Content Marketing Toolbox: 35 of the Best Tools for Creating Stellar Content

content marketing toolbox 35 of the best tools for creating stellar content

As if we didn’t already have enough to do, “content creator” was been added to the list of hats we must wear as online marketers.
It’s a really big hat, too. Content marketing encompasses so much more than just writing— SEO, graphic design, project management, lead capture, video editing, and social media— all come into play as we go about creating and distributing promotional content.
Thankfully, there are fantastic tools out there to help you create the best content possible, make your life easier throughout the process, and maximize the promotional value you get from your content.
These are some of the “best of breed” online tools you can use to improve your content marketing:

To generate ideas for content:
Keywords (and questions) on your topic
Find out what keyword phrases people are googling with your subject matter. Bills itself as an alternative to the Google Keyword Tool and Ubersuggest.’s clean interface and “questions” tab have knocked Ubersuggest out of its spot as my favorite keyword research tool.
c9i91rd5 keyword research

@magicrecsContent suggestions based on your twitter profile

Follow @magicrecs and it will suggest content and accounts to follow that are aligned with your interests.
d5ho4wxx8 twitter recommendations

Get feedback on your content ideas

Submit an idea and community members indicate what they’d actually read with an “I’d read like to this” button. A helpful way to test out an idea before investing in it.
Will anyone read your content?

p5gpjyi5 online ventures

Ideas for content

Built on top of the wildly popular Periodic Table of Content Marketing this tool will spit out ideas by combining your topic and audience with different angles of exploration.
r0n6as67p content marketing ideas

lxsl05esj portent idea generatorTitle & content idea generator

Gives you ideas in the form of a title. Hit refresh until you find a winner. It’s similar in purpose to Online Venture’s offering, but I included it because it generates some really unique ideas you’d be hard pressed to find any other way. This one may have been a winner but we’ll never know…
Title suggestions for your content
rzzniaoss buzzsumoKnow what content is working
No list of content marketing tools would be complete without Buzzsumo. It’s a treasure trove of content ideas that have gone viral. Keep in mind that the list of most successful content is biased by promotional leverage — there are also fantastic ideas at the bottom of the pile that never had a chance because they were distributed to small audiences. To get a better idea of which content work best, limit your search to a single source and see what is working best for them (this works better because you can assume each piece of content had somewhat similar promotion and opportunity to succeed).
jdubrjvgi buzzsumo content marketing results

To organize, prioritize, and manage your best content ideas:

StormboardBrainstorm and collaborate with your team
Not a mind mapping tool, it is a flexible way to visualize your ideas with a post-it note style theme. Draw connections between ideas, comment on them, and vote the best ideas up.
6ixcy8xu stormboard stick note
TrelloDrag and drop between buckets
There is something intuitive about managing your content ideas with the bucket paradigm. It needs no explanation and it is super easy to move things around (which you’ll do often as your priorities shift and your writing progresses through stages). Trello is flexible enough to store your ideas and, because it is a project management tool, you can also use it to take your content projects through the entire process of execution.
z9bgwu1jm trello for content idea

To maintain your content marketing editorial calendar:

Coschedule = Content Marketing CalendarA calendar built for content marketing
How will you feel bad about missing deadlines if you don’t have a schedule for your content publication? That guilt is necessary — it’s what defines you as a pro content marketer. Coschedule offers quite a few advantages over Google Calendar including integrating with your blog, making it easy for you to coordinate with a team throughout each part of the content creation process, and tight integrations with common content marketing tools and platforms. If you do a lot of social media promotion, it is very useful for coordinating a social media plan among team members for maximum impact. Coschedule has a thorough post on the importance of content scheduling and best practices that is worth checking out.

To research your topic:

Q&A for content researchInfo on anything
As the popularity of Quora, a Q&A community, has risen, so has the quality of the content. Users ask questions and users submit answers. The best answers are voted to the top. Quora’s strength, versus similar resources like Reddit, is how well-organized and searchable the information is. Also, users are focused on being helpful rather than making jokes, they don’t have names like “SlugbutterWaffle” (in case you ever need to credit a source), and you can read a bio on their qualifications. Don’t get me wrong, I love Reddit, but not for research.

kkm5hld55 quora for content research
AnnotaryBookmarking tool with highlighting and commenting
Of all the bookmarking tools available to you, and there are many, Annotary is uniquely suited to researching and organizing information you’ll need to refer to later. Create collections of information centered on topics. Save information into collections and add tags for further organization. Highlight the sections of interest and leave comments as you read so you don’t have to search through the entire document to find the brief excerpt that motivated you to save it. Here’s an example from my “Marketing Automation” collection to show how easy it is to save the important parts of your research and reference them later:
Highlight as you bookmark you online research

PocketQuickly save and tag information
If you aren’t interested in highlighting, and just want a place to shove things so you can read them later, Pocket is a fast and easy way to do that.

5jb1bdqm save information easily

To develop your ideas and consolidate your research:

CoggleCreate and share beautiful mind maps
For years, I’ve yearned for a web-based mindmap tool that mirrored the fantastic simplicity and elegant beauty of the lightweight OS X app, “Mindnode.” Coggle has done it. Many mindmapping tools are bogged down by feature bloat and, frankly, are too ugly to use. Coggle has sidestepped those failings and created a quick, simple, beautiful online mindmapping tool… and it supports markdown and keyboard shortcuts, so, I’m in love.

Ginkgo is for organizing your thoughts
A unique approach to outlining

This app uses a horizontal “tree” structure to organize information and it’s not just a gimmick. You put your main ideas in the leftmost column and then break them down further and further by adding columns to the right. This effectively maintains your focus on the point you are expounding on and contributes to a logical organization of information. Easily move around your document with keyboard commands. Even if the description of the idea doesn’t interest you, I’d recommend a free trial so you can give it a shot — you might be surprised. Ginkgo appears to have a committed, passionate, and responsive developer. It’s one of my favorite tools on this list.

Workflowy = outlining toolA quick, lightweight outlining tool
If you prefer a traditional approach to outlining, this is a minimalistic tool that gets out of your way so you can get to work. Easily focus on different sections of your outline by clicking into them. In spite of the misleadingly clean interface, the capabilities are there, so you could definitely use this app to progressively transform an outline into a complete document. It includes task management features too so you could use this app for everything — from capturing ideas to managing their execution all the way through to publication.

To write collaboratively with a team:

9i4ydl7ia penflip collaborative writing toolGitHub style collaborative writing with markdown support
It’s literally Github for writers. Seriously, you can use Git-enabled, and even command line, tools to keep your writing in sync with others. It uses the same: “master, branch, pull request, review, merge” workflow any programmer is already familiar with. It’s a great idea because that’s a proven process for collaborating on complex projects. It offers markdown support, version control, chapter organization for larger projects, and more. To create private projects, you’ll need to pay (starts at $10 a month) otherwise it is free to use.

kyphk4gz4 penflip collaborative writing github style
7argkh7td draft collaborative writing toolCollaborative writing with markdown support
Draft is very minimalistic but offers a couple of unique features including the ability to modify the theme, typeface, etc. and an “ask a pro” option for writing advice. It has a variety of reports which are interesting, motivating, and a way to measure your output velocity and progress as a writer.
Compare changes while writing collaboratively

To be a more productive content producer:

4xg3d1vie marinara pomodoro timerStay focused without burning out
A Pomodoro is a unit of productive time balanced by a short break. You spend 25 minutes working and then 5 minutes on break. Every fifth cycle you take a longer 15-minute break. I’ve found it’s an excellent way to keep track of productive minutes in the day and challenge myself to outdo previous records. With Marinara Timer you’ll be able to see a countdown in its tab, define your own time limits (marinara mode), and share a link to show off your Pomodoros (if you are the gloating or competitive type).
7kwezubne best pomodoro timer
Disable distracting websitesDisable distracting websites
It’s hard to stay focused if you are constantly getting updates from your social network feeds. With this tool you can block access to any website that tempts your attention. It’s also purposefully difficult to disable. $15.
1aopmrfk9 anti social website blocker
Distraction free writing toolDistraction free writing
ZenPen is an ultra-lightweight text editor intentionally lacking features. Once you enter fullscreen mode, it’s just you and what you are writing. If I am stuck on a particular section of an article, or keep avoiding it, I’ll sometimes move it out into ZenPen so I am forced to focus on it. As a bonus, it works great with the Grammarly extension I’ll discuss in the upcoming section on tools for improving your writing.
t30jeguan writer focus

To create visual aids and beautify your content:

online image editing toolPre-sized templates for common uses
Canva “enables anyone to become a designer” according to a testimonial on the homepage and I think that’s an apt description. It makes it easy to create high-quality visuals for blog posts, social media covers, posters and more. Its “Stream” feature, which displays the best work of other users, is great for inspiration.
yy47cph5q canva image editor
easy image editingEasy image editing, filters, and more
No account needed. Open the file, do what you need to do, then save it in a variety of formats and file sizes. Provides some beautiful filters, clipart, and fonts, free. I haven’t opened Photoshop much since finding BeFunky.
cr1lnkus befunky photo editor
Infographic makerCreate infographics (and more)
I came to Piktochart for its infographic design but found myself using it for a variety of images and illustrations because I like its approach to layout and formatting. If I had to criticize, I’d say it could use more text formatting options but it nails pretty much everything else.
0xrdnhref piktochart infographic builder
6 of the best sources for high-quality, free stock photos – they really are good, I promise… CC0 license, use them any way you want – categorized, tagged, and searchable – categorized stock photos with no copyright restrictions – 10 free photos every 10 days, good variety – high res images, some variety but mostly nature – high res, great for business related content

To improve your writing:

e43hey6r2 grammarlyCatch mistakes
Grammarly claims to catch 10x more mistakes than your word processor. It does a great job with grammar and stylistic errors, in particular. I am continually impressed by what it catches (sometimes I can’t figure out how it does it). It is powered by an algorithm produced by “the world’s leading authorities on linguistic technologies” so I guess that explains it. Grammarly is a browser extension that fixes your mistakes whether you are writing in Gmail, LinkedIN, WordPress, or pretty much anywhere else you might be writing online (but not Google Docs, unfortunately). For content it can’t correct in real-time, you can paste in text and get corrections. Just for fun, it keeps track of how many embarrassing errors it has saved you from publishing.
k7zqvrftu grammarly for mistakes
improve your writingOptimize your writing for readability
A lot of us weren’t born to write, we were thrust into it as online marketing shifted to revolve around content. Thankfully, there are apps that help us write better. Ernest Hemingway is renowned for his crisp, impactful writing and simple, readable sentence structure. The Hemingway app gives you stylistic suggestions aimed at the same. It gave me two useful suggestions for improving this section and rated it at a 10th grade reading level.
4p5im2f5 hemingway writing style suggestions
write better headlinesGet feedback on your blog post titles
Get specific suggestions on how to improve your blog post titles.
2e9dvmu5c better blog headlines

To help your content rank well in the search engines:

8ule4ssga can i rankKnow which keywords to target
CanIrank looks at the strengths and weaknesses of your website in relation to your competitors and gives you a numerical (1-100) estimate of how likely it thinks you’ll be to rank well for keywords you are considering targeting. This can save you from pursuing keywords you have no chance of ranking for and instead focus you on your best, achievable opportunities.
Know how difficult it will be to rank your site

Keyword suggestions
Include keyword variations
Widen the net of keyword phrases that people can use to find your content, and make Google happy, by including keyword phrase variations related to your central theme. Ubersuggest excels at giving you long lists of variations.
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To promote your content:

Blog directoryBlog directory
If you are investing a lot of time blogging, make sure you add your blog to the web’s most reputable blog directory so potential readers can find it outside the search engines.
b1gpuhbeb alltop blogs
Social media managementSocial media scheduling
I prefer Buffer to its competitors, not because it does a lot, but because I can easily use everything it offers. Where other platforms feel bloated and clunky, it retains its streamlined elegance. Also, I admire them for their splendid work with content creation and curation. It’s a cool company, a great tool, and a case study in effective content marketing. They recently added Pinterest support.
al8l8syy buffer for social media content

To leverage your content for lead generation:

vfavlr1q justunoCapture leads
Do so much more than display pop up ads — target with rules, integrate social media, use gated offers, sweepstakes, mobile compatibility, exit intent, and more. Too many features to list them all, this is truly the Rolls Royce of lead generation solutions.

1thn8aq4g justuno dash screenshots
blq59u7z2 instapagelogo fullQuick and easy landing pages
Offering your high-value content on a landing page that “sells” it is the best way to capture as many leads as possible from it. A simple sidebar form will capture leads because so many people see it, but when it comes to conversion rate, a landing page will always win. Instapage creates beautiful, highly customizable landing pages with a true drag-and-drop editor, allows you to split test each element, and makes it easy to learn from what is working so you can adjust and improve your online marketing accordingly. They just launched a great integration with us so you can use two “best of breed” online marketing tools together.

Build landing pages for your content

8u1a3qnz8 activecampaign marketing automationTurn leads into customers, automatically
After you’ve created a lead with your content, the hard work of nurturing and converting them begins. There is no better method than email marketing, no better way to maximize your leverage than marketing automation, and no service handles these two things better than ActiveCampaign. Sign up for a free trial and see firsthand what makes us the preferred email marketing service and marketing automation solution of experienced online marketers.
The best marketing automation platform

What are some of your favorite tools for the content creation process? Did I miss any?

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