11 Essential Content Marketing Tools That Will Help Your Business

Nearly 9 out of 10 marketers use content marketing as part of their marketing strategy.

If your small business or startup leverages content marketing, you already know the benefits.

No matter what industry you’re in, writing is essential to reach an audience and market your company. As we previously wrote:

If you’re not creating content on the web, you don’t exist on the web. A 140 character tweet is content. A 1,000 word blog post is content. A commend to a blog post is content. Your website is content.

Content is king and nearly every marketer is constantly searching for content marketing unicorns.

Without content, we can’t share our stories or tell people why they should become customers. In fact, some brave brands have taken content marketing to an extreme by experimenting with troll content marketing.

Doing content marketing effectively takes skill, patience, and the right tools.

Fortunately, there are many free and paid tools that can improve written content.

So, whether you’re just starting out with content marketing or have been leveraging content marketing for a while, check out 11 of our favorite content marketing tools:

 

1. Workflowy

Some people sit down and start writing.

But this method doesn’t work for everyone. Many people we need outlines to organize research and ideas.

While outlines can be written on virtually any word processing software, Workflowy is an app loved by major entrepreneurs and CEOs for its simplicity.

There’s no catch, it’s free to use.

You can even tag your bullet points to make reorganization easier. This comes in handy when writing pieces that can be organized in a number of ways. That’s pretty much the only bell or whistle on the site – with no extra settings, you can completely focus in on outlining your writing.

Workflowy also has an app that syncs with the website for those of us that are on the go – although it’s undergoing a redesign to become more user-friendly.

 

2. Grammarly

Grammarly is one of our favorite writing tools.

Grammarly is a desktop app, a website, and more importantly, a Google Chrome extension. There’s also a keyboard available for iOS users!

Using artificial intelligence, Grammarly checks your writing for spelling, grammar, punctuation, word choice, and style errors like passive voice.

The best part is that each time it flags an error, it tells you why it flagged the error.

While the core product from Grammarly is free, there is a premium version.

The premium version looks for more detailed errors, completing genre-specific checks and better vocabulary suggestions. The premium version also checks for plagiarism.

 

3. Hemingway App

Hemingway App is a website and a desktop app available to anyone for free.

The site checks for sentence structure errors, like the overuse of adverbs or passive voice.

Hemingway App also looks for sentences that are difficult to read, categorizing them into yellow and red depending on the level of difficulty.

It also gives you some stats on your writing. On the right side of the app, you get a readability score for your writing. You also get a reading time, word count, character count, sentence count, and paragraph count.

So depending on your quota, it’s a lot easier to track through Hemingway.

 

4. Cliché Finder

Do you ever read a piece of writing and think that 30 other people could have written it?

That’s exactly the thought that the creators of Cliché Finder had, so they built a website that could check for clichés.

The site looks for common phrases and highlights them in red, indicating that the phrase has a tendency to be overused. While it doesn’t offer any alternatives, it’s a good way to check if your writing is unique.

 

5. One Look

One Look is a writer’s savior when it comes to finding words that you just can’t remember.

The thesaurus has a reverse dictionary feature that allows users to type in the definition of the word they are thinking of and suggests a number of words that might match the description.

This is especially helpful when you’re stuck in a rut and can’t pinpoint what you’re trying to say.

The site is also available as a Google Docs add-on.

 

6. Portent

Portent is a wonderful tool for writers that often find themselves out of ideas.

The site lets you enter in a keyword, and generates titles with fun little word bubbles of notes on the topic. If you don’t love the first idea, you can keep refreshing the generator for the same keyword.

While the technology is a little primitive and may not give you exactly the title or angle you are looking for, it makes for a fun way to jog your brain into thinking again. Since some of the suggestions can be silly, it’s a great way to start pushing your topic creativity.

And if you’re still stuck on generating topic ideas after using Portent, check out the ways these entrepreneurs stay creative.

 

7. Daily Page

While grammar and idea generation is vital to any strong writer, so is practice.

Daily Page helps writers build consistent writing habits.

The site sends you a daily email reminder to write, and lets you write about whatever you want or choose a fun prompt.

Writing happens on the site, and is distraction free (with goal tracking). And while this habit builder isn’t free (it’s $3.99/month), it also gives you access to dozens of online lessons on style, storytelling, editing, and more.

 

8. Trello

We’re big fans of Trello at crowdspring!

For anyone trying to organize writing ideas on either a micro or macro level, Trello is a great tool that helps you do just that.

At crowdspring, we use Trello to track our blog content (and ideas). Pitches go in one column, and then we move them into in-progress, ready to edit, and ready to publish columns – depending on the topic’s status.

The best part about Trello is that you can work on your ideas and workflows alone, or as part of a team. So, if you like brainstorming with a fellow writer, Trello can be a great space to do just that.

 

9. iA Writer

iA Writer is a desktop and iOS app that unfortunately isn’t free, but is worth every penny.

The app is a simple word processor that eliminates all the distractions of traditional software like Microsoft Word, Google Docs, or even WordPress.

As you write, iA Writer highlights one sentence at a time and only writes in plain text. You can change between a few different layouts, but each one maintains iA Writer’s signature simplicity.

The ability to focus on one sentence at a time is powerful.

When we recently debated a logo design for a new brand, we spent time brainstorming about the company and the products the company would offer. Unfortunately, when we sat down to review and discuss our notes, there was a lot of “noise” on the page. We used iA Writer to review our notes one sentence at a time and were able to focus carefully and separately on each idea.

iA Writer lets you to store your writing in folders, see the reading time, character/word/sentence counts, and find and replace certain words or phrases. These are nice, added features.

 

10. Draft

Any good writer knows that another pair of eyes is essential to creating great pieces.

Editors are vital, especially when writing for a company.

Draft is a fantastic product that streamlines the editing process, allowing writers to track changes.

In many word processing systems, changes override each other, and going through the editing history is annoying.

Draft creates separate, side by side copies so that all edits are in another version and writers can accept or reject them. Depending on the pricing tier, writers can also ask for help from professional editors.

Draft also connects to several writing platforms like Google Docs, and lets you mark major draft versions or old pieces, which is helpful when rewriting content.

 

11. CheckMy Links

Check My Links is a great Google Chrome extension that checks for broken links or webpage errors.

Since most written content is now distributed digitally, this is extremely helpful. Even though it doesn’t directly help your writing, it can help the overall credibility of your piece.

In the same way that a spelling error is off-putting to readers, a broken link is a sure way to break a reader’s trust.

Conclusion

Writing is a great place to start when improving your content marketing skills, but it’s not the only thing you can do to become a better business owner, entrepreneur, or marketer.

If you’re looking to improve other skills like how to publicize the content you write, check out this list of our favorite online business courses.

And if you’re really feeling ambitious, keep going! Don’t just improve your content, improve your brand. Be sure that your logo is as flexible as your marketing strategy.

If you’re ready to improve your brand through design, let crowdspring’s community of over 210,000 graphic, web, and product designers help you achieve your business dreams. Projects start at $299, including all fees. You can get started on a logo design project in minutes, or request a free design consultation with one of our design experts.