Free Content Creation & Marketing Tools
Writing has always been a wrestling match between the author and the words they use. Those with more talent than others win the matches easily, but they still have to compete. Words will never just give up, and allow themselves to be used however the author sees fit. No, they will struggle and fight to make their use as difficult as possible.
So, I’ve created a list of handy tools you can use to make the process go a little more smoothly. There are tools here that will assist you in every phase of content creation, so feel free to download them all for your own personal use. After all, every good craftsman needs a toolbox!
Writer’s Research Tools
Google Drive Research Tool: Google has included a tool to Google Drive that allows users to perform Google searches without leaving the Drive window. Click “Tools” from the menu and select “Research” from the associated dropdown list.
Site:search: This is a great Google secret that allows you to conduct a Google search of a particular website instead of the entire web. The formula for site:search is site:samplewebsite.com
Google Webmaster Tools: Google’s Webmaster Tools allow you to do a variety of things like check the number of indexed pages on a site, submit a site to Google for crawling/indexing, and catch and remove bad inbound links. You can also get specific information about search queries, impressions, and click-through-rate. Not bad for a free tool!
Chrome Giphy Extension: Google Chrome has an excellent free extension, Giphy, you can use to find the perfect GIF to compliment your content. It’s as easy as opening the extension in Chrome, searching and selecting a GIF, then dragging and dropping it exactly where you want it to go. Giphy works in Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, and more, and support is constantly being expanded.
Word2CleanHTML: If you have ever tried to copy and paste your Word document directly into your CMS then this free tool is for you. All the formatting mistakes that destroyed your beautiful Word doc are filtered out, and replaced with well-formatted HTML. Once you copy and paste your content into the site it’s converted to HTML, and all you have to do is copy and paste it into your site’s CMS. No coding and no frustration with formatting.
Cofftivity: This little tool emits white noise in the form of café background noise. Studies have shown white noise can boost creative cognition, and the site gives you quite a few choices as far as the type of café noise you hear. You can download the app for your iPhone or Android device too.
Evernote: The free version of this tool is a real help when you need to-do lists, research notes, and even whole pieces of content. You’ll find Evernote to be of assistance during every phase of writing and editing your work. The mobile, desktop, and web apps all sync automatically, so you can continue working anywhere and on any device. Try the voice-to-text feature to speak your piece…literally!
WordCounter: This tool is similar to the word counter found at the bottom of a Word document. The fact that Word includes this feature is great, but many other notetaking apps don’t. So, if you’re in a spot and need to know your word count simply copy and paste it into the tool, and you’ll get an accurate count in no time.
HTML Hacks for Marketers: Most content writers focus on their craft with little attention for anything else. That was fine in the past, but as a marketer today you need to understand some coding to ensure you’re getting the most from your efforts. It’s also a smart move to learn some HTML tips so you don’t have to rely, and pay, a webmaster to do all the behind-the-scenes coding for you.
Hemingway App: Hemingway, famous for his economy of words, was the inspiration for his namesake app. The Hemingway App assesses your writing with the mission of suggesting possible ways to improve the content you’ve created. Its features include identifying hard-to-read sentences, passive voice, adverbs, and even overly-complex vocabulary choices (it goes so far as to suggest synonyms!).
Correctica: Correctica catches what spell checkers, grammar checkers, and human editors miss.
Grammarly: Grammarly makes sure everything you type is easy to read, effective, and mistake-free.
Headline Analyzer: Headlines are one of the most important lines of content you can come up with. It’s a fact that almost half the people who click on an article never read beyond it. That’s a creepy thought for any content creator. Headlines keep readers reading, and this tool is a great help when formulating your headlines.
Design for Content
Canva: Canva is the perfect tool for creating beautiful visuals to accompany your content. They have a huge library of free content to choose from, so you can add stunning graphics to your work for free!
ThingLink: ThingLink allows you to make an image or infographic clickable. You upload an image and icons are added that appear when users hover over the specific area they were placed within an image. You can link videos, messages, site links, and much more!
Google Fonts: Writers love fonts. It’s as simple as that. So, we’re always on the lookout for new sources of free font choices. Google has stepped up in this department, and given free access to a library containing 600 fonts. You can select the fonts you want from the directory and click “Use” to get the HTML code. Then just copy and paste that HTML string into your site’s coding. Or, download the fonts to your desktop, and use them whenever you like by choosing “Add to Collection”.
Nimbus Screenshot: This tool gives you the option of capturing a screenshot of the visible portion of a webpage, a selected area of the page, a selected scroll from the page, the entirety of the page, or the entire browser window; including what’s below the fold.
Image Color Picker: Everyone has been in a situation where they had to match the color of a specific item to the color of another item. It’s a nightmare for those of us who have no internal color wheel, but there’s hope for us with this easy-to-use tool. Just take a picture of whatever you need to match, and upload it to ImageColorPicker.com. You can use the image URL instead to get the same results. Once uploaded, you simply select the area of the image with the color you need to match, and the tool gives you HEX, RGB, and HSV values. That’s a match!
HubSpots Free Stock Photos: 550+ completely free, including royalty-free, images from the kind folks at HubSpot. They are an excellent resource for anyone interested in marketing, and they’ve gathered together a great grouping of stock images you can use for anything; without the worry of a lawsuit.
Haiku Deck: Full of simple layouts, images, and fonts for you to use when creating PowerPoint or SlideShare presentations. It starts at $10 a month for individuals, but, if in a pinch, they offer a free trial. So, you could use it then cancel the subscription, but if you can afford the small fee per month it can save you a ton of time. There is no better tool when you’re in a rush!
PlaceIt: This tool allows users to upload images or video of their site or product right on real-world images of people holding phones, laptops, watching TVs, etc. The mockups are complete for many devices made by Apple, so you don’t even need to use Photoshop to fix the details. Your image fits seamlessly into the pre-existing image with automatic alterations made to give it as natural an appearance as possible. The results are nothing short of amazing!
Infogram: Create infographics, charts, and other data visualization aids with this simple, intuitive tool similar to Canva. It boasts compatibility with Excel, and the infographics you create are responsive on mobile devices.
HubSpot’s Resizable Icons: The people at HubSpot make the list again for their amazing resizable icon library. There are tons to choose from, and with this resource there’s no more worrying over enlarging that thumbs up! They have included instructions for color changes as well.
Assorted Calculators: There are few things that interrupt a workflow more than changing focus from one type of subject to another. I don’t know a single writer who loves to do algebra during their writing breaks. I’m sure there are plenty of people who do, but changing the portion of the brain we’re using mid-flow can be disastrous for our productivity; not to mention the quality of our work. These calculators are great tools to keep you on track when mathematics rears its ugly head.
3-Way % Calculator: What is X% of Y? X is what percent of Y? X is Y% of what?
% Change Calculator: ((y2 – y1) / y1)*100 = your percentage change.
A/B Testing Calculator: The calculator below can be used to interpret the results of a usability-oriented split (A/B) test. This is a basic scenario where you have two groups of Visitors (A & B) who each get to see one version of your website and for whom you track the number of Conversions or Goals (purchases, downloads, click-throughs, etc.).
Conversion Rate Calculator: Use this calculator to determine the percent of site visitors that do what you want them to do, whether it’s signing up for your free offer, calling you or buying from you. Just put in your numbers and click on calculate to determine how well your web site marketing is working.
Vectr: is a free graphics software used to create vector graphics easily and intuitively. It’s a simple yet powerful web and desktop cross-platform tool to bring your designs into reality.