I often enjoy reading and testing new tools and platforms available for my clients and keeping up with the latest productivity apps. There is no shortage of tools available on the market and there are others I use beyond this list. My goal below is to provide some insight into my process and resources I use to gain a competitive edge for my clients and my business.
Buzzsumo is a go-to resource for finding content relevant to my audience. I have a never-ending list of ideas and thoughts I want to share with my readers. Buzzsumo is a huge help to understand if my subject will resonate with others. If not, why, and how can I restructure my message to have stronger relevance.
Not only do I gain valuable content insight into what's trending but I can also gather understanding into influencers and competitor's content performance.
There is an endless list of free and paid SEO optimization tools available. The free ones have good features, but you get what you pay for and hold back on valuable insight until you pay up. Some paid options (Moz, Scribe, etc.) can be cost prohibitive to a small business starting out but great if you can afford the monthly costs. Woorank falls right in the perfect spot for those who need valuable insight without breaking your wallet every month.
Everything you need to optimize your entire site down to a single blog post is viewable within your dashboard. Your key SEO elements, title tag, metadata and headings are graded. You also see keyword consistency, mobile optimization, usability and social measurement.
Two features that stand out for me is the competitive analysis and marketing checklist features. You can see how your competitors stack up against your site and discover keywords they may be targeting. The checklist features help with those overwhelming learning curves on optimizing your site. This checklist provides an easy-to-use set of tasks to help guide you through the process.
This has been everything from my project organizer, capture random thoughts, and ideas, to helping manage my inbox (following the David Allen GTD process). What it's great at is keeping track of my ideas for future blog entries and organizing them into "notebooks". If I'm at my computer or walking around with my phone, everything is synced and ready for me to capture that timely thought or recall when needed.
I use Google Drive for pretty much everything from spreadsheets to managing documents and sharing files. It's my main resource for writing my content and continuing to refine until I feel it's ready for posting. My process with Google Docs is like Evernote in that I have access on all my devices and add/edit everywhere. The difference is where Evernote is treated as a "thought board", I can then gather and organize within my Google Doc. I can even share the document with others for real-time editing and comments. There are also great research tools within every document to find just the right word, image, quote or footnote. It's like having Google search right within my document.
This probably deserves an article all to its own. Sourcing the right image and then editing where needed is probably the biggest challenge but the most important. Images are everything to your article and will not only engage your reader but guide and support your story.
There are endless options for editing your photos and some can be overly complex and expensive (I'm talking to you Photoshop). Most users only need an easy tool to crop, edit, color correct and add text. This is where tools like PicMonkey and Canva shine.
Both tools are easy to start with and their prebuilt filters, textures and design objects make the ability to make your images stand out a snap.
Editing is one thing but finding the right image to start with is everything. Flickr's Creative Commons allows for anyone to host their images and allow for millions of photos to be shared under varying license agreements. NOTE: Be sure to review the differences between each license level before you choose your image. If you want to play it safe, stick to the "Attribution License" and give credit to the distributor.
I always strive to write better. Hemingway has the ability to tell me if my sentences are too long or complex and call out adverbs or words that should be replaced with simpler vocabulary.
Ok. I’ve run my document through Hemingway and now I’m ready for one final check. I know you’re all familiar with the green line under our documents telling us to fix our terrible grammar. Your favorite word processor tool is a great start, but I never post anything before running my content through Grammarly. They claim to find up to 10 times more mistakes than a word processor (I believe them). This simple (and free) tool has saved me on everything from an important email, client site launch, to the ever important blog post. Contextual spell check and vocabulary enhancement are probably the two features that set this tool apart from the rest.
There are so many reasons headlines gain traction with an audience. Headline Analyzer makes sure I’m on the right path. This useful tool allows me to analyze my headline and score the quality. Providing this information helps with best results for shares, site traffic, SEO value, and sentiment. It’s free so give it a try.
Keeping track of my blog posts and setting up a project calendar can be daunting without a project management system. I was searching for a simple project management tool to help with my client projects and blogging schedule. Trello was the top rated tool in the industry for ease of use scheduling and publishing content. It’s great for organizing boards and adding images, notes and anything else associated with a blog post you're working on. I highly recommend it.
As my client projects became more complex I’ve moved to Asana. Their platform is far more flexible and keep me on task for the weeks/months ahead. I can also plan my blog research and posting around my client schedule more efficiently.
Give them both a shot and see what works best for you.
Today there are many ways to get your message out to your audience. Depending on your business and customer audience some networks are better than others. It’s up to you to decide, but my top places are LinkedIn Pulse, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook Pages/Groups, and Medium. Our blogs are only one resource for our audiences at any given moment of the day. Why not make it easier for them to find you within their favorite social platform(s)?
An extra side note on this one. If you’re looking to manage all your social posts in one place, I recommend Buffer. I’ll save the details for another post, but this is the best tool for managing many social accounts and scheduling your posts.
What resources have I missed? What other tools do you use for your site or day-to-day productivity?