When you’re only a one-person shop, developing and implementing effective content marketing strategies can be tough. Unlike bigger companies who employ entire teams dedicated to things like blogging, graphic design, social media promotion, article curation, social advertising, and email marketing, you really only have one person to rely on to get the job done: yourself.
If you were able to spend the entire day working on launching and fine-tuning content marketing strategies, it might not be so bad...but most entrepreneurs can’t spend all their time working on one aspect of their business. If you’re like most solopreneurs, you’re in charge of everything—from sales and customer support, to fulfillment, product development, marketing, and everything else in between. But here’s the problem: if you want to build a successful business today, you really can’t ignore content marketing.
These days, you can’t afford to put it on the back burner. It’s too important. So the question is, how can you get real ROI from content marketing and still be able to focus your time and energy on all the other areas of your business that also require your attention and ultimately help drive growth? ANSWER: you need to build and use a content marketing stack.
What is a content marketing stack?
Simply put, a content marketing stack is a collection of tools, resources, processes, and documents you use to help organize, optimize, automate, and streamline your efforts. You can build “stacks” for nearly every aspect of your business: sales, growth hacking, technology, customer service and support, etc. The purpose of the stack is to make your job easier and allow you to become more effective in whatever task you’re working on and whatever goals you’re attempting to achieve. Think of your content marketing stack like your toolbelt—it should include everything you need to get the job done.
As you probably already know, you can’t really be an effective content marketer without using the right tools. When you’re in the early days of creating and sharing content on your blog, it’s easy to do everything by hand, but if you want to scale and see more results from your efforts, you eventually need to hire more people, use more tools, or both. Putting together a content marketing stack is the first step you can take toward building an effective, sustainable, and scalable content marketing machine for your business.
How to get started
What you end up including in your content marketing stack will depend entirely on your needs. Every stack is different depending on a number of factors, such as your skillset, your audience, your budget, and your goals. For example:
- If you’re not a strong writer, you might consider tapping into a freelancer network to help you create original content for your blogs, social media updates, and emails.
- If you know that you’re audience responds better to visual content rather than text-based content, you might invest less in writing tools and more in tools that help you create original videos, images, and infographics.
- If you have a very limited budget that you can allocate toward content marketing, you might need to invest in free tools rather than premium tools.
- If your goal is to drive more traffic to your website, you might invest more heavily in SEO and advertising tools rather than other tools.
To determine which tools, processes, documents, and other resources to include in your stack, it’s helpful to ask yourself the following questions:
- Where do I need the most help? Is there an area where I’m not as skilled at or one that has been taking too much time?
- What has been working and what hasn’t? Are there tools that could help me scale or automate my efforts in order to yield more results?
- What else could I be working on in my business if I had more time? If I were able to spend less time working on content marketing, how could it benefit my business? What areas could I outsource or automate?
- If I were to eventually hire another person to help me with my content marketing efforts, what tools, processes, or documents would they need in order to be successful?
These and other questions will help you zero in on your biggest needs and opportunities and will allow you to start building your own customized content marketing stack from the ground up.
The ultimate content marketing stack
Every content marketing stack will look a little different, but here’s a beginner’s list that includes a handful of recommended tools, blog posts, templates, and other resources you can consider as you build your own stack:
Here are 8 tools you can use to streamline, automate, and improve your content marketing strategies:
- Grammarly: this tool helps you edit and optimize your blog content in real-time, saving you from having to go back and spend time making multiple rounds of edits before publishing a post.
- Buffer: this tool helps you write and schedule social media posts ahead of time. Instead of manually re-sharing a new blog post on Facebook and Twitter every few days, you can use Buffer to write a series of Facebook posts and tweets all at once.
- Trello: this tool can help you manage the entire content creation, publishing, and promotion process from start to finish. It’s a visual tool that leverages the kanban system. You can use Trello to build your content calendar, assign deadlines, build checklists, and integrate with Google Docs, Slack, and other tools you might already be using.
- Canva: this tool makes it incredibly easy to create original visuals and graphics for your blog posts. As mentioned early, you might find that your audience prefers or responds particularly well to visuals over plain-text. If this is the case, you need an easy way to scale the creation of visuals. Canva is a great tool to leverage to make it possible.
- Mention: this tool helps you keep track of mentions of your company, name, or products across the web. Instead of having to waste time manually searching Twitter and Facebook for mentions, you can use Mention to get alerts sent directly to you. You can also use the tool to manage and respond to mentions in real-time—all from one convenient location.
- Moz Keyword Explorer: this tool helps you quickly identify SEO opportunities, based on real-time analysis of keywords and phrases that relate to your business and products. It’s an incredibly robust tool, and definitely worth checking out. To learn more about this tool, read this write-up from Rand Fishkin.
- Zemanta: this tool helps you distribute your content across the web. It helps you penetrate new audiences by sharing your content on other popular media and publishing sites. As you already know, content promotion needs to be a huge part of your overall content marketing strategy. Zemanta is one tool among many others that can help.
- Buzzsumo: this tool helps you curate content and connect with people who can help you share your new blog posts. It’s also a great tool to use when you’re trying to come up with new blog post ideas.
Templates & Processes
In addition to tools, your content marketing stack should also include templates and processes. Remember: you want to be in a position where you can hand your entire stack and responsibilities over to someone else in case you get to the point when you’re in a position to add a hire to your team. Here are some examples of templates and processes you might include:
- How to Write a Blog Post (example from Buffer)
- How to Find and Hire Writers (example from Grow and Convert)
- How to Perform Keyword Research (example from Hubspot)
- Content Audit Template (example from Buffer)
- How to Come up With Great Blog Headlines (example from CoSchedule)
If you have the budget for it, you can also outsource some content marketing tasks that you aren’t comfortable performing because of your lack of skill, or because they simply take up too much of your time. If you’re in this position, here are some outsourcing resources you could include in your content marketing stack:
- WriterAcess: use this network to connect with freelance writers who can help you write blog posts, social media updates, and emails.
- 99Designs: use this network to connect with freelance designers who can help you create blog post images, social media images, infographics, case studies, fact sheets, and other marketing collateral.
- VideoPixie: use this network to connect with videographers who can help you produce simple how-to videos to use in blog posts, product videos, explainer videos, and more.
- Leverage college campuses: if you have other areas within content marketing that you’d like more help with, consider finding a college student majoring in marketing, business, english, journalism, or design and hiring them as an intern.
If you’d like to see and review more tools and resources before putting together your content marketing stack, check out this extensive collection curated by Nicolas Nemni. What other tools have you added to your content marketing stack recently? Tell us in the comments below!