It’s almost impossible to execute a full-scale content marketing strategy without a little help. Whether that help comes in the form of a team, a couple of freelancers, or just a useful suite of tools to assist you, that additional help can mean the difference between a highly successful content campaign and one that fizzles out too quickly.
One of the biggest problems content marketers face is that this help isn’t free. Additional team members, freelancers, and most tools cost money to acquire, which cuts into the profitability of the campaign. Fortunately, there are several free tools you can use to refine your content approach and maximize your impact:
Feedly is one of the best RSS readers around, and it’s perfect for staying up-to-date and hunting for new topics in your content marketing campaign. Here, you’ll be able to fully customize a series of news feeds based around some of your most important subjects, influencers, or other reading preferences. It’s completely free and relatively easy to use—within a few minutes, you’ll be adding, organizing, and reading your content with the best of them. If you’re ever struggling to find a good topic idea, consult your Feedly and chances are, you’ll quickly find a jumping-off point for your next great article.
It once started as a keyword discovery tool, but now it’s just as useful for content topic generation. Ubersuggest is a simple association tool that allows you to input a query and then generates a list of hundreds of related keywords and keyword phrases. Based on Google’s predictive search function, the tool is incredibly useful for helping you find related topics and related keywords—which means if you have a general idea of what you want to write about (i.e., “marketing”), Ubersuggest can help you find a more niche focus.
Evernote is one of the best organization tools you’ll find online (or in app form), and its free version has much to offer. You can create your own to-do lists, take ongoing notes based on your research, and even manage clips from your other notes to organize in comprehensive posts. And since the app syncs between different devices, you can always rest assured that your notes are accessible from anywhere. Do note that there is also a paid version of Evernote, which comes with a variety of extra features.
For the time being, Hemingway is free, but don’t be surprised if it becomes a paid tool in the near future. Essentially, it’s a readability tool that analyzes your text based on how easy it is for an average person to read. It’s named after Ernest Hemingway, who is famous for his short, concise sentences and simple way of writing. On this app, you’ll be able to see which of your sentences are hard to read, which can be simplified, and which words can be either removed or improved.
Hootsuite is one of the most comprehensive social media schedulers available on the web, and it’s free to use if all you want are the basic features. With Hootsuite, you can manage the posts for all your social media accounts on multiple platforms in one location. You can also track and search for mentions of your brand, and measure which of your social posts have been the most effective. It’s a near-perfect tool for the syndication phase of your content strategy. For most bloggers and small businesses, the free package is more than enough, but if you want a little extra juice, the paid version is relatively inexpensive.
All great content marketing campaigns are rooted in compelling written content, but it’s the visual element that really makes them stand out. Posts with an accompanying image get far more clicks, shares, and likes than those without, so it’s well worth your while to include relevant images—the problem is, finding unique images for your posts can get time consuming or expensive. This is where Photopin comes in handy. Photopin is a free search tool that scours the web for free-to-use images you can use on your blog. Just be sure you check the license—not all free images are approved for commercial use—and give proper attribution when you publish the piece.
Hopefully, you’ve already got Google Analytics installed on your site or blog. If you don’t, install it now. It’s one of the most useful analytics tools you’ll ever find, and it’s completely free to use. Once your content marketing campaign gets some traction, you can use this to objectively measure the impact and success of your strategy. Using the tools of the Acquisition tab, you can measure the amount of traffic you’ve generated, and using the tools of the Behavior tab, you can analyze how they’ve interacted with your posts. The end result is a better knowledge of how your content has affected your customers and potential customers, and what you can do to improve in the future.
Try out these seven free tools in your own content marketing campaign, and see which ones work best for you. If these don’t fully suit your needs, keep looking! There are hundreds of both free and paid tools out there dedicated to helping content marketers work more efficiently. Don’t stop until you find a range of tools that perfectly fits your individual needs.
Want more information on content marketing? Head over to our comprehensive guide on content marketing here: The All-in-One Guide to Planning and Launching a Content Marketing Strategy.