Maintaining productivity outside of an office environment can be difficult, especially for freelance writers who have no boss but himself or herself. You’ve got great resources to provide the best possible blogs, articles, and ebooks for your clients, but somewhere between the research and the editing, it’s easy to lose focus. The result is either a hastily completed project that meets deadlines but not much else, or well-executed content that’s a little too late.

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Are you reaching your content marketing goals?

I’d be lying if I said this question didn’t keep many of our peers and colleagues awake at night. Despite the explosion of metrics and analytics tools over the past several years, many marketers still think that a data-driven approach to marketing is best left to the nerds. We’ll clue you in on a little secret. Agile, metrics-focused marketing isn’t for the faint of heart, but it’s not too hard for anyone.

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What if a marketer was only as good as their content marketing tools?

I believe there’s actually much more truth to that statement than many of us realize. The brands that succeed at content marketing are those that take an agile stance. Not only should you constantly evaluate and re-evaluate your approach, you should take a long, hard look at how you’re getting there.

While some of the content marketing tools trending in 2014 are familiar, many of the rest are brand-new and probably worth adding to your program.

Much like our recent blog on tools and apps for rapid visual content creation, I personally believe that everything on this list has immense value to offer brands of any size. Here are the very best:

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A stock photo is worth a thousand words, but a custom image is worth a thousand page views.

I’m pretty sure that almost every blogger knows on some level they should kick their addiction to stock photos and curated visual content. It’s enough to help you scrape by, but does it help you visually communicate your brand’s goals or voice? Do any of your audience members stop and say “wow, that’s a really cool picture!” Probably not, and this is why you should be investing in custom images.

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While the concept of branded content has been around for decades, the practice of publishing blogs, eBooks and white papers to the web is less than a decade old. Studies by the Content Marketing Institute have found that 61% of customers are more likely to buy from a brand who offers free content resources. Leads generated through inbound marketing cost about half as much as leads from outbound marketing methods. It’s not too late to make the plunge into custom content.

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Over 392 million people worldwide view more than 13.3 billion pages each month – and that’s just on WordPress-hosted blogs! The concept of publishing content in real-time to the web has gone from an obscure pastime in the late 1990’s to the formidable force it is today. Content is an incredibly effective way to drive ROI for your company’s marketing budget, but you won’t see great results if you simply publish articles without a distribution or promotion plan in mind. Business blog marketing is a critical part of a modern content marketing strategy, and we’ve detailed 7 of the best ways to see better results here.

Image source

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Few books have made a bigger impression on culture than J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. With millions of copies sold around the world, the books defined the pre-teens years for the crop of millennials who are now entering the work force. The books are more than purely entertaining fiction, however. They’re rich with allegory and philosophy, and have more to reveal about marketing tactics and best practices than you may realize.

While we’re fairly certain Rowling didn’t have inbound marketing on the mind when she penned the series, we’ve uncovered some magical lessons to help shape your marketing tactics:

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Image courtesy of patrisyu / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A content marketing strategy without visual elements is like chocolate chip cookies without any chocolate. It’s still good, but it lacks the mass appeal.

Researchers believe that around 65% of the population are visual learners, who are able to best process information that’s relayed in images, infographics and video. While the average adult reads around 300 words a minute, the human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text.

High-quality visual content can reduce your website’s bounce rate, improve social media engagement, and help you create content that people want to share.

To help you boost your business blogging strategy without an enormous investment in software and apps, we’ve created a comprehensive list of the best free and low-cost tools on the web.

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