15 free content marketing tools you need in your life

Content marketing is an essential part of any successful business, yet regardless of whether you are an experienced content writer or not, the amount of information out there can be daunting to say the least.

After I posted content tips to inspire your employees I was asked for a list of the tools and resources I use. This turned out to be pretty hefty, but after ruthless consideration, I was able to put together the ones I use quite regularly, hopefully providing a good place to start.

Where do you get the content expertise and inspiration from?

1) Subscribe to the right blogs

As an advocate of social tools, I prefer to get my news, resources and insights through these channels. There are however a select few that I subscribe to, and really do read. It will be trial and error to get the ones that work for you. The most important thing is to be honest with yourself, and if it’s not working for you, unsubscribe. Here are my favourites:

  • CoSchedule – Just brilliant! The blog content is a useful and thorough selection of how-to guides and top tips, delivered in a style and tone that works for me.
  • The Content Strategist – These guys report on the latest marketing news and trends, in a witty and digestible way.
  • Content Marketing Institute – Here you find a whole host of resources and events to educate and discover new trends. CMI Founder, Joe Pulizzi, is a name to look out for.
  • Sketchplanations – Now this is just a delightful delivery once a week for anyone who enjoys words and sketches as much as I do.

15 free content marketing tools you need in your life_Sketchplanations

Look out for relevant industry blogs as well and ask colleagues and peers what they subscribe to get their relevant news. In addition to the above I subscribe to internal communications blogs, such as Rachel Miller’s All Things IC.

2) Follow the experts

This is where you can be a little more generous with your affections. After all, if you decide you don’t like the updates, just stop following them! Plus, it might lead to a discovery of new experts and communities of knowledge.

The list of course is endless, so this top 100 influencers list is a great place to start.

Again, you should also look for experts in your target market which you can do by searching Twitter profiles for keywords, such as collaboration or internal communications.

3) Join interest groups

Nothing is inaccessible, and this includes the experts who are all at your fingertips. LinkedIn has made this even easier, especially if you don’t know where to access knowledge and expertise in the first place. The groups are a great way to be part of a community of similar interests.

Content Marketing Institute and Content Marketing Group are both active groups with great discussions.

So, how do you now choose a topic to write about?

You have an idea what you want to write about, but may not know how to refine that further in terms of specific topics and keywords. As well as the tools below, this blog post may be just what you need to spark ideas.

4) As long as you have a rough idea of what you want to talk about and who you are talking to, HubSpot’s Blog topic generator will give you a helping hand if you are feeling stuck for inspiration.

15 free content marketing tools you need in your life_HubSpot Blog Topic Generator

To give an example I searched for ideas around collaboration, internal communications and social tools. The generator presented some great blog topics suggestions, such as:

  • 7 things about internal communications your boss wants to know
  • What is the definition of collaboration?
  • What will social tools be like in 100 years?
  • 10 quick tips about collaboration
  • The worst advice we’ve ever heard about internal communications

5) The Keyword Planner through Google AdWords tells you how often a keyword or phrase is searched for and the competition against it, which is invaluable information. Ideally you will be looking for a high search term with low competition.

6) A tool that is easily forgotten is good old Google. Just try searching for a particular keyword and see what comes up. You’ll get ideas, start to build an understanding of how keywords are ranked and see how others have structured their content.

How do you put the written content together?

7) Headlines are notoriously hard to write, and it’s hard to know how effective they are. CoSchedule are here to help again with their Headline Analyzer, which is really easy to use and highlights ways to improve your headline.

15 free content marketing tools you need in your life_CoSchedule Headline Analyzer

8) Now it’s time for an old school favourite, but one that I still live by; the Flesch formula. It’s really simple (Word will do it for you if you amend your settings). The Flesch reading ease test will rate content on a 100-point scale. The higher the score, the easier it is to understand (60-70 is good place to aim for – thankfully this post is 67.5).

9) There is so much information about SEO, and conflicting information too. Let’s Get Optimized produced a beginners checklist for SEO which I found invaluable when starting out.

15 free content marketing tools you need in your life_SEO checklist

How do you make it more visually pleasing?

Including as many images, infographics and videos you can will make your post more interesting and shareable. Yet of course if you don’t have access to a graphic designer, this isn’t such an easy task.

10) Canva is the perfect tool for someone who is as graphically challenged as I am. It’s easy to use and you can knock something up pretty quickly.

15 free content marketing tools you need in your life_Canva

11) Again HubSpot has come up trumps with a selection of 15 infographic templates to create in PowerPoint.

15 free content marketing tools you need in your life_HubSpot Infograhic Templates

12) Stock images tend to come at a price. However, there are some free options available. Pexels is definitely worth a peek, and will show you the paid options through Shutterstock, so you can decide if it’s worth investing in a greater selection of images.

How do you get your post out there?

So you’ve written the content, now what do you do with it? If you think the content is suitable, reach out to bloggers or experts who you have already been following and engaging with. But you can’t rely on someone else sharing your content for you, so there are some great tools that will help you share it yourself.

13) There are loads of social sharing platforms out there. I’ve tried out quite a few and my particular favourite is Buffer. It’s simple to use and there’s some great features, including an optimal scheduling tool, which will look at the best times to share your content according to previous engagement.

14) To get maximum reach, it’s a good idea to share your content beyond your network. Through Scoop.it you can publish your own content and suggest it to content curators for them to distribute to their social network.

15) Social also gives you the opportunity to share your content outside of your company profile page, making it more credible as they come from a real person. LinkedIn groups are particularly good for this. It’s much more effective if you contribute and comment regularly, so your name becomes familiar to the group. And remember not to make posts sound promotional or you may get blocked!

For tips on how to create engaging content for your internal audience

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