During the first semester of my creative writing degree, I slogged through what everyone in my graduate program referred to as “creative annotations,” which was just a fancier way of saying that you’d read a novel and written a response to demonstrate you had a basic understanding of what it was about. To me, it felt a lot like busy work.
After I’d gotten the first two or three of these under my belt, however, I started feeling like I was missing the point of the exercise. I mean, anyone who can read a book can also write a book report. The purpose of the assignment, as I discovered, was less about verifying I’d read the book and more about putting into practice what I’d learned from the author’s style of writing in the book.
What’s my point in bringing all this up? It’s simple, really: If you’re looking to improve your writing, one of the best things can you can do for yourself is read. A lot. Why? Because constant reading creates an ease and intimacy with the process of writing. In other words, it makes it easier to sit down at your desk and do it every day.
This is as true in the world of content marketing as it is in the world of creative writing. Are you a content marketer looking to improve your writing? If so, here’s our pick of 4 content marketing blogs that offer not only valuable industry insight but also a unique style of writing that may teach you a thing or two:
This is my all-time favorite content marketing blog. Designed to teach people how to “create killer online content” as opposed to “bland corporate crap to fill up a company webpage,” Copyblogger serves up 5-6 new articles a week about what’s currently working in online marketing. It’s not just that Copyblogger offers a host of content marketing topics that are useful to read about, it’s that they do it in a way that’s fun.
If, for instance, you want to read about how to write a “damn good sentence,” check out this post. If you want to learn how to write interesting content for a “boring” topic, this post can help you out. For the 5 things every (great) marketing story needs, look here. Whatever the case, reading Copyblogger is a sure-fire way to absorb useful information and come away with a taste of their edgy writing style that you can perhaps apply to your own writing.
Lesson for content marketers: Find a way to develop a voice with your content. Your readers will thank you for it.
Overit refers to its office as a “House of Creativity” – and it’s easy to see why when you look at photos of the gothic church turned open-concept workspace for the team of designers, developers, content writers, and illustrators. The Overit blog is not only chock-full of content marketing insights on everything from brand voice to content strategy to blogging tips and tricks, it’s also straight up-funny.
We have Lisa Barone to thank for that. Check out her 5 Best Content Marketing Lessons From BuzzFeed for an example of her quick witted/no nonsense approach to content writing (as it turns out, BuzzFeed actually does more than supply quizzes about what type of sandwich meat you are…who knew?).
Lesson for content marketers: Make your writing stand apart from the rest, whether that means using humor to strike a chord with your audience or finding other ways to creatively approach your content so that people will want to read it.
The Curata blog, powered by the Curata team headquartered across the Charles River from us (Cambridge, woot!), is a delightful combination of straight-talk and silliness. On the serious side, the ultimate list of Content Marketing Events in 2014 delivers a comprehensive outline of all the upcoming conferences sorted out by category: CMO-level, general marketing, and misc. Helpful, right?
On the lighter side, the What’s Your Content Marketing Spirit Animal? quiz offers a fun way to evaluate your content team workflow, content mix, and use of technology. (Um, yes I took this quiz and was pleased to discover KoMarketing winds up at the top of the content marketing food chain: Fox!).
Lesson for content marketers: Provide readers with a variety of content types (informative, fun, long-form, shorter, etc.) that will keep them consistently eager to consume material.
Looking for a fresh take on content marketing presented in a visually appealing fashion? Then Contently, committed to delivering compelling stories that inspire a human connection, may be your best bet. In many ways, Contently’s homepage is laid out like a newspaper (remember those?), with the feature story (and accompanying photo) in the center of the fold and supplemental stories in the right- and left-hand columns.
It’s refreshing to see content presented in a way that inspires a sense of nostalgia and leaves a lasting impression on the reader, thanks to the quality of the content they put out. Speaking of memorable, I can’t seem to get the image of “Chucky” in the 8 Scary Stats for Content Marketers post out of my mind. Thanks, Contently! Now I’ll be forced to relive the sleepless nights of my childhood (why were these movies ever considered suitable viewing for kids?).
Lesson for content marketers: Be original. Make sure you’re pushing out writing that truly matters to your readers because that’s what they’ll remember.
No one can “teach” you how to become a better writer – like anything else, it’s a process that you develop over time and with consistent practice. But there’s a reason why Stephen King has a “Great Commandment” about reading (i.e., read a lot, write a lot): Because, more than anything else, it helps you improve your writing. Really, it does.
We’ve chosen to highlight the above content marketing blogs on account of their fun, funny, and unique approach to writing, but the truth of the matter is that there are many content marketing blogs that are worthy of reading. Content Marketing Institute, for example, offers not only a regularly updated blog about all things content marketing, but also how-to guides, content marketing online training and certification, event updates, webinars, podcasts, and more.
Hopefully, you’ve stuck with me to this point in the post. If so, I’d love to hear from you: Which content marketing blogs are your favorites? Which would you recommend to others? Comment below!