Tools for the job.

The software & hardware I use in my technical copywriting business.

Software.

Everything here is compatible with macOS and iOS because that’s what I use. This isn’t about “my tool is better than your tool”.

1Password

1Password.

paid
Keep all your passwords secure and ready to access via desktop or mobile. Integrates well with mobile apps and Face ID on iPhone.

Apple Clips

Apple Clips.

free
Add live captions to your social media video. This is an essential step, as more than 80% of social video is played with the sound off.

See my guide on how to create video captions for more advice and tools.

Audio Hijack.

paid
Record microphone and system audio. This is what I use to create audio snippets for the podcasts I contribute to.

My podcast appearances

BBEdit

BBEdit.

paid
Powerful plain-text editor with the best search and replace features ever. Great for code and general text alike.

Bitmoji

Bitmoji.

free
Create free cartoons to go in your text messages, emails and on social media.

Watch my video on how I use this to make my BitmoJohn graphics.

Braintoss

Braintoss.

paid
Simple voice notes for mobile. Record your thoughts and have the audio and written transcription emailed back to you.

Byword

Byword.

paid
Blog drafting in Markdown, which can be exported to HTML and copied into WordPress for publication on the web.

Calendly

Calendly.

free & paid
Avoids email tennis by letting clients book time in my calendar. I use the Premium version so that I can link my calendar with Zoom.

Camtasia

Camtasia.

paid
Record and edit screen video. This lets me record from my webcam and microphone, and I can record steps on my iPhone, too.

How to create video for websites and blogs

ClamXav

ClamXAV.

paid
Macs need antivirus just as much as PCs do. This runs quietly in the background and keeps my stuff protected.

Dropbox

Dropbox.

free & paid
Automated file sync and backup across multiple computers and devices. Great for sharing large files with colleagues and clients.

Dropbox sharing: 3 false assumptions

Encrypt Me

Encrypt Me.

paid
Keep your internet traffic safe when connecting to public WiFi. Works well on Macs, iPads and iPhones.

Fission

Fission.

paid
Process and clean up audio recordings.

Flare

Flare.

paid
A premium help-authoring tool for technical writers. This works on Windows only, so I use it on my Mac via Parallels (see below).

Google Analytics

Google Analytics.

free
Visitor stats and more for your website. The main desktop version can be hard to get to grips with because there are so many options, so the simplified mobile version is often the best place to start.

Hemingway

Hemingway.

free & paid
Good for checking the readability and complexity of your text. The online version is free, and there’s a paid app.

ImageOptim

ImageOptim.

free
Reduce the file sizes of your images so that they load more quickly in documents and on the web. A good Windows alternative is PNGGauntlet.

Keynote

Keynote.

free
Create presentations and PDFs. I find this a lot easier to use than PowerPoint.

Loom

Loom.

free & paid
This is a plugin for Chrome and a standalone desktop app for recording your browser or screen. It’s excellent for sending quick how-to guides or even simple hello messages to clients and colleagues.

I prefer Camtasia (see above) but if you need a free option, this is fab.

MailChimp

MailChimp.

free & paid
I’ve used this to send emails to my Espresso ☕️ subscribers since 2016. Free for up to 2000 subscribers.

Mangools

Mangools.

free & paid
This suite of SEO tools is great for finding keywords and doing research on what people are searching for online.

My favourite tools within the suite are:

Parallels

Parallels.

paid
An app that lets Macs run Microsoft Windows inside its own window, meaning that the Mac and Windows installations can run at the same time and share files.

This provides the best of both worlds for Mac users, but you need a beefy machine to make this work, as Parallels and Windows gobble up a lot of resources.

PerfectIt

PerfectIt.

paid
An add-in for Microsoft Word that lets you check the consistency of your documents. This does a lot more than a spell check. The Cloud version runs on Mac and Windows.

Watch my review of PerfectIt 4 for Windows

Photoshop

Photoshop.

paid
The heavyweight app for image manipulation. I barely scratch the surface with it but it does enough to help me produce good graphics for my website and social feeds.

A good free alternative is Canva. Not as powerful but easy to use to create social graphics.

Rev

Rev.

paid
Fast, accurate captioning (subtitling) for video. Submit your source video or a YouTube/Vimeo link and get back the captions as an SRT text file that you can then add to your video. I use this for all my videos.

Get $10 free credit

SimpleMind

SimpleMind.

free & paid
Easy to use mind-mapping software for visual thinkers. The free version gives me everything I need.

Slack

Slack.

free & paid
Instant messaging for communities and work projects. For day-to-day communication, this beats email hands down.

Snagit

Snagit.

paid
Screenshots, social media graphics and very simple screen recordings.

TextExpander

TextExpander.

paid
Save regular bits of text for quick reuse on desktop and mobile. If you write the same thing over and over in your emails, this is for you.

Also great for the basics: names, postal addresses, emails, websites, telephone numbers, etc.

Transferwise

Transferwise.

free
Get paid in different currencies at the best rates. Great for clients who are used to paying in euros or dollars.

Transmit

Transmit.

paid
Upload and download files from servers that use File Transfer Protocol (FTP) and other technologies such as Amazon S3.

Vimeo

Vimeo.

free & paid
Better user interface and privacy controls than YouTube, and you can replace videos without losing all your stats.

My Vimeo channel

Zoom

Zoom.

free & paid
Video conferencing alternative to Skype. I link this up with Calendly so that clients can book a slot to speak with me and get a link for a 1-to-1 video call.


Hardware.

This is the kit I use to create my videos.

Blue Yeti

Blue Yeti USB microphone.

Easy to set up with any desktop or laptop. Great sound quality for ~£100.

Logitech H390 headset

Logitech H390 USB headset mic.

Easy to set up with any desktop or laptop. I’ve been recommended to use a headset mic like this for podcast interviews.

Great sound quality for ~£45.

RODE Smartlav

RØDE smartLav+.

A lapel microphone ideal for mobile recording. It offers better sound quality than your smartphone’s built-in mic.

Watch out for the connector type. When I upgraded my iPhone, I needed a Lightning adaptor to connect the mic’s audio cable to my phone.

Logitech C920 HD webcam

Logitech C920 HD webcam.

A great addition to my iMac, it perches on top of my computer and connects via USB.

This has improved the video quality of my Zoom calls and instruction videos. Normally available for under £80.

Joby GorillaPod

Joby GorillaPod.

Simple but sturdy tripod for all sizes of smartphone. Great for avoiding shaky video. Available for under £50.

LED Light

Lighting.

There are lots of options for LED and other types of lighting. Natural lighting is always best, but you can’t always control the quality and consistency of that, especially in the UK!

A small LED light might cost only £20.


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John Espirian.

John Espirian

I write the words that go on B2B websites. I also offer LinkedIn consultancy and profile reviews.

My book is Content DNA.

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