Our 10 favourite free tools for producing brilliant content [list]
If you’re like most marketers, you’ll probably agree that sharing engaging, relevant and polished content translates into higher quality leads.
But when you’re producing content yourself, it's rare to have the time or resources to get every element perfect before you hit publish.
That’s stressful. Especially when you consider that 60 percent of marketers rank blog content creation as their top inbound marketing priority.
The good news is that you don’t need a bottomless marketing budget or an army of copywriting drones to produce content that converts. For slick and professional content, you just need these 10 free online tools.
When your content seems dull and uninspiring, it’s usually for one of two reasons. Either your sentences are long and meandering, or you’re using the passive voice.
Hemingway points out all these writing sins and more. It also calculates the readability of your writing. If you want people to actually read something to the end, collegiate level is bad. Grade 10 or under is better. (This blog post has a Grade 6 readability level.)
We run every piece of content through Hemingway before sending to clients. At 3.30pm on a Friday, Hemingway is much better at catching 100-word sentences and adverb abuse than we are.
Grammarly is the online equivalent of your grammar-obsessed Year Eight French teacher. It picks up errors like repetitive phrases, sentence fragments, spelling mistakes and overused words. The paid version, which we use, also comes with a plagiarism checker, so you can ensure your writing is 100 percent original.
Nothing beats a professional proofreader for catching spelling and grammar mistakes. But this tool comes close.
Pro tip: Use Grammarly after Hemingway, once your sentences and overall structure are set.
3. Live edit text on any web page
One of the trickiest things about updating website content is you can’t see how the new copy will look on the page. You write the copy, cross your fingers and hope it turns out something like you had imagined.
Not anymore. With this simple tool, you can live edit text on any web page. Here’s how it works:
- Open the webpage you want to edit
- Click the bookmark
- Click any text on the webpage and start editing
- Hit refresh to stop editing and return to the regular website.
When we write website content for clients, we’ll often submit a Word document with the copy, and a screenshot of how it will look on their site. It’s a great trick for wowing clients in business meetings, too.
We’re big fans of graphic designers. But sometimes you don’t have the time or budget for fancy graphics. This is especially true if you want a couple of promotional images to run on social media, or an updated newsletter header.
Enter Canva. Canva is simple graphic design software that anyone can use to make custom headers, documents and even infographics. Many templates and images are free, but you can also choose from Canva’s template and image libraries for a small fee. (Can't find one you like? We shared our tips for finding free stock images earlier this year.)
Our marketing coordinator uses Canva to create most of our Facebook posts. We also use Canva to design our Mint Content ebooks and client newsletter headers.
Hootsuite is a free social media scheduling tool. I've tried a couple of similar products, and they all seem to do the same job. Whatever scheduling tool you choose, you'll save heaps of time on content distribution.
I’ll usually dedicate an hour or so on a Sunday afternoon to scheduling our social media through Hootsuite. I like being able to batch social media management, instead of trying to remember to post every day.
You’ll need the premium version of Hootsuite to schedule posts across multiple channels, but the free one is an excellent starting point.
I mentioned BuzzSumo in my last blog post about how to produce content with no resources and no budget. It’s a search tool that identifies the most shared content on certain websites, or for certain keywords.
I like BuzzSumo because it helps you work out what content topics are likely to resonate best.
Pixlr is a free photo editing tool that works in your browser. It’s like Photoshop for people who aren’t smart enough to figure out Photoshop (like me).
If you need to quickly resize an image or adjust colour and brightness, it’s the tool for you.
If you ever fall victim to writer’s block, Swipe-Worthy is your saviour. It’s a collection of the best marketing copy over the decades, from direct mail to banner advertisements.
Unlike other swipe libraries, Swipe-worthy doesn’t just share content that looks pretty. Instead, it focuses on highlighting persuasive copy and sound marketing strategies. Smart.
Sometimes you’re so busy that even making the time to schedule social media is overwhelming. I hear you.
If This Then That, or IFTTT, to the rescue! With IFFT, you create chains of simple conditional statements, called applets. These are triggered based on changes to other web services.
For example, we have an applet to automatically publish all Mint Content Instagram posts to Twitter. You can also set up integrations that share blog posts on LinkedIn or Facebook.
You know what’s cool? Bots. For sales and marketing professionals, GrowthBot might just be the coolest bot of all.
We’ve just added GrowthBot to Mint Content’s Slack, and we’re a little bit in love. GrowthBot answers questions like: What are the top articles on growth hacking? What software does XXX website use? Show me the top posts from YYY.com? If you’re too busy to dig up information on competitors, or to identify trending content in your industry, you need GrowthBot.
What tools would you add to the list? Let us know in the comments below.