Determining what is useful and what is filler when seeking help with your online content (some of us still call it “copy”) can be an overwhelming experience. The cargo ship of digital resources is much too much for any one content creator or freelance writer to sail daily.
To sharpen your writing prowess, it’s best to follow a few eyeball-worthy, quality-filled blogs or newsletters. You need meaningful, actionable tips, not fluffy cotton balls of empty wisdom telling you what to do without showing you how to do it. Did that make sense? I sure hope so. Allow me to show you my tips:
For Continuous Improvement, Rely on Daily Writing Tips: There are many online resources out there that focus on either grammar and punctuation or writing style and usage. I consider the Daily Writing Tips website the best of both writing worlds.
True to its title, Daily Writing Tips publishes an article every day, “…with topics ranging from grammar to punctuation, from spelling to usage and vocabulary.” For access to the free articles and resources, I suggest you bookmark the website in your “Writing Tips” folder. (I have a WT folder full of bookmarks–don’t you?)
If you need additional assistance, Daily Writing Tips offers two Pro Member subscription options: $9.90 a month (when you pay in monthly installments) and $6.70 a month (when you pay for a year’s subscription in advance).
Your paid subscription includes the daily articles and writing exercises (sent via e-mail), access to the exercise archives and writing courses, and admission to the site’s Writing Jobs aggregator. FYI, Daily Writing Tips offers a free 15-day trial of its extended services.
The article archives are quite considerable, so definitely start there…
Don’t Be Merely Content with Your Writing–Be Contently: Before we get too far in, please note there is a difference between the “parent” Contently website (contently.com) and its freelance-writer-friendly offspring, The Freelancer, by Contently (contently.net).
The Contently.com site offers online publishers a paid platform for creating and branding top-notch content. The platform provides editorial and engagement-tracking tools. Contently.com does maintain an online magazine (The Content Strategist) containing content-related tips and insights.
Another Contently.com feature to check out is the collection of articles on the Resources page, which focuses more on the branding and storytelling aspects of being a content creator.
Per the website, Contently.com is for brands, but Contently.net is for freelancers. So without further delay…
One of The Freelancer’s best features is its free digest subscription. As a “solopreneur” writer, I subscribe to this digest/newsletter, which is chock-full of helpful tips and resources.
But be advised–these literary love notes seem to show up in your inbox almost daily, even though the service is promoted as a weekly occurrence. If you don’t feel up to the reading challenge of The Freelancer’s avalanche of advice, bookmark the site’s Home (magazine) page.
Freelance journalists and other writers can create a (free) portfolio of their work via the Contently platform. The tab you click on to get started is available at The Freelancer, but the link redirects you back to Contently.com. You then proceed to register with Contently before creating your online portfolio.
Forgive me, I know the access to this free resource sounds a bit convoluted. If you think you qualify to take advantage of Contently’s online portfolio, give it a try.
With Copyblogger, You’ll Glean Tips for Maintaining a Bodacious Blog: Let’s tiptoe slowly into this platform’s gratis and paid features. Copyblogger claims to be “The Next Generation Website Solution for Content Marketers and Internet Entrepreneurs.”
The Copyblogger platform sells a comprehensive WordPress solution. With it you can create and run a content-driven website as well as promote and sell your “digital goods.”
You say you already have a website (WordPress or otherwise) that’s serving you well, thank you very much? Then consider tapping into Copyblogger’s free resources.
Such freebies include the site’s blog, a free, 20-part Internet marketing course, and access to a variety of e-books covering topics like:
- Content Marketing
- Internet Marketing
- SEO Copywriting
- Keyword Research
- Landing Pages
- E-Mail Marketing
For access to these complimentary resources, create your free MyCopyblogger account.
And for those of you interested in becoming a Content Marketing Expert (“for a little more than a dollar a day”), explore the possibility of signing up for Copyblogger’s Authority community.
The annual $399 subscription for Authority provides extended access to: in-depth master classes, e-business “how-to” demonstrations, lots of online education, and a networking community of trusted experts and like-minded content creators. (Hmm, sounds tempting…)
ProBlogger Is the Brainchild of a Full-Time Blogger, Which Warms My Heart: If you don’t know the name Darren Rowse, take a break from reading this post and check him out. Go on, I’ll leave a blog-post light on for you while you’re gone. His for-profit blogs include Digital Photography School and TwiTip–Twitter Tips.
Darren Rowse’s way of giving back to bloggers and other copywriters is his ProBlogger platform. Asking me if the site offers a blog with a wide variety of blogging tips and advice is a rhetorical question. Yes, a thousand times yes, there’s a blog.
Other gratis gifts courtesy of ProBlogger include a free newsletter (enter your e-mail address to subscribe) and access to the ProBlogger archives, going all the way back to articles/posts from 2004.
I think the paid-subscription options offered by ProBlogger are reasonably priced. The ProBlogger Community is a fully moderated, members-only gathering where you can learn from and network/collaborate with other bloggers.
Other privileges (such as webinars and downloads) are also included with your Problogger subscription. It’ll cost you either $27 per month, or $199 upfront for a full year of membership.
A variety of downloadable e-books authored by Mr. Rowse are for sale, as is his old-school (print) book, co-authored with Chris Garrett. My advice is to start with the freebies (the archives go DEEP!) and “grow from blog…” (Scroll down to #8.)
The Procrastinator in You Will Adore UNC’s The Writing Center…: This website’s page on procrastination is a bonus entry. Yes, I deliberately saved it for last. Even talented writers fall victim to the mesmerizing power of their internal stun gun from time to time (myself included).
Please don’t confuse procrastination with the dreaded ordeal known as writer’s block. I consider these to be separate experiences (less like siblings, more like kissing cousins). I dare you to resist an academic website that quotes the following:
“The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair .” (Mary Heaton Vorse, a 20th century journalist and all-around rabble-rouser…)
The Writing Center is affiliated with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Although it targets college students burdened with coursework papers and essays, I guarantee you will enjoy the site’s humorous advice and bookmark the link.
(Let me know when you get to the tips regarding “learn how to tell time” and “make an un-schedule.”)
If you already use any of the online resources listed here, which is your favorite and why? What other writing-centric websites do you use most often? Did you at least peek at The Writing Center’s shrine to procrastination and scroll around a bit? You know you want to (badly)!
And finally: an explosive explanation of this blog post’s title, courtesy of a sizzling singer…
Lori Shapiro is the owner of By All Writes LLC, a business-to-business (B2B) writing, editing, and research company in Marlton, New Jersey. She revels in shielding her clients from the pain of writing their own print and web marketing or educational copy. Please call Lori Shapiro at 856-810-9764 or email By All Writes LLC at firstname.lastname@example.org for a no-obligation project quote today!