I'm of the mind that no matter how good you are, there's room for improvement. There's always something you could be doing more efficiently, more effectively, or more skillfully. If you don't spend every day trying to better yourself, you're stagnating.
What I'm trying to say is that as a content creator, you should always strive for betterment. Look at your work with a critical eye. Examine how others in your field are doing things, and learn from them. Ask for input from friends, associates, and clients. Accept their criticism.
Of course, all that is only going to take you so far. A big part of self-improvement lies in the tools and techniques you use.
Today, I'm going to go over a few tools you can use to make yourself a better writer.
The Hemingway App bills itself as being "like a spellchecker for style." It analyzes text for needless words, complicated sentences, confusing statements, and passive voice. It highlights problem words and phrases and assigns everything a readability level. The lower that level is, the better.
Using Hemingway, you can focus your thoughts, making your message that much clearer.
Pro Writing Aid
Pro Writing Aid works similarly to Hemingway, but it goes into much greater depth. In addition to general style, it also checks for overused words, grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, vague wording, eloquence, improper transitions, alliteration, and a ton of other factors. It's also featured in addons for both Microsoft Word and Google Docs.
The trade-off is that Pro Writing Aid isn't entirely free.
In the free version, you're unable to edit your text online, and you're locked out of most of the advanced reporting features. To access Pro Writing Aid's full potential, you'll need to pay a yearly subscription fee. Thankfully, it's reasonably priced at $35 for an annual subscription or $120.00 for a lifetime membership.
Daniel Butler's Content Strategy Helper
Sometimes, you'll find yourself fresh out of writing ideas. Don't worry yourself too much - it happens to everyone. That's why tools like the Content Strategy Helper exist; to help you get out of any creative ruts you might encounter.
Don't let the fact that it's in Google Docs fool you - this is an incredibly powerful tool. When you enter a query, the spreadsheet automatically searches the top news sites - along with Reddit and Digg - for all articles and posts related to it.
You can also look at trending topics and see a list of influencers related to any queries you make.
Copyscape Plagiarism Checker
As a writer, plagiarism is one of the worst sins you can commit. That's why it's sort of surprising that so many people do it accidentally. That's why I use Copyscape, and make a point of running every piece of writing I do through it.
I want to be positive I'm not inadvertently copying someone else's phrasing. You can also use it to check if someone else is copying your work. Now, there's one caveat here - it's not free.
In order to check your own work for plagiarism, you'll need Premium credits. They only cost 5 cents a pop, and last for twelve months, so they probably won't break the bank.
Honorable Mention: A Notebook And Pencil
Before we wrap things up, I'd like to offer up one final word of advice: write things out by hand. Evidence suggests that doing so boosts cognition and creative thinking. This, in turn, allows you to come up with better, more fleshed-out ideas.
Plus, there's something about writing things out by hand that's immensely more satisfying than keying characters in on a screen.
I'd like to wrap this piece up with a quote from entrepreneur and lifestyle blogger Meg Biram:
"You can't expect to see change if you never do anything differently."
That's definitely applicable to what we've talked about today. As a writer, you should always be striving to improve your craft. You should always seek to do things a little differently with each piece you create.
If you aren't doing that, then you're eventually going to be left behind by the people that are.