After writing 538 professional blog posts (and that’s the last time I’m going to hunt down all the articles I wrote for various clients), I’ve decided to share the many tools I’ve found useful to research, write, edit and share remarkable blogs.
Here’s what’s in this article;
For Inspiration and Collecting Ideas
Evernote, Trello and Google Keep are great tools for collecting ideas and collaborating with other blog writers on your team. Evernote supports everything from short lists to lengthy research, Trello uses the kanban board system and Google Keep is like your personal post-it note board on the web. Each of these tools allows you to write your ideas down and brainstorm useful resources for each post, ie. helpful URLs, comments, rambles.
This is a Trello board where I can collect upcoming blog post ideas
Google Alerts and Talkwalker Alerts are your eyes and ears on the web. These services will monitor the web for keywords that you determine, then alert you when they are mentioned. For example, if you’re interested in online marketing, set up alerts for “inbound marketing” to get emailed whenever someone mentions it online.
Pocket and Flipboard are excellent for discovering and saving interesting content from around the web. If you find an interesting article, just add it to your Pocket account to revisit later. On Flipboard you can “flip” different articles you find into your own personal online magazines. You can browse the articles that other users store in Pocket or Flipboard based on topics you’re interested in.
Want more? Kristi Hines collected 25 Resources for Content Marketers so you never run out of blog post ideas again.
Doing Keyword and Topic Research
These are the tools that I use to discover the best keyword to optimize for.
Google Keyword Planner and Keyword Canine* both show how popular a keyword or phrase is via average searches per month. They also show how high the competition is for that ranking.
*Keyword Canine now has paid plans only. A free (for now) alternative is SEMrush || KeySearch is an alternative to Keyword Canine that provides good analytics, but is a bit pricey.
Keyword.io and Keyword Tool provide great keyword suggestions based on what you’re looking for. Keyword Tool uses Google’s autocomplete to recommend keywords based on an algorithm from objective factors such as how often past users have searched for a term. You can use these to find keywords that are sometimes hidden in Google Keyword Planner.
Discovering Your Title
Buzzsumo and Content Explorer both show highly shared articles so you can draw inspiration from their titles. You can also search popular questions on Quora to find out what kind of questions people are asking about your topic. Position your title as an answer to those questions.
When you have a good title in mind, run it through CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer to get it “graded.” It will let you know whether your title is too wordy, what types of words you can add to make it more engaging and more. Aim for a score of 70 or higher. If you’re having trouble getting your score up, you can also check out CoSchedule’s list of Power Words.
You can also use Portent’s Content Idea Generator to create titles for you, then run your title through this title capitalization tool to make sure you’re capitalizing the right words based on your style guide.
Here’s an awesome article on 9 Useful Headline Tools that has even more useful links.
Writing and Publishing
My absolute favorite content management system is WordPress. It’s customizable, beautifully designed and has a great user interface. WordPress.org also has awesome plugins (my favorite is Yoast for SEO) and great themes. This blog is run on WordPress.com because it’s incredibly low maintenance, still has awesome themes and it’s free. WordPress has a “distraction-free writing mode” that makes the visual/HTML editor full-screen so you aren’t tempted to switch to a different tab or window.
Medium and Ghost are a few other blogging platforms you can use to get your writing out there. I’ve personally used Medium and find it easy to simply get your point across. Medium also has some amazing blogs you can explore, I’m signed up to get email digests and always enjoy the articles they send.
If you want an incredibly simple website, you can also check out Squarespace. You pay one fee and they take care of your domain and e-commerce compatibility.
Every Good Post Needs Images
All great blog posts need awesome images. I’ve personally used Canva (my favorite), Piktochart and Pablo from Buffer. I love how easy it is to use these tools! You can select the perfect image sizes and they provide stock images right in their platforms to make the user experience even easier.
Easel.ly will help you create infographics and Page2Images allows you to create a screenshot of a page by inputting the URL. Gratisography and Unsplash are two places to find amazing high-resolution royalty-free photos that you can use anywhere without worrying about copyright infringement.
Don’t Forget to Edit Your Article
Once you have your keyword, title, article and images all set, it’s time to edit the content. Read over everything you wrote and use these tools to make sure it’s perfect.
Grammarly and the Hemingway App detect common spelling and grammar errors in your writing. You can input your text into either of these to evaluate readability and grammar. Grammarly also has a Chrome extension that works as you type and will check your work in real-time. It is able to detect contextual spelling errors, and will alert you if you use the wrong word even if it’s correctly spelled.
The readability score of your blog will tell you how easy it is for people to understand your writing. The goal is to make your article as accessible as possible. It should be easy to understand and absorb. You can use this Readability Test Tool to evaluate your content from a URL or direct input.
Search Engine Optimization
Hooray for search engine optimization! I love SEO because it adds a technical aspect to a creative pursuit. SEO is almost a game; Our content competes with other, endless content on the Internet to reach the top spot on search engine results and land on reader’s screens.
The Yoast plugin, as mentioned above, helps you create optimize articles based on a set of best practices. Here’s a quick rundown on SEO best practices and you can view an SEO article I wrote for 237 Marketing + Web – here.
Use this Keyword Density Analyzer to make sure your article includes your keyword enough (but not too much).
I use Buffer and Hootsuite to schedule social media shares (you can also find awesome gifs to add here). As far as I know, Hootsuite is the only platform that allows for pre-scheduled Instagram posts. Buffer is incredibly easy to use and can tell you when the best time to share for your audience is with their Optimal Scheduling tool.
You can encourage blog readers to share your post by generating automatic sharing links with this Share Link Generator or pre-written emails with mlto.tk. WordPress plugins like Better Click to Tweet or CoSchedule’s Click to Tweet can generate click-to-tweet content right within your blog article. *You will need to use WordPress.org to use these plugins.
Going beyond social media, you can use JustReachOut to pitch to journalists.
Almost done! After you publish your blog, make sure you measure the results. Google Analytics is awesome for seeing how many visits a certain blog post earned and how many views you’re getting each day, week, month or year. Check out where your visitors are coming from, how long they’re spending on your site and where they’re going after.
You can also analyze your site or blog post with Moz’s Open Site Explorer to discover how many backlinks you received and where you’re mentioned on the web.
What did I miss? Let me know in the comments below!
Thank you for checking out these 37 content creation tools. I hope you found something useful.