As writers there are few things that are more frustrating than losing focus. And when it’s something within our control, it’s even worse. We strive to create engaging, valuable and actionable content. Content that resonates with our readers. Shareable content that provokes conversation and engagement. But as we all know there are countless ‘other’ tasks and chores that take up our time, and shift our focus away from writing.
The reality is that to reach our audience, these chores are a necessity. Whether it’s social posting or talking with our readers. There are things that we can’t ignore. Luckily, the Internet is rife with tools that can make those necessary, time-consuming tasks a whole lot easier to deal with. Helping you take hold of your time, and get back to creating valuable, rich and engaging content! Here are my top 5 essential free tools to help focus your writing:
Getting more coverage and engagement is one of the biggest concerns for any writer. Nowadays it’s clear that this boils down to how well we use social media to build and engage our audience. According to the experts at Simply Measured, the key to social media is finding the right balance, sharing many times over the course of a few months.
That’s all well and good, but all that takes a whole lot of time. Time that would be better spent developing ideas, and actually writing. To get that time back, try using a social media scheduling app like Buffer.
Buffer is a free and accessible way for writers to take control of their social media feeds. For those concerned with ROI, Buffer offers post-by-post analytics so you can see what’s working well, and focus on that. As Buffer is free and open source, there are also a whole heap of app integrations that make life even easier!
Not only is Buffer comprehensive and accessible. What stands out most is their community and team. Be it their Slack community, renowned blog, or weekly 1-hour Twitter chats the Buffer team and community are second to none. Sharing vital, helpful and actionable advice wherever and whenever they can.
Sharing third party content is as vital to a social media presence as sharing your own posts. In fact, many social media power users suggest using a 1:4 ratio as a general rule. So for every original post, there are 4 third party posts.
Finding time to filter through reams of news sources to find great content is a tiresome and time consuming task. Quuu is an automation platform that seeds your social feed with curated content.
Quuu integrates with Buffer to make sure your social media feeds contain high quality content. And although it is still an early startup, it is already proving to be a valuable resource.
What makes Quuu stand out is their focus on quality content. Instead of using an algorithm, Quuu has human curators who seek out valuable content, review it, and add it to a single category. It’s like having a vast team of experts adding great content to your social media feed, for free!
The long and short of it is that Quuu offers the security of knowing your social feed is sharing great content without you lifting a finger.
When I start researching, I tend to get a little overzealous with tabs and skim reading. I get in ‘the zone’. My natural workflow is to find a source, open a tab, find a source, open a tab, and so on! That being the case, it’s not uncommon for me to find myself with 3 or 4 windows, with a ton of half read sources in each. It can be a bit of a nightmare, and time consuming to read through.
Pocket is a great way to reduce that strain, make research appear more readable, and keeping a note of your valuable sources. The ‘Pocket’ button sits at the top of your browser window. Each time you want to save a source or article for later, you just click it. Pocket makes it easy to save a ton of great sources to read and study. Once you’re done with your source, archive it for later and save more time in the future.
I love a good notebook. There’s something satisfying about pulling out a pen and emptying your thoughts onto a fresh page. One of the most time consuming, and impractical aspects of using a physical notebook is forgetfulness! If you’re anything like me, you have many, many notebooks, which means you have to remember where you wrote that gem of an idea, great quote or source. As the focus on time and productivity increases, it is becoming less and less practical to keep physical notes.
Much as I love the feel of a physical notebook, Evernote provides an incredible platform for keeping all your notes safe. It also syncs across all your devices, so you can save all that time you would have spent flicking through reams of notebooks.
Integrating Evernote with Blogo also makes it easy to manage, organize and have access to all your ideas in one place.
Engagement and discussion are key to the success of any content. We know that, and we all strive to have those meaningful conversations. But keeping track of conversations with your audience can be tiresome and time consuming. I’ve often found myself wasting time checking various posts, only to find there are no new comments. Or worse, sometimes you just forget to check back! Disqus offers a way to combat those wasted hours, reclaim our time, and have better conversations.
The most appealing things about Disqus is how easy it is to use, and it’s notifications. Making use of the Blogo and Disqus integration means that managing all your discussions from one place is a breeze.
As a writer, there is a whole world of apps and tools that can help you reclaim some of the time you lose to other tasks. What are some of your favourite time saving tools?