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10 Types of Online Tools to Take Your Content from Ordinary to Awesome

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To rise above the online noise today, your content needs to be exceptional. These 10 categories of content development tools can help you plan, research, and write more compelling copy, then supplement it with visuals to make your output truly extraordinary.

The occasional “shiny object” aside, most tools, in and of themselves, are boring. It’s what can be done with them that’s exciting.

For example, you’d probably never go a seminar at your local hardware store on “how to use a saw and a drill.” But you might go to one on “how to build a tree house”—which would entail learning certain techniques for sawing and drilling.

(I did once, when our kids were younger. And I dragged them with me. Purely for their own education in the use of power tools, of course.)

By the same token, content development tools can help you create better content. Content that, like a well-built tree house, gets noticed, provides value (and maybe even a bit of fun), and stands the test of time.

Here are ten types of content development tools to help you design and create a remarkable content structure.

Content Ideation Tools

Content ideation tools enable you to capture ideas whenever and wherever they occur to you, discover what people are talking about, track trending topics and news stories, brainstorm and discuss ideas with team members, organize and map related topics, and generate potential titles.

Content ideation with FaqFoxFor example, with FaqFox, you can enter the term “treehouse,” select a generic set of sites to scan, and discover that related questions people are asking include:

  • What does a treehouse symbolize?
  • What should I include in an awesome treehouse?
  • How to make a treehouse?
  • Things to do in a treehouse?
  • What is the world’s largest treehouse?
  • What are the principles of treehouse making?
  • Who invented the treehouse?
  • What is the best way to build treehouses?
  • How do treehouse builders factor growth into their plans?
  • Where can I find information on building treehouses?

And literally dozens more.

You may decide to develop a piece of content to answer one of those questions. Or you might look for additional inspiration by using a tool like the Tweak Your Biz Title Generator to find more ideas.  Type in “treehouse,” click the Submit button, and you’ll see suggestions like:

  • Blog post headline generator toolHow 10 Things Will Change The Way You Approach Treehouse Building
  • Knowing These 10 Secrets Will Make Your Treehouse Awesome
  • How Build a Treehouse On A Budget: 10 Tips
  • The 10 Biggest Treehouse Mistakes You Can Easily Avoid
  • 10 Amazing Treehouse Hacks
  • 10 Awesome Tips About Treehouse Building From Unlikely Sources
  • 10 Creative Ways You Can Improve Your Treehouse

Content Planning and Research Tools

Once you’ve zeroed in on your specific topic, you’ll need to do some research to find interesting facts, creative ideas, and expert sources to cite.

Content research tools help you validate the output from content ideation tools, do fact checking, answer questions, identify sources for interviews, perform specialized searches (e.g., of academic and legal sources), and find statistical data. Content planning tools are useful for organizing thoughts and ideas, and managing the collaborative efforts of a content team.

To really add some authority to your treehouse piece, you might use HARO to find expert sources to interview for their insights on treehouse building, then assign a team member to conduct the interviews and follow up on the results using Trello.

Content Curation Tools

In the course of conducting your research, you’ll likely come across some pretty cool blog posts, articles, infographics, videos, and other content related to treehouse design and construction. These needn’t be used only as citations and source material; through content curation, you can get extra benefit from your research efforts.

Content curation tools can also be part of your research work. These tools let you discover, capture, arrange, annotate, and share multiple types of content in different formats—online, on social networks, through email—from almost any source.

Tools like Pocket and historious allow you to save web pages and other content for offline viewing.  Use Flipboard or RebelMouse to publish collections of curated content to your brand followers. Add notes and commentary to curated content with Curata or Pressly.

Curating related content prior to publishing your own guide can help establish you as an expert, build interest, and develop connections to relevant influencers for later outreach efforts. Showcasing their content ahead of time makes these influencers more likely to socially share and link to your guide once it is published.

Writing Tools

Online writing tools can assist with a wide range of tasks, such as:

  • evaluating the readability and “grade level” of text;
  • avoiding plagiarism and clichés;
  • finding and correcting grammatical and stylistic writing errors;
  • staying on task;
  • analyzing alternative headlines;
  • adding special characters;
  • stripping out word-processing tags; and
  • monitoring keyword density.

So, for example, if you decide to create long-form content (e.g., an eBook or a 10,000+ word blog post), you might decide to use a tool like Scrivener to manage your project from research through layout.

(Brief digression: you may want to produce your guide to treehouse building as evergreen content—a comprehensive tutorial that doesn’t become dated. However, you typically wouldn’t want to build your tree house in an evergreen tree. :-))

Use tools such as the Hemingway App and Grammarly anytime to keep your writing crisp and free of grammatical errors, repeated words, subject-verb disagreement, and passive voice.

Finish up by testing different headline variations with the Coschedule Headline Analyzer to optimize your title for social sharing.

Visual Content Creation Tools

Of course, information isn’t conveyed or consumed through words alone. Adding images can make your content both more interesting and more effective.

The multitude of online visual content creation tools encompasses apps for designing, creating, and editing different types of images including:
Treehouse social media quote image

  • social media graphics
  • presentations
  • diagrams
  • flowcharts
  • data charts and graphs
  • interactive images
  • banner ads
  • maps
  • animated GIFs
  • memes
  • quote pictures
  • e-cards

Treehouse memeFor the treehouse guide, you could create social media images (like the one above) using Canva, Pablo, or Snappa.

You could add a flowchart of the building process or a diagram of a treehouse design with Creately.

You might create a map of the best treehouses in your area using ScribbleMaps.

Meme Generator or quickmeme could be used to add a treehouse meme (like the one to the right).

You may decide to get even more elaborate and create an interactive treehouse image, like this, using ThingLink.

Screen Capture Tools

Another specific type of visual content creation apps is screen capture tools. These enable you to grab an image of your computer screen then add comments and annotations. These are most commonly used to highlight software features or to illustrate how to perform a task on a web page or within an application.

For your treehouse project, you could potentially use a tool like Awesome Screenshot to capture, mark up, and share a CAD diagram or drawing of a treehouse design. You could use LICEcap or Droplr to record screen actions or stitch images together as an animated GIF.

Stock Photos

Relevant photos can liven up any content. But it’s critical to understand usage rights. Using a commercial image without payment can lead to legal headaches.

Fortunately, sourcing high-quality images doesn’t have to break the bank. A number of stock photo and video sites offer free and low-cost images with easy-to-understand license terms. Registration and attribution requirements do vary by site, so always check usage terms carefully.

Photos of elaborate or unusual treehouses may provide inspiration in your treehouse guide. Here’s a small sample of treehouse images available on Pixabay:

Sample treehouse photos from Pixabay

 

You can also find images on Shutterstock, 123RF, FreeImages.com, and Morguefile.

Photo Editing Tools

Whether using your own photos or stock photographs, you may find you have some images that are good…but not quite right. They need a bit of correction or enhancement.

With free and low-cost online photo editing tools, you can perform tasks like:

  • editing photos in layers;
  • retouching images;
  • applying a wide range of effects (blur, cartoonize, old movie, oil painting, etc.);
  • adjusting colors and brightness;
  • adding text, icons, and stickers;
  • creating photo collages; and
  • rotating and resizing images.

Here’s an image from Pixabay edited with LunaPic: the original image, charcoal drawing effect, colored pencil effect, and sepia with text. Other image editing tools include PicMonkey, FotoFlexer, and Fotor.

How to create a content treehouse

 

Infographic Creation Tools and Services

Infographics have become ubiquitous but remain a popular visual content format. They’re highly effective for presenting sequential information (like treehouse-building instructions) or complex sets of statistical data; mobile friendly; and great for building links to help with SEO.

Infographic creation tools make it easy for content producers who aren’t professional designers to produce attractive, professional-looking output. Choose a template; modify the colors and fonts; add your information; insert elements like icons and maps; and generate embed code for publishing and sharing your final result.

Designing Your Own Tree House

From Visually.

You could create an infographic detailing the best types of trees, different treehouse styles, or, of course—instructions on how to build one, as in this example.

If you choose to supplement your writing with third-party visuals, infographics have a key advantage over photography: while photos often come with licensing restrictions and even fees, most infographic producers want you to share their images.  Authorial credit plus a link back to the source are generally all that’s required.

Audio and Video Editing Tools

Video is of course an extremely popular format for instructional content. Search Engine Land has reported that searches related to “how-to” on YouTube are growing 70% year over year.

You could add video content to your treehouse post in the form of a how-to video, a look at creative treehouse designs, a time-lapse video (as shown), or an expert interview.

Using video editing tools like Animoto, GoAnimate, and VideoScribe, you can create and customize different types of videos including slide show, animation, whiteboard-style, and live video. Add music tracks, narration, transitions, text, captions, and special effects.

Wrapping It Up

Effective content marketing starts with creating remarkable content. These 10 types of tools cover that process from research and writing through adding visual appeal. They enable even the design-challenged to add graphic elements that help their writing stand out.

And as for treehouses…here’s a post from 2007, written before many of the tools above were developed. But still an interesting project. 🙂