I’m sure you’ve come across this type of article:
"342 Tools and Resources You Need in Your Online Business"
If upon reading that title your first thought is:
How the F** am I supposed to run a business when I have to invest my precious time into signing up, learning and mastering all of those?
I can assure you, you’re not alone.
The truth is, these type of lists are not made to help the reader, they are made to drive traffic to the website and (often) to earn affiliate commissions.
Now, I consider it part of my job to stay informed about the newest tools and I can sincerely say that we tested almost all of them.
And because we did, you don’t have to!
In this list you’ll only find tools we’ve tested and use (almost) daily in our content marketing.
Get the Best Content Ideas
“What should I write about?” is probably the question that keeps every content marketer awake at night. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for the perfect topic for your next piece of content or if you’re actually writing out a content calendar for the next 6 months. You’ll need inspiration.
Here are our favorite tools to get content ideas and battle the blank page syndrome.
1. Answer The Public: Stop Guessing, Start Answering Real Questions
Ever wondered what your customer asks himself (or rather Google) before making a buying decision?
Answer The Public has got you covered.
This free online tool will take your keyword and mine Google while adding the most common question words to it. This allows you to discover real questions your audience is typing in Google to create helpful information around the topic.
2. Buzzsumo: Discover What’s Already Getting Traction
Why re-invent the wheel each time?
Buzzsumo allows you to see what’s being shared on social media. You’ll get insights about the topic but also about the headline construction, the type of content (long form articles, short listicle, visual, video,...)
Start with a broad topic you want to write about. Seeing the articles that got shared will allow you to narrow down the topic. From there you can check out the original content and make a better version.
3. Hubspot's blog topic generator: Discover a New Twist
Sometimes, you know what topic to write about but you're missing the perfect angle to talk about it.
Hubspot's topic generator will come up with titles for your article which might spark some ideas to tackle your topic from a fresh point of view.
4. IFTTT: Let the Competition Do the Hard Work
A very helpful resource to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s happening in your market is your competition.
IFTTT (If This Then That) is a free automation tool allowing you to create “recipes” to perform certain actions when a specific trigger is fired. Hence the name: If This happens Then That happens.
You can create a recipe like this: IF my competitor publishes a new article THEN put the title and the link into a Google Sheet.
If you set this up for all of your competitor’s sites, you'll have access to a constantly refreshing library of post ideas.
This almost feels like cheating!
And that's just one smart way to leverage the hard work of your competitors. We've created an in depth article to show you how to piggy-back on their efforts to develop your own profitable strategies, catch up and then stay ahead of them.
Organize Your Content Ideas
I'm sure you've experienced this: You're reading something online and come across a term you've never heard before.
Up until that moment you're convinced this very article is the only one using that word. But that same day, you hear somebody on the radio using it, you see it in your Facebook feed and it's one of the missing words in the crossword you're about to solve.
You're not crazy, it's a very well known phenomenon that goes by the name Baader-Meinhof. This phenomenon states that a thing that has recently come to one's attention suddenly seems to appear with improbable frequency shortly afterwards.
Same is true with your content creation.
When you know what you’re going to write about in the (near) future, you’ll automatically find examples, interesting sources, great visuals and more.
That’s one of the reasons why having a system in place to organize your content creation is so important.
On the Thrive Themes website, we create at least 2 pieces of content a week and to make sure we keep it interesting for you, our reader, we try to mix it up between showing new features, doing website reviews, teaching how to create landing pages from scratch, helping you build a mailing list and much more.
To do this, we use tools to help us plan and organize all of our content.
5. Trello: Virtual Post-its On Steroids
With the team, we use Trello to organize all of our marketing work (not only the content marketing). But you can very well use it as a content organizing system.
Trello allows you to create cards and to move those cards to different lists. You can create a list with all of the content ideas you came up with and have lists such as “Researching”, “Writing”, “Proofreading”, etc.
Take a look at this excellent article to show you how exactly to use Trello as an editorial calendar.
6. Coschedule: If it Ain’t Scheduled It Won’t Get Done
As long as you’re not committing to date, you’ll always find a reason not to publish it yet.
Use Coschedule to pin actual blog post from within your WordPress dashboard to the calendar.
Having a content calendar in your website is a nice feature but that’s not the only reason you should use Coschedule. The app reveals it’s real power when it comes to content broadcasting (but more on that later in this article)
Write Better Content Faster
Writing content is time consuming.
You’ll never hear me say the opposite. But there are some tools that can help you speed up the process and get better results in the meantime.
7. Google Docs: Collaboration Taken To The Next Level
If you have somebody proofreading your texts, switching your writing to Google Docs will be the most time saving thing you’ll do for your content marketing.
Google Docs gives you the power to work with several people on the same document, you can write, edit, comment without having to save new documents, create different versions, email back and forth and so on.
And best of all, this tool is included for free in the Google Drive suite that you can use when you have a Gmail account.
8. Hemingway App: Clean Up Your Writing
Hemingway App allows you to improve your writing skills.
Copy - paste your prose into the free online app and discover the readability of your text.
The app will show you which phrases are hard to read and will detect other common writing mistakes.
9. Thesaurus: Use Colorful Language
To take your writing to the next level, stop using the same generic words over and over again.
A thesaurus will help you find a more powerful, interesting refreshing synonym to jazz up your content.
This will also help you write better headlines.
Your headline has to captivate and intrigue your readers so they keep on reading.
That’s a lot of work for one phrase!
Spending time to craft a good headline is one of those 80/20 hacks to improve your content marketing.
We’ve already compiled the best resources here, go ahead and take a look!
Spice It Up With Visuals
You’ve chosen your topic, you’ve written and improved your text, now it’s time to embellish your content.
Visual elements allow your reader to:
- Scan the content of your article
- Help understand it quicker
- Read the article from top to bottom
Let’s take a look at our favorite tools for creating visual content.
10. Awesome Screenshot: Don’t Explain It, Just Show It
Awesome screenshot is a Chrome (and Mozilla) extension that allows you to take screenshots and annotate them, but that’s not all.
You can immediately save the image to your Google Drive and one of the most interesting features is the possibility to capture an entire page and not just what’s in view-port on the screen.
11. Jing: Easily Share Screenshots
Jing is desktop tool to take screenshots. It allows you to easily share your screenshots with others because you can save them in an online library and get a shareable link.
One other handy feature is that you can screencast videos for up to 5 minutes.
12. PicMonkey: Photo Editing Made Easy
PicMonkey is a simple online editing program that allows you to do all the basic stuff (and some more) in a very easy way.
You can find a tutorial here about how to use this tool for improving stock photos before using them on your website.
13. Canva: Design Done For You
If you quickly need to create social media images, you’ll love Canva. This free online tool allows you to use one of their pre-designed templates and simply edit them with your message.
They also have a cool library of stock photos that you can purchase for only 1$.
14. Thrive Architect: Visually Stunning Content
Writing a blog post and hoping that people will read it is not sufficient anymore, there are 6 steps you can undertake to make your blog article irresistible.
If you want to add quote boxes, styled lists, column layouts etc. without coding and without tearing your hair out, you can use Thrive Architect. It's our visual editor for WordPress that allows you to add these elements to any content in true drag&drop fashion.
In our latest update, we added a new feature to the Thrive editor to help you spice up your affiliate review pages faster with fewer editing steps: the Content Blocks. From now on, you can select from several pre-designed text blocks that are 100% customizable to meet your website's unique needs.
Read more about this new feature in this post.
Share Your Content With The World
Your content is created, nicely formatted, you have a compelling title and images. In short you’re ready to share your masterpiece with the world and get a flood of new visitors.
15. Coschedule: Get More Traffic From Social Media
Sharing the same content more than once on different social networks will maximize your reach. Coschedule has a feature that’s called social media templates.
You create a template for the best sharing schedule and for each blog post you’ll apply this template. This allows you to create tons of messages and program them on all of your social media accounts in only minutes.
16. Hashtagify.me: Get Discovered By Your Target Audience
Using hashtags multiplies the probability of getting discovered and some stats claim that the use of 1 or 2 hashtags on Twitter doubles the engagement.
All of this is only true if you know what hashtag to use, and that’s where hashtagify.me can help you.
Type in your topic and you’ll find related hashtags, tweets that are using the hashtag and influencers.
Using this website will help you discover new hashtags to use in your social media updates.
17. Onepress Social Locker: Reward Social Shares
Share to unlock is a WordPress plugin that allows you to let your visitors unlock a bonus in return for a social share.
When the bonus is valuable, this will boost your social shares considerably.
Pro tip: You can use a social locker to get the initial social proof for your article and switch to a content lock when traffic starts coming in to get more leads.
18. Click to Tweet: Make It Easy To Tweet
The WordPress plugin Click To Tweet allows you to add a box in your content to easily tweet out certain phrases.
Giving your readers this type of “easy” tweet button will help get the word out about your content.
If you’re using Thrive Architect, you do not need an extra plug-in for this, but can simply use the Click to tweet element.
Promote Your Content To The Right Influencers
You could sit back and hope for the right people to discover your masterpiece on social media.
Or you could decide to take fate in your own hands and actively promote your content.
Having a market influencer share your content could make a world’s difference to your traffic, your conversions and your bottom line.
To get on their radar, you’ll need to reach out.
19. Buzzsumo: Who Already Talks About Your Topic?
We already showed how Buzzsumo can help you get ideas for your content but you can also use it to find influencers.
When you find an article similar to yours, you can check who tweeted about this article.
You could then send a little, friendly, non spammy(!) message to that influencer. Either through Twitter (the easiest and fastest way) or go the extra mile and send an email.
20. Rapportive: Find (Almost) Any Email Address Instantly
You found an influencer you really want to reach out to, but can’t find his contact information?
Rapportive is a free Chrome or Firefox extension for Gmail that will look up if a LinkedIn or Twitter profile is connected to this email address.
Off course this is not a guarantee you’ll get the influencer to read your message. But it helps to know your email is send to an existing address.
Convert One Time Visitors Into Subscribers
Having lots of visitors is nice, but it is even better to have a list of people to contact when you have a new piece of content or a new promotion.
To be able to do that, you want to turn your visitors into email subscribers.
21. Active Campaign: Engage With Your Subscribers on Auto Pilot
We use and love Active Campaign for the segmentation and automation functions.
You can have people opt-in to your email list and send them automated email sequences based on where they opted in from or how they interact with your emails.
It has many of the features the big guys offer but without the expensive price tag.
If you want to know how we use automations, you can read this article: How Thrive Themes Drives Its Growth with ActiveCampaign as the Engine
22. Thrive Leads: Build Your Email List Faster
To grow your subscriber list as fast as possible, you need a powerful tool that allows you to target your visitors with the right offer at the right moment.
Thrive Leads is our WordPress plugin that allows you to create any type of opt-in form and to use advanced targeting, A/B testing, Smartlinks feature and asset delivery to maximize your conversion rate.
Measure What’s Working
Content marketing is one of those things that’s difficult to measure.
When you send people to a sales page, you can see how many people bought. It’s easy to decide if the sales page is “working” or needs tweaking.
But what exactly is the “Success” measure for content?
This topic could be a standalone article, but to keep it simple you should be tracking (at least) these 3 things:
- Number of (new) visitors and their behavior on the website
- Number of social shares
- Number of conversions from visitor into subscriber
23. Google Analytics: Know Your Visitors Inside Out
Google analytics is still one of the essential tools to track your traffic. You can easily see how many (new) visitors a post attracted, how long they stayed, if they visited other posts and much more.
If you set up goals, you can even see the number of subscribers a piece of content generated.
If you’re using Thrive Leads to capture leads on your website you do not need to set this up. You can use the content marketing report to figure out how many leads you captured from a given post directly from within your WordPress dashboard and with the notification manager, you can be informed whenever somebody subscribes to your site.
24. Sharetally: Count Your Social Shares
If want to know how many people shared your post, head on over to sharetally.co and enter the URL of the article or page.
Sharetally will show you the number of shares and the different networks your URL has been shared on.
Now It’s Your Turn
What tool will you try to ramp up your content marketing strategy? Did we miss an important one? Let us know in the comments below!