15 hands-free content tools that will grow your business

I’m going to say a word to you, but please don’t panic, slap your forehead, or run screaming.

This is all about content.

It’s a word you’ll keep hearing, no matter where you go for advice on growing an online business.

I’m afraid there’s no avoiding it. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a bike shop looking to expand online… a jewellery maker looking for customers… an accountant seeking clients… or a natural health publisher building a database.

The best method of growing your business online is to offer ‘content’ in the form of tips, reviews, ‘how to’ guides, news, opinion, recipes and lists.

That’s how you draw in potential customers. That’s how you get them to subscribe to your blog, email, social networks and other communications. And that’s how you will eventually make sales.

Pure and simple.

So it’s not a fad. It’s the reality of making money in the new digital age.

But I don’t blame you if you’re wary of content as an Internet business tool. Perhaps you think it looks boring or difficult. Perhaps you have no expert knowledge, hate writing, or have no idea where to start.

So what then?

Well, none of the above need to be obstacles. At the end of this email I will show you how to overcome all your content worries using the forthcoming issue of Digital Upstart, which will be coming out in a few weeks.

However, first I want to give you some essential resources and tools to get you started.

A source of books and reports you can share for free

If you need content to:

  • give away as free reports of gifts in exchange for email addresses;
  • share on your Facebook, Twitter or social media posts;
  • use on your website as blog content;

then you can start by looking at public domain and Creative Commons-licensed content.

These include:

  • Project Gutenberg offers 46,000 free ebooks that are in the public domain. Bear in mind these are according to U.S. laws, so check that applies in the UK (or wherever you might live).
  • The Internet Archive and Open Library offers over 6,000,000 fully accessible public domain ebooks. For instance, if you go to this link you’ll get access to all their written texts:

Using the Internet Archive to search for the ‘stock market’, this book on psychology is not in copyright. This makes it something you could pass on as a gift, or take extracts from…

 Yes, admittedly this is a very old book. But some of the best books I’ve seen given away are old classics that stand the test of time, or offer universal wisdom.

They include Think & Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill (great for motivation, success and business advice services), or Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds – an 1830 book by George McKay about manias, fads and mob thinking.

Next, try some of these social media tools…

  • Twitter. Search for hashtags, marked by this symbol: ‘#’. For instance, let’s say you sell natural organic foods like honey. You could search ‘#honey’ or ‘#ManukaHoney’ to see what comes up.

When you see the hashtag, click on it and you’ll see all tweets with that hashtag. You should find plenty of links to great content you can take and adapt.


  • Pinterest. Use the search box on this great website to search people’s pinboards for great links. Here’s manuka honey again:
  • Facebook Trends. Trending shows you a list of topics and hashtags that have recently spiked in popularity on Facebook. This list is personalised, based on a number of factors, including pages you’ve liked, your location and what’s trending across Facebook. Check out this page for more information:

  • Hootsuite. This allows you to monitor social media for a keywords related to your business or topic of interest. That means you can get right onto the latest breaking news, reviews and tips on your social media networks.

The easy way to plunder news feeds and search engines

You can use good old fashioned Google, but in a much more systemised way than simply trawling the search engine yourself…

  • Google Alerts lets you write a key word, then set up an alert for that topic. You’ll get all the latest delivered to your inbox. For instance, here’s a search for ‘gardening’:

Or you can narrow the parameters to be more selective…

  • RSS feeds for constant content – Almost every news site allows you to sign up for RSS feeds based on specific topics, which means you’ll get emailed each new article as it’s published. This saves you time as you do not have to then check sites individually. For instance, The Independent online offers RSS feeds on each of these underlined subcategories:
  • Topical news – As well as the RSS feeds on general news sites, try those that are more specific to your area of business. For instance, if it’s science-related The New Scientist website is the place to go. Or here’s one on Green Living:

 Finally, try content aggregators…

Content aggregation websites are those that helpfully group news and information into themes, allowing you to search more easily. For instance…

  • Feedly. Type in your area of interest…

…and see what comes up:


  • Alltop. You can type a word in to the search box, then it will tell you where that word appears and in what categories. For instance, ‘arthritis’ leads to this alternative medicine page, with all the top stories and hot topics collected for you:

  • Stumble Upon – This is an automated ideas factory that delivers website after website, based on a theme of your choice. You can ‘like’ the websites that suit you and reject ones that are off-topic. Over time it learns what you’re looking for, bringing you a supply of carefully tuned content.

Finally, try this…

Easy email content

  • Email newsletters – Go to all the most relevant blogs and sign up for their emails. It’s an old fashioned way of doing things, but it works, and you’ll have daily links, advice, tips and ideas delivered to your inbox.

Or try…

  • Next Draft. Dave Pell will send you the top ten moving, interesting, important or funny stories that you won’t find trawling the internet yourself.
  • Unroll Me. This service allows you to manage your email subscriptions in a more organised way. It helps you unsubscribe from what you don’t want, then combine the interesting stuff into a digest called the ‘Rollup’.

I hope you find these useful.

However, please note that I’ve only scratched the surface today – which is why I want you to keep a special eye out for next month’s issue of Digital Upstart, in which I will give you a complete blueprint for using content to grow a business (an existing one, or from scratch) and convert that effort into sales and profits.

Yes, the word ‘content’ is bandied around a lot. But used properly, I cannot emphasis enough how much difference it could make to your bottom line.