Resource Roundup: 7 Tools to Boost Your Writing Skills in 2017

Last week, I asked for new skills in the new year. This week, I figured I’d share what I already know with you, because #sharingiscaring. I’ve rounded up the best word-a-rific resources I’ve discovered — or rediscovered — in 2016. Enjoy!

  1. Your Essential Proofreading Checklist – Proofreading means so much more than catching typos. Especially when you go from writing in your own voice to the voice of your non-profit. You have to start thinking about things such as brand consistency, tone, and flow. So that we don’t feel too overwhelmed to even start, Hubspot put together this handy checklist.
  2. Readability Calculator – Sounding erudite is overrated. People want content that they can digest quickly, usually by skimming. Don’t believe me? Check out these stats. But that doesn’t mean hope is gone for your carefully-crafted content to be read and enjoyed. Use a readability scoring tool to make sure you can be understood on the quick — and by everyone.
  3. The Thesaurus – Yes, this may seem obvious. But trust me, it’s not. Too many times, I’ve heard the adage, if you need to use a thesaurus, then your word is too complicated — or something like that. And I couldn’t disagree more. Just because a word isn’t on the tip of our tongues doesn’t mean it’s a bad choice. We already know that unique words get more attention. Which brings me to the next resource….

  4. The Wordifier – It’s like a thesaurus, but better. Find out how frequently any word is used across nonprofit websites. Why? To figure out if you need to choose something a bit more dazzling. Also, you can easily find alternatives if your word does happen to be overused.

  5. 128 Words to Use Instead of Very – I came across this infographic earlier this year, and I kind of fell in love. Very is the writing equivalent of taking the easy way out. With so many simple yet descriptive words in our gorgeous language, never settle for very again.

  6. Kivi’s Weekly E-Newsletter – If you’re like me, you get too much email. And most of it feels like junk. So, when something engaging and useful comes through the noise, I feel grateful. Enter Kivi’s weekly e-newsletter. While each week is full of great tips and reflections on non-profit communications, my favorite part is the once-a-month, timely writing prompts that can cure even the most stubborn writer’s block.

  7. Claxon University – Claxon U is the place to go to get trained up on doing more good with your words. It’s an online course designed specifically for nonprofit professionals who want to up their communications game. Plus, there’s a special deal going on now through December 31, 2016, so I’d hurry on over if I were you.

What writing resources have you found helpful this year? Share the knowledge in the comments below, or tweet to us @ClaxonMarketing!

Santa, Bring Me New Skills for Christmas

Hi, everyone, it’s me, Tess! Don’t remember me? I’ll forgive you. In 2014, I interned with Claxon and had a blast writing blog posts that fueled my inner word nerd. I’m back to bring you more weekly content here on the Claxon blog. Why? To help nonprofit rockstars like you level up their communication skills. Hope you enjoy!


santaAh, December. While I get swept up in the holiday bustle as much as the next guy, I find there’s still time, almost a need, for something deeper: personal reflection.

What did I accomplish this year? Was it what I actually wanted to accomplish? What can I do better next year?

Year after year, the thing that falls by the wayside for me is professional development. And I know I’m not alone. In the non-profit sector, we know the meaning of the expressions “under-resourced” and “strapped for time” better than anyone.

Honestly, I think I did better this year. I manage marketing for a non-profit, so I set aside time each week to brush up on marketing best practices. More than a few times, I was pushed eagerly jumped into situations that required me to learn a few things. (ex. I can now fumble my way through Google Adwords! #proud)

But sometimes, I still feel like I’m coming up short. Wouldn’t it be great if Santa — or the whimsical character of your choice — could gift us some new skills to take into the new year?

In a way, he has. Here at Claxon, we’ve made a super special holiday-time decision: to give you $850’s worth of free, one-on-one consulting from Erica Mills. All you have to do is sign up for Claxon University by the end of 2016.

If you haven’t been getting the results you want from your communications — donation appeals, website copy, mission statement, etc. toolbeltetc. — then you don’t want to miss this chance. You’ll learn how to wield one of the most powerful tools in the nonprofit worker’s toolbelt: Clear, concise, and compelling communication.

Learn more about this December 2016 special offer. Your December 2017 self will thank you.

Please welcome Tessa Srebro!

Welcome, Tess!
Welcome, Tess!

We are super duper excited to have Tessa Srebro join the Claxon team as our fearless intern this quarter!

Tess is a graduate student in Seattle University’s Masters in Nonprofit Leadership Program. She’s a communications major turned blogger turned public affairs grad student. She’s a word nerd who loves food. And she’s super smart. And super nice. What’s not to love?!

In addition to helping with client work, Tess will be the driving force behind Claxon’s social media efforts. So, if you see an uptick in terms of quantity and quality on Facebook and Twitter, that’s all Tess. She’ll also be blogging about practical ways you can use words to make the world a better place, so watch for her posts.

Please join me in welcoming Tess to the Claxon team–we are grateful for her contributions and couldn’t be more thrilled to have her on board!


Do you communicate as effectively as you think?


Do you communicate as effectively as you think?