I consider myself a minimalist in content marketing. I don’t like complicated calendars, schedulers and planning tools—to me, they make the process more complicated than it needs to be. Not to mention, they make content marketers rigid. If you’re using a 6-month content calendar planning tool—that your company is paying for—you feel obligated to stick to every detail of that plan. However, the best content marketers are agile, ready to shift content around as schedules change, events arise or requests are made.
I am both a minimalist and resourceful in my work, so while I do still rely on a few tools for research, planning, editing and more, they’re all straight forward and free. Today I’m sharing a few of my favorites to help you lighten the load on your content marketing efforts.
For: Photo Editing and Creating Graphics
While it would be ideal to learn and use a tool like Adobe Photoshop for photo editing, I just don’t have the time to learn it, nor the money to pay for it. I started using Photoscape X (only for Mac; sorry Windows users) a few years ago and now rely on it for any and all photo editing or graphics creation I do, which is a lot.
I can do standard editing, including cropping, color fixing and adjustments, and resizing. What I use Photoscape for most, however, is the editor, where you can add text, shapes, colors, and more to images. This is helpful for creating social imagery, but also for adding arrows or boxes to screenshots (like the images in this post), which is important when writing tutorial pieces or requesting design changes to your content.
I use Photoscape to create social media imagery for one of my clients and you can see some of the finished products below. (Note: that collage of photos was also made with Photoscape!)
My work as a content marketer involves assessing the value of various websites, with one of the most important metrics being Domain Authority. While there are a number of paid tools you can use, I’ve found the best, easiest and most reliable is this particular web-based tool. The idea is as simple as it sounds: you copy and paste a list of websites, check boxes for the data you want it to find (Domain Authority, Page Authority, Moz Rank, IP Address), and then wait for the results to populate below.
This is ideal if you’re doing website research on a large scale using Google Sheets because you can copy and paste directly from the sheet into the tool. No extra steps, no adding commas—making what might normally be a tedious job, much easier and streamlined. You also don’t need an account, which means you have one less password to remember.
For: Scheduling and Social Listening
I wanted to include both of these because I currently use both and see them as similar products with differing strengths. There are many paid tools available, and I’ve used many of them, but when it comes to simple, free tools, these are my favorites. Here’s what I like about each one:
Scheduling: Buffer’s strength for content marketers is that it’s clean and easy to navigate. Without a complicated interface, you can easily see what’s scheduled and which channels are empty. The analytics in their free tool is minimal, but still valuable.
All social: Hootsuite serves more as an overall listening tool without being overwhelming. My favorite aspect of this tool is being able to add streams to monitor for mentions, various keywords or even direct messages on individual accounts. While it also serves as a scheduling tool that works as expected, free accounts have no access to analytics.
There are so many planning and to-do list apps and it took me years to find one that’s exactly what I’ve been looking for. The challenge with to-do list apps is how complicated they are—many require each task to have a due date, for example, or use complicated interfaces where your tasks are organized by day, making it hard to view your whole week at once.
TickTick is everything I was looking for and more, and is perfect for the content marketer who manages multiple accounts or clients. Here’s what makes it perfect for the minimalist content marketer:
In the All Tab, you can see tasks for each individual client at one time. Each client lives as their own “list,” which is what you’re seeing below:
You can also look at each list individually, so as you move through your workday, you’re able to focus on just one client, making it easier to stay on task without getting distracted.
The number one feature I look for, however, is being able to check tasks off the list. With TickTick, anything checked off the list lives at the bottom, making it easy to report back to stakeholders if need-be, or keep track of what you’ve done that day.
You could also use this as a content planning tool, with a list for each month and the content you plan to create. Because you can add due dates, notes, a priority level and checkboxes within the description area, you’re able to organize each detail easily.
For: Finding Sources
Again, I wanted to include both because they serve a similar purpose—yet are very different at the same time. HARO (Help a Reporter Out) is less of a tool, and more of a service, but is extremely valuable to me as a content marketer because it’s so easy to use. You don’t need to create an account if you don’t want to, and all responses to your query will come right to your inbox—where you already spend most of your time anyway. If you need to find sources for an article, this is the way to do it.
Clearbit is another way to find sources, but I also use it to connect with website owners and publishers. It lives in your inbox as an add-on, and allows you to search for contacts for nearly any website—all within your inbox. As a content marketer who guests posts and is always connecting with other editors and marketers, I use this tool every single day.
Minimalist Doesn’t Mean Ineffective
You don’t need to use complicated, expensive tools just because they’re available. While some may be necessary for enterprise-level content marketing management, if you’re like me, managing a small handful of clients, or working at just one organization, these will be all that you need. Combine them with Google Drive (Sheets and Docs), Gmail and others, and you can be organized and successful without getting lost in a mix of complicated tools.
This research stems from a survey of 165 marketing, commerce and supply chain executives, and 12 deep-dive interviews with executives who reveal the ways they are rethinking their engagement strategy.