In order to produce content at a professional level, you have to arm yourself with the right equipment. A podcaster can only go so far with GarageBand; a team can only organize itself so well through email. How well you can wrangle your assets depends on how good your tools are.
Thankfully, better tools don't have to come at a massive price. If you need something more powerful, you may not need to jump onto pricey, industry-standard bandwagons just yet. Plenty of websites and applications exist that can improve your process without sunken costs. To start managing your material better, look into these free content marketing tools. If they prove insufficient, you can always upgrade to a premium service later.
Content and Team Management
Many collaborators try to organize their teams through email, social media groups, or intranets. If you're looking for something simple, cohesive, and task-driven, Trello is a great service to try.
We use Trello to manage our content at STU, and we find it's a great way to centralize communication and clarify the status of our projects.
The basic unit of Trello use is the "card," which represents a specific task. Within a card, you can chat about project specifics or upload pertinent files. Cards sit within "lists," which are arranged in columns. Lists typically signify the status of a project. Here at STU, we move cards from list to list as a project reaches checkpoints and nears completion. Finally, lists are conglomerated into "boards," to which you can add specific members of your team.
Trello's basic service is completely free for anyone to use. You can get started with unlimited boards, lists, cards, and members. The free tier also lets you integrate data from a handful of other services, and you can upload up to 10 MB worth of files.
If you and your teammates are Google power users, the Drive is an intuitive place to start collaborating. Google provides user-friendly content creation tools for word processing, spreadsheets, and slideshows, all of which are free to use and can be shared with others in your team. One great aspect of the Drive is the ability to edit documents in real time, with no saving and no re-uploading. With Google Docs, it's easy to leave margin notes and track changes, which makes editing a breeze.
Since Google is such a ubiquitous service, most people can join your shared folder without even creating a new account. Every basic Google user receives 15 MB of storage space free. All data in a shared folder counts toward the host's storage. If you'd like a fresh 15 MB for your team project, consider creating a new account specifically for Drive hosting.
Those who need a more streamlined emailing process should look into MailChimp. Sending content to a large mailing list is a convoluted process when you don't have a dedicated tool for email management. MailChimp is a sensible place to start emailing better, since it offers a menagerie of ways to create professional newsletters, distribute them efficiently, and analyze how your audience engages with them. You can compose newsletters within the application and save your formats to edit later. We suggest using MailChimp to create mailing lists for specific demographics. You can even set messages up to send automatically at specific times. MailChimp is free to use if you have 2,000 subscribers or fewer.
Perhaps you're looking for tools that will help you make content more easily. If it's graphics software you're after, you may be tempted to jump into Adobe territory. However, Photoshop, Illustrator, and the like are not cheap, and they offer a wide array of professional tools you may not need. GIMP is an open-source alternative to these programs. It offers a simpler selection of tools, but it still puts you a step above the likes of Microsoft Paint or online graphic-creation tools such as PicMonkey. Many professional artists use GIMP as a Photoshop alternative and do so successfully!
Most good content starts with good writing. To win and keep the attention of a large audience, that writing needs to be as simple as possible. That's easier said than done.
Channel Ernest Hemingway's to-the-point writing style; try Hemingway App. Hemingway App is a step above a spell checker; it scours your writing for weak phrasing and wordiness. Hemingway will highlight phrases with passive tense, adverbs, wordiness, and other potential issues. It also assigns a reading level to each sentence.
You can go to the Hemingway App website and use the service free. If you'd rather have it on your Mac or PC desktop, you can download it for $11.99.
Sometimes, it's challenging to type up content in the first place. Maybe you need a fresh environment conducive to writing. We recommend OmmWriter.
OmmWriter is a minimalistic application designed to quiet your mind and set you to writing. It does so with calming backgrounds and sounds, and it removes potential distractions by excluding formatting tools. OmmWriter is available on Mac, PC, and iPad. The basic version, called Dana I, is free. Dana II is pick-your-price, starting at $4.11.
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