Curious to see what tools we use to keep our own content marketing machine up and running at Creative Advisor Marketing?
We’re pulling back the curtain a bit and sharing 21 tools that we use daily to help us create, publish, and distribute content around the web for our own marketing efforts.
Feel free to check your list against our own — or make some notes and try out a new tool after you read this today.
But before you do and to answer a question that may be on your mind: no, none of these links are affiliate links.
The purpose of this post is to give you a peek at the toolbox we use at Creative Advisor Marketing, not to sneakily make a few extra bucks.
And while some of these tools could be great additions to your own stack of resources, this business operates on a B2B level. Advisors, on the other hand, are B2C.
Not everything we do to run our content marketing machine, in other words, makes sense for you to copy when you want to reach consumers, not other businesses.
Keep that in mind as you browse this list, and remember that you might want to deploy a few different campaigns or tactics depending on your marketing strategy that should be designed differently than ours since our audiences are very different.
Okay, now that we’ve got our disclaimers out of the way, let’s dive into this list. Here are all the tools we use to keep our own content marketing machine up and running smoothly.
The 21 Tools We Use to Keep Our Content Marketing Machine Running
I’ve sorted this list into categories that include external and internal tools. I’ll focus first on the external parts of our content machine, and then include some notes about how we keep everything running internally below.
Many of these are free tools and even paid platforms usually have some sort of free or basic plan option that costs $0. This is intentional.
Even today, as we continue to grow and expand, we aim to bootstrap as much as possible with tools because it allows us to invest more in other areas (like the actual content itself).
This isn’t an exhaustive list of every single thing we use. But it does give you a glimpse behind the curtain to see what we leverage to run the business and help our clients better communicate their value and drive more leads to them.
Website and Content
WordPress (and SiteGround)
Your website is like your physical storefront or office space and how it runs, operates, and looks matters. I cannot recommend WordPress highly enough. It is the leading choice for anyone serious about building an online presence for a modern business.
Make sure you use WordPress.org, not WordPress.com. Yes, there’s a difference! There’s a lot more freedom and flexibility to create what you want with WP.org.
You’ll also need hosting for your website. I recommend SiteGround after being introduced to it by Grayson of iMark Interactive.
I used to use BlueHost which caused endless headaches for me (in the form of the site crashing or being down for hours). SiteGround is much better and well worth the peace of mind knowing my site is backed up and always up.
Yoast may be the single most important (and free!) tool you could use for your content marketing efforts. It’s a plugin for WordPress that will make your SEO efforts go exponentially farther than if you worked without it.
I don’t just highly recommend it. It’s more like a requirement. It’s that important to have and use — and it couldn’t be easier. If you don’t have this tool yet, go add it to WordPress right now.
Google Keyword Planner is a great, free resource to leverage to help you get started with SEO. It can help you validate your initial keyword and topic ideas and even help generate new ones.
Yes, you can access Google Keyword Planner for free without running campaigns. You need an Google AdWords account — and you need to be careful in setting up that account. If you don’t do it correctly, accessing the planner is a total pain. (We talk about how to use the planner along with accessing it in our SEO course for financial advisors.)
This is a quick-and-easy cloud-based system that allows you to make well-designed marketing materials, from images to share on social media to featured images for posts and pages and everything in between.
Canva can help you create lead magnets and resources for your audience, promotional flyers, and even invitations to print and send. It’s a great resource and makes graphic design a breeze for just about everyone.
This is a great, pared-down alternative to the full Photoshop suite and was available as a one-time software purchase of $99. It meets all our design needs and allows us to create quickly. (We also have the Adobe Suite of programs for more intensive design work, but you may not need that robust of a solution.)
We currently use Teachable as the homebase of our SEO course (and plan to roll out additional content marketing courses for advisors in the future). We’re considering uploading both free and paid content to the platform in the future and potentially using a free course as a lead magnet.
If you want to educate anyone online, Teachable is the way to do it. While there are some cheaper/free plans, we use the $99 Professional plan to host our educational content.
Schedulers eliminate the need for back-and-forth email to find mutually-agreeable times for calls and meetings. They also provide more control over your calendar, allowing you to show the times you’re available and hiding those times you’re busy or have other meetings on the books already.
There are a ton of scheduling tools out there, including Accuity Scheduling and Calendly. We use ScheduleOnce to help us book client meetings and set up discovery calls for people to learn more about what we do.
These platforms are tools in an of themselves. I actively leverage all of these to help connect with the people I want to reach and distribute the content we create.
I spend about an hour a week on my social media. That’s it! How?
Because I use Hootsuite to schedule almost everything in advance. I’ll sit down once, maybe twice a week and plug my social media content into Hootsuite, which then automatically shares
Hootsuite is also handy for a number of other purposes, including:
- Social listening
- Tracking conversations
To make Hootsuite really work for you, make sure you take advtage of being able to sort who you follow into lists on Twitter (Facebook and LinkedIn are a little simpler than Twitter because they’re slower-paced in terms of new content generation).
Like Hootsuite, Later is a scheduling app — but it’s specifically for Instagram. I don’t use this for my own account very often (since Instagram isn’t really part of my content marketing suite as relates to this business), but I do use it for clients and it makes Instagram so much more manageable for brands and businesses.
Smartphone, Tripod, and Smartphone Mic
We’re slowly moving into the realm of video content (although as a writer, I still prefer to focus on the written word). We keep it easy, fast, and simple by using tools that are accessible and come with low barriers to entry.
We know that a basic video setup will help us create more content, faster, than if we tried to get really technical and involved at this stage. And Brad from Awesome Videomakers makes it incredibly simple to get started.
Check out his post here to see the tools we use for videos (and where we got them).
I haven’t started using this yet, but am considering running a few experiments with it. It’s a tool to help you with outbound messaging, which is something I’ve never done in this business.
I’m still questioning if I want to; right now, all our leads come from inbound channels and it’s nice to point that out to clients. We’re living proof that inbound marketing does work and is profitable.
If you do want to try this tool, be careful and don’t use it out of order. You need a solid content marketing foundation first, then you can get fancy with outbound and paid ads or outbound, traditional marketing where you need to pay to play.
There are a lot of wonderful email marketing systems out there. ConvertKit and ActiveCampaign are two very good ones that are relatively new to the space but excellent for businesses with lots of products, offers, and campaigns.
But for us, we stick to MailChimp because it’s simple, clean, and effective. We find it’s a great solution for our advisors, too.
While it has its limitations (in that it can be a little clunky to automate and tagging or segmenting your list into very detailed parts is a pain), it’s a straightforward solution that you won’t get lost in — and we find that characteristic is more important than “has many cool bells and whistles” when it comes to actually keeping a content marketing machine humming along.
Tools for Internal Use
None of this stuff would work if it wasn’t organized, and we understood who was responsible for doing what. These tools help us manage all the tasks involved with running a content marketing machine:
- Asana: I don’t think I could function without Asana. Well, I could. But man, a LOT of stuff would fall through the cracks. Asana is a task and project manager and keeps the CAM team organized and productive. Every single task we need to knock out, whether it’s for internal or external purposes, gets dropped into Asana. I even have a section of Asana roped off for my personal tasks, which makes it easier than ever to keep up with everything (and avoid being swamped by endless sticky notes and random to-do lists).
- Slack: We compliment Asana with Slack. Slack is a great tool for communication with teams, especially if you’re not in the same office 24/7. While Jenna and I do work out of the same office, we work whatever hours and days allow us to tap into the highest levels of productivity and creativity… which means sometimes I’m in the office from 6am to 6pm on a Saturday and sometimes I’m not there at 2pm on Tuesday. Slack allows us to drop all our communications in one place and keeps email inboxes free of conversational clutter.
- Toggl: Unless you track your time, it’s very hard to understand where those minutes and hours go. If you can commit to using a time tracker (be it Toggl or another option), it’s really eye-opening to see where the hours go. This helps us make more informed decisions on everything from how to charge to where to ask for help to what we just need to stop doing entirely.
- Trello: This is another task and project management system. We use it for projects we have going with contractors as needed. We like keeping this in a separate system so we don’t need to grant access to our entire company to contract workers, although it does add a layer of complexity because it’s one more platform to track.
Tools Are Nothing Without the Systems They Work Within
These are all useful tools. But they wouldn’t do much good if we just whacked away at things with them, without a strategy or an overall system to guide our efforts.
While these are the instruments, we rely on our strategy to guide us. From the strategy, we can design a specific system that content should flow through — and within that system we have checklists, processes, and workflows to follow to stay organized and on track.
If you’re curious about those systems, let me know. Shoot over an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or use our contact form to get in touch.