Keeping your content marketing organized can sometimes feel more difficult than the actual writing.
If you’re anything like me, you probably have those days where your head feels like it’s exploding with random ideas, deadlines, and a million to-do-someday items.
Most of us rely on at least a few content marketing tools and systems to help us get our work done more efficiently.
And while content marketers have many options to consider, choosing wisely is key.
I’ve found that trying to use too many content marketing tools can have the opposite effect and get in the way instead of helping!
So which products and apps should content marketing and PR pros lean on to keep their projects organized and to get the writing done?
Everyone is different, and there is no “right” answer. But I’m nosy. I like to know what other people do that works well for them!
I advocate keeping things as simple as possible.
Here’s my current toolbox for recording ideas, tracking details and getting my content marketing done.
Content Marketing Tools to Keep Track of Deadlines, Dates, and Details
1. GTD (Getting Things Done)
I have a few favorite content marketing tools I use to keep track of deadlines and ideas.
I recently read Getting Things Done by David Allen, and while I didn’t buy into the entire system, it changed the way I think about work.
To summarize, Allen advocates creating a system for taking in information and prioritizing work using reminders, lists, and regular reviews.
The GTD thesis is, that by using a dependable system and a defined approach to priorities, we can spend more time working on the tasks that matter most to us.
If we don’t use a system, we spend too much time lost in a sea of lower-value tasks.
I’ve found this to be true!
GTD is a useful framework for approaching tasks—especially step one: capture everything!
For productivity and task management, I love Asana.
No matter how small or random the task, I can use Asana to capture everything that comes to mind and relax knowing I won’t forget it.
I can assign reminders and due dates.
It even comes in handy for planning editorial calendars with many people.
There’s also the immense satisfaction I get from looking at my little “progress” chart every few weeks to see how much I’ve accomplished!
That little digital visual pat on the back always helps keep me feeling motivated.
For capturing notes, lists and random thoughts, Evernote is currently my offboard brain.
I love the searchability, the tagging, and the ease of use.
Of all the tools I use, though, this is the one I have reservations about: the sharing and chat functions leave a lot to be desired, and I’m not very happy with their latest round of changes or their pricing.
Because of that, I am considering migration to another note-taking service.
Switching note services is a big leap though, so if you have a favorite, I’m all ears.
Content Marketing Tools to Begin, Maximize, and Record Brainstorming Sessions
4. Google Trends
Have a few ideas but don’t know which one to pursue?
Are you unsure about the best keywords to focus on for a particular general topic?
Start with research using listening and trend analysis tools like Google Trends.
Using Google Trends, you can look at historical search data to see when a keyword or phrase gained popularity and how much popularity, relative to the total search-volume across different geographic locations and languages.
If you want to see an example of Google Trends in action as a research tool, Gini Dietrich had a great one in this post.
Buzzsumo is an online social listening tool that allows anyone to check on what content is most popular for a given timeframe, keyword, or phrase.
It’s available as a free or paid service and allows you to find out what others share most, when, and through which social channels.
Sometimes reading some of the most popular content in your target subject area will trigger the idea avalanche you’re seeking!
You can also use this tool to gain insights into which social channels to use for distributing different types of content.
Last, but not least, doing some research with Buzzsumo can help you identify new publications and potential partners to pitch.
(Now say that three times fast.)
For brainstorming ideas, I love Mindmeister, a web-based mind mapping tool.
You can create private mind maps, or you can share them to collaborate with clients or team members.
Like many creative types, I’m a highly visual person.
I love to see all my ideas written down in a big cloud.
It’s satisfying to see progress.
Often, the act of writing even leads to new ideas, variations on existing ideas, or new questions and answers.
I’ve used this tool for everything from event planning to meeting planning, to generate ideas for articles and pitches or marketing campaigns, to brainstorming art projects, to reorganizing website architecture.
For design problem-solving and for turning vague concepts into concrete plans that I can share, I like Mural.
It’s a virtual whiteboard especially great for team collaboration, but I have also used it on my own for brainstorming and getting down my ideas for content or design work.
This tool is marketed to designers, so it might not be one of the first things you’d think of as being useful specifically for content and PR work, but give it a try!
I’ve found it’s perfect for collaboration with remote teams, SWOT analysis, group (or solo!) brainstorms, mood boarding, and beyond, especially when your project has a visual element that would benefit from being moved around free-form.
Content Marketing Tools to Create the Final Product
8. Google Docs & Sheets
Nothing fancy here: to get your content done, you have to sit your butt down and write.
You can use whatever word processing tool you like, but no discussion of tools or apps for writers and marketers would be complete without a mention of Google Docs.
I more or less live my life in Google Docs and Sheets, tracking time, projects, consulting clients, research, budgets, and lots of other miscellaneous data.
I write my blog and article drafts in Google Docs.
And I share those drafts with collaborators and editors in Google Docs while making liberal use of the “suggesting,” “editing,” and “comment” features (so much more convenient than using MS Word and track changes to handle edits).
And my final articles?
Yep, Google Docs as well for final articles and archives.
Most content creators I’ve spoken with love Hemingway.
This web app parses your writing as you type and points out super long sentences, suboptimal vocabulary choices and more.
The goal of Hemingway is to identify common writing errors or bad habits to help you write clearly.
Personally, I don’t like to use this app for composing my writing.
However, I often copy and paste it in to check on things such as average reading grade level, or some complex sentences (my weakness).
While I don’t use it as heavily as some, I’ve found it very helpful for the final polishing step, especially when I’m aiming for a particular level of simplicity.
10. Your Own Amazing Brain!
I’ve talked about all of my current favorite content marketing tools so far.
Of course, the most important tool is free and doesn’t require wi-fi…it’s the one between your ears.
Now it’s your turn!
What do you think about the tools I’m using here?
How does your writing and project management process stack up?
Are you using other, fancier and more fabulous tools that we should all know about?
Let me know in the comments!