Content creation tools. The blogging process. How do you make it smooth sailing…
Productivity topics are one of the hottest topics on the blog.
Today let’s talk about the content creation process and what tools I use to get my blog smooth sailing. Most of these tools are free with the exception of two since you are probably on a budget when you’re starting out.
I really wished I had this post a few years back though some of these tools might not even have been around at that time. To make things even simpler for you, these tools are all listed in order of when I use them in the blogging process.
Google Keyword Planner
Whether you’re optimizing for Google search engine or not, this tool is a good one to use to see how often researched a topic is one Google. GKP is free to use, but it does require an account. Once you sign up, you’ll know:
- What keywords people search for in your niche
- What alternative keywords you can use based on what you search
- How frequently that keyword is searched for
- How competitive is the keyword
- How much advertisers bid for the keyword (not as relevant to you)
With all this, you can know if you want to use and optimize your post with that keyword.
Another tool I like to use alternatively is KWFinder because it tells me exactly how many monthly searches there are. GKP only gives me a range.
I use to use Google Trends much more frequently when I was blogging about fashion style and skin care. Google Trends doesn’t apply to my current blog as much because the topics I write about aren’t seasonal.
But Google Trends can tell you what keywords are rising and what you can use as alternatives in your post. For example, if you type something like “Christmas gifts” into the Trends, you’ll probably see that it only peaks around the last two months of the year. That’s because people only shop for gifts during Christmas time.
I love using Buzz Sumo to check how frequently a type or topic of post is shared across the major social media networks. It’s also a good platform to find other influencers that you want to connect with, guest blog on, and reach out to. I mainly use it only for the first reason.
I’ll be honest here. Many people suggest Buzz Sumo, but no one tells you how limited their free version is. And their paid version starts at $99/month (Yikes!). I believe they only allow up to a few searches each day and then blocks you for the next 24 hours. For this reason, I do most of my research on Pinterest these days… which is my next favorite tool.
Pro Tip: You can sign up for a free 14-day trial and use a good amount of their features. There’s less limits. When you do sign up, I’d suggest to do a series of content research for your blog during those 2 weeks. Then make a list of blog post ideas or guest blogging sites you want.
Pinterest is a traffic-generating tool. But because it’s a social media platform, it’s also great to see which content performs best. To know if your topic will be popular on Pinterest, simply type your idea into the search engine. Then look for a few things:
- Are there similar titles to what I want to create on?
- How many?
- What are the average repins across all the pins?
If there is demand and shares, your post will likely be popular on Pinterest. Of course, as long as it’s not a seasonal post. For example, if you’re writing a popular post about “best spring trends of 2014” and it’s 2017 now, it’s going to be irrelevant. On the other hand, if it’s a topic people talk about year round like “the unlimited ways to style your jeans when you have a limited capsule wardrobe”, then you’re going to kill it on Pinterest!
Pro Tip: Focus on evergreen content so you’re not always spinning on hamster wheels and living at the mercy of seasons.
Seriously, the name of this tool reminds me of X-Men. I love mind mapping my blog content whether it’s with a tech tool or just on paper. A mind map perfectly illustrates the way I think.
I’ve used several mind mapping tools but found XMind to be the best one for me. The tool is free to use and I really wouldn’t pay for a mind mapping tool. The goal is to plan out your blog post outline so you know what you’re going to cover and not stare at the ceiling when you start writing.
If you prefer an mind mapping phone app, check out Mindly. It’s free and intuitive to use though I’ve only had a chance to play around with it.
As much as I love mind mapping, I used it more when I started. Nowadays I just prefer to outline everything into a checklist on Trello. Then I check things off along the way — and that gives me a ton of intrinsic reward.
Since there’s so much more to content creation whether you write a blog or create a YouTube channel, you want to make sure each post is optimized with keywords, have at least one image, etc.
Pro Tip: Create one template on Trello that lists all the things you need to do for each new post. Then use their “copy” feature and create a new “list” each time you have a new blog post idea.
Google docs is by far the smoothest text editor to write your blog posts. And the best is that it auto-saves, keeps everything in one place (the ultimate Google Drive), and it’s accessible anywhere anytime as long as you have wifi.
I use to swear by Evernote, but I find that Google Drives stores and organizes my life and files better.
My writing flows for the most part and I can simply sit down and the words will come out these days. But when I run my posts through Grammarly, there are still errors.
When you write, I do recommend that you just let everything flow out (make it slightly more organized than a brain dump). Then install Grammarly via the Chrome extension and it’ll highlight all the errors that you can fix.
It even gives you fix options so it’s not like you have to manually fix it. It’s a one-click fix and the extension is free to install and use.
Hemingway App/ SEO Yoast
I use to use the Hemingway app when I worked with copywriting clients. For my own blog, I use SEO Yoast. That said, Hemingway app is a great app for any type of writer. It’ll highlight all the passive voice, unnecessary words, and long sentences you need to fix.
Trust me, your audience wants something short, succinct. Because people want to cut to the chase these days, you don’t want to beat around the bush with unnecessary adverbs.
Pro Tip: Copy and paste your blog post into the browser once you’re done and make the changes before you copy it into the WordPress editor.
Some people prefer Picmonkey. Others swear by Photoshop, but of all the social media tools I’ve tried, this is the only one I’ve stuck to for the longest. If you’re only creating social media posts, this is really all you need. Canva is kinda like Tetris — you stack a few blocks together and voila, it makes you feel… “OMG, I can design!”
One of the reasons I love Canva is that it keeps a copy of your design on file for as long as you’d like. This makes editing or updating old pins super easy. Sometimes I make a copy of the old pin and just fill it with different text and copy.
The final step and also the step that determines whether anyone ever sees your content is using Tailwind to schedule it. I used Boardbooster before Tailwind and I’d admit that these two softwares has it’s own strengths and weaknesses.
If you’re scheduling a new pin or blog post, I do recommend using Tailwind to schedule it because of it’s Smart Schedule. It gives you a schedule of when your audience is most likely to engage with your pins. And this is really important because your goal is to get more repins and/or clicks.
When I used Boardbooster to schedule my pins, I never found my optimal schedule and for the most part, I pinned from 8-11pm everyday. With Tailwind, I realized that most of my repinning and engagement happens in the late afternoon and early evening. This really condenses the time frame of when I should pin. Also, I pin a lot less now because I know when to target my audience online. Now your optimal schedule is likely to be different from mine.
What about you?
What are your must-have, favorite content creation tools that simplify your blogging process smoothly?
(This post may contain affiliate links.)
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