Content marketing is an essential weapon in any small business’s arsenal. It’s a relatively easy and often inexpensive way of getting your name out there.
However, once a small business has paid the rent, the bills, wages, and other essentials, there’s not always a lot left in the coffers for marketing. This is especially true for new businesses, when every penny counts.
If this all sounds very familiar, then read on for 6 totally free tools to supercharge your content marketing efforts. I have personally tested each of these resources during my own content journey, and they’ve all been invaluable.
I might as well mention: I haven’t been paid by any of these organisations to talk about them – they’re just free resources that I think every budding content creator needs to know about. So without further ado…
Written Content Tools
You might have seen YouTube pre-roll ads for this and wondered what the fuss is all about. Grammarly is essentially a spell-checker on steroids. It’s available as a browser app, a standalone desktop app, and as a browser plugin and checks your text for spelling, grammar, and syntax errors as you type. It also automatically saves your documents in its own cloud storage system.
Though it’s a great tool, no mechanised spell-checkers should be trusted 100%, so view its suggestions with a critical eye. That said, Grammarly can give you more insight into the errors you make than other word processing software, so you can better learn from your mistakes.
SEOBook’s Keyword Density Tool
Though keyword densities are becoming less of an absolute benchmark by which your site will sink or swim in search, they can still cause you some problems if you over- or under-use a key phrase. Though this site requires you to create a free login to access its SEO tools, it does have a handy and easy to use suite of free resources.
If you copy and paste either your text, HTML code or a URL the Keyword Density tool, it will show you a percentage representing the frequency of all 2- to 3-word phrases within the text. It’s incredibly useful to make sure you aren’t using a particular turn of phrase too much, especially if it’s something you don’t particularly want to rank for.
Topic Brainstorming Tools
Don’t let the beardy chap distract you – this is a powerful tool if inspiration just hasn’t shown up today. Simply type in a topic that you want to write about, and AnswerThePublic will look at the Google and Bing search auto-suggestions that come up relating to that phrase, whilst appending question words and prepositions. This gives you some interesting questions and statements that people have actually searched for – queries that you can resolve in your content. For example, a search for “planning permission” brings up some interesting questions you may be able to write about, such as:
- what planning permission do i need for a conservatory
- why planning permission is refused
- how much does planning permission cost
- when does planning permission expire
Which are all excellent topics for use in blog posts, infographics, videos – you name it.
Google Keyword Planner
Link: Accessible Via Google Ads
When you want an accurate picture of how a given keyword has performed in search recently, why not go straight to the horse’s mouth? Google Keyword Planner is a powerful tool which is part of Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords), so you’ll need to set up a Google Ads account first. You will be asked to enter a payment method as a part of this process, but you won’t be charged unless you actually set up an ad campaign and put it live.
Once you’re in, head to the spanner in the top right and select “keyword planner”, then “find keywords”. Type in a few relevant key terms (separated by a comma) or a competitor’s website URL, and Keyword Planner will suggest a list of related keywords along with an average of how many times each phrase gets searched per month. These related terms can help you identify popular topics in your industry and get an idea of how in-demand each one is.
Canva is a free and super simple image creation platform, available through your browser or as an iPhone or Android App. You can choose from a number of useful preset image sizes for print, web, and social media, or use your own custom dimensions. You can also access free and paid stock images directly through the tool. People engage more with visual content over social media, so Canva is great for grabbing attention without the expense of professional image editing software.
Canva’s editing tool is really easy to use once you’ve got a little practice, and you can download your finished projects as PNG, JPG or as a multi-page PDF – meaning it’s ideal for creating professional looking eBooks too. Quick sidenote here; Canva is also available as a paid version with a variety of improved features including creating animated GIFs, which Honor talks more about here.
Pixabay is an extensive online repository of free to use images whose owners have released them from copyright under a “Creative Commons 0” license. Simply put, this means you can use them for free – for commercial or personal purposes without attribution. This of course makes it a fantastic free alternative to paid stock image sites, though they’re not the only CC0 image resource out there (some of my other faves are FreeRangeStock, Unsplash, and Pexels). All of these websites offer a selection of high quality graphics which can be useful for all kinds of industries and businesses.
Do you know of any excellent free tools for content creators that we’ve not mentioned here? Please share them down in the comments!