5 essential tools that’ll make you a better copywriter
Many moons ago, copywriters sat at big, clunky typewriters, surrounded by paper notes and reference material. There was no internet, no laptops and no sign of any software developers to help them along the way. The wordsmiths of the past simply got on with the job by using what would now be considered an extremely inefficient, cumbersome way of working.
That may sound like an unfair appraisal of times gone by, but in just a few years we’ll no doubt look back at the way modern copywriters go about their working days and think the exact same thing. Tools evolve, best practices change and the work produced (usually) benefits as a result.
With that in mind, I thought I’d share five of the tools I rely on daily to undertake my copywriting work. Sure, they may be superseded in a few years, but as it stands, I genuinely couldn’t live without them, and I hope at least one or two provide useful for you, too.
1. Scrivener (Mac, Windows, iOS)
Unless you’re particularly wedded to the process of using pen and paper, the modern copywriter simply can’t get by without a word processor.
If you’ve been using Microsoft Word for as long as you can remember, I urge you to try Scrivener. It is, without question, the best software discovery I’ve made within the last few years. It makes multiple document management a cinch, exports to every conceivable format and the new iOS app has literally transformed my working day (see number 5).
When did Word last transform the way you work?
2. Evernote (Mac, Windows, iOS, Android)
Every copywriter needs to take notes and those notes are at their most useful when easily accessible no matter where you happen to be. Evernote has long been my go-to note-taking application because it is available on every device I own (plus the web) and possesses a search function that has never let me down.
Its feature list is rather colossal, and I probably scratch about 2% of the surface, but for me, it’s enough. They offer a great free tier, too (although have recently reduced the number of devices to which you can sync if you choose that option). Give it a go.
3. Spark (iOS)
Here’s an odd one, at first glance. Spark is an email application that is the best alternative I’ve found to both Outlook and Apple’s stock Mail app. But how does it benefit copywriting?
Email is a time suck. Let go of it, and you can better focus on what matters. For a copywriter, that’s getting as many words down as efficiently as possible and that can only happen with limited distractions.
Spark makes email management incredibly easy because it groups messages into specific categories — ‘New’, ‘Pins’, ‘Notifications’ and ‘Newsletters’. It isn’t alone in offering this functionality, but it’s one of the smartest implementations I’ve seen and enables its users to only focus on what matters. You can also be safe in the knowledge that everything waiting for a response is correctly and automatically filed. I’ve not missed an email since, but, equally, nor have they got in the way of writing.
The best aspect of Spark? It’s completely free. So free and so good, in fact, that it’s one of the few apps that enters the market which you feel slightly guilty for using so heavily. Brilliant stuff.
4. Wunderlist (Mac, Windows, iOS, Android)
Chances are, if you’re a copywriter, you’ve got lots of jobs on the go simultaneously. You also need to ensure that you don’t forget to start the next big project on time in order to meet its deadline.
Wunderlist is among the best to-do list apps I’ve found. It’s simple and intuitive but can become more heavy duty if required. Most importantly, you’ll never forget to write anything, ever again.
Ok, so this is the most expensive suggestion I’ve offered today, and if you’re sat at your trusty laptop, rubbing your chin and wondering why on earth you’d benefit from an iPad as a writer — bear with me.
Now that the team behind Scrivener (see number 1) has launched their iOS app, the iPad Pro I bought earlier this year has finally made a huge impact on my productivity as a copywriter and blogger. That one app has unlocked the power of this brilliant laptop replacement (it absolutely is that!).
I went for the ‘small’ Pro, which has the regular 9.7” iPad screen we’ve become accustomed to for some time. Where it starts to get interesting is when you pop on the ingenious smart cover that miraculously turns into a keyboard. At first glance, they keys may look a little too cramped and the overall device rather lightweight to be good for anything other than light email, but spend some time with it and — like me — you may well be knocked sideways.
I now produce every piece of copy I write on the iPad. The combination of that addictively-clicky keyboard, small footprint and focus afforded be full-screen apps is an absolute revolution. If you have the funds available and you write a lot of words every day, I urge you to invest.
I use other tools and software during my working week, but none of them have had quite the same effect on my productivity and the quality of my work as those above. I hope they will for you too.
Have I missed an awesome tool that helps you as a copywriter? Let me know if so!