The Content Strategy Magazine

Starter Tools for the Freelance Content Strategist

One of the advantages of being in the field for Content Strategy is that you get to try out some neat tools that can make your experience working in content strategy productive and smooth. There also is a risk of using these new and emerging tools that one day they may not exist or there is a cost associated with using the tool in the future.

When using these free-to-paid tools, consider these four thoughts before you put all of your content eggs in your basket:

  • tools help you manage the work, remember that you know the concepts behind it;
  • be aware of privacy concerns, company policy, and proprietary knowledge;
  • free doesn’t always mean free–companies make profit from future features;
  • and understand that content saved on cloud services can disappear tomorrow.

In this article, I’m only going to preview the stable of web-based tools to get you running. This isn’t a list of tools for DITA, XML, Translation, Localization, CMS, or CCMS. These established tools will get the work done for you, but this list of tools are for filling in those gaps between the workhorses that do the heavy-lifting in content strategy.

This isn’t a complete list, but a curated list that highlight systems that can help get you started.

Project Management

Pexels / Startup Stock Photos

If you need some way to track everything because email has driven you bonkers, welcome to using a task tracker. For example, Asana or Trello are web-based task trackers that have gained popularity over the years and offer an alternative to the likes such as BaseCamp. While these are robust in their own way, there are a few caveats to consider: how do you organize your tasks? Are they simple, visual, or detailed, and complex? For example, Trello is great if you have discrete projects and you need a visual layout to work in. In addition, Asana is great if you have detailed tasks and you need a listing of everything. Consider looking at a project management system that have extensions to bring more life to the task tracker, such as integrations with email, cloud storage, and time-tracking.

Communications

This list is short, but the short is list because most successful folks use three to get a majority of their communications done. However, there is one tool that helps out immensely: Slack. Whenever you only want to send a quick message to someone and not an email, Slack is the must-have tool. Whether you are consulting with a client or work in a team, this tool helps avoid email and get work done faster. If your team is on various time zones or on other sides of the planet, this can help connect people together. There are several apps and integrations that can enrich the capabilities of Slack, such as connecting Trello, Asana, Google Calendar, Dropbox, and GitHub to name a few. Why use email if you can connect the tools that matter to you?

Research Gathering

Two are free and provided by Google, the last is a great suite of tools to use when conducting user research and organizing the results.

Pexels / Lukas

Google Search Console & Google Analytics

I cannot stress enough that if you are a consultant on a team that uses web-based content, it is extremely helpful to have Google Analytics-linked Search Console or Google Search Console itself. The latter is a feature where you can see how content is being searched for on the web for a website and helpful to learn how people arrive to your site. With Google Analytics, this is a similar function, it shows up if you connect the data sharing between the two reporting systems and contains the same data. This view of what people do to get a website can help determine keywords and provide data-driven analysis to make content decisions.

Optimal Workshop

Sometimes you need to get in front of your target audience and you can learn a lot about them. The products they offer help provide data-driven results from user research to develop information architecture in the forms of tree testing, first-click testing, card sorts, questionnaires. These tools can help automate and conduct controlled tests to better understand audiences. Combined with direct observation and indirect observation, these tools can get you the extra edge in wowing your clients while you work efficiently.

What do you use?

Do you think I missed something? Drop a comment in here. I know there are many more tools out there and there are many opportunities to write about new tools that can help make content strategy easier and even fun to work in.

Roger Renteria

Roger is a technical communicator, social media butterfly, and content strategist. Find him at writetechie.com.

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