install the offline extension. In that case your work gets synchronized with your Google Drive, as soon as you are back online. For a piece of free editing software, this is as comfortable and advanced as it gets.
OpenOffice is practically a knock-off of MS Office. But unlike the Microsoft workhorse, it’s open source and completely free to download and use. I have been using OpenOffice a lot in the past. I still use it quite a lot, despite the fact, that I also have MS Word installed.
Most importantly, I sometimes to convert copy into PDF. OpenOffice had that feature, long before MS Word did. For this simple reason, I still have many templates saved in .odt and there is just no reason to convert them. I still like working in OpenOffice just as much as in MS Word. OpenOffice Writer offers a perfectly fine text editor and has everything else on board, you could ask for. You can write and edit your content and also import/export or safe your work in .doc, .docx or html. So your clients will be able to open your files with their MS Word software or upload the code straight to their server.
Like any software, OpenOffice needs a bit of time, to get used to. Especially if you are coming from a newer MS Office version, you might find the little differences in the interface annoying. But if you want to start writing and don’t want to invest in an Office 365 subscription, then OpenOffice is a great alternative.
Final words about the best free writing tools
That’s it, I hope you enjoyed the read and maybe even learned something. At least it should be obvious, that some of the most useful content writing tools are sometimes also the cheapest or even free.
Maybe you at least found a good reason to use one of tools mentioned above. I work with them every day and haven’t found another editor, that could do the same things for me, except maybe OpenOffice. But since it’s such a great piece of open source software, it simply had to be included here. If you have any suggestions for other great writing tools that have to be on my list, feel free to drop me an email or simply comment below. I appreciate it.