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Before you start writing your first piece of copy, you need to have your content marketing strategy in place. Make sure you know:
• Why you are embarking on creating content,
• Who the content is for specifically,
• The outcomes you are looking for, and
• How to measure your success.

Creating content requires diligence and time. To streamline your efforts, seek out tools that can help you keep your efforts to the lowest number of hours. Here are three to consider (all three offer free versions).

Evernote screen1. Evernote: Collect and organize your thoughts anywhere with this centralized, searchable system.
Evernote is a desktop and mobile app that you can use to save ideas and information to use to create your content. You set up notebooks on the topics that you want to explore and develop into engaging content. In these notebooks you can save information as notes including web pages, PDFs, audio files, text files, images, and emails. Each note can be tagged to help find and sort information later.
If you are working with a team to create content, Evernote allows you to share individual notebooks and notes. All notebooks can be synced across the desktop and mobile apps so you have access to your treasure trove no matter what device you are using. This article breaks down 71 features of an Evernote note.

Pixlr comparison
2. Pixlr: Images rule when properly and easily optimized.
Images play a big part in attracting readers to your content. Numerous sources point to increased interaction when images are used versus content alone. Optimizing images—adjusting the size, resolution, and format—keeps download times down and your customers happy. Keep an easily accessible list of the image sizes you need for your website and social media. Try this social media image sizing cheat sheet for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, and Pinterest. If you don’t have a high-end image editing program such as Photoshop, Pixlr is one option to consider. Pixlr allows you to adjust color, crop, resize, change formats, change resolution, and work with layers and effects. You can use this powerful tool as a web-based app, desktop, or mobile app. No matter what image editor you use, make sure to keep a copy of the original image for other marketing uses before manipulating it. Pixlr’s blog offers several tips and video tutorials.

Hootsuite screen3. Hootsuite: Keep up with your content marketing topics by scanning and scheduling in advance.
Scan social media accounts and or key words/phrases using Hootsuite. You can set up a dashboard to display multiple social media accounts side by side. You’re also able to set key words to search for that are connected to your content marketing topics and stream in relevant posts. This helps you stay on top of what’s out there on your topics and dive into conversations. You can also schedule your posts ahead of time and have your content pushed out to one or more of your social media channels while you do other work (or go horseback riding).

Bonus: To help your readers digest your copy, check out this post on how to put your copy on a diet.

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