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10 Blogs You Should Be Following

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photo credit: matsuyuki via photopin cc

Keeping up with a fast changing world and spotting trends is no easy task. I follow a bazillion (or is it gazillion?) blogs on different aspects of marketing, social media and business/entrepreneurship. The blog post emails are blowing up my inbox as I write. I could spend all day reading them and learning more and more but then wouldn’t get to implement what I learned for my clients or myself.

So you don’t have to decipher where to start I have gathered a list of 10 blogs I follow and why. Picking a list of my favorites is impossible so I simply scanned my inbox. Some of these blogs are written primarily by one person while others are written by large teams.

Chris Brogan @chrisbrogan

Chris Brogan, CEO of Human Business Works, provides business, marketing and sales insights along with personal development advice. His posts often arrive at exactly the right time I need the information or a kick in the pants. You also definitely need to sign up for his weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to start your Sunday. His laidback, conversational style is genuine and makes you feel like you are talking with a longtime friend. He also has a podcast for those who don’t like to read. I can’t wait to read his latest book, Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth.

Gini Dietrich / Spin Sucks @ginidietrich

When I first encountered Gini Dietrich, I thought Spin Sucks was only for public relations professionals. However, much more is discussed on Spin Sucks for both the PR and marketing professional, including branding and social media. Not only are the posts well-written and informative but the discussions are thoughtful. Along with writing her own posts, she has fabulous guess bloggers and hosts Livefyre discussions. Also, for some fun, she writes a weekly post called Gin and Topics. These posts contain five videos that she finds or are submitted to her.

Derek Halpern / Social Triggers @derekhalpern

Ever wonder about the psychology behind how people behave online? Derek has the lowdown. His blog will help turn people into loyal subscribers, increase sales and grow a website’s reach. Along with text posts, he does a lot of short videos, and I also love finding out which freeze frame facial expression he’ll have. He has a straightforward, passionate approach and backs up his information with extensive research from top academicians and experts.

HubSpot @HubSpot

HubSpot has a large team of writers covering all areas of marketing. They provide best practices, tips and hacks for marketers of all levels. Along with blog posts, they offer multiple whitepapers, templates, case studies and other freebies you won’t want to miss. If you have a marketing question, they likely have a post with an answer. Oh, and I hear the HubSpot marketing platform is great, too.

Jon Loomer @jonloomer

Jon Loomer talks about all things Facebook. He writes about best practices and explains in detail how to do Facebook advertising. When anything changes on Facebook, he is on top of it and often talking about it in advance. He is my go-to source. I even has his Facebook image dimensions post bookmarked.

MarketingProfs Today @Marketing Profs

Ann Handley and her great team bring a wealth of marketing information through its blog. I don’t think there’s a marketing-related topic they don’t cover. You also get access  to free webinars, case studies and whitepapers. I’ve attended some of the webinars and have been impressed.

The Moz @Moz

The Moz writing team brings a  great deal of information, tips and tricks about content marketing, analytics, SEO, email marketing and social media. I find it to be a great resource personally and when I’m writing blog articles.

Mark Schaefer / {grow} @markwschaefer

Mark Schaefer is the author of the classic book The Tao of Twitter along with great books. He writes about digital marketing, social media, marketing strategy and business. His insight into what’s happening in those areas is valuable. While I don’t always agree with his opinion pieces, he does make me think; that’s always good.

Marcus Sheridan / The Sales Lion @TheSalesLion

Marcus Sheridan writes about inbound and content marketing, social media and branding for businesses. He got started with online marketing when he started blogging as a way to save his pool business. I love how he shares his personal experiences both good and bad. It makes you feel that you can also  have the same success. When I’m not reading his blog posts, I catch his Mad Marketing podcast.

Social Media Examiner @SocMed_examiner

Social Media Examiner’s writers provide information on how companies can maximize their use of social media, blogs and podcasts. Along with articles, this blog provides expert interviews, case studies and industry research reviews. I often go to this site to find an answer to a specific social media question.

This list could go on and on. I strongly encourage you to explore these blogs and many other great blogs that are out there. Don’t just read what they post online. Subscribe to their blogs for additional information. Where did I learn about these blogs? Twitter. So, yes, social media works.

Three Tips for Becoming a Better Blogger

Lost in all the romanticism of the inbound marketing craze is this simple fact:

Creating content is hard.

Yes, content works. Yes, having fresh, relevant blog posts on your site will help improve your search engine optimization. And we’ve already discussed the importance of quality blog posts posted less frequently over not-so-great posts posted daily.

If you’re not a writer though – or even if you are – the process of blogging takes work. It takes a plan. And, you know … writing. Sometimes a lot of writing. It can be very intimidating and, if you’re not totally comfortable, can lead to quick burnout.

As someone who has been through the cycle of blogging like crazy, then sitting dormant for six months (or longer) and then blogging again for a couple of months only to have it fall by the wayside again … I feel your pain. It’s not easy.

The best way to combat this is to have a plan.

These are things that I’ve frequently recommended to my students to help improve not only the quality of blog posts but the consistency as well. Today, though, I recommend them for all of us. We all could use a refresher from time to time to help improve our blogging.

With all that said, here are three tips to help make us better bloggers.

Set aside time to write every day.

Pardon me while I rely on a cliché – practice makes perfect. Just as an athlete practices with her team or a musician practices with his ensemble, writers need to practice. And that practice should be daily.

So, set aside a block of time – 30 minutes or so – every day to write. What you write may not ever be published. It might just be a way of getting your thoughts onto paper or into a document. (Yes, journaling counts!) Or maybe what you write eventually turns into a blog post. Either way, taking time to focus each day on writing helps you hone your craft and can help get those creative juices flowing.

Write about what you know.

If your content is of quality, odds are good that people are finding your posts through search. And if that’s the case, one of two things is likely true – either your reader is seeking specific information to answer a question or is already knowledgeable about the topic and seeking more in-depth information.

In both of those cases, if you’re writing about something you don’t have a great deal of knowledge about or experience with, your readers are going to see through that very quickly.

As a writer, you’ll find it much easier to write about topics that you are comfortable with and understand thoroughly. It may take a while to get the structure exactly right or the subheads working in the way you want them to, but the writing process itself will be much easier. If you’re writing for your own site or your company’s site, don’t fight this. Write about what you know. Your readers – and potential customers – will see the genuine, authentic expertise and learn to trust you as an expert.

After you’ve gained some experience writing things you’re comfortable with, then start moving into doing research and writing about topics that you aren’t quite as familiar with. But trying to start with the unfamiliar will only leave you frustrated and less inspired to blog.

Never hit publish immediately.

No matter the deadline or the rush to get a new blog post up on your site, after you finish writing a post, resist the urge to publish it immediately. You can build it in your content management system and find all of your images and all of those important things, but once it’s ready to go, let the content itself sit for a bit of time. Get away from it. Take a walk. Move on to something else and then come back to it later. Maybe even wait until the next day to revisit it. You need to step back from what you’ve written to be able to properly edit and catch mistakes or holes in your information. Or, better yet, have someone else take a couple of minutes to read it. It may cost you a little bit of time, but you won’t regret it later.

Give these three tips a try over the next several weeks. See how your writing improves. Who knows, maybe you’ll even discover that blogging can be enjoyable!

Image Credit: Gualberto107 via FreeDigitalPhotos.net