The 3 Content Crafting Tools a Blogger Can Survive on Indefinitely
Imagine you’re on an island.
It’s in the Caribbean. The waves are just lapping up on the beach.
Oh, and it’s also deserted. You’re completely alone.
Don’t worry, there’s plenty of food and water.
Plus, you have a laptop, internet access, and a WordPress Website, but that’s it.
A genie appears and allows you to pick three content crafting tools.
Which will you choose?
We’re talking about the bare essentials here. As a blogger, digital marketer, writer, small business owner, or nearly anyone with a small budget, this is for you.
I’ll be covering the three tools you need for crafting solid content in an appropriate manner. What do I mean by “appropriate manner”?
Here are a few things I’m taking into consideration, because there are a lot of content creation tools available:
Storage: Where will all your articles live? Yes, you can write them all in your content management system (WordPress), but there are limits to that.
Autonomy: Being able to work on your content wherever you are, and easily with a small team.
Crafting quickly: This means being able to not only write quickly, but fix errors and add in graphics in minutes
Free: We can’t afford to spend money on creating content just yet
I’ll be discussing these three tools in detail so that you have the insider’s look at their capabilities and how all their awesome features can make your life easier.
Plus, it’s nice to have some quality reading to do when you’re alone on a deserted island…
I’ll start with the simplest.
As someone that creates a lot of content online, I’m looking for the easiest way possible to grab screenshots, write how-to guides, explain in pictures, and simply get my point across as easy as possible.
After all, if the reader can’t understand you, why would they continue reading?
No need to cover all the fancy graphics tools, even though there are a lot of free ones out there.
You need to choose one very simple one that will get the job done in a matter of minutes.
My choice is Skitch, Evernote’s brainchild.
Whether you’re on a PC or a Mac, you’ll be able to capture screenshots in a snap.
What makes Skitch useful is that you can also quickly add useful elements to your screenshots.
This is perfect for when you’re trying to explain something and words simply can’t do it justice.
Help your reader understand with arrows, circles, and words within your graphics and screenshots.
So next time you make some crazy graph like the one below, or take a screenshot of one similar to it, you’ll be able to explain it in a better manner to your audience.
Or blur things out so that people don’t know your sensitive information…
In all seriousness, Skitch packs quite a punch for having such a small amount of features.
In fact, it was created to be ultra simple. The few features that it does have are more than enough to add in graphics and proper annotations.
And did I mention you can even draw your own graphics if you’re feeling up to it?
To be honest, Google Drive might be cheating.
After all, just within Google drive alone there is Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, and, not to mention, storage.
We’ll just agree that the wish-bearing Genie isn’t aware of this.
Google Drive is a necessity in our toolbox because it acts as so many different tools in one, and streamlines the entire process of preparing, creating, and promoting your content.
Let’s dive into the process here to get a better understanding of how helpful it is.
Now, first off, let me just say that I don’t write articles in WordPress.
And I don’t suggest you do either.
That being said, let’s’ say it’s time to craft some content for the upcoming week.
I would log into Google and go to Google Sheets.
Here, I would find my list of content ideas or my editorial calendar. Who comes up with ideas on the spot?
From our list, we can choose a topic that makes sense for our needs.
Now we can jump on over to Docs and start writing.
In Google Docs, we not only type up our article, guides, and notes, but we can also take advantage of the many additional features that are lesser-known, yet quite helpful.
For example, one of my favorite features is the outline labels that appear on the left-hand side of the interface. With long-form articles, this makes life easy because you can easily select certain parts of your piece, rather than scrolling through aimlessly.
For example, here is what I see as I’m writing this article:
Google Docs has several other tricks up its sleeve:
- Voice dictation so you can talk instead of type
- Fix formatting easily when pasting text into your documents
- Make “suggestions” rather than edits (ideal for teams)
- Revision history to see changes you have made over time
- Image editing if you would like to include graphics
The beauty of all the above is that it works so well with other aspects of the Google drive suite.
For example, say I’m incorporating a lot of data to back up the arguments in my article.
I could use Google sheets to compile and format data to draw inferences. Or I could take the raw data and create graphs/charts to display it in a more visually appealing manner to readers.
Most importantly, I can store all of this in the cloud and access it from anywhere. I can create shareable links to share it with my audience straight from the Google platform or I can share it with my team and give them editing access…
On the deserted island, it doesn’t matter where you are, since you only have one laptop.
But, back home, Google Docs is awesome because I can work on an article on any computer with any Gmail account. As long as access has been given from the original account that began the piece, you’re good to go.
Most often, I don’t finish a piece in one sitting, so I have the option to work on articles on my time, not just when I have access to a certain computer or Gmail account.
One last point here: Tracking and Promotion
What has to get done this week? This month? The year?
Keep workstreams in Google drive so that your team has access. It’s a great way to keep track of tasks and stick to a schedule.
Furthermore, content promotion is a big part of a successful strategy. Guess what I use for keeping track of my promotional efforts?
Yep, Google sheets again. Seriously, this is a life saver. Instead of keeping track of an Excel doc somewhere locked up in a folder in the middle of my hard drive, my Google sheet of outreach will be with me at all times.
I like writing fast, but I’m not the best typist.
In fact, after flying through a couple paragraphs I’ll have a notable amount of spelling and grammar errors. It’s actually pretty bad.
Luckily, I stick with a free tool called Grammarly that saves me from editing hell. There is a paid version that has solid reviews, but the free version will do just fine for now.
At the heart of it, Grammarly is an online grammar and spelling checker.
You can copy your text and paste it into the Grammarly interface to check your work for any errors.
What’s even more helpful is the free browser extension. Available on Chrome, Safari, and Firefox, the extension will help to correct your errors as you are madly typing away.
This makes Grammarly essential when writing articles in WordPress, sending important messages on LinkedIn, typing up emails in Gmail, and even publishing Facebook posts and Tweets.
If you hadn’t noticed, I didn’t mention Google Drive, which is my only problem with Grammarly at the moment.
This is annoying, but as an avid user, I’m hoping they support Google Drive in the future.
Regardless, I don’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone that is active online. Whether you only use it for emails or social media posts, it makes life just that much easier in the moment.
How long can you survive?
We’re definitely ballin’ on a budget here, but that’s the point.
If we can save money and still “get content done”, that’s the way to do it.
With these three tools, internet access, and a content management system like WordPress, we’re set for a while.
I’m exaggerating a bit. We still need an email marketing system, a payment processor, and a whole lot more to actually generate an ROI on content marketing efforts.
Regardless, from a content crafting standpoint, we’re golden.
What tools do you recommend?