We get it, the demand for content creation is through the roof. And even as the conversation moves to an emphasis on quality over quantity, the challenge remains the same: to keep up with the demand of creating content that will actually serve a purpose, educate potential customers and ultimately drive business.
At the most basic level, when we talk about "content creation" we're talking about the content marketing software that will allow us to quickly and easily create content that'll drive SEO keywords, traffic and revenue. To master content creation, it starts with your content production platform, or as some people call it, your content marketing platform. (We prefer content production platform because there are so many dozens of different content marketing tools that do different arms of the marketing channel. For instance, there are content curation tools, SEO tools, distribution tools, analytics tools and more).
What is a content production platform, you ask? It's a place that houses each piece of content, your keyword research, content briefs, freelance writers and editors — all in a system that is easy to get content written and pushed to your website. This is the backbone of the inbound marketing methodology since the basis of all content and SEO strategy is frequent and fresh content.
It can be difficult to choose a content production platform out of the many that exist today: Zerys, CoSchedule, Contently, Clearvoice, NewsCred and Kapost are just a few of the ones out there now. Which one of these is the best platform, with the features you need, and the price that works for your marketing budget?
What if I told you that we did all the research for you (including calling some of the sales departments for these platforms' costs?!) Well, that's exactly what we did...
Not All Content Creation Tools Are Created Equal
Thankfully, marketing teams now have access to more SaaS content tools, services and platforms than ever before. Gone are the days of emailing freelancers and editors and managing spreadsheets. The problem is, how do you begin to choose from an overwhelming list of content platform options which one is right for your business and marketing team? And for the function you're trying to fill? Most platforms will claim they are a one-stop platform to service all of your needs. But rarely is this true. And some content marketing platforms have either *too many* functions you don't need, or are missing one you do need.
On the flip side, using a new platform or service for each separate task can be overwhelming to manage. You’ve heard the saying “too many cooks in the kitchen," too many marketing tools can feel more like too many kitchens and not enough cooks. We’ve certainly experienced that when it comes to managing too many platforms through our own trial and error.
Perhaps the best way to help is by sharing my own process with choosing the right content marketing platforms for us at First Page. Let's walk through three simple steps that we used to narrow down choices and choose the right tools for the job.
Step One: Identify What You’re Trying to Accomplish & What You Need to Get There
When launching First Page in May 2016, I did what many founders and marketing directors do — a bunch of research on price and functionality to build my company's marketing suite. I wanted the least amount of tools as possible, for the best price. But they also had to be "best in class." Content marketing platforms come in all shapes and sizes, and what I found was although many had elements we liked, some tools didn't do the ONE thing we really needed it to do. Or other tools were wildly expensive for our "just getting started" startup agency budget. I knew that we needed a place where we could have 5-10 freelancers communicate with an editor. We needed an editing workflow that allowed for revisions, commenting, etc. We needed a clear workflow that we could build and add our own steps. We also needed a place that we could include keyword research and content briefs. And we wanted to be able to easily push the content from our production platform to WordPress (our CMS of choice at First Page).
Let’s look at some of the other criteria we used to determine our content marketing platform needs:
Writing and editing workflow
Freelance writers marketplace availability
Client & agency tools
Step Two: Test It Out
Many platforms offer a free trial period and from our experience, it doesn’t take long to determine if the platform is a good fit. Get in there and try it out! You’re looking for a relatively easy entry point to get started using the tools, even if there is a larger learning curve to really get the most out of each element.
Step Three: Choose Your Main Platform and Supplement
Once you’ve explored the capabilities of a few platforms, it’s time to choose one. To help you compare some leading platforms at a quick glance, including the cost of each platform, we’ve put together a content marketing matrix:
Now that you’ve centralized your content production workflow and you’ve found complementary services to incorporate, don’t be afraid to tweak things as needed. We’re continually testing out new tools and platforms as we come across them to find out what the best remote working environment is for our team and clients.
For instance, while we've stuck to GatherContent as our content production platform, we've tried out Trello and Google Sheets for our content calendar; HubSpot for our full service inbound marketing platform; HootSuite, SproutSocial and HubSpot for social media management; Asana and Trello for project management; Slack for internal communications; AHREFs, SEMRush and Moz for SEO tracking, etc. It's important for us to have the best and right tools for the job, so occasionally we tweak things or try something new.
As your needs change, it’s perfectly normal to outgrow a service or to decide it’s time for an upgrade. Factors like adding additional team members, budget, and client needs can all influence the decision.
Now It's Time to Get Back to Creating and Delivering Top Notch Content
After all, what good is a tool if it's not properly put to use. It's alway important to keep the outcome in mind — ultimately it's about making content production easier so that the focus can remain on delivering great content, establishing yourself as an industry expert and providing value for your audience. So, start writing and producing great content!