By Samuel Hurley, Senior Marketing Executive at Kurve Digital Marketing
“There is no time for cut-and-dried monotony. There is time for work. And time for love. That leaves no other time.”
It may sound grand to kick off an article about 2014’s best creative content tools with an inspirational quote from fashion revolutionary Coco Chanel but, if you’re not feeling inspired by your content, you’re taking the wrong approach. There’s simply no more time for cookie-cutter, paint-by-number web content if you’re serious about growing your digital presence these days.
No more nonsense (unless it’s very entertaining nonsense)
The deep-seated reason is relatively simple: quality is key, quantity has gone the way of the dodo. Google’s algorithms have put pay to any benefit high volumes of low quality content could muster. Nowadays, if you want to see your online content succeed and provide ROI, you need to give your audience something worth caring about. And if you haven’t put care into your content why should they give a damn?
Getting it right
Not sure how to create website content that works in the current digital world? Well, for starters: no more farming out inane keyword-focused 300 word blogs to “dime a dozen” freelance “writers”. No more creating a post about your staff night out on the fly when you find yourself with a spare five minutes. No more regurgitating blogs from the people in your industry who are doing things right. This type of content has no credibility and no power online. In worst case scenarios it could even get you slapped with a Google penalty.
Instead, we’re welcoming the era of carefully planned, perfectly pitched, lovingly researched and beautifully presented content. Rich with multimedia goodness and attuned to what your audience want to read. It’s time for digital content creators to start thinking about themselves as the journalists and authors of the web. Produce something brilliant, something controversial or something original and you’ll enjoy much more coverage, comment and attention for your buck. Sound a little daunting? Don’t worry content specialist Kurve have produced this bumper list of tools to create content that will wow the web should help. These tools will help you create engaging content which wins hearts, minds, traffic, shares and grudging kudos from your competitors…
- Word2CleanHTML If you’ve ever had the misfortune to write a post in Word, then popped it straight into your CMS, you’ll understand why this tool is the digital copywriter’s holy grail. One minute your piece de resistance is looking perfect in Evernote or Open Office, the next minute it’s looking just plain hideous and incomprehensible in your CMS. Approximately 3 hours of formatting later and your article may have returned to its former glory. But it doesn’t have to be this way.Copy and paste your Word, Google Drive or Evernote-penned post into Word2CleanHTML, click and hey presto – one HTML happy code which you can paste straight into your CMS while maintaining your original formatting. You’re welcome.
- Storify Keen to show just how relevant you are and just how well-researched your content is? Use Storify to turn everything from tweets and instagram snaps, to news articles and amusing GIFs, into a clear, coherent post. If you’re looking for a fast way to curate content in a style which adds that all-important value we’ve been talking about, this is the perfect tool.
- BuzzSumo Digging into a current topic and keen to bring in opinions and ideas from a broad range of sources? Brainstorming a fresh post and keen to discover how well other posts in your niche have performed? BuzzSumo’s a great tool for finding out what’s being talked about in specific industries and in particular subject areas. With its dynamic display you can also clearly identify which types of content are generating the most shares.
- Pixlr If you’re not a Photoshop pro and you don’t fancy forking out for pricey Adobe kit you can barely comprehend, Pixlr is a pretty good free alternative. You can’t do even nearly as much with it, but the mobile, desktop and web app versions will give you the power to edit photographs to your heart’s content.
- Canva If you’re not using your own edited snaps to beautify your content, Canva should really be your first stop for creating great graphics in mere seconds. It’s almost offensively easy to rustle up an eye-catching featured image, a pretty slogan or a cool design which will help your message hit home. Although most designs are based around set templates there’s a dizzying array of customisable bits and pieces to ensure your content always looks unique. Plus you can upload and use your own photos, logos and imagery too!
- Google FontsIf great-looking images aren’t enough for you, give your text a makeover with help from Google Fonts. Easy peasy to add to your CMS with a simple code, you can have hundreds of dynamic, attractive fonts at your disposal with just a few clicks. Say goodbye to Calibri & tarra to Tahoma!
- Infogram Your web audience do not have the longest attention span in the world. Statistics and surveys summon up a range of results, but the ultimate conclusion is that, when we look at content and data online, our concentration is very, very rarely at full throttle. Creating imagery using Pixlr and Canva will help to hold your readers’ attention, but when you’re trying to use data to “illustrate” your point, there’s little that’s more effective than a well-made infographic. Infogram is a free tool which will let you make your very own interactive infographics, fantastic for keeping readers switched on and interested in your research. Oh, and it’s compatible with your Excel spreadsheets!
- Awesome ScreenshotIllustrating your content with plenty of screengrabs? This handy Chrome extension is immeasurably better than both Fn+PRTSC and your desktop Snipping Tool combined. Once you’ve quickly and effortlessly taken your screenshot, you can add all the notes, arrows and circles you need to make your point, right then and there.
- SkitchIf you need to add notes and annotations to more than just screenshots, download an Evernote account and get started with Skitch. This cool little tool will give you the power to annotate and doodle on documents from PDFs to .jpgs. Especially good for behind the scenes stuff (use Skitch to get feedback from your content creating colleagues) but just as handy for giving your readers the big picture in a piece of content.
- befunky Creating an image-heavy piece of content but want to make it look a little more marvellous? befunky will turn your images into an eye-popping collage. Especially good for putting together a fast, flashy-looking featured image for your post.
- Medium.comTechnically a resource rather than a tool, but a damn good one nevertheless. This is an incredibly useful list of places to find stock photos “which don’t suck”. If you’re tired of the same old “business man looking at smartphone” stock pictures, here’s the antidote. Most of the sources are paid, but many offer weekly and monthly freebies for you (and your readers) to enjoy.
- CamStudioAre you putting together something a little more technical for your online audience? This tool will give you the power to record your screen in action as you give tours, tutorials and demos. Editable, intuitive and totally free, just upload as a .wmv.
- WideoFree if you don’t mind the Wideo logo in the corner of your finished video (or available logo-free for a small fee), this tool is like Canva – but for the moving image. Use a drag and drop interface to put together animations and videos that capture your visitors’ imagination and express more than boring old words.
- Placeit This may only be useful for a handful of occasions, but it’s very neat indeed. Record your screen in action, then upload it to Placeit. Choose your template and see your recorded on-screen activity appear on a smartphone or computer screen in one of Placeit’s beautiful videos or pictures. It’s surprisingly difficult to explain, but looks surprisingly cool in action. Amazing if you want to demonstrate your app, site or software to viewers in a very classy way.
- ThinglinkBoth you and your audience are going to have so much fun with thinglink, we assure you. Upload images to thinglink, then add images, links, videos and more to cool, clickable, hover-over icons right in the picture itself!
- OmmWriterSometimes creating amazing digital content isn’t all about keeping your audience tuned in with flashy extras. Sometimes it’s about giving your writers the time and space to craft a beautiful piece of text. OmmWriter is a stress-free downloadable writing environment which promises to reintroduce users to the “joy of single-tasking”. This tool will let you work in high-tech peace and quiet, at a remove from the endless distractions of the digital world.
- Noisli Whether you’re working in eerie silence or a cacophonous train carriage, Noisli will provide the background noise you really need to hone your content. Gentle birdsong, the productive clink and clatter of a coffee shop, this is a surprisingly effective tool for those times when you really need to concentrate.
- Mural.lyThink of Mural.ly as your online whiteboard, minus your boss’ terrible handwriting. Get your brainstorming sessions finished quickly by uploading images and post-it notes with a final vote from your team to decide the winning idea.
- InvisionThis is one of our favourites. In the digital world we live in it can sometimes be very difficult to communicate exactly how you want your content to move and interact. This is where in-vision comes in. It allows you upload an asset and choose hot spots for interaction. Much simpler than a long email or brief.
- Easel.ly This is a very quick and simple to use tool that will allow you to create and share visual ideas with your team. Choose from hundreds of templates to get the ball rolling on your content. The best part? It’s free.