Content creation is a necessary part of just about every business, whether it is disseminated in the form of a blog, email campaign, or social network campaign. There is no escaping it, even if you do not fancy yourself a writer. Those that do enjoy the writing aspect of their jobs may even struggle with creating consistent, valuable content. Luckily, like most things, there is technology here to save the day.
While content creation can’t be completely automated—and, if you’ve ever read an article “spun” by a computer, you know that this is a very good thing—we do have a list of tools that can make it easier, without adding an additional expense to your budget.
Adding Visual Elements
- ThingLink – You start by uploading an image. Then, ThingLink lets you add icons to the image that only appear when someone mouses over the image. These can be used like captions, to add content to the image and make it interactive, as well as encourage sharing, by adding icons that connect to social media.
- Free Stock Photos – There are plenty of places online where you can get free photos that you can use at will. HubSpot is the perfect place to start, with a wide range of photos that cover just about every subject. And all you have to do is cite the website as a source in your post. Easy peasy.
- PlaceIt.net – It’s simple Photoshop for those of us who never had the opportunity or need to learn Photoshop. Basically, it provides you with several pictures of people holding phones, tablets, computers, and allows you to inlay your picture onto the screen. It will even augment the picture’s angle so that it looks natural on the screen.
- Awesome Screenshot – Once added to Google Chrome, this service lets you take a variety of different sizes of screenshots, and then had editing tools that let you add notes or other graphics to make an image your own.
- Skitch – This app is one of the only free ones that lets you take an image or PDF and mark it up with arrows, text, and a variety of shapes, so that you can interact with an image and personalize it.
Writing and Formatting
- Word2CleanHTML – Most people prefer writing their content in a Microsoft Word-type environment, before pasting it into an email or blog. However, this can lead to some serious formatting problems. This service cleans those up and lets you change your fonts and formats, so that the formatting inserted in your original document becomes HTML compatible.
- Google Fonts – New fonts can spice up your content and make it look unique. This is a great resource for nabbing free fonts which you can use not just for blogging, but for anything.
- DaFont – Another resource for free fonts, you can find just about any font you would want here, for use in your content and in the styling of your blog.
- Canva – This service had been cropping up all over the blogosphere as a great (and free) way to produce graphics, even if you are not a designer and know nothing about design. They’ve got templates to get you started and plenty of tools to customize your piece.
- Haiku Deck – If you’re interested in adding a high-graphic, interesting slideshow to your blog or using it as stand-alone content, this is the service to use. As easy as creating a PowerPoint presentation, there are templates, fonts, and even typography design tools.
- Infogram – Another service that has been showing its head more and more frequently, this tool is similar to Canva, but is more focused on infographics. Even if you’ve never made one before, Infogram helps you quickly create high-quality graphics, complete with content, charts, and engaging fonts and images.
- Free Icons – Again, HubSpot is a great resource for free images, especially if you are looking for some clean, crisp icons to streamline your social media links, or to amp up a graphic or just add some cute to a blog post. Whatever you might want icons for, you can get them at HubSpot.
- Ebook Templates – You already know that ebooks can be a major conversion tool, but how do you make sure they are formatted properly for viewing on ebook devices? You’re going to want to implement a template. You can find them just about anywhere online, but if you’re already snagging images or icons from HubSpot, you might as well check out their ebook templates as well.
- Click to Tweet – When you create content, one if your goals should be for people to share that content on their social media pages. Click to Tweet makes it easy, by adding custom links into your content, beside “tweetable” quotes. All the reader has to do is click it and they will automatically directed to a page where they can just click “Tweet” to tweet your quote and a link to your content.
- Storify – Embedding tweets in your blog posts is just one of the services that Storify provides. You can now add links, videos, posts from just about any social network, etc., right into your post. It’s great for highlight conversations from social networks and it’s quick and easy to use.
In the end, of course, you are still the content creator. These tools are designed to make the creation process easier, and to give you avenues to branch away from what you’ve been doing, and maybe create a few graphics or interactive images to spice up your content. They aren’t going to replace real, meaningful content or really knowing who your customer is—but they will help when you are stumped for ideas and looking for new kinds of content.