Content Marketing Tools – The Right Tools for Your Content Marketing Work

I get asked quite a bit about the content marketing tools I use to run this website. After countless email and phone conversations on tools, I’ve finally gotten around to listing everything in one place. Additionally, I’ve included tools that I may not currently use but either have in the past or just highly recommend.

Some of the tools listed below I would consider to be necessities, while other content marketing tools listed are definitely luxuries. This means that not all the tools listed below are free.  Certain content marketing tools you will have to pay for (these are worth it) , but all of them will help you create a more professional and successful online presence.

Content Marketing Tools on this Site

Listed below are the exact tools I am currently using to run this website and Hanley Media Lab (updated July 2014).

  • Pagely Website Hosting - Enjoy all the benefits of self-hosted WordPress & the security, speed and support of a premium managed service.
  • OptinMonster - OptinMonster is the best lead-generation plugin for WordPress that allows you to create attention grabbing optin forms that convert.
  • Circloscope –  (Free) Automatically discover the engagers you need to follow to make your Google+ experience explode — in a fraction of the time of doing it manually.

Recommended Content Marketing Tools

WordPress Website Hosting

If you are starting a WordPress blog today or if you’re looking for a hosting service that help your blog perform better my top recommendations (besides Pagely which is listed above) are:

  • WP Engine - WP Engine is all about hassle-free hosting focused on speed, scale, security and support.  These are all features crucial to the success of your blog… unless you’d like to deal with inconvenient errors, overloads and downtime that quickly repel the readers you work so hard to attract.
  • Bluehost - Bluehost is lower cost option for hosting your WordPress blog than WP Engine.  Bluehost is fairly reliable and easy to use, including one-click install of WordPress.  You can register your new URL and have WordPress loaded and ready to rock in a matter of moments.

Building Your Blog and Web Design

  • WordPress - There is no better platform for content management for the average blogger than WordPress.  It’s free, easy to use and looks great.  Both this blog and my insurance agency blog run on WordPress.  With each of the hosting options listed above WPEngine and Bluehost WordPress is only one-click away.  Follow the instructions inside of each system to quickly and easily upload WordPress onto your new website.

Included in your WordPress blog install will be two free themes.  You can, if you so choose, begin to build your new blog on one of these free themes. You can also search the WordPress directory for additional free WordPress blog themes.

Wordpress blog theme

Adding a new theme is easy…

However, I caution you against this.  When creating your WordPress blog platform one of the most important decisions you’ll make is the theme framework on which to build.

Think of your WordPress theme framework as the literal foundation of your blog, on top of which all the shiny features and functions you enjoy will be placed.

It’s very easy to fall into the “Free theme” trap.

STOP.

You wouldn’t wear sweatpants to a job interview would you?

Think of every visitor who finds your site as a job interview.  The professional look of your website matters… a lot!  There is a ton of content on the Internet, which means people have choices.

If you decide to rock a bush league looking website that’s your choice, but understand it sends the message you are NOT serious about what you’re doing. If you’re going to put time and effort into creating a blog, spend a few extra bucks and look like a professional.

There are also site speed and SEO benefits to working with a premium WordPress theme as well. You absolutely cannot go wrong choosing to build your blog platform on either of the Thesis or Genesis WordPress frameworks.

  • Genesis WordPress Theme - When you purchase the Genesis framework for the first time, you receive two items.  The Genesis framework and a skin (or child theme as Studiopress, the creator of Genesis refers to them).  There are many Genesis skins both created by Studiopress and skins created by approved 3rd parties.  The skin you choose will ultimately define the general shape and functionality of your blog.
  • Thesis WordPress Theme - (This site is run on Thesis per above) The great part about Thesis 2.0 is you are not limited to the constraints of a specific theme.  You build the site you want, the way you want it.  In this case I’m able to place a very strong call-to-action on the homepage of my own custom design.The launch of Thesis 2.0 birthed an entirely new way to create WordPress blogs.

Logo / Graphics Work

  • Fiverr - Fiverr is a cheap and easy place to just about anything you can think of related to graphic work, logos, video work for $5. Now there is certainly a level of quality you are giving up by using Fiverr, but for small projects and simple tasks Fiverr is a fantastic resource that I use all the time.
  • ODesk - Odesk is a much more robust and professional platform. This is a forum for professionals to help you achieve larger project with a much higher level of quality. These jobs will cost more but for task like the logo you’ll use on WordPress blog you’re going to be much happier with the result engaging a contractor on Odesk.
  • 99Designs - 99designs is a unique style design website that allows you to create jobs graphics and web design jobs and then have contractors from all over the world bid on your work. We actually used 99designs for The Murray Group logo and got what we were looking for at a very reasonable price tag.

RSS Subscription Service

  • Feedblitz – Feedblitz is the #1 alternative to Google’s Feedburner for RSS subscription services. As Google has begun to pare down a few of it’s services it looks like Feedburner is eventually going to get the axe. I moved all my feeds to Feedblitz a year ago and I’m very happy with their service. Feedblitz also has a nice email subscription service as well.

Blog Images

  • Photopin - Photopin is a very simple website that searches images with the creative commons license and allows you to download them with attribution to the owner of the photo. Quality images truly enhance the effectiveness of your content and I have no problem adding an attribution link to my WordPress blog in exchange for a quality image.
  • PicMonkey - This is my go-to online program for enhancing and/or resizing, adding borders or text to an image. Most of it’s features are free. I use the tool so much I pay the $5 a month for the full version but even with the free version you get a ton of great features.
  • Canva – This is the premium graphics creation tool today. Canva paired with PicMonkey create professional quality graphics almost zero cost.

SEO {Search Engine Optimization}

  • Scribe SEO - Optimize content faster, choose great keywords, preserve reader engagement, build quality links and increase targeted traffic… All that stuff sounds great!  But it also works… What I love about Scribe SEO (I use it on both this site and our insurance agency website) is that you get both an on-page snapshot of your SEO buildout as well as a site wide score for the particular keyword you’re targeting.  Over time you begin to see the site wide score rise as you attack a target keyword. At a minimum check out the four eBooks that you get for free just for logging in, it’s Copyblogger at their best {Check out the Scribe Content Library}
  • Moz – Moz is the most popular WordPress blog backend SEO software available on the Internet. I currently do not subscribe to their service but I have in the past. Moz is great for keyword research, (I also recommend UberSuggest), but what I find fascinating about Moz is that you can look in at your competitors and see what keywords they’re ranking for. Then you can attack those keywords and beat your competitors at their own game.
  • WordPress SEO by Yoast - WordPress SEO is the most complete WordPress SEO plugin that exists today for WordPress blog users. It incorporates everything from a snippet preview and page analysis functionality that helps you optimize your pages content, images titles, meta descriptions and more to XML sitemaps, and loads of optimization options in between. In my personal opinion this is a Must Have plugin for all WordPress blogs.
  • Video SEO by Yoast - If you use video on your site, in your posts or pages, you don’t want the search results for those pages to look bland like any other result, do you? No, you want them to be video results, so they catch the attention of the searcher more, rank better and thus get you more visitors. If you use video I strongly recommend adding this plugin. I use it on my insurance agency website and love it.
  • Local SEO by Yoast - Local search is very important. More and more people are searching on local search phrases or at least have local intent while searching (think mobile search!). So it’s pretty obvious you want to be found on these local phrases. This is a very simple yet powerful plugin that adds meta data to your website which provides Google with better local search data.

Landing Pages

  • Leadpages - Leadpagaes makes creating landing pages very simple.  I’ve used Leadpages on both this site and my client websites and from my experience is the single BEST landing page software I’ve found for a WordPress blog. That being said if you purchase a premium WordPress blog theme with Genesis or Thesis then landing pages are built into most of the child themes available for those platforms. In that case you wouldn’t need Premise.

Email Marketing

  • Aweber - The internet’s most powerful email opt-in service and email marketing/broadcasting tool. Aweber was the tool I used before ActiveCampaign to build my email list and deliver the Content Warfare Newsletter. I really do like Aweber and to this point in my blogging career is one of the few tools I couldn’t continue without.
  • MailChimp - Mailchimp is very nice newsletter service that has increased the quality of their product immensely over the years. I still think it’s a little clunky compared to Aweber but it does have a free limited option for beginners.

Blog Comment System

  • Disqus - Disqus, pronounced “discuss”, is a service and tool for web comments and discussions. Disqus makes commenting easier and more interactive, while connecting websites and commenters across a thriving discussion community. If I didn’t really like the look and feel of the native WordPress blog comment system and CommentLuv I would use Disqus (and it’s free).
  • IntenseDebate - I don’t know a lot about IntenseDebate other than I know that a decent number of bloggers use it. It’s not my favorite and I will probably never use it but it is free.
  • Livefyre - Livefyre is another comment system that I find lacking and clunky compared to the native WordPress blog comment system or Disqus but it does have some cool sharing features and I know there are decent number of bloggers that use this system. It is also free.

Website Tracking

  • Google Analytics - Google Analytics is the enterprise-class web analytics solution that gives you rich insights into your website traffic and marketing effectiveness.  Basically the best tracking system for the average blogger.  There are other tracking products available but stick with Google Analytics and you can’t go wrong. Google Analytics is free and very easy to add to your site. Google Analytics by Yoast is a nice plugin that can handle the entire process for you.

Social Sharing

  •  Buffer App - There are a lot of tools that allow you to schedule tweets and facebook posts but the only one that I use is Buffer App.  The Google Chrome extension makes scheduling my messages easy and allows me to accurately space them throughout the day. That is a ton of functionality from their free product… I’ve never needed the paid option.

Content Marketing Plugins

All of these plugins are Free and add functionality to your site beyond what comes standard on a new WordPress blog install. Consider each and if you feel the content marketing tool would be useful I recommend adding. In general it’s a good rule of thumb to keep you plugins to a minimum unless it is serving a very specific and valuable purpose to your WordPress blog. Over using plugins can drastically slow down your site.

  • Evergreen Post Tweeter - Evergreen Post Tweeter enables you to schedule and automatically tweet out links to old posts.
  • Digg Digg - Your all in one share buttons plugin. Add a floating bar with share buttons to your blog. Just like Mashable… I really like this plugin.
  • nrelated Related Content - The best way to display related content: Thumbnails or Text, on all your pages. This is another of my favorite functionality adding plugins.
  • W3 Total Cache - Easy Web Performance Optimization (WPO) using caching: browser, page, object, database, minify and content delivery network support. Also adds a CDN or Content Delivery Network to your blog.

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