July 2

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Software is just about everything when it comes to creating content, publishing it, then subsequently promoting it to the world. A baseball player needs a bat, a runner needs running shoes and a digital marketer needs great tools to be creative.

Typically I put software in the three major categories below in both free and paid versions:

  • Content Creation
  • Content Promotion
  • Content Tracking

When I first got into digital marketing and had yet to work with my first client, of course I would look around for free versions of all the tools I needed to get the project done. Just a quick google of "free keyword research software" or "free logo software" will result in just enough results to keep you busy for as long as you want. I've found that some tools were absolutely perfect as free and others I just had to bite the bullet and pay for.

Below are the six software tools I use everyday with no affiliate links to take away any chance of bias. The one thing I can't stress enough is that software must have either good customer support or great Youtube tutorials because with anything, there's a good chance you'll run into technical support or usabilty issues.


Inkscape

Content Creation       Free       Youtube Tutorials

If there is one software that completely changed how I created content, it would have to be Inkscape. The three primary functions I use Inkscape for is:

  • Logo Creation
  • Image Resizing
  • Instagram & Youtube Thumbnails

Prior to Inkscape, I was using Gimp GNU Image Manipulation and had no complaints, I just found that Inkscape did better manipulating shapes, colors & text while Gimp is great for photographs. There are no shortage of Youtube video tutorials on how to use Inkscape, however I found the best way to learn was through a class by a professional logo designer called Logos By Nick.

Canva

Content Creation       Free & Paid       Youtube Tutorials

Canva was quite possibly the first software I used to create content. I would create the design elements such as the logo in Inkscape and then place it around other ready-made elements to make beautiful layouts. I primarily used it to create the three finished products below. 

  • Presentations
  • Posters
  • T-shirts

While I wasn't using any other comparable software before Canva, I still haven't found a better, easier and less expensive design layout software out there. There are endless Canva tutorial videos on Youtube as well, although it's a very intuitive software and I'm sure you'll have it down to a science quickly.

Thrive Themes

Content Creation       Paid       Thrive Themes University

Thrive Themes allows me the versatility of creating conversion-oriented landing pages with themes and pre-created content that looks great. As a content marketer, not only do I have to create the content but it also has to have a great user experience. Thrive Themes provides templates including buttons, forms, lists, sign ups and so much more that will help the user interact with the site.  The Three main reasons I use Thrive Themes are:


  • Templates
  • Color Scheme & Font Consistency
  • Speed

I came from using WordPress like everyone else and while that is great it didn't allow me the function and shortcuts I'm able to create with Thrive Themes. A nice feature they have is something called Project Light Speed which is a nice answer to Google's recent core update. 

Ahrefs

Content Research & Tracking       Paid       Youtube Tutorials 

Ahrefs is one of the many SEO software tools available on the market and I've tried three other tools before I found this one. Where Ahrefs stands in my experience is it's ability to find more ranked keywords and more backlinks than the other tools on the market, and in some cases i've seen 2-3x more information show up on their algorithm. The four main uses I get on a daily basis would be:

  • Site Audit
  • Keyword Research
  • Backlink Research
  • Ranking and Long-term Planning

While it took me a couple months to shell out the $99 per month price tag, once I saw all the functions it performs I realized there aren't that many alternatives. For the record,  SEO Power Suite, one of the only free SEO tool on the market,  had limited uses but offered usable insights in the absence of Ahrefs.

Google Search Console

Content Tracking       Free       Youtube Tutorials 

I end up going on Google Search Console (GSC) more often than I realize. GSC has a detailed list of the keywords your site is receiving, links to your site and how well it's performing. Now that I use Ahrefs I've found that I use GSC mainly for site indexing but it will also pick up keywords and links that Ahrefs misses, so it's always good to cross reference. 

  • Site Indexing
  • Performance
  • Keywords
  • Links

If you don't have it in the budget for Ahrefs, Google Search Console is your best bet for the price. This is also a very intuitive software, so while there are great Youtube videos, you'll probably be a pro on the site after an hour. 

Google Analytics

Content Tracking       Free       Steep Learning Curve 

Google Analytics takes trackability to the next level with website & url tracking, tags, events and much more. This is the software where you'll find out where your customer is coming from, where they're going on your site and how long they are staying there. The only downside is the difficulty in learning how to use the software, but there are some Youtube tutorials anywhere from 20 minutes to 4 hours depending how deep you want to dive. The 2 main reasons I use Google Analytics are:

  • URL Tracking
  • Website Performance

The nice part about Google Analytics is that you can integrate it into your site through a plugin like Monster Insights so you're able to get all the information you'd like from Google on the back-end of your website.


Conclusion

When you find the best software for your project, an entire new world opens up. The most important thing is to find out what your needs are and identify the best way to get there, and if it's in the digital marketing arena, I'm sure at least a couple of these tools will help you on your journey.


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