Monday, April 18, 2016

11 Tools That Will Save You Time with Content Marketing

Quality content marketing takes a lot of time and effort—there’s just no way around it.

But there are, of course, some marketers who accomplish more than others and in less time.

I’d like to see you become one of those efficient content marketers, if you’re not one already.

There are a few ways to become faster, and one of the best is to use tools.

There are a ton of tools out there—some good, some bad. Some save you time, but some may actually cost you time.

I’ve put together a list of 11 tools that I’ve tried at the very least or use on a regular basis.

Instead of having to test out a ton of tools, I hope you can take my word that these are quality tools that will save you time. This, coincidentally, will save you even more time. 

Get content ideas, fast

All content marketing begins with content. It’s in the name after all.

As you might know, a content idea can determine the success or failure of the content before you even start.

It’s important to get it right, and it’s a difficult thing to do.

Naturally, it can take a lot of time.

However, you can speed up the process significantly by using the tools in this section.

1. Feedly: One of the most popular techniques to come up with content ideas is to look at content being published on other popular blogs and then improve upon it or extend it.

What you might do is compile a list of blogs you really like and then visit them when you need to come up with a few ideas.

A huge waste of time.

Instead, use an RSS reader (Feedly is arguably the best), which allows you to collect all the posts published from multiple sources all in one place.

You can quickly scan the titles to see if any pique your interest and click through if you need to.

Once you add a bunch of sites to your new Feedly account, you’ll log in to a page like this:

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If you visited those 7 blogs individually to find those posts, it would take at least a few minutes. Instead, it takes a few seconds.

That doesn’t sound like much, but it adds up over time.

To add a site to your account, type in a site name in the search bar:

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That should bring up the site you’re looking for. Just click the little plus icon next to the blog name, and you’ll automatically have all its posts added to your feed as they’re published.

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2. TrendSpottr: If you’re able to create content on a trending topic before competitors do, it’s good not only for your reputation but also for getting a lot of extra traffic.

Spotting trends isn’t easy even if you’re an expert in the field.

This tool focuses on spotting trending content, hashtags, phrases, and even influencers before everyone else catches on.

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You might not be the first, but you’ll be way ahead of most of your competition.

It’s a simple tool to use. You pick a search term, e.g., “content marketing,” and then a label inside the tool, e.g., “trending influencers.” The tool then finds the most trending users who post about that subject.

Use the tool to build relationships with up and comers and to create content around trending phrases and hashtags.

Create better content, efficiently

The better your content is, the easier it will be to promote, and the better results you will get (traffic, conversions, etc.).

Tools can help you create higher quality content, and the best tools can help you do it faster as well.

I have a few tools here that you should give a try when the time is right.

3. Easel.ly: Creating images is one of the most time-consuming and expensive parts of creating great content.

Great images can turn good content into amazing content.

Easel.ly is a tool that allows even the design-challenged like me to create some fairly attractive infographics.

Of course, they don’t compare to the ones I get designed for hundreds of dollars, but if you need a decent infographic on a budget, give this tool a try.

To use it, create an account and then select a free template:

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Next, you can click on any main element and change the text and alignment and even add shapes and backgrounds to it:

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It’s designed to be as simple as possible, and you’ll have it figured out after using it for a few minutes.

4. Canva: This is another tool that can help you create great images without needing a great designer (I even wrote a guide to creating custom images with it).

Most of the time, you don’t need a full infographic, just small images for your content to make it more attractive. That’s where Canva comes in.

The tool has several different templates to choose from for social media posts, blog posts, and more:

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You can also create an image with custom dimensions.

Depending on which template you choose, there will be different templates available in the “layouts” tab:

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The canvas on the right is fully editable. You just click and drag, or click and type.

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You can create great-looking images under 5 minutes—once you get good with Canva.

5. Hemingway Editor: We’ve looked at images but not your text. Great content needs to be well written.

“Well written” can mean a lot of different things:

  • Good grammar
  • Proper spelling
  • Easy to read

This tool can help you with all of them.

To use it, paste your text, and the tool will indicate your mistakes by highlighting them in different colors:

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Here’s an excerpt from my Beginner’s Guide to Online Marketing, and you can see that it’s not perfect.

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While there aren’t any huge mistakes (no red), there are areas for improvement (in yellow and blue).

I re-wrote those sentences until the tool indicated that the problems were fixed, as shown below:

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The reading grade level went from 8 to 7, which is generally a good thing. In addition, it got more concise, going from 189 words to 171 (almost a 10% reduction).

Stay focused on your task

If, in addition to marketing, you’re responsible for writing content, it’s important that you become an efficient writer.

A key part of that is not getting distracted or procrastinating.

The tools here will help you focus like a laser.

6. StayFocused: The name of this tool gives away its use. It’s a free Chrome plugin that allows you to block distracting websites.

Once you install it, go into its settings and choose which sites you’d like to block:

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You can choose the “nuclear option,” which blocks all websites for the time period you specify.

Or you can add a few websites that waste most of your time to your “blocked sites” list.

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7. Tomato Timer: There are many productivity techniques you can use to stay focused. One of the most well-known is called the pomodoro technique.

The basic idea is to break up your work into 25-minute periods with 5-minute breaks in between.

It’s a short enough time that you won’t feel too fatigued, but long enough that you maximize the amount of work you can do.

This is a simple timer built for this technique:

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Keep organized so that you’re not doing things twice

Redundancy kills efficiency.

If you have to repeat keyword research or continuously sort through lists of outreach targets, you’ll waste hours of your time.

The only prevention is good organization. There are some really great tools that can help you keep everything in order.

8. Trello: Trello is a free project management tool. It’s built to be used by teams, but it is also useful for keeping your personal work organized.

It allows you to create “boards,” almost like one of those cork boards that people hang on walls, and then to create “cards” for them.

Create one board for each main thing you want to keep organized. For example, you might have one for your content schedule (with cards for content published, upcoming content, and content ideas) and another one for your promotional work.

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On each board, you can create as many lists as you’d like and add cards to each of those lists. Here’s what a board for content ideas might look like:

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You can edit the cards as well as drag and drop them from list to list.

Finally, it helps keep you organized by sending you reminders before the due date.

One more feature that you might want to use is the “add members” option, which can be found in the menu of any board.

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Members can be assigned to particular cards so that they get notified of changes and due dates.

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Improve the efficiency of your promotion

Even if your content is great, it won’t do much for you until you promote it.

You can do all your promotion manually, and it will work. But a lot of promotion is tedious, repetitive work that can be automated by tools.

You can save tens of hours a month by using the tools in this section for outreach.

9. ContentMarketer.io: This is a really thorough tool that helps you streamline all parts of content promotion.

I can’t give you a full overview here, but I’ll show you a few features.

You can upload your content or enter a URL of content you published into the tool:

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The tool then scans your content for keywords and finds influencers based on those keywords.

But it finds more than the names—it also finds their email addresses and Twitter accounts.

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You can easily make quick edits to the list until you’re happy with it.

The final main feature is that you can quickly email or send a message on Twitter to all those people. You can use a template if you’d like.

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I recommend choosing one of my personal templates as I’ve tested them thousands of times.

10. Buffer: If you’re doing any promotion on social media, Buffer is the first tool you need to have in your toolkit.

It allows you to connect all your major social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest) and to manage them.

In addition, you can post to multiple networks at once from within Buffer.

Another big feature is that you can schedule posts to be shared ahead of time. Once you set a schedule (in your settings), you can add posts to your queue:

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Buffer will post them in the order you’ve laid out. You can drop and drag them around as you please.

You can either create these posts inside Buffer itself or add the Buffer extension to your browser.

When you come across content that you want to share, you can use the plugin to quickly add the article you want to share.

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Another useful feature of Buffer is result evaluation.

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The tool makes it easy to see which posts are the most and least popular. You can learn by studying the data and use those lessons to get more shares and traffic in the future.

11. Narrow.io: Narrow is a tool specifically designed for Twitter.

It finds the best people to connect with based on the keywords you enter.

The big appeal is that a lot of the following/unfollowing research and activity is automated by the tool, saving you a ton of time.

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It is not a free tool, however, so I only recommend it if you’re serious about growing a Twitter following.

Conclusion

Once you have the knowledge to be a great content marketer, you need to implement it.

Good marketers know how to make use of available tools to not only keep their work at a consistently high quality but also save time that could be spent elsewhere.

I’ve shown you 11 tools here that can save content marketers’ time, but there are definitely some good ones that I might have missed.

If there are any other tools you absolutely love and use on a regular basis, I’d appreciate it if you shared them in a comment below with me and everyone else.



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