Google Toolbox Series #3 - Content Creation
The need for good content increases day by day and having a solid toolkit can go a long way toward streamlining your efforts. Below you will find a small assortment of useful tools broken into broad categories. These tools will help you in every phase of your content creation - from research to imagery and all points in between. All of the tools included are either free or offer a free trial you can use to decide whether or not it is a good fit. No matter which you choose to use, there is sure to be a measurable benefit, so do yourself a favor and try them all.
Research: Where Good Content Begins
One of the best tools you can use to research your content ideas is found right inside Google Docs. We use it at my agency all the time to leverage the power of Google’s search engine to find all the articles and websites relevant to our topic. It functions with Drive so you can even locate your own files related to your subject saving you an enormous amount of time and frustration when facing a deadline. If you use Google Docs and Drive, which there really is no reason not to at least try it, this tool will quickly become one of your best friends.
While it is not necessarily a tool in the normal sense, Google’s site:search function is more than just helpful, it can be a lifesaver. Have you ever tried to find all of the information related to a specific topic on a website? Going through page after page, using oftentimes non-functional search fields, and losing valuable time in the process was common before discovering this actionable webmaster function that gives you the power to search a single website for whatever you want. All you do is enter the following formula into your search bar site:examplewebsite.com [search term]
If it were my agency’s website, the formula would be:
site:liftconversions.com [content creation]
Writing: Putting Words to Paper
When it comes to organization, syncing across devices, and constant saving to ensure nothing you create is ever lost, there is no tool out there to compare to Evernote. We use it at my agency on a daily basis and throughout every stage of the content creation journey. If you want a single solution to all of your content creation needs, from notetaking to to-do lists, initial planning to final edits, this is the tool for you.
Sometimes, the most difficult obstacle to creating great content is coming up with a great topic. So, if you ever find yourself at a loss, just follow the hyperlink above to HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator. While this tool is not going to write the perfect article, or give you the blog title of your dreams, it will deliver a list of helpful topics and title ideas you can then use to formulate your masterpiece. Think of it as just another resource you can bounce keywords off of for inspiration.
As a Chicago-based agency, we early on saw the value in a University of Chicago study that proved a “moderate level of ambient noise is conducive to creative cognition.” Basically, background noise, as long as it is not overwhelming, is actually good for the creative part of our brain. So, we found the best tool around to accomplish this - without working in coffee shops every day - Cofftivity. This free application lets you play ambient noise in a selection of flavors on whatever device you are using. Try it just once and you will use it again and again.
Editing: Cleaning Up Content
Grammarly is an excellent tool that is so easy to use you will actually forget it is not an ordinary part of your Word experience. It seamlessly fits into the interface and constantly supports your writing with intelligent editing input. These suggested corrections are yours to make, so there is no frustrating interference. You are given a plain reason behind the suggestion and can choose to act on it by simply clicking the edit, or refuse by ignoring it completely. There is even a tracking system that reports to you at the end of each week with writing data including words, paragraphs, mistakes, etc.
Everywhere you look, you can find a statistic that says the majority of people never read past the headline. For content creators, this can be a daunting stat, but, if a headline is what really matters, there are tools to help you find the best one possible. CoSchedule has created just such a helpful tool and you can use it absolutely free. Just put in your proposed title and it gives you a ranking based off a lengthy list of criteria. Needless to say, it will help you tighten up your headline and, hopefully, turn it into something that hooks your audience.
Canva is, hands-down, the best beginner’s tool for marketing collateral. It is easy to use, intuitive, and full of templates you can use to create all sorts of visuals for your content. From AdWords remarketing banners to trifold brochures, Canva has the templates and the toolkit you need to make a unique addition to your content, and do it all for much less cost and in less time than you would have thought possible. Give it a try and you will not be disappointed.
Google is a great resource for so many things that it should come as no surprise that tools are one of them. And speaking of tools, you can never have too many fonts in your arsenal, so head over to the link above and check out all of the free fonts Google has collected for your use. There is more than likely a font to fit any creative concept you can come up with, and, in an era of repurposing content across channels, extra fonts will always be of use.
Thanks for taking the time to read through and stopping by, have one to add feel free to drop it below.
Have a great week everyone.
I'm Spencer Wade - strategist, designer, manager of people and ideas. Platinum Top Contributor for Google Search, G+ & AdWords - TC Mentor too. I’m the founder of Lift Conversions, a Google Partner agency, located in Chicago. I’ve completed Google’s tests - Search, Display, Video, Analytics, & Mobile, and enjoy being a part of the forums. My agency is also an Official City Partner in the Get Your Business Online effort with Instant Verifier access to help immediately verify business listings.
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