Word is everywhere, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s any good. These are a few things that give me The Rage about it:
- the help function’s useless unless you speak fluent Microsoft Office.
- bullets, numbering and autocorrect are enigmas wrapped in conundrums
- it hasn’t moved on in years. We’ve just got used to it, and figured out a bunch of workarounds
- new versions don’t add anything of real value to the writing process
- tracked changes and comments can be a multicoloured, blood pressure raising nightmare. Martin Veitch sums up how I feel about them in his blog post The Travesty of ‘Track Changes’:
Track Changes is… the red-pen scarring that made your heart sink when teacher returned your homework and yet worse. Like a Birmingham road planner’s fantasy, it reduces attractive, formatted documents to the prose equivalent of one-way systems, spaghetti junctions, road works, diversions and hazard signs. It’s an unnecessary eyesore and atrocity.
OK, but what about Google Docs? I hear you cry. Well, it does make it MUCH easier to work with others. But, form and function-wise, it feels like a web-based version of Word.
All of this is why I gave Airstory a go.
Before I tell you how I got on, just so you know, there’s no affiliate scheme. So this isn’t about me getting my sliver of the Airstory pie.
It’s my take on how I’ve found it so far. It’s only been a few months, so I’m still very much in the honeymoon period, and I maybe haven’t used it long enough to get to know if it has any annoying quirks.
What is Airstory?
It’s writing software for anyone who needs more drafting love than Word and Google docs are able to give.
Who’s behind it?
The folk from Copy Hackers, led by conversion copywriter Joanna Wiebe and Lance Jones, a conversion rate optimiser. (A fancy title for someone who focuses on increasing the likelihood that clients or customers will take the action you want on a webpage).
So Airstory’s been created for people who write, by people who write. They know all about the realities of getting your ideas out of your head and onto the page, because they do it themselves.
How’s it different from other writing software?
Airstory makes it much easier and faster to research, outline write and edit content.
It has none of Word’s visual clutter. And, this is the best bit, you can cut and paste information directly from the internet and use it to create cards that sit alongside your document onscreen.
This means your notes, research and scraps of inspiration are right there for you to refer to, and drop straight into, what you’re writing. The Airstory Researcher Web Clipper Chrome extension makes this a cinch.
It also saves your snippet’s URL, so you know exactly where it came from. AND you can do the same with images too.
You can also:
- create outlines for your drafts
- use Airstory’s template library to produce sales pages, plot email sequences and write headlines and tweets
- write on your mobile (because it’s responsive)
- publish straight to WordPress
- control who can comment, edit and who has access to the documents you create
- work with others in together in real time
- import images from Dropbox, PDFs and Evernote notes
- export to Google Drive
- convert to Word, HTML or Markdown
Is it any good?
Way back when, in the years before smartphones, no-one said, ‘I like my mobile. But what I’m really looking for is a touchscreen phone that’s stylish, a joy to use and a little bit different from the norm.’ Then Jobs and co created it, and millions of people fell truly, madly and deeply in love.
Airstory’s been a bit like that for me.
It’s created for how people actually pull blog posts, copy, articles, essays, speeches etc. together. Instead of being an inflexible mess with a ton of features you don’t want or need.
It can take me a while to get my head around new tools, but Airstory’s intuitive and so easy to use. The introductory video was helpful and, if there’s anything else you need a hand with, you can message them too.
I’ve found that it takes a lot of the mental load off when it comes to writing. I like having my ideas, notes and research safely kept together.
And I LOVE being able to quickly and easily swipe stuff from the internet and have it all in the same place. No more random documents or spreadsheets! Woohoo!
The cost might be a minus point for some. It’s $59 a month but, according to Airstory, lots of freelancers who use it shave 1/4 to 1/2 off their research and writing time. So, if they charge by the hour, they’re able to get through more work. And if they charge project fees, they’re increasing their margins.
Another negative is that there’s no way to give someone comment-only access to your documents. Which is a bit of a downer if you’re looking for feedback and not random edits.
And lastly, there’s no spelling and grammar checker. So although your mistakes are underlined in red, you don’t get a suggested alternative. (I know, it’s not exactly ideal for writing software, but they’re working on it.) In the meantime, they recommend you install the After the Deadline Chrome extension instead.
Given all Airstory’s other plus points, these are nice-to-haves for me, and not deal breakers.
So, what do you think? Fancy giving Airstory a go?
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Lynn is the founder and quality-maven-in-chief of Lexis Writing, a collective of expert writers creating high quality content and copy for businesses in the UK and beyond.