In a recent study, content marketers named a “Producing Engaging Content” (54% of respondents), “Producing Content Consistently” (50% of respondents), and “Producing a Variety of Content” (42% of respondents) as three of their four greatest challenges. With such a large percentage of marketers struggling with content creation, it raises the question: What’s the problem?
Creating good content takes time. Each piece requires time for writing, editing, formatting, and graphics. Most companies expect a steady stream of content and it’s often difficult for marketers to keep up. When pressed for time, marketers often have to choose between quantity and quality. Not to mention, with so much time sunk into creating content, it’s easy to neglect other duties.
Short of hiring a bigger staff, what can content marketers do to create the required amount of engaging content in a timely manner? Tools are a great place to start. They can help to save time and boost content quality. As it turns out, there is a slew of free content creation tools, with applications ranging from code to visuals. Here are some of our favorites.
Placeit allows you to overlay an image or video of your choice onto a device screen. Placeit offers a variety of device backdrops, or “stages”, from laptops to mobile phones. It has a sizable inventory of device still shots, in addition to customizable device and background combinations. The tool saves you the trouble by applying the image or video at the appropriate angle, creating high-quality usage shots for a website or mobile device.
Canva is a drag and drop design tool. It allows you to create anything from Facebook Cover Photos to infographics. It features several pre-designed layouts and customizable text designs. You can work from their base of over 1,000,000 images or upload your own. Canva can be used to make quick and appealing visuals of just about any type, though it does better with larger sized images.
Infogr.am is somewhat similar to Canva, but more focused on charts and infographics. Users start with either a graph or infographic template. Graphs are created from user-provided spreadsheet data and can be customized in various formats and color schemes. The infographic consists of a combination of charts, maps, text, picture, and video. Infographic data, themes, and colors are also customizable. Infogr.am is useful for various types of data visualization, including pictographs, progress gauges, and funnels.
Gliffy is a drag and drop diagram creator. It includes templates for flow charts, organizational, sitemaps, and network diagrams, among others. Users can choose from a library of shapes and arrows or upload their own files. When finished, Gliffy offers local storage and the ability to export into a several image formats. Gliffy is a great tool for process visualization.
Snagit is a web-based app and extension combination for Google Chrome. It allows for simple screen capture and recording. Through the extension, you’re able to screenshot all or a portion of your screen. Once captured, the screenshot can be named and annotated within the interface. The annotated screenshot is automatically saved in the library, where it can be downloaded through Google Drive or a direct link. This program greatly simplifies the process of screen capture and annotation with one-click screenshots and automatic cropping.
Skitch is a downloadable program form the creators of Evernote. It offers screen capture and annotation capabilities, similar to Snagit. Though not as convenient as Snagit, Skitch offers more robust annotation tools, useful for screenshots and other images.
Storify is a tool to create and share visually appealing social media feeds, or “stories”. Users can curate posts from different social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, and Google Once completed, stories can be shared on social networks, embedded in HTML, or exported as a PDF. One effective use of Storify is to highlight a Twitter conversation or a series of related Tweets.
Grammarly is an all-in-one proofreading tool that combines web and desktop functionality. It catches spelling and grammar errors on the fly, labeling them with handy red underlines. These notifications can be drilled into for corrections and recommendations. It works a lot like Microsoft Word’s automatic proofreading, but it’s available within a variety of commonly used programs. Grammarly integrates with Word, Outlook, WordPress, Gmail, Slack, and Evernote, to name a few. The free version of Grammarly features a customizable dictionary and weekly report with personalized writing stats, while the paid version adds more in-depth proofreading checks and contextual recommendations.
Most writers prefer to produce their content in a word processer, like Microsoft Word. Unfortunately, copying and pasting from a Word document to HTML can create invalid or unnecessary add-ons to the code. Word2CleanHTML does exactly what you would think; it transforms text pasted from a Word document into optimized HTML code.
Dafont and Google fonts are both free font databases. Users are able to search and download various fonts by name and type. Both offer customized preview text as well. Between the two, there are literally tens of thousands of fonts to choose from.
11. Click to Tweet
Click to Tweet is a simple tool that creates Tweetable links. You simply type what you want to appear in the Tweet and the program creates a link and HTML snippet. The program also includes basic analytics and the option to tweet by clicking an image. The final product might look something like this:
13 Free Content Creation Tools You Can’t (or Shouldn’t) Live Without (Click to Tweet)
Iconfinder has over 350,000 icons and 3,000 icon sets, though not all are free. You can search for icons by keyword, filtering by style, price, format (vector or not), and license type. Icons can be downloaded in SVG, PNG, ICO, and ICNS formats. They come in handy for infographics, diagrams, favicons, and buttons.
PowToon is an online video creator with 25+ customizable video templates. Users can also create their own videos, choosing from a wide array of characters, animations, props, and effects. Additional images, sounds effects, and voiceovers can be uploaded by the user. PowToon features an intuitive drag and drop interface, making video creation relatively quick and simple.
Let us know what you think:
- What content creation tools do you use?
- What other free content creation tools do you use?
- What content creation tools are worth paying for?