38 Experts Reveal The Content Tools Every Blogger Needs

Expert Roundup Content Tools

Have you ever stopped to consider the world we live in?

In 10 years, we’ve seen major advances in technology:

Smartphone, social media, WiFi, eCommerce, wearable technology and augmented reality.

The way we write and communicate has greatly changed too.

There’s a mantra in the startup world that you know you’ve achieved product/market fit, when 40% of users saying they would be “very disappointed” without your product.

I was curious to learn what content tools fit this bill. So I asked the experts:

“Which 3 tools in your content planning process would you be horrified to lose if the business went belly-up today?”

Dead. Finito.

No more.

So, which tools got the most votes?

Note

Here are the top 5 tools voted for in this post:

  1. BuzzSumo – 16 votes
  2. Google Docs – 8 votes
  3. SEMrush & Google Analytics & WordPress – 7 votes
  4. Ahrefs & Evernote – 6 votes
  5. Trello – 4 votes

But there were some new tools on the block and some insight worth highlighting:

Also,

And here’s a quick list of all the featured experts:

Abrar ShafeeAdam ConnellAndrew WarnerAndy CrestodinaAnn SmartyAshley Faulkes.

Brian DeanBryan EisenbergCarol AmatoCasandra CampbellChris MakaraChristian Karasiewicz.

David LeonhardtDom WellsEric SiuGael BretonGini DietrichIleane Smith, Ian ClearyJason FallsJason QueyJohn Rampton.

Kristi HinesLorraine RegulyMatthew CapalaMike AlltonNate ShivarNick EubanksRobbie RichardsRon Sela.

Sarah LivelyScott WydenStephanie WallaceStuart WalkerSujan DeswalTim SouloTom TreanorWilliam Harris.

To start us off, we got the marketing mix master; Tom Treanor of Right Mix Marketing:

Tom Treanor

Tom-TreanorThe three tools that I would miss terribly would be:

  1. BuzzSumo – For content popularity in social media by keyword or for a website, inbound link notifications and much more.
  2. SEMrush – A great tool for understanding what keywords are bringing traffic to your competitors. It’s a great way to get ideas on new keywords or areas you can focus on for your own content.
  3. Google Analytics and Google Adwords Keyword Planner – For tracking traffic to your site in general or to a particular piece of content and for tracking conversions, Google Analytics is a must. The Adwords Keyword Planner is a simple keyword tool to understand relative search volumes to decide which keywords to focus on.

For more great marketing advice like this, check out Tom’s site Wrike.com. Follow Tom on Twitter @rtmixmktg.

Sujan Deswal

Sujan-DeswalGoogle Docs – Fastest way to create and share docs within the team and even outside of it. Plus its inherent integration with Gmail is a huge advantage because I can view, edit and save docs from an email itself.

Trello – We use this primarily as our content planner & calendar, sharing post ideas and assigning responsibilities.

BuzzSumo – Primarily to find out influencers around a keyword or who shared a post. Also to generate content ideas. I rely on this a lot because it basically helps our team understand which type of content and format does well with audience/influencers in our niche.

For more great marketing advice like this, check out Sujan’s posts at AdPushup. Follow Sujan on Twitter@SujanDeswal.

Ron Sela

Ron-SelaInternet marketing is a large project that is made up of a host of smaller initiatives. These smart content planning tools should stay with you, no matter what business venture you get into.

Evernote is an excellent content planning tool, covering elements from writing shortlists to conducting in-depth research.

With Evernote, you will find it easy to gather valuable information. You will be able to incorporate handwritten notes, capture web articles and take photos. Evernote keeps me focused on moving those ideas from inspiration to completion.

After creating a new Evernote notebook, Zapier generates a new dapulse board for my specific articles.

Dapulse, where I oversee the content marketing operations, enables you to combine all your goals, tasks, and to-do lists together. It shows you and everyone else on the content team the bigger picture. You can manage the content distribution and amplification process from your board, whether owned, paid, shared or earned.

Content management tasks can include social media campaigns, paid content campaigns, link building, and content syndication through dapulse.

Dapulse automatically synchronizes with Google Calendar, so that you can always see upcoming events, campaigns and completion of different writing requirements. Because you are privy to specific timelines, you can exert proper control over the situation to ensure that writing deadlines are met. You can also connect with third parties like designers and writers to ensure that your processes are completed in time.

Google Calendar is a valuable content planning tool because it empowers you to understand the status of every project and make appropriate changes where necessary.

Internet marketing is a large project that is made up of a host of smaller initiatives. Every project should be properly monitored, analyzed and optimized. These content planning tools will help you achieve them, so don’t ever lose them in your business strategies.

For more great marketing advice like this, check out Ron’s site RonSela.com. Follow Ron on Twitter @ronsela.

Stuart Walker

Stuart-WalkerThe only tool I really use in content planning is BuzzSumo to find proven viral content ideas that I can improve on via The Skyscraper Technique.

I’ll hunt down popular articles then aim to create something bigger, better and more beautiful.

More data, more examples, more authorities mentioned, quotes, better formatting, more images, unanswered questions answered.

Aside from that I don’t use any other tools for planning or creating content.

For more great marketing advice like this, check out Stuart’s site Niche Hacks. Follow Stuart on Twitter @nichehacks.

Sarah Lively

Sarah-LivelyThe first tool I would be horrified to lose for content planning would be Ahrefs.

Their Content Explorer is a powerful tool to identify the top content being shared around any topic. You can see the top 5 most shared pieces of content on the web, broken out by channel, with the free version of Ahrefs’.

That can be a great way to identify the type of content that resonates with your audience and motivates them to share so anything you craft is set up for success from the beginning.

The second tool would have to be Google’s Search Console. Upcycling content is an important aspect of any content strategy, and ensures longevity for articles. Google’s new Search Analytics report allows you to break down keyword referrer data (that’s right, KEYWORD LEVEL DATA), for the top 1,000 pages on your site.

By filtering pages by URL you can look at specific posts and see which keywords are driving traffic to them. If the post is older, a lot of times you’ll find keywords sending traffic to the page that you might not be actively going after.

By identifying pages that are naturally ranking for terms you’re not targeting and tweaking the meta data and content to go after those terms, you can increase your rankings and your organic traffic without having to write an entirely new article.

The last tool I would hate to lose is the Site Search report in Google Analytics. Site search allows you to see exactly what users are looking for on your site that they can’t easily find. It’s free, and if you don’t have it set up you’re missing out on an incredible way to identify your users pain points.

By consistently checking the search terms in the Site Search report and integrating that into your content strategy, you’re able to ensure you’re consistently solving a users problem.

For more great marketing advice like this, check out Sarah’s site Nebo Agency. Follow Sarah on Twitter @sarahinatlanta.

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Nate Shivar

Nate-ShivarI love tools for research, planning, writing and promoting content. But when I really think about it – there are very few that completely irreplaceable. But here are 3 in particular that are irreplaceable, and would horrify me if they went away:

First is Google Analytics. There is nothing more powerful than good data from your own website based on your own readers. No competitor has access to it. And no one can analyze it like you can.

Google Analytics helps me understand what is working; what is not working; what could work; and who my readers are. If Google Analytics vanished, I would be horrified because all that data would be gone. And the competitors are either lackluster or expensive.

Second is Google AdWords’ Keyword Planner. Keyword research is the foundation of all my content. I think that keywords are valuable beyond just understanding what words people are searching for. They are a proxy that provides insight to readers’ intent, their wants and needs.

Keyword Planner is the only way to access keywords with search volume directly from Google. If Keyword Planner went away, all keyword research tools would just be ballpark educational guesses. I would be quite horrified.

Third is Google Trends. Just like Google AdWords’ Keyword Planner, Trends is one of the only ways to get data directly from Google about search activity. Google Trends is an incredible tool for digging up trends, search activity, and correlation data via Google Correlate.

I think it’s one of the most underestimated tools among marketers, and I would be horrified if Google decided to kill it tomorrow.

For more great marketing advice like this, check out Nate’s site Shivar Web. Follow Nate on Twitter @nshivar.

Ashley Faulkes

Ashley-FaulkesWhen it comes to content planning I like to keep things pretty simple. Which I guess is helped by the fact that I don’t have a team to worry about (yet).

I spend the bulk of my time in WordPress where I create the content, and if I am not available to publish it, I also schedule it from in there.

This is a feature of WordPress that many a website owner is not aware of, or should perhaps use more. Especially if you plan on a vacation! (Go check out my 7 hidden features of WordPress post, some of these puppies will amaze you).

For me, upcoming content ideas are also stored in WordPress either as standard drafts or via the quick draft mode, another thing you might miss if you don’t look, on the WordPress dashboard.

If I am working with others on guest posts or drafts, I like to use Google Docs to give comment on proposed blog posts and finalize the drafts. The tools in Google Docs are one thing I would sorely miss. Even just spreadsheets (for expert roundups) or documents for on the go brain storming, are a real help when it comes to keeping all the ideas and drafts in one place.

Once my team expands though, it may be time to start thinking about a tool like Edit Flow or CoSchedule, which are great at helping with multiple users on WordPress and even social media sharing/scheduling in some cases!

For more great marketing advice like this, check out Ashley’s site MadLemmings. Follow Ashley on Twitter @madlemmingz.

Jason Falls

Jason-FallsThe three most important content tools for me are a social listening platform; I like Zignal Labs a lot and work with them, but have also used NetBase, Sysomos and Radian6 in the past.

A content management system for social posting and routing; I currently use Sendible but have used many others, including Buffer and Edgar, in the past.

Google Docs, which allows me to plan and manage my content plus share and collaborate with others.

There are more niche tools that do a lot of what Google Docs does for me, but I’ve never found a compelling reason to switch.

For more great marketing advice like this, check out Jason’s site JasonFalls.com. Follow Jason on Twitter @JasonFalls.

Eric Siu

Eric-SiuBuzzSumo – must have tool for analyzing best performing posts based off of keywords, website URLs, etc. The alerts tool is awesome as well. If you are out of ideas, use this and it’ll make your life a lot easier.

SEMrush – great for keyword research for both organic and paid traffic.

Outreach.io – this is a sales automation tool that lets me send outreach e-mails at scale without having to worry about following up. Once the prospect responds, the app will notify me and I can take matters into my own hands.

For more great marketing advice like this, check out Eric’s site Single Grain. Follow Eric on Twitter @ericosiu.

Scott Wyden Kivowitz

Scott-Wyden-KivowitzWhen planning content I am always looking at my editorial calendar. My specific calendar is backed by CoSchedule. It allows me to organize when content is to be scheduled, collaborate with others (if I choose) as well as schedule the content to be shared on my most important social channels.

I am also relying heavily on Evernote. Many times I will create a notebook specific for a new blog post. Then while doing research I’ll collect resources and references into the notebook, for inclusion in the blog post.

Last, but not least is WordPress. WordPress is so much more than a blogging platform. It’s a content management system. It controls my entire website from the content being displayed to the products being sold. Without WordPress, I am sure I would find myself paying for many 3rd party services in order to do what I can do free or with minimal cost when using WordPress.

For more great marketing advice like this, check out Scott’s site ScottWyden.com. Follow Scott on Twitter @scottwyden.

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Stephanie Wallace

  1. Stephanie-BAhrefs Content Explorer – This tool allows you to find the most popular content already on the web, for any given topic.

With this data, you’re essentially compiling a list of prequalified content ideas that have a proven track record of success. The tool allows you to filter by number of links or number of shares, making it easy to narrow down your search.

It’s a great way to identify topics where there was considerable exposure with a content piece, but that content can be improved upon. Maybe the content is very short, or just not great quality, or maybe you can bring a different view to the same topic.

  1. PPC Data in Google Analytics – I use the MultiChannel Funnels report in Google Analytics to identify instances where Paid search drives traffic that converts on the site but Organic is not a part of the buyer journey at all.

The idea is if organic is not part of the buyer journey then we probably have low organic visibility for these terms. We’re not ranking well, if at all, but we know they’re relevant terms for us because PPC is driving qualified traffic.

So the questions are: Do we need to expand existing content to speak to these topics? Or do we need to create new content altogether? The answers to these questions will then inform your content strategy.

  1. Google Trends – Google Trends is great for identifying rising search trends online. Not only can you identify general topics that are growing in interest, but you can also filter for extremely specific categories and industries to find content ideas specific to your client. You can also look at search terms and topics over a longer period of time to see search trends on a larger scale. Google Trends also shares related searches as well as related search queries for the topic you define.

For more great marketing advice like this, check out Stephanie’s site Nebo Agency. Follow Stephanie on Twitter @SWallaceSEO.

Casandra Campbell

  1. Casandra-CampbellAhrefs is a great source of content ideas. I use their Positions Explorer to peak at what keywords are driving traffic to related websites, and I use their content explorer to find out which blog posts on a specific topic got the most shares.
  2. Google Suite – All my blog posts are planned and written with a combination of Google Spreadsheets, Google Docs, Google Drive, and Google Calendar. They’re available anywhere, they save automatically, and they’re easy to share with collaborators!
  3. I am not a designer and would be lost without Canva. I use it often to create images, graphs, and other visual content—whether it’s stand alone, as part of a blog post, or something else. Images are crucial to creating to driving more traffic, especially with social media.

For more great marketing advice like this, check out Casandra’s site CasandraCampbell.com. Follow Casandra on Twitter @ccampb85.

Tim Soulo

  1. Tim-SouloAll my content starts here. Whenever I have a super rough idea, or just a screenshot of someone else’s article with my comment on it – I save that to Evernote. Once in a while I’ll open my “pile of notes” and try to categorise and prioritise them to plan some articles that I’m going to write next.
  2. I write all my content in Google Docs. I tried all sorts of apps, like Scrivener or FocusWriter and couldn’t stick with any of them for long. One of the reasons why I love Google Docs so much, is because it’s super easy to share them with anyone. I also use Google Spreadsheets to manage freelance writers and keep an eye on their progress.
  3. None. Yep. I only use two tools. I try to keep things super simple and I hate it when I have to open a dozen different apps to get work done. So most of my planning and brainstorming is done in Evernote. And all my writing is done in Google Docs.

For more great marketing advice like this, check out Tim’s site BloggerJet. Follow Tim on Twitter @timsoulo.

Jason Quey

  1. Jason-QueyTrello – I’ve found that one of the biggest keys to success in business is having a system for everything. Trello helps me create systems by organizing everything into specific boards, whether for content creation, promotion, and even creating this roundup. What’s great about Trello compared to other tools is that I can easily track something from idea to completion simply by moving each card along the track. And it’s FREE!
  1. BuzzSumo – I really admire the marketers in here that have mastered keyword research. I haven’t. For those of you like me who have no idea what’s hot and what’s not, Buzzsumo is a great tool to quickly find popular content. Then you just build off, around, or upon what’s already proven to be exactly what your audience loves.
  1. WordPress – WordPress is so integrated into my blogging life, I often don’t think of it as a tool. I know very little about coding and I’d be a hopeless wreck without WP. Same goes with Google Docs. Sure, I *could* find replacements for these tools. I mean, I *could* be sending this to you via snail mail.

But I don’t.

Do yourself a favor and invest in the right tools you believe will rapidly grow your business.

To learn about my complete writing process that’s enabled me to get top 3 most shared articles on multiple blogs, check out my guest post 10 Tools You Need to Create a Blogging Empire.”

For more great marketing advice like this, check out Jason’s site The Storyteller Marketer. Follow Jason on Twitter @jdquey.

Robbie Richards

Robbie-RichardsSEMrush is one of the first tools I turn to when planning out my content calendar.

I’ll run a competitor’s domain through the tool and uncover all the keywords they are ranking for that I am not. Then, I’ll identify which keywords drive the most organic traffic to their site. I cover the process in this review. I’ll repeat this process for my top 5 competitors and make a list of all the keywords and post URLs. These are prime topics for my next article.

Next, I’ll search each target keyword incognito and analyze the SERP using the free Mozbar chrome extension to get a feel for the domain and page authority I’m up against to rank for the keyword. If my site is somewhere in the ballpark I’ll target the topic.

The key here is to take a leaf out of Brian Dean’s book and make sure you are producing content that crushes your competition on three levels:

  • More up-to-date
  • More in-depth
  • Better formatted (user experience and behavior signals are more heavily weighted in search ranking factors)

This is the exact process I’ve used to rank my article on How To Promote Your Blog Post ahead of sites like Buffer, Hootsuite and Quicksprout.

BuzzSumo is the main tool I use to uncover proven content ideas that have generated a ton of social engagement in the past. I cover this more in this case study.

Ahrefs is a tool I use to analyze competitor link profiles. Specifically, I’ll use it to uncover which posts are attracting the most quality links. Then, I’ll cross-reference this insight with the data collected from SEMrush to get a shortlist of potential topics that have the potential to drive organic traffic and attract quality links that will help drive up my core domain authority.

Again, using the Skyscraper technique, blow your competitor’s content out of the water then run an outreach campaign to replicate link profiles to quickly rank for traffic generating keywords.

Extra: Consider Trello as a tool to help plan, schedule and track your content marketing efforts.

For more great marketing advice like this, check out Robbie’s site RobbieRichards.com. Follow Robbie on Twitter @RobbieRichMktg.

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Bryan Eisenberg

Bryan-EisenbergThere are so many tools that are critical to the path of publication from idea to shared product. To limit it to three is pretty challenging.

I could not live without EverNote to collect and organize my ideas. Hemingway App is another great tool to make sure that I keep my writing simple and lastly BuzzSumo to help plan how it will be shared.

For more great marketing advice like this, check out Bryan’s site BryanEisenberg.com. Follow Bryan on Twitter @TheGrok.

Abrar Mohi Shafee

Abrar-Mohi-ShafeeThere are many tools I use for content marketing upon requirement. But these 3 could be said the vital, since I might get into some real trouble if they are gone:

  1. BuzzSumo: For researching popular contents and brainstorming mind for writing something that will be even better than them.
  2. Google Keyword Planner: For finding potential keywords to insert in the title and in the content to get better search exposures.
  3. CoSchedule Headline Analyzer: For checking emotional marketing value of the title.

For more great marketing advice like this, check out Abrar’s site Blogging Spell. Follow Abrar on Twitter @shafee219.

Gini Dietrich

Gini-DietrichOh man! ALL THE TOOLS! I would be horrified to lose WordPress, Google Docs, and Scrivener.

I know it goes against what most recommend, but I use WordPress to write all of my blog posts.

I hear stories about how people lose their work in WordPress and I think, “Huh. That has never happened to me.” (Now watch… I’ve just jinxed myself.) But it has autosave every three minutes so the most you could lose is three minutes worth of work, not the entire thing. I think people may just not know how to restore a previous version. I love it and would die without it.

Most people probably agree with my sentiment about Google docs. It’s so easy to work collaboratively with clients and a virtual team in Google docs. While we still keep an extra copy on our Dropbox file server, it’s a great way to get quick responses on documents.

And Scrivener? Well, if you want to write a book and you don’t know Scrivener, hop to it!

I used it to write Spin Sucks and fell in love. Now I use it for all long-form writing, including eBooks, white papers, and marketing plans. It’s an amazing little tool that lets you rearrange content without having to copy and paste to a new page.

Check it out.

For more great marketing advice like this, check out Gini’s site Spin Sucks. Follow Gini on Twitter @ginidietrich.

Dom Wells

  1. Dom-WellsKeyword research tools.

Whether you use Long Tail Pro or something else, keyword research is vital, especially if you’re doing niche marketing or starting out a new blog. I’m not sure how I would plan out the content of a new site or campaign without these kind of insights. I’d probably just end up creating a bunch of click-bait, heaven forbid.

  1. Spreadsheets.

Content planning would be a mess without somewhere to keep track of all the posts you plan to create, the keywords, the titles, and so on. You can use Google Drive or any software. Even a pen and paper will work.

  1. Google Analytics.

Knowing what my most popular posts are really helps, especially when it comes to things like tracking conversions, time on page, and bounce rates. You might think your site is about a certain topic, only to discover that other topics draw your audience in more. This really helps when you have an established site and are deciding what kind of posts to do in future.

For more great marketing advice like this, check out Dom’s site Human Proof Design. Follow Dom on Twitter @human_proof

David Leonhardt

David-LeonhardtYou have not seen my desk! My main content planning tool, ironic for an online business planning content that goes online, is paper and pencil. I have notes on pads and loose sheets everywhere. These are mostly for imminent posts.

Second to that, I send myself emails with blog post ideas and file them in appropriate folders. These are mostly for rainy-day posts – ideas that I might want to call on if ever I get hit with a windstorm of writer’s block.

Third, I sometimes type an idea right into WordPress, especially if there are a couple specific links that I want to reference or research.

Of course, this is not really an online toolbox. I do use some tools, such as Pocket where I save research on which I might later want to base a post. This is strictly a file for me.

And I use MyBlogU to seek input on posts. In a few cases, I have used MyBlogU to get input into a specific article, such as when I want examples of something to illustrate points in a post, as I did at this post on tracking client expenses. In a few other cases, I have used MyBlogU for more general brainstorming. I would hate to lose this service.

But the most-used tool overall is Google. They call it a search engine, but for a blogger, frankly it’s a research engine. I use it to help flesh out topics and to help complete topics.

For more great marketing advice like this, check out David’s site SEO Writer. Follow David on Twitter @Amabaie.

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Christian Karasiewicz

Chris-KarasiewiczAs an Internet marketer, three tools that are essential to my content planning process are: Evernote, Nozbe and TextExpander.

  1. Evernote

Evernote is where I start organizing my thoughts and ideas. I typically keep a notebook for drafts of content I want to create. This way whenever I get a new idea, I create a draft and start jotting down my ideas.

  1. Nozbe

Once I have my ideas down, it’s time to decide which ones I might want to work on. For this, I use Nozbe. It’s a powerful to-do, task and project management tool. I use it to plan out projects and new content. For example, if I’m going to write a blog post, I add it to a project I have listing the blog posts I’m going to work on. There, I outline the steps I need to take where I consider the content finished and ready to publish. I also link it to the draft I’ve put together in Evernote.

  1. TextExpander

A third tool I use to help with content planning is TextExpander. For this, I setup keyboard shortcuts that link to longer pieces of content. For example, I have a shortcut setup for my blog template.

Whenever I’m planning out new content, instead of typing out the same information again and again – such as what target keywords a piece of content is going to focus on along with three ideas for titles and a meta description, I let TextExpander handle all of this!

Instead of trying to remember all of the fields I need for a specific task, I can type out a keystroke combination and it will prompt me to enter this information and add it to my document. Not only is this a time-saver, but it is one less thing I have to remember in my business.

Without these three tools, not only would I need to find a new system for planning out my content, but I would also lose a lot of valuable time – time these tools have helped me save over the years.

For more great marketing advice like this, check out Christian’s site Social Chefs. Follow Christian on Twitter @ckroks.

Lorraine Reguly

  1. Lorraine-RegulyThe internet and Google.

Although Google might not provide you with the correct answer on your first search, if you are a critical thinker and reader, and can apply logic, you can generally find what you are looking for fairly quickly.

  1. Microsoft Word.

I draft nearly every blog post in Microsoft Word. I also edit in there, too. Then I apply the spell- and grammar-checkers to it. When it is perfect, I copy it to my WordPress dashboard and format it, which involves adding images and customizing the headers and sub-headers. I then add any html code needed in the post (for example, if I want to highlight something) and I also add my Click-to-Tweet boxes at this point. Any other final touches are then added, but it all starts with Word.

Having a backup of the post in Word allows me to have piece of mind if ever (God forbid!) anything should happen to my site and I lose everything!

  1. Dropbox.

When taking pictures with my cell phone, I back up them up using Dropbox. I can then download specific images to my laptop to upload to my blog. I like having a backup of my pictures, too, in case anything should ever happen to my phone!

For more great marketing advice like this, check out Lorraine’s site Wording Well. Follow Lorraine on Twitter @lorrainereguly.

Ileane Smith

Ileane-SmithWhen it comes to content curation and research, BuzzSumo is a must have tool for every blogger and content marketer.

I wrote a post about how BuzzSumo can be used for everything from finding viral content to getting alerts when your blog or keyword is mentioned online. Buzzsumo can also be used to research potential guest authors.

In this tutorial I show how you can validate the credentials of guest authors and ensure they are going to add value to your audience before you give them a shot at writing a guest post on your site.

PostPlanner is another tool that I use on a daily basis and quite honestly I don’t know what I would do without it. I can see what’s trending on Facebook based on shares and likes. I can find status ideas to engage my followers with quizzes or quotes.

And I can even use the built in Canva tool to create my own graphics for Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. This tutorial shows you how to use the ShareBar in PostPlanner to grow your email list!

Last but not least, I’d have to say YouTube. I know that most people don’t think of YouTube as a content planning tool so let me explain. I subscribe to a ton of YouTube channels that keep me informed and up to date with all the news, events, webinars, and pretty much all the interesting topics I need to pay attention to online.

YouTube is the number 2 search engine in the world but it’s way more fun and entertaining than Google search. Plus I can test out content ideas and find out what questions people are asking by looking through the comments that are left on popular videos. If you want to see what I’m up to over on YouTube, check out my channel here.

For more great marketing advice like this, check out Ileane’s site IleaneSmith.com. Follow Ileane on Twitter @ileane.

Mike Allton

Mike-AltonOf course I have a ton of different tools that I turn to regularly, but when it comes to content planning specifically, my top three are Evernote, Feedly and a new one, SBI! for WP.

Evernote is my central nervous system. I use it to track, plan, organize and execute everything from high level strategy to individual blog posts.

Feedly is my eyes and ears, my connection to what’s happening in the industry. I subscribe to key RSS feeds in order to be alerted to new developments which might make for great newsjacking blog posts and content.

And finally, SBI! for WP, and specifically the Brainstorm It! tool within the package, is the brain behind everything. It’s a keyword research tool that helps me brainstorm keyword topics and review the potential for hundreds and hundreds of keywords simultaneously.

For more great marketing advice like this, check out Mike’s site The Social Media Hat. Follow Mike on Twitter @Mike_Allton.

Ian Cleary

Ian-ClearyInboundwriter – This helps identify the best posts to write. (note: Inboundwriter is no longer available)

SEMrush – This identifies the keywords my competitor is ranking for. These can be a good source of ideas for articles.

BuzzSumo – This shows me the most shared content related to particular keywords and this is helpful for planning.

For more great marketing advice like this, check out Ian’s site RazorSocial. Follow Ian on Twitter @iancleary.

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William Harris

William-HarrisI think I had nightmares after reading this question. I absolutely don’t want anything to happen to:

  1. BuzzSumo
  2. Google Adwords Keyword Tool
  3. Twitter

Whenever I start planning my next piece, I always research the topic, the blog, and the blog’s competitors on BuzzSumo to see which articles do the best, what their titles are, what links they include etc. I then do some more keyword research using the Google Adwords Keyword Tool so I can find variants of the keyword I’m writing about. This process helps me really figure out how to nail the next article I write.

Twitter might not seem like a content “planning” tool – but I use it a lot to see what posts did really well. Which of my posts got the most retweets and favorites – that lets me know what my audience is interested in so I can write more articles about that topic.

William is the VP of Marketing and Growth for DollarHobbyz. If you want more truck for your buck, visit DollarHobbyz, the largest R/C kit shop in the world. Follow William on Twitter @wmharris101.

John Rampton

John-RamptonSearchmetrics, WordPress and Canva.

Searchmetrics helps me to plan out what terms and how the competition is going about going after those terms. WordPress is amazing, we all know it. I love the plugin “editflow” that helps keep my editorial up to par and flowing well. Next is Canva to create beautiful photos for my posts.

Biggest thing behind my success in content is time.

You have to be willing to put in the time needed to come up with a great piece.

I spend 80% of my time on the title, graphic and promotion and only 20% of my time on the actual content.

I’m assuming the content is really good… but you can have the best content in the world and if nobody is clicking on the boring title, it’ll never get read.

For more great marketing advice like this, check out John’s site JohnRampton.com. Follow John on Twitter @johnrampton.

Adam Connell

Adam-ConnellThere are a bunch of different tools that I use for content planning but here are the 3 which have the biggest impact, both in terms of results and productivity:

BuzzSumo – I use BuzzSumo for a few different tasks. Firstly I use it to find popular topics; this is a great way to validate topics. I can then find out which influencers have shared a particularly topic and setup alert monitoring.

SEMrush – SEO is essential to drive traffic to content once the initial buzz has died down. With SEMrush I can see exactly which keywords my competitors are ranking for and estimated traffic figures for those keywords. There are a number of other great features too which include rank tracking and site auditing.

CoSchedule – CoSchedule is my go-to editorial workflow tool. It ties directly into WordPress and provides a time-saving calendar style layout with built in task management. Social sharing is built in too so I can see which posts I’ve got scheduled along with which social messages are going out, all at a glance. And the fact that CoSchedule integrates directly with Buffer just streamlines the process even more.

For more great marketing advice like this, subscribe to the Blogging Wizard newsletter. Follow Adam on Twitter @adamjayc.

Brian Dean

  1. Brian-DeanBuzzSumo: My absolute, bar-none #1, go-to content planning tool. I still use several other tools to plan future content, but this is my #1 tool for this task.
  2. SEMrush: Great content is, well, great.

But after the initial buzz dies down, how are people going to see your hard work?

Google of course!

That’s why I optimize all of my blog posts around keywords that my potential customers search for. And SEMRush is one of the best tools for keyword research out there.

  1. Ahrefs: BuzzSumo has one fatal flaw: it only shows you content that’s generated lots of social shares…not necessarily backlinks.

Backlinks and social shares correlate somewhat, but not 100% of the time.

So I always check ahrefs to make sure the content I’m basing mine on has a healthy amount of quality backlinks pointing to it.

For more great marketing advice like this, check out Brian’s site Backlinko. Follow Brian on Twitter @backlinko.

Andy Crestodina

Andy-CrestodinaThese are mission critical to what I do everyday…

Marketing without Analytics is like driving at night without headlights. I would have no clue where I was going without this. I use it to measure the performance of both content and channels. I’d be screwed without it.

I track my ranking over time, which allows me to make adjustments to specific content, defending my positions and keeping traffic levels up. I can’t keep track of 100+ keywords without these tools. If these companies went dark, I would miss out on key information.

Building the list is critical, since email is the only traffic source that doesn’t have a company acting as an intermediate between us and our audience. Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter. They are all for profit businesses that will maximize their returns at all costs.

But my list is my own. I need a tool to leverage it.

Tactics are more important than tools.

It’s the actions that matter most in marketing.

But without these tools, I wouldn’t be able to do my job properly. The plane would probably crash…

For more great marketing advice like this, check out Andy’s site OrbitMedia. Follow Andy on Twitter @crestodina.
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Matthew Capala

Matthew-CapalaWhen it comes to content planning, here are the 3 tools I cannot live without:

BuzzSumo – A big part of content planning is to publish topics people want to read. So how can you figure out which topics will go down well?

The easiest way to do this is to use BuzzSumo.

Keyword Planner – Finding the right terms your customers are searching for is a key component to get discovered. There are various keyword discovery tools on the Web, but the one I cannot do without is Google’s Keyword Planner.

FollowerWonk – Prospecting influencers to help you share your content is key. Follower Wonk enables you to find the right Twitter users who are interested in the topics you are writing about.

For more great marketing advice like this, check out Matthew’s site Search Decoder. Follow Matthew on Twitter @SearchDecoder.

Carol Amato

Carol-Amato1) My first priority is to help my readers and subscribers solve their biggest problems.

Getting helpful content in their hands by sending relevant emails is possible with ActiveCampaign. You can send the right message – to the right customer, at the right time.

ActiveCampaign allows folks to ‘self-select’ messages based on what their interests are.

This first class email marketing and automation tool has elevated my business to a new level. I’m able to engage with my subscribers and customers in a deeper way and give personal automated help.

2) If I lost the ability to publish content on WordPress, it would be difficult to give the help my followers need. They’ve come to depend on the content I plan and deliver on a regular basis.

3) My students rely on me to help them step-by-step as they work on their online businesses.

If I lost my Coaching membership on the XenForo platform, it sure would be hard to replace. There are other options out there, but I like the community we’ve developed on XenForo.

Today the question was about tools.

But if you asked me: What is your biggest asset you can’t live without?

I’d say my subscriber list!

If that was the only thing I had left, I could restart a business rather fast. My advice is to build a list and build a relationship with them. Everything else builds on that solid foundation.

For more great marketing advice like this, check out Carol’s site CarolAmato.com.

Andrew M. Warner

Andrew-MThe thought of my business going belly up is discouraging, but if it did, 3 tools that I would be horrified to lose would be:

  1. BuzzSumo
  2. WhatToWrite
  3. CoSchedule Headline Analyzer

Buzzsumo because I tend to do a lot of research of what blog posts to write. And I want to make sure that topics I come up with, actually has been successful in the past and readers expressed that by their shares. If I were to lose that ability, it would be difficult.

WhatToWrite.org is something I got into recently and I find it useful for helping me figure out what issues to address when coming up with topics. It may seem simplistic but it helps me come up with post ideas.

Headline Analyzer is instrumental in my content planning process because headline are just that darn important. I use this to see if headlines I create actually hit on the emotional level and if they don’t I keep on trying until they do. Losing a tool like that would be too much to handle.

For more great marketing advice like this, check out Andrew’s site Shade of Info. Follow Andrew on Twitter @CopyWarner.

Chris Makara

Chris-MakaraThis is a great question and tough to pick just 3. With that said, I would have to pick the following:

#1 Google Analytics

If your site is highly trafficked, Google Analytics is a great resource to help identify topics/subjects that your audience is searching for.

This can be done by implementing Google Analytics Site Search which will track what search queries are being performed on your site.

If your website doesn’t already address the search phrase, it can be an easy topic to cover.

#2 BuzzSumo

I have a feeling there will be many others who might also mention this tool, and there is good reason!

BuzzSumo will help you identify what content has (or has not) worked well for your topic.

With BuzzSumo you can see useful info like social sharing data or influencers who have shared the content.

#3 Google Drive

My last tool is a combination of tools (hopefully that is ok!) – in this case, Google Drive.

I was tempted to just list Google Sheets as it is great to to help create an editorial calendar and even manipulate data exported from Google Analytics or BuzzSumo.

However, Google Docs can also be used to write content if you aren’t interested in doing it inside of your favorite CMS.

For more great marketing advice like this, check out Ian’s site ChrisMakara.com. Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisMakara.

Gael Breton

Gael-BretonI use a TON of tools, I love them, test them all and easily spent over $50,000 in the past 3 years in them (without regrets).

Here are my top 3:

1 – The Thrive Themes Suite – I seriously can NOT imagine building a site without Thrive Themes at this point.

It’s incredibly powerful, user AND budget friendly and fun to use.

The drag&drop editor can easily replace a monthly sub to a landing page service and make your blog posts look awesome, the themes are incredibly fast and full of smart features and Thrive Leads quite literally tripled our opt-ins with its powerful a/b testing features.

This is my #1 tool by far.

2 – ActiveCampaign – When it comes to email marketing, I’ve used all the big shots before for our businesses, Infusionsoft, Ontraport, even Marketo for a client. These all cost a pretty penny (from $197 to over $2,000/month) and you know what? Active Campaign is basically just as powerful, easier to use and starts at $9/month.

If you’re bootstrapping you can now create powerful email automations that can make you money on autopilot without a high tool budget.

Active Campaign rocks.

3 – Ahrefs – Ahrefs used to be the new kid in the block and focused exclusively on link analysis.

But times have changed.

Ahrefs is now a powerful suite of SEO and Inbound marketing tools allowing you to track your rankings, find viral content examples in any niche, track the keywords your competitors rank for per landing page and more.

It can single handedly replace your Moz, Buzzsumo and SEMRush Subscription. If you haven’t tried it in a while, check out their new features, they’re awesome.

There you have it, if you take any of these tools away from me I’m out of this business, there I said it!

For more great marketing advice like this, check out Gael’s site Authority Hacker. Follow Gael on Twitter @gaelbreton.

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Ann Smarty

  1. Ann-SmartyMyBlogU

(Disclaimer: I am the founder)… I am listing it #1 not for priority but because it’s the first one in the content planning process. I go there to generate ideas, snippets and quotes that can be easily packed into a few articles covering different angles. I talk about MyBlogU for content productivity here.

  1. Trello

Trello is my Swiss knife: It can used for LOTs of purposes. I use it to collect my ideas, collaborate on the editorial calendar with the contributors and set up deadlines for myself and my writers.

Marketing Training

  1. Google Drive

Google docs and spreadsheets are awesome on so many levels: Free, always there, great search functionality, lots of apps to achieve more.

I use Google docs to manage my editorial comments when I use with contributors. And I use Google spreadsheets to track my own statuses and blogs I am contributing to.

For more great marketing advice like this, check out Ann’s site Internet Marketing Ninjas. Follow Ann on Twitter @seosmarty.

Kristi Hines

Kristi-HinesTrello has been my main tool for content planning – I use it to store my topic ideas and to manage my freelance writing projects.

I also use Feedly to stay up-to-date with the latest news in my niche and Sendible to promote content quickly to my social networks.

I would be very sad if any of these disappeared.

For more great marketing advice like this, check out Kristi’s site KristiHines.com. Follow Kristi on Twitter @kikolani.

Nick Eubanks

Nick-EubanksI like to mix a lot of different metrics to look both at historical trends and also to spot check velocity as part of the content planning process. For me the 3 most integral tools in my personal content toolbox are:

Term Explorer’s Keyword Analyzer – I use this to pull down all the relative competitive metrics to gauge rank potential at a SERP level. This allows me to build tight lists of semantically related keywords and understand the link, trust, and authority thresholds that need to be crossed in order to crack rankings.

Google Trends – An oldie but a goodie if you ask me, this tool helps me figure out which versions (and synonyms) should get priority in the meta data of the posts, as well as which terms should be the long-term focus for sustained traffic and interest.

AlchemyLanguage – A tool that scours the internet to provide a reference playbook of semantic language, slicing out the most important parts of language including keywords, taxonomies, concepts, sentiments, and the list goes on. I use Alchemy not only to give me detailed language analysis readings on my sample content but also to breakdown and score existing content with proven performance.

For more great marketing advice like this, check out Nick’s site SEO Nick. Follow Nick on Twitter @nick_eubanks.

Putting it all together

All-in-all, there’s quite a huge list of content planning tools to try out.

There’s no real “right or wrong” answer of the best tools to use, because each of us are wired differently.

Not to mention different goals when writing out a post.

For myself, I’ve found connecting with influencers in my industry to give me the biggest ROI.

When you open a dialogue with the people in the know, there’s no end to what you can learn. The insights that you will gain and the opportunities that could open up to you will be invaluable.

But, to connect with influencers you need their email address.

Learn how I was able to find the email address of all these influencers in 3 minutes; grab a free copy of my step-by-step guide in the author box below.

Related reading: 8 Great Page Builder Plugins For WordPress: Design Made Easy.

Jason Quey

Jason Quey helps internet entrepeneurs connect with influencers, experts, and linchpins to rapidly grow their business together on his site, The Storyteller Marketer. Download a free copy of his guide, "5 Strategies I Use to Find (Almost) Any Influencer’s Email In 3 Minutes or Less" by clicking here.

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