Tools for creating content are ever-changing. If you spend your time reading reviews, keeping track of free trial periods, and testing products for the different aspects of your business, there would be less time spent actually creating content.
So, instead of creating a gigantic list of tools that will just send you into a frenzy and bring your creativity to a screeching halt; we’ve stuck with the essentials.
While there are 15 tools (plus a few honorable mentions), each one serves a distinct purpose and is the best in class of it’s particular function. In addition to the one tool per function style, all the listings are separated into three categories:
Now with the logistics out of the way, we hope you find a few new tools for your own tool belt.
Tools for Digital Product Research
Price: Free with paid options starting at $26/mo
One of the best places to find ideas for your next product is your current audience and one of the easiest and most accurate ways to extract that data is to survey your tribe. The most widely used platform (for good reason) to collect that intel is SurveyMonkey. The free plan is good for smaller audiences and covers up to 10 questions and up to 100 responses (not the number of people you send it to you, just the ones who fill it out). The $25/mo plan unlocks all the features and really makes it a great tool for bigger audiences.
Price: Free with paid options starting at $99/mo
Once you have a target market or niche picked out, it’s time to get a feel for what’s popular. BuzzSumo is a great way to do just that. It’s essentially a search engine for the most popular pieces of content on a general topic. Just type in “underwater basket-weaving” and prepare to see the most shared posts on the subject. The free plan is really all you need (you see the top several results for an unlimited amount of searches) to figure out great sub-niches and get a pulse for the needs that can be met.
Price: $37/mo (or $25/mo paid annually)
Keyword research and content creation go hand in hand. Wouldn’t it be helpful to see exactly how hard it would be to reach the top 10 in Google for a given term (on a 0-100 scale)? You bet it would. You can also find great topics and gauge their profitability based on the number of people searching for them on average each month. This tool is great for finding great product ideas and blogging subjects to keep drawing in that natural organic traffic.
Honorable Mention: Google Keyword Planner (Free)
If you’re bootstrapping, you can find a lot of the same data (except for the ranking data) using Google’s free tool. It will take you a bit longer, and to be frank it’s cumbersome to use.
Don’t have an audience of your own to survey? No problem, you can use one of the most respected research companies on the planet to find the idea for your next product. If you don’t believe they have some good stuff, just take a look at their topic page (linked above). We quickly found some sweet data on the increasing number of people trying to figure out how to take “detox” time from social media. Sounds like a product idea to us.
If you’re not a regular Reddit user, it can seem like you’ve become a character from The Matrix. All that data rolling around in a crude form, everyone’s…abrasive, and there are agents moderators looking to shut you down if you go against the grain. That said, it’s a great place to find out what internet savvy people are talking about and buying. Tip: use the subreddits and search for your niche (it’s there, we promise) for some lightning fast inspiration.
Tools for Digital Product Creation
Price: Starting at $49.99/mo
If you are serious about creating high quality content for your products, there is no substitute for Adobe CC. Video content, highly visual pdf ebooks, audio courses, even comics and cartoons can be professionally created using the vast amount of tools for the one monthly price (a great value, really). Chances are, you already use it or want to start soon.
Honorable Mention: Canva (Free w/paid options)
If you create mostly written-word content that doesn’t require a lot of visuals, you may not need the expense of Adobe. If you only use the occasional graphic, Canva is a great free choice.
Price: $99.99 One-time fee
Speaking of writing (see what we did there?), Dragon allows you to write with your vocal cords promising to save you time and effort. It’s really the most advanced dictation software on the market and (after a little learning curve), you should be able to write with the same amount of accuracy at an incredible rate. If you’re at 120 words/minute you can take a pass, but this tool can double or even triple the average typing speed. Get your words out of your head and into a sellable form faster.
Price: $79 (Current price on Amazon)
Now we come to the only physical item on the list. We could have talked about video equipment, but with so many (strong, borderline fanatical) opinions about film gear; we decided to opt out of that noise (see what we did there?). Back to the mic. For about 20% of the cost of a professional recording mic, the ATR 2100 sounds phenomenal. It comes recommended by the likes of Tim Ferriss and other top podcasters. If you have a premium podcast, audio books, or other sound-based content; it’s one of the best options.
Price: $49.95 (one-time) for Mac and Windows
From the same company that made Camtasia (a great video editing software), Snagit is a screen capturing tool that allows you to do demos, pre-record presentations, and a decent amount of other useful features. Whether it’s a sales video, or an entire course taught with slides; every product creator could use it to take their educational material up a notch.
Bonus Resource: You can find a review of several top screen recording software products in this post (many are free).
This one could save your sanity. Let’s face it. Creating digital goods can be a long, boring, and lonely process. Hours of sitting (or standing) at your desk plugging away. Soon, you notice that your pace slows and you look at the clock to see that only an hour has passed. Focusatwill is music scientifically-proven to improve your productivity. The beats and melodies will move you into a creative juggernaut. Really, give it a shot with the free 2-week trial.
Tools for Marketing Your Digital Products
Price: Starts at $10/mo + transaction fees
Gumroad isn’t exactly a marketing tool (although there are marketing-centric features). It’s more of a hassle free way to sell and deliver your goods to your customers. They offer multiple ways to take payments for your products including: one-time fees, memberships, recurring payments, multiple price points and product types. You can even sell physical products if that’s your thing. We love this tool because they are all about helping you grow your audience and encouraging you to “just ship” your products.
Price: $37/mo paid monthly (or $25/mo paid annually)
If you have sales letters, sign-up forms, or other landing pages you’ve at least heard of Leadpages. They make a complex process incredibly simple which makes it such a valuable service. Create beautiful landing pages in minutes with no coding experience whatsoever. It’s the perfect tool for creators who want to focus on their expressions and not “waste” time putting together the details behind getting out into the world.
Price: Free with paid options starting at $10/mo
Info products and social media go together like any of the cliché things that go together. However, it has become necessary to be on multiple platforms at once which isn’t easy. Buffer is the best at keeping your profiles up to date with your sanity in tact. Schedule, rotate, and publish content easily and for a really reasonable fee across the board.
Price: Starting at $49/mo
Brand24 is a “Social Listening” tool. It lets you keep an eye on relevant mentions and bloggers who talk about you and your company. This is valuable when a blogger mentions your digital product, but fails to link to you. You can then follow up and ask for backlinks to boost your organic search traffic. Brand24 also makes it easy to develop relationships with influencers. When VIPs mention you, you can add them to your list of potential partners, webinar hosts, or guest post targets.
Price: Free with paid options starting at $20/mo
SumoMe is a collection of useful tools for your website. They offer everything from email collection to prominently displaying offers and much more. There is a free version that packs a decent punch, but to get the full list of great benefits and remove the tasteful branding it will cost you a nominal fee. Great for converting traffic that comes to your site into your list.
Which brings us to our last tool on the list.
Price: Free (forever) for your first 100 contacts
Email is the way you build trust, the way you communicate with your audience, and maybe even the way you deliver your premium content. With so much riding on the segmentation and sequencing of your drip campaigns, a quality email service is critical. Drip can not only help you with all of that, we make it easy to set up a compelling string of emails with our visual workflow tool.
Please remember that tools are only useful if you use them. We aren’t encouraging you to buy anything you won’t use or don’t need (just yet, anyway). Do you currently use anything on our list? What are your best tools that you couldn’t live without?
Strike up a conversation in the comments.