The Best Content Marketing Resources for Independent Schools

I just realized something crazy: this year marks 10 years of Cursive Content.

Since 2011, I’ve been blogging about school storytelling, facilitating workshops across the country, and working directly with independent schools to help them discover, develop, and share their unique stories.

At the same time that I’ve been doing this rewarding, fulfilling work, I’ve also been figuring out how to run my own business: trying new resources, learning about best practices, and testing strategies and tactics.

All that to say: I’ve cultivated quite a library of content marketing expertise over the years.

Some of these resources helped form the foundation of my content marketing philosophy. Some keep my storytelling efforts running efficiently and effectively. And some just give me the inspiration I need to have a fresh, authentic approach with every new school partnership.

And now, I’m bundling all that knowledge up into one mega post for you.

Here is my list of best content marketing resources for independent schools — a list that will never be finalized (much like we will all never stop learning), so make sure you bookmark it for future reference.

Need Personalized Help? Book Your 1:1 School StoryPlan Workshop

This live, personalized workshop with Emily Cretella will help you discover the story you’re telling, uncover your biggest opportunities, and develop a plan for storytelling success. It includes:

  • Virtual workshop with your marketing/admissions team
  • Marketing audit
  • School story recommendations
  • Custom content marketing action plan

We all know school marketers have powerful stories to tell — and the good news is that there are lots of resources out there to help. I’m excited to introduce you to my favorites.

(Please note: this list includes affiliate links, which means that at no cost to you, I may earn a commission. However, I only share products and resources that I use myself and truly believe in!)  

Content Strategy & Inspiration

Content Marketing Institute

This site is a fantastic first stop for anyone interested in learning more about content marketing. It covers all things content, from the origins of the practice, to basic knowledge, to advanced tactics. A great place to begin is with their Getting Started guide — or if you prefer doing your reading offline, try CMI founder Joe Pulizzi’s book Content Inc.

Copyhackers

For anyone in charge of actual content creation, this site is invaluable. It teaches you how to master a variety of different copywriting skills, with a focus on conversion copywriting — getting your audience to take meaningful action. From paid courses to free guides and video workshops, Copyhackers gives both quick tips and in-depth research. Check out The Ultimate Guide to Every Copywriting Formula Ever for a flavor.

Audience-First School Storytelling

Want to truly create breakthrough content for your dream families? Well, you first need to understand your audience’s wants and needs, cares and concerns, challenges and dreams. That’s why I created the Audience-First Storytelling Workshop, and on-demand kit that includes a video training, workshop workbook, and templates for a family survey, email, voice-of-customer research spreadsheet, audience persona template, and a sample dream family persona.

InspirED School Marketing

If you’re a school marketer, you probably already know about the wonderful content produced by Liza Fisher Norman and Rob Norman. (You can hear me chat with them on a recent podcast episode!) But one of the ways I personally use InspirED’s amazing content library is by checking out the work of previous winners of their Brilliance Awards. Simply browsing through the groundbreaking work done by other independent schools is often enough to spark some new ideas.

Content Research Tools

Now that you’re inspired and informed, how do you find the topics and keywords that are most relevant to your dream families? There are a variety of free online tools to help:

  • Google Trends literally helps you “explore what the world is searching” so that you can hone in on a trending topic that’s important to your audience.
  • Google Keyword Planner will help you choose the right keywords to use in your content once you narrow down your topic.
  • AnswerThePublic is a really cool free tool that can prompt you to think about your chosen topic in a variety of ways, from questions people are asking, to comparative phrases and more. (One search daily is free.)
  • Buzzsumo is a content marketing research tool that helps you generate ideas, monitor your performance, and even see what’s working best for competitors. (Simple searches are free, but you need to pay for advanced insights.)

Content Development Tools

Canva

Canva has been game-changing for marketers who want more control and flexibility over the content they create. With free templates, imagery, and a super-simple interface, Canva allows you to develop professional-grade graphics that can easily adhere to your school brand. My new favorite features? Its simple video editing, with templates for everything from presentations to Instagram Stories. (It’s how I created my video to promote my latest workshop!)

Anchor

If you’re looking for a simple way to create a podcast at your school, Anchor is your answer. It allows you to create, distribute, and even monetize your podcast, all for free, and with no equipment necessary. Repurposing content into a podcast is a great way to refresh past blog posts or evergreen stories, and it gives your audiences a new way to engage with your school. (One Cursive client simply records his podcast using his iPhone!) Plus, Anchor is so easy that even my kids have their own podcast, complete with music, sound effects, and ads. (I think they’ve earned $0.50 so far, but it’s the best $0.50 in the world.)

Loom

Loom is a screen capturing and recording tool, but it’s so much more. It allows you to record and share video messages of just your screen, just your video camera, or both together. You can get really creative with how you use it (think: develop on-demand webinars, admissions presentations, tours, videos to accompany blog posts, etc.). Loom is my go-to tool for all things content. I use it to record messages and walkthrough videos for my clients when presenting my work, and I use it when building my workshops.

Lumen5

Another simple tool to use to repurpose content, Lumen5 transforms blog posts into graphic videos. You simply drag and drop your text, choose stock images or import your own, set it to some music, and you have a quick video of your article’s top messaging. This is another tool with which you can get really creative: use it to introduce your school story or mission statement, feature your students or parent testimonials, or create a compelling Facebook ad.

Content Sharing Tools

SmarterQueue

I’ve tried them all, and SmarterQueue is by FAR my favorite social media management tool—for many reasons. It is incredibly easy and intuitive to use, and once you set it up, it requires hardly any maintenance. It allows you to create a comprehensive posting schedule and visually plan out your content for your week across multiple platforms. You can automatically recycle your evergreen content, and the system will even switch out images or media over time to keep older posts fresh. If you need third-party content to share, SmarterQueue can help you find it. And its analytics are awesome. To top it off, it’s one of the more economical tools out there. (FYI: you can get a free extended trial with my link!)

ConvertKit

I’m a big fan of using strategic email marketing to better engage with your dream families, and ConvertKit allows you to put together some amazing workflows. It offers landing pages, sign-up forms, super-simple email editor tools, and even ways to sell digital products and subscriptions online. (You’ve seen it in action if you subscribe to my weekly newsletter, or if you’ve seen the landing page for my Audience-First Storytelling Workshop.)

Asana

Content marketing isn’t only about content development: it’s also about content planning. Asana helps me make order out of my brain. It’s a great way to track content projects, plan your editorial calendar, assign roles to your team, and keep everyone on target.

Those are only a handful of my favorite content marketing resources for independent schools, but I’ll be continuously adding to this list. Have any suggestions? Add them to the comments below!

 

Want even more content marketing inspiration?

Check out our FREE Resource Library for tons of content marketing templates, guides, and workbooks. Plus, when you sign up you’ll get our weekly Story Starter email, filled with storytelling tips and best practices.  

Think content marketing is for big business only? No way. There is a lot to learn from the great content marketing brands out there, and plenty of ways schools can implement the smart tactics they use.
LEAVE A COMMENT

Tell us what you think, or ask us any questions. We’re here to help!

  • Hi! Thanks a lot for the information. But, I’m looking for a research paper about content marketing for school (with free access). Do you know some? Thanks.

    Sharon - July 25, 2016 at 10:49 am
  • Hi Sharon! Check out hubspot.com and contentmarketinginstitute.com for some additional great free content marketing resources.

    Emily Cretella - July 25, 2016 at 1:56 pm

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