6 Low-cost & Free Online Writing Tools

Victoria Kurichenko

written by

Victoria Kurichenko

posted on

August 11, 2021

Online writing tools

There are hundreds of paid and free online writing tools for writers advertised all over the Internet. If you google “tools for writers,” over 333 million results appear right in front of you. There are too many options to choose from, aren’t they? It’s easy to get confused about the best tools for writers and whether it’s worth investing in them. 

As an established Medium writer and a marketer, I am convinced even a pen and paper are enough if you have a passion for writing. There is no need for complex software for writers. 

I’ve been writing daily for two years, publishing inspiring stories on Medium and my selfmademillennials.com website. I am close to making a living sharing my content online with avid readers, and I haven’t used any fancy writing tool to make it happen.

In fact, I use a few tools for freelance writers that I can personally recommend. These online writing tools help me produce solid content faster, polish my grammar better, and even make money writing.

Top Writing Tools I Use Daily to Make My Content Standout

  1. Grammarly
  2. Canva
  3. Hemingway editor
  4. CoSchedule headline analyzer

Grammarly

Grammarly is a solid A.I. editor that checks your content for grammar, spelling and punctuation mistakes, engagement, clarity, and tone of voice. 

It’s one of the most popular author tools worldwide. Even if you don’t deal with content writing, I am pretty sure you’ve seen Grammarly’s ads everywhere, especially on Youtube.

I am not a copycat trying to convince you to try Grammarly. It has its pros and cons, and I will cover both below. 

As a content writer, I benefit from using Grammarly’s Premium plan. Hence, I want to share my unbiased opinion on how it might be helpful for you.

P.S. This article has been checked by Grammarly too. 🙂

Grammarly Plans Comparison

As a non-native English speaker, I’ve always had a fear of writing. Somehow, I thought I was inferior to natives, and my content can’t be as good as theirs. 

If you, my beloved reader, have similar fears, I want to encourage you by sharing a few examples. Most of the Medium top writers, including me, are not native English speakers. However, their stories inspire millions of readers worldwide. 

ESL writers can create as engaging content (if not better) as English natives. Period. However, it often requires effort, dedication, and continuous improvement. 

The more you publish, the more experience you gain, and your confidence, as a creator, grows. Sites like Grammarly help you get rid of grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes that you might have skipped in the process of writing. 

My primary reason for using Grammarly is to get better at writing and gain more confidence. 

If you frequently write content online, Grammarly is a handy online writer app to consider. I’ve used Grammarly’s free plan for quite a while before switching to Premium. I’ll share what both plans can offer for content writers. 

Here is the screenshot with the latest plans available, taken from Grammarly’s website.

Grammarly Premium and Free Plans comparison

I write a new article every two days, and I always need a grammar check. Grammarly’s free plan is enough for those who look for a quick grammar, spelling, and punctuation check. Like it’s written in the Free plan description, the Grammarly free plan does not offer anything else.

However, I find these features quite handy. Moreover, I highly recommend using Grammarly’s browser extension to review your writing before publication.

Here is what the suggestions look like in the Grammarly account.

Grammarly free plan writing tool

You can see six recommendations for my article. I did find some of them helpful. 

If you are a confident writer who needs another round of quick editing, Grammarly’s free plan might be right for you. On the other hand, if you are at the beginning of your writing career and don’t want to pay for writing tools yet, the free version is a handy solution to consider. 

Why I switched to the Grammarly Premium plan:

  • I wanted to use more advanced vocabulary in my writing.
  • I was looking for help to simplify complex sentences.

If you write consistently, you gradually eliminate common grammatical errors. However, there are still lots of areas for improvement. Instead of hiring a professional editor, I went with the Grammarly premium plan which costs $139.95 per year.

In short, I am satisfied with the premium features. It does more than content checking; it helps me improve my writing. However, there are some drawbacks too, and I won’t be hiding them from you. 

The following are extra functionality the premium account offers.

Content goal setting

You are provided with customized recommendations based on your writing type and the audience. It seems an important feature, but it turned out not to be the most helpful one. You indeed get relevant recommendations if you write a formal email, for instance. However, if you are a content writer of a lifestyle blog, like me, you might not find it handy.

Grammarly content goal setting tool

Clarity recommendations

It’s often challenging to come up with simple and clear sentences. As a non-English native speaker, I often question my writing. I wonder whether my sentences are grammatically correct and clear enough for anyone to understand. 

Writing clarity is one of the essential skills to improve for any writer. Likely, there are online writing tools that help do it. 

The Grammarly clarity feature gives recommendations on sentence restructuring and rephrasing. As a content writer, I find it very handy. It not only enhances my content but helps me elevate my writing. 

online writing tool Grammarly

Advanced vocabulary recommendations tool for writers

There are over a million English words, but only 20.000-30.000 are used by an average person, according to englishlife.ef.

We tend to use the same phrases to express ourselves. However, using diverse vocabulary can make your writing more potent and appealing to readers.

If I could name one reason why the Grammarly Premium plan is worth its money, it is the advanced vocabulary recommendation feature.

It offers lots of synonyms to any word in your content. It’s one of my favorite Grammarly features that improves my writing and helps me expand my English vocabulary in a time-effective way.  

Advanced vocabulary recommendations tool for writers

Plagiarism checker

Grammarly Premium plan includes the plagiarism checker that assesses your content uniqueness. It would have been a handy feature if it worked properly, though. 

As a content writer, I want to make sure my content is not intentionally or accidentally plagiarized. 

I’ve used the Grammarly plagiarism checker for over a year and noticed its similarity percentage is unreliable. The plag checker can identify matching content only if it is directly copy-pasted. If you, let’s say, rewrite the sentence or use synonyms, Grammarly won’t flag your content as plagiarised. 

Grammarly has a lot to do to make the plag checker work properly. Nevertheless, it’s a helpful feature for any writer that signals where you can improve your content.

Grammarly plagiarism checker writing tool

Grammarly Pros and Cons

Pros

  • You can share your account access and let your family or friends use Grammarly.

  • You can benefit from checking grammar, spelling, and punctuation for free.

  • Advanced functionality helps develop your vocabulary and improve your writing clarity.

  • Affordable pricing.

Cons

  • The plagiarism checker is not reliable.

  • Passive voice recommendations are too exaggerated. 

  • More functionality could be offered to help writers develop their unique tone of voice. 

You can sign up and start using Grammarly here. It’s free. 

Hemingway editor writing tool

I once sent my article draft to an established online publication. Its editor pointed out that my article’s readability score was 10, according to the Hemingway editor. Apparently, it meant that I had some readability issues to tackle. 

These days, I’ve been using the Grammarly Premium plan and Hemingway free plan to nail my writing before publication. Guess what? It works well for me! My readability score improved to 4-5, and I no longer experience rejections due to content formatting and structure. 

As you’ve already grasped, Hemingway editor is a free online writing tool that can be used along with or instead of Grammarly. Once you type or copy-paste your content into the editor, you’ll see its readability score and suggestions for improvement. 

The online desktop interface is distraction-free and well-designed to help you focus on your writing. 

Not every recommendation is worth your attention, though. However, I aim to get rid of complex sentences highlighted in red. I either rewrite them or split them into two. This way, it’s easier for readers to catch what I mean. 

P.S. I am sure you guessed the writing tool had been named after famous American novelist Ernest Hemingway.

Hemingway editor writing tool

Canva tool for writers

Canva is an Australian graphic design platform that lets you create professional visuals for your website and social media in minutes. It’s a handy online tool for writers.

As a marketer, I primarily focus on optimized content writing. However, images are essential to facilitate and improve the reading experience. Therefore, Canva is a perfect solution for those who cannot design themselves but want to create beautiful images.

There are over 400k+ templates available that you can customize for your needs on Canva. These are social media templates, presentations, videos, print products, marketing materials, and many more.

All my website images are created with Canva because it’s simple, fast, and beautiful. I do not have a team of designers to help me with visuals. Therefore, I had to come up with an alternative and budget solution myself.

With Canva, you can:

  • Choose (and customize) photos from their collection of millions of high-quality free and premium photos
  • Choose, customize and create icons for social media or visuals
  • Create business cards
  • Create and print your designs
  • Create professional social media posts and share them right from Canva
  • Create invoices, presentations, logos for business
  • Create website design
  • Design newsletters
  • Design new or customize existing infographics
  • Create appealing proposals
  • Choose certificate templates
  • Create YouTube intro videos
  • And many more!

Pricing

A lot of these features are available for free. There are free photos and templates that you can use to create custom visuals. I often upload my images for editing in Canva. That’s how I created a featured image for this blog post. Besides, It’s free.

However, if you want to use premium functionality and templates (which usually look more professional and less widespread online), sign up for Canva Pro. As an active user of Canva Pro, I can name a few distinct features that I really like:

  • You can remove image backgrounds in seconds
  • Resize designs
  • Schedule social media content for 8 platforms (without a need to use content planning tools)
  • Access to premium designs and templates

If you run a website solo, like me, Canva Pro is enough to start with. Sign up for a free 30-day trial, test its features and then upgrade if you feel the tool is the right one for you.

CoSchedule Headline Analyzer

Roughly eight out of ten people will check your article’s headline, but only two will read the rest, according to Copyblogger.

Consequently, if you want to take blogging and content writing seriously, you need to master the art of headline writing. It’s challenging to define what hooks readers, but without a catchy and SEO-optimized headline, you can barely expect your content to perform well.

I’ve been writing consistently for two years, using multiple different online writing tools. However, the best thing you can do is spy on competitors and write down headlines that inspire. This way, you collect a list of well-performing titles that you can use to create your own headlines. This tactic works well for me. No, you don’t steal content from others. You emulate. You learn and master your skills to get better at headline writing.

There is one tool I’ve used to assess the strengths of my headlines if there is no one around to give you feedback – CoSchedule Headline Analyzer.

This online writing tool is free to use. However, you’ll be asked to create your own account.

The screenshot below is the report CoShedule Headline Analyser created for this article’s headline. My headline scored 83 out of 100. Not bad, hah?

The report not only gives you an idea of how readers perceive your headline by using emotional, common, or uncommon words. It also provides you with handy suggestions on how to improve your headline and stand out among the competitors.

No need to google emotional words or synonyms. You can check those right from your dashboard. What a handy feature that saves your time!


What online writing tools have you tried? Did they make your life as a writer better? Share your ideas and experiences in the comments. I’ll be happy to experiment with new tools, too.

I hope you find this article useful!

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Victoria Kurichenko

Hi there!

My name is Victoria!
I am a marketing specialist, content writer, solopreneur, and the founder of Self Made Millennials. I help companies create optimized content and attract potential customers through organic search results. In addition, I share how content creators can monetize their writing skills.

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