Behind-the-Scenes: The Content Tools that I Can’t Live Without by Your Content Empire

I spent the bigger part of 2015 doing trials or purchasing solitary months of different services and tools to find what worked the best for my business and content goals. I work best when I have clearly defined workflows and systems so that I can free up the logical part of my brain (the organizer) and focus completely on being creative.

I’m also not one for just reading an article and taking the writer’s word that what works for them is going to work just as well for me. So don’t just read this review and run to sign up for these. Test them for yourself! If I’ve learned anything this year it’s that everyone’s ideal workflow process is a little bit (or a lot a bit) different and it will continue to change and evolve over time.

So without further ado, here are my favourites this year for managing my content workflows:

Ideas & Inspiration

Microsoft OneNote (https://www.onenote.com/ or on iTunes)

For organizing notes and ideas into notebooks and tabs. This program used to crash all.the.time on Macs, but they’ve recently done an update, and it works like a dream. I personally prefer it to Evernote and find the tabs and notebooks much easier to use.

Feedly (https://feedly.com/i/welcome)

For keeping up to date with the latest posts on the blogs I follow. I usually do a roundup post on Tuesdays for my Facebook page, and this is usually how I find what to feature (or from the posts that members of the Your Content Empire Facebook group – click here to join). Once I find what I like, I’ll save into Pocket, which brings me to my next recommendation…

Pocket (https://getpocket.com/)

For sorting and saving posts or resources that I come across. I tag them as either TuesdayRoundup, Research or another category. I use to have a really bad habit of saving everything in my bookmark folders – no matter what I tried it would always become a big mess. I like that everything’s in one place that I can easily find and organize. There is a free version although I pay for the premium version (better tagging!)

Planning – My Content Strategy 

Monthly Content Planning Kit (https://yourcontentempire.com/monthly-content-planning-kit/)

I feel a bit strange including this bad boy on here, but seriously I print this out each and every month. Although I prefer to write and organize my research digitally, building my initial content strategy for the month has to be done in pen and paper.

Trello (https://trello.com/)

I organize all of the content that I’ve already created in Trello. I like that I have the freedom to move it around and it gives me a high-level view of my own resources I have to pull from when I’m creating something new. If you want to build your content empire, keeping your existing content organized and reusable is a must!

Editorial Calendar – Google Spreadsheet  

I’ve tried so many options for a digital editorial calendar, but nothing has been as easy or simple as a Google Spreadsheet. I tried and liked DivvyHQ, but it was too robust (and pricey) for my current needs. Even though I plan everything out on paper, after I’ve created the content, I need it to be easily accessible, so I can view it from anywhere. Here’s a picture of the daily setup that I use.

Behind the Scenes: The Content Tools I Can't Live Without by Trunked Creative

Outlining & Research  

After my initial notes are done in the Monthly Content Planning Kit for my upcoming post, I head over to Microsoft OneNote to outline my post (covered above).

If I’m creating a series or something more in depth, I mindmap everything out using post-its and a whiteboard. This method always brings out my best ideas. Sometimes low-tech is the best-tech!

Pinterest – If I have to do research for a post, I usually turn to Pinterest. I consider Pinterest a peer-reviewed and curated search engine. If you want to get a sense of the current conversation on your given topic, it’s worth it to start on Pinterest.

Creation 

Pages – Writing 

Full-Screen to minimize distractions. I wish I had something cooler that I used to write my posts, but I’ve tried a lot of those and find most a little annoying to work with. For anything over 2500 words though, I do use Scrivener. Another thing I’ve learned about my work process? I need to set a timer when I’m writing my drafts. It adds a sense of urgency, and if I don’t set one, I’ll sit staring a blank screen or let myself get distracted very easily.

Time it takes me to draft a post with a timer = 25-50 minutes depending on how long it is.

Time it takes me to draft a post without a timer = 4-6 hours (Seriously. I’m highly susceptible to writer’s block, distractions, and Wikipedia wormholes)

I use a Pomodoro timer to keep myself on track. Every day you can see how many tomatoes you complete, so I like to see how many I can do in a day.

Dragon Dictation – Speech to Text  (https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/dragon-dictation/id341446764?mt=8)

If I’m having trouble writing or just don’t feel like it, I’ll take my outline and just speak to each point in this app. Although I prefer having a system for creating content, sometimes it’s deliberately breaking the system that ends up working the best. Since the app’s ability to translate speech to text is just good and not great, sometimes I’ll just send the files to someone on Fiverr to transcribe.

Adobe Suite  

I tend to stick to Adobe for all of my graphics. I have used Canva and find it really easy and intuitive to use (also they’re always improving or adding features), so if I didn’t have Adobe, I would probably use Canva for my graphics. Here’s what I use from Adobe and for what:

  • Photoshop – Graphics
  • InDesign – Worksheets/Workbooks/Cheat Sheets
  • Acrobat – Fillable Forms

Sometimes I’ll use Illustrator but it’s mainly these three programs.

Camtasia 2 (https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/camtasia-2/id478330793?mt=12)

For any screen-recorded videos, I use Camtasia. I’ve found that it’s the most straightforward and easy to use. I know it’s an investment but if you’re creating a lot of screen videos (say if you’re creating a course), I think it’s worth it. I also use the Blue Yeti microphone with a pop filter.

Editing 

Grammarly (https://www.grammarly.com/)

It’s become my go-to for editing, and I’ve found that it’s really accurate (you’ll still need to read over for context and word choice errors). There is a free version, but I use it so much that I’ve upgraded to the premium version. Funny story, every week they’ll send you an email letting you know how many mistakes you made that week. Jerks. Doesn’t make me love the app any less though.

Fiverr  

Sometimes on Fiverr, you’ll find some real duds but other times you can find them gems. I’ve found a girl on Fiverr who is great for editing (click here to hire Jeyrin). For $5, she’ll edit and proofread up to 2,500 words. Usually, I batch my content a month in advance, so I’ll bundle everything and send it over to her for proofreading.

Publishing

WordPress 

I doubt it will surprise anyone that I use WordPress for my own website and blog since I spend so much of my time creating websites for other creative, female entrepreneurs.

GetResponse (http://www.getresponse.com)

The best email service provider that I’ve ever tried (and I’ve tried so, so many of them). It’s simple, easy to use, and I would recommend it to anyone. With that being, read below for why I’m moving away from GetResponse.

ConvertKit (http://mbsy.co/cPhmC)

I am testing and currently planning on moving over all of my subscribers in November. CovertKit has the same marketing automation only found in programs like Infusionsoft and Ontraport, easy content upgrades, unlimited landing pages and the best drip campaign function I’ve ever seen. Also, I really like how ConvertKit uses tags instead of lists. So there aren’t any duplications with your subscriber being on more than one list and you sending them duplicate emails.

Content Marketing 

CoSchedule (http://coschedule.com/)

I love CoSchedule. It’s probably my favourite tool that I use. I tested CoSchedule, Hootsuite and Edgar at the same time and CoSchedule came out on top easily. I like the calendar view and that it integrates with your blog, so your social media posts are sorted by which blog post they belong to. Right now I only use it for Twitter and Facebook, but I am started to look at other ways I can leverage it.

Hootsuite (https://hootsuite.com/)

I know I said I tested it, and CoSchedule came out on top, but I am using Hootsuite to pre schedule my Instagram posts. That’s all. I tested it and Latergram but found that I preferred Hootsuite, and it ended up being less expensive as a bonus.

Tailwind (https://www.tailwindapp.com/)

Tailwind is incredible. It lets me pre schedule and drip out Pins to my own and group boards. Pinterest is a secondary platform for me, so I like that Tailwind allows me to put Pinning as much on autopilot as much I would like it to be.

Operation Implementation

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