The apps it takes to run a content marketing machine

Since settling into my role at Ghost I've found I rely on a small group of apps every day to do my job. When I shared a couple of these in my recent guide to writing research based content, the response was so positive I thought you might like to read about my full set of tools.

And since everyone works differently, I've asked a few other content marketers to share their tool sets, too.


Belle Beth Cooper, content crafter at Ghost

I work full-time at Ghost, writing three new posts per week about content marketing.

My favourite writing spots are in bed with my iPad Mini, or at my desk on my saddle chair.

Belle's writing spot

Research and drafting

ia writer pro

I'm forever trying new distraction-free Markdown writing apps for Mac, but I keep coming back to iA Writer Pro. Although I've never been a big fan of writing in monospace, they've converted me with their excellent typography choices.



There are so many great royalty-free photography sites around now. Zoommy is a Mac app that collects photos from a bunch of these sites and lets me browse and download the ones I want. It doesn't have tags or search, but it's a quick way to find great photos for my blog post title images.

I also use Instashare to quickly send files between my Mac and my iPhone. This comes in handy whenever I want to use iPhone screenshots in my posts.

Publishing and promoting


Obviously we use Ghost to publish our blog. I love how easy it is to handle the post's feature image and metadata in the settings pane. Plus, I'm a huge fan of Markdown so I love that I can stick with it when writing for Ghost.

I use Slack to communicate what I'm doing in marketing with the rest of the team. When a new post is published on the blog it automatically shows up in our public #ghost channel, and when I tweet it out it shows up in our team's main channel. We've also set up Zapier to monitor comments on our blog and send the comments into our #content Slack channel.

Staying organised and focused

The Ghost team uses Asana to manage our tasks and projects. I have a project called "Blogging" that houses all of my high-level tasks, like monthly content reports and my content roadmap, posts I'm working on, and all of the potential topic ideas I've come up with.


I use MeisterTask to manage my content schedule for Ghost, since I find the visual layout easier to manage than Asana's lists. MeisterTask lets me set up a checklist template and re-use it on various tasks, so I can add my "Ghost" checklist to each blog post's task and I'll always have the same list of subtasks to do: writing a description for SEO, choosing a tag, creating a feature image, etc.


Matthew Guay, writer and marketer at Zapier

I work on Zapier's content marketing, directing our app reviews and eBook publication.

It's mundane, but my favorite place to write is at my desk at home, with iA Writer full-screen in dark mode. Turn off the Wifi, and just let the words flow.

Matthew's writing spot

Research and drafting

My favorite app for writing continues to be iA Writer. It's simple, with beautiful typography and just enough features to make writing Markdown text easy. Every time I try another writing app, I always end up coming back to iA Writer. It's addictive.


For gathering info and planning longer content ideas, OmniOutliner is a great tool to have around. It's a powerful outliner that—while not absolutely necessary for my work—makes outlining ideas and organizing your notes more enjoyable. Plus, it doubles as a ultra-simple spreadsheet for keeping track of budgets, social stats, and whatever else you want.


Google Docs

Google Docs is today's Microsoft Word—it's getting long-in-the-tooth and is slower than I'd like, but continues to be the best tool for collaborating on text. You can annotate and comment easily, flip back through revisions, and still write in Markdown if you make yourself. I'll write in iA Writer, then copy my Markdown text into Google Docs before sharing it with my team for edits.

For actually improving your writing, Hemingway App and iA Writer Pro's syntax highlighting are great tools. The former points out sentences that are too long or contain complicated phrases; the latter makes it glaringly obvious when you've used too many adjectives.

Publishing and promoting

The hardest thing with promotion is remembering to do it, so our editorial Trello board has a list for promotion to help us remember to share recently published content.

Then, whether you're using Buffer or social networking services directly, my favorite recent trick for sharing content is to quote part of the article in the social post. Most people just share links and article titles, so if you point out something interesting from the article the social post seems to get more shares and clicks.

Staying organised and focused

Evernote's a jack of all trades, and I love it for logging just about everything I do and come across. The web clipper is perfect for bookmarking and making a local database of everything I've learned, and text notes are a simple way to log article ideas, content that's cut during editing and could be reused in the future, and more.


OmniFocus is the tool I rely on to make sure I accomplish everything I need to do each week. We have team tools for tasks, but taking the time to also manage a personal todo list makes you plan out your work in your head and make sure you don't leave any tasks behind.


Kevan Lee, content at Buffer

I have the privilege of creating helpful blog posts, email courses, and resources to help people with their social media sharing.

My favorite writing spot is in my home office, headphones in (no music though - weird, right?), external keyboard, and a distraction-free editor. :)

Kevan's writing spot

Research and drafting

I tend to use Trello as a repository for ideas and research, as it's so easy to quickly create and add to cards and lists.


Sort of like a minimal version of Google Docs, Hackpad lets me start, share, and collaborate on drafts in no time at all. Great for capturing the creative spark whenever it comes!


I tend to hop straight into WordPress for my writing and editing. Their revision history is a cool way to track back and learn by seeing what other folks may have changed or edited.


When I need a quick text-editor, I'll open Atom (think: Sublime Text) and perform some HTML or plain-text edits. The find-and-replace feature is really handy for bulk edits to blog posts. :)

Publishing and promoting

When a new post goes live, we hop into Buffer and add a large handful of social media updates to our profiles. The posts go into the queue, and we can even custom schedule them for specific times 1 day out, 2 days out, 1 week out, and more.

We use an automated RSS campaign in MailChimp to send out our new posts to subscribers, and we've really enjoyed the ease with which we can collect new signups to the list and track where they all come from!

Staying organised and focused

F.lux adjusts my screen tint to be easy on the eyes when I'm working into the evening or starting early in the morning. It's helped tremendously with focus and motivation as I'm able to work quickly and happily at any hour of the day.

I've turned on the distraction-free editor in WordPress so that the only thing I see on my screen when I'm typing a post is the words that I'm typing - no menus or sidebars at all. When I need to get to something outside the editor, I can either pause typing or move my mouse and it all reappears. :)


Blake Thorne, content marketing director at iDoneThis

I handle content marketing efforts for iDoneThis, writing a daily blog post on topics like entrepreneurship and remote work.

I have this big monster of a wooden desk that my wife found for me at an estate sale. Your desk might be prettier, but mine's heavier and older. It's beautiful, it's weird, it might be haunted.

Blake's writing spot

Research and drafting


Evernote has been the center of my writing universe for years now. Everything I've written in the past six years is in there. It does most of the heavy lifting for my research, too. It's never let me down.

Increasingly I'm working Pocket into my workflow. It's great for collecting research.



Again, Evernote for anything text related.

For visual stuff, I've been using Canva quite a bit. It helps a design-stunted guy like me make splashy graphics for posts with pretty minimal effort. Really great tool.

Publishing and promoting


I use Buffer to handle all our social media scheduling and promoting.

It sounds old fashioned, but I think email (with a little bit of hustle) is still the best way to get your content in front of specific people.

Staying organised and focused

I have a few Spotify playlists that I put on low volume when I'm writing (chiefly Mellow Beats and Deep Focus).

Pomodoro timer

I'm also a new convert to the Pomodoro timer. I think a lot of productivity loss comes down to poor decisiveness. There are so many things you can be doing, you're constantly switching tasks wondering if something else is more important. It's like the guy who can't decide who to ask to prom and winds up going alone. Pomodoro takes that decision moment and isolates it: you've decided to spend the next 25 minutes on writing (or researching or whatever). Maybe it wasn't the most optimal decision. That's OK. At least you're focused on something.


Kelsey Meyer, Cofounder of Influence & Co.

I run a content marketing firm. Our team produces over 180 articles each month and I write about 1 per week.

Kelsey's writing spot

Research and drafting


We use 15five to crowdsource ideas from our team on a weekly basis. I included a question that simply says, what should our audience know about content marketing that they don't currently know? Or what have you read recently that inspired an idea for an article on our blog?



I am always struggling with condensing my language so I use the Hemingway app to keep me aware of when my sentences are getting a little longwinded.

Publishing and promoting

I love Buffer because it allows me to schedule out posts so I don't forget to share an article multiple times.

Staying organised and focused


Spotify set onto classical music radio helps me stay focused.

We use our team's #editor Slack channel to ask quick q's to our team of editors instead of taking 10 minutes to do the research and getting sucked into the interwebs.


Shannon Byrne, Chief Content Officer at CloudPeeps

I lead all content efforts at CloudPeeps, where I craft words, create strategies and engage our audience through content contributions, social media, newsletters and more.

My favorite writing spots are my bed with my window open and music playing in my headphones or at Outpost Cafe - a coffee shop near my apartment in Brooklyn, or pretty much anywhere with a patio when it's nice outside. :)

Shannon's writing spot

Research and drafting


I like Pinboard for researching writing projects because the Chrome extension allows me to easily save articles and revisit them later or search for what other people have pinned pertaining to a given topic.

For drafting content, I keep things simple with Google Drive. It has everything I need and I like being able to organize my articles into relevant folders and collaborate with others. I'm not good at preventing distractions when I'm writing, but one day maybe I'll try one of those focus apps. :)


I don't use it often, but the Hemingway Editor is great for catching complex sentences and common errors. The times I have used it, it's helped me establish better clarity—and it's fun to use!

People! I often ask a friend or two to review my personal writing, which is always incredibly helpful. They're the best solution when I know something needs to be edited for brevity or to gauge how interesting it is.

Publishing and promoting


I've become a huge fan of Medium for repurposing CloudPeeps' content. It allows us to leverage the network effect and reach relevant audiences with topic tags. Having publications to submit to also broadens our reach and gets our content in front of new eyes.

For our CloudPeeps blog, we use Wordpress, which offers several plugins to help with promotion, including CoSchedule's Click to Tweet tool. The CTT tool allows us to highlight soundbites while making it easy for readers to share our content.

Staying organised and focused

The CloudPeeps team uses Asana to manage all team projects, including content. In our "Content" project, we break out all blog posts, guest posts, interviews and bigger projects and look at calendar view each week to spot any holes in the pipeline, as well as collaborate on anything needed from a team member.


We also use Slack for quick questions and brainstorming around headlines or specific content ideas. We have a #content room where we share all published content so the team can comment and share it!


Jimmy Daly, editor at Vero and freelance writer

I write content, guides and e-books for some of the world's coolest SaaS companies.

I travel a lot so my work space changes often. I can write anywhere as long as I have my noise canceling headphones, hot coffee and Evernote.

Jimmy's writing spot

Research and drafting

Evernote has helped me turn research into a layer of my work. I'm constantly using Clearly to highlight and snip interesting quotes and research to use later. I rarely venture out looking for inspiration these days—everything I need is already in Evernote.


I've used dozens of writing tools but keep coming back to Draft. I love the clean interface, image hosting (I use lots of screenshots in my work) and the autosave feature.


I often export Draft docs into Google Drive for easy editing. The change tracking and comments are so easy to use that it's worth abandoning Markdown during the editing phase.

When I feel myself getting long-winded, I paste my work into Hemingway App. This makes it a little easier to identify areas that need work.

Publishing and promoting


I use Mou to format posts before I load them into Wordpress. It's a free Markdown tool with a live preview window. You can even load your blog's CSS so the previews look exactly like your own site.

Call me old fashioned, but I use spreadsheets to organize outreach and link building campaigns.

Staying organised and focused

Trello has become my default editorial calendar. I paste links to Draft or Google Docs so I can easily access drafts of new posts. I also use color labels to track the progress of each piece. (Ex. Red = have not started, Yellow = In progress, Green = Done)

I'm a huge fan of instrumental music while I write. I listen to the same handful of Spotify playlists over and over again when I need to get into the zone. My favorites are Deep Focus and Acoustic Concentration.


Len Markidan, Head of Marketing at Groove

I run marketing at Groove, where I manage our three blogs, writing one and editing two others. I also blog about working from home at Home Office Hero.

I'm most productive at the desk in my home office, faced with only my computer and my judgmental cat, for whom my writing is never good enough.

Len's writing spot

Research and drafting

I've tried a number of writing and editing tools, but Google Docs is still my favorite. It's simple, makes collaboration and editing easy, and I never have panicked moments (like I did with Word) where the app freezes and I'm scared I've lost everything.


For research, I lean heavily on Disqus, which we use to host comments on our blog. We want to make sure that what we're writing aligns with what our readers want, so we spend a lot of time responding to comments and learning what people are interested in reading about.


I'm a big fan of the comment functionality in Google Docs, which makes tracking edits and suggestions incredibly simple.


Sometimes, though, the best creative breakthroughs can come from talking things out. For that, I prefer Screenhero (now a part of Slack) for voice calls with built-in screen sharing.

Publishing and promoting

I love SumoMe, which delivers tremendous results when it comes to getting readers interested in subscribing to our email list.

Click to Tweet

And ClickToTweet, which lets us create ready-to-share Tweets that help our readers promote our content with minimal effort.

Staying organised and focused

I would be hopelessly lost without StayFocusd, a Chrome extension that keeps me from straying over to Facebook or Twitter when I'm struggling to turn out a sentence.


And when it comes to staying organized, Trello is fantastic. Anytime I come across something that would be useful in a future post, I add it to Trello so that I can find it later. When I'm ready to write, I might already have a dozen cards to work from.


Janet Choi, marketing manager at Customer.io

My job at Customer.io involves content marketing, teaching folks about email marketing, managing our newsletter and social media, and wrangling words and messaging.

My favorite spot to write keeps changing. Right now, I'm digging this desk at the co-working space I'm at, with the sun streaming in.

Janet's writing spot

Research and drafting


For drafting content, I'm a bit of an old fogey. I just use the Pages app on my mac, and then add in Markdown when a piece is closer to finished.

For researching content, I often refer back to Evernote to search through clipped articles and my notebook of email swipes for examples.


For editing content in collaboration with others, I love Draft. It makes it easy to keep track of changes and feedback with its version control.


I also still use Compfight to search for creative-commons licensed images on Flickr to use for my posts' header images.

Publishing and promoting

We use Buffer to schedule tweets to promote our blog posts.

I also have a zap set up in Zapier to share when new posts are published in our Slack #marketing channel so that teammates can help spread the word.

Staying organised and focused

I use Trello to keep track of ideas and manage content projects.

Pomodoro Time Pro

I also use Pomodoro Time Pro sometimes to get me moving, even if it's short spurts, when my brain energy or motivation is sluggish.

I've put together a Product Hunt collection including all the apps mentioned here.

What about you? No doubt we missed some of your favourite tools. What do you use to help you keep the writing machine running?

Image credits: iA Writer Pro via sayzlim.net, Zoommy via Writely Designed, Pomodoro Time Pro via Denys Yevenko, Compfight via TheTrendNet, Trello via Lifehacker, Pages via software.com, Buffer via TRAFFICHOOD, Screenhero via Rails on Maui, Click To Tweet via Today Made, Disqus via Examiner, Mou via Free App Maven, Evernote via GSMArena, Draft via Techinch, Google Docs via Jisc Scotland, OmniOutliner via The Omni Blog, MeisterTask via MeisterTask, Hackpad via Micah Daigle, Atom via JonathanMH, OmniFocus via MacStories, Canva via Canva, 15five via 15five, Pomodoro timer via Fitomato, Hemingway via sayfun.me, Spotify via HuffPost Tech, Pinner (Pinboard client) via The Sweet Setup, Slack via Forbes.