I have a secret…
Well, it isn’t so much a secret, but it’s something you might not know about me.
I’ve learnt everything I know about marketing in the last 6 months.
Before I started working at Spokal, my background was in Education, Gender studies and English literature. No marketing to be seen!
Now, don’t get me wrong, marketing always fascinated me – So I did have a semblance of basic understanding going into this job. I highly doubt that Chris would have hired me if it weren’t for the fact that I clearly understood the basic foundations of marketing.
But for the most part, I was starting out from scratch. I was reading, researching and working my… fingers… off every day until I could write posts like Why Google+ Is Better Than Facebook For Your Small Business, Which Social Media Platform Is Right For Your Business?, Puppy Power: The Power of Cuteness in Marketing and 5 Content Marketing Rules That You Should Definitely Break without feeling like a complete imposter.
It’s been a whirlwind of an education curve, but I honestly have enjoyed every moment.
But Sarah, there’s just so much to learn!
It’s a little intimidating, huh?
Ok, a little is an underestimation. There are 152 billion blogs on the internet. That’s a lot of intimidation.
I mean… Where do you even start??
I’d recommend starting with these 10 blogs
Let’s start off this list of 10 blogs with something that doesn’t even really constitute as a blog, shall we?
Not so much a “blog” as a portal to data and research that will blow your mind.
I went about a week before I realized that so much of the data that people were referencing was coming straight from these guys. It’s a great idea to get this kind of information straight from the source, as it means that you can interpret it your own way and apply the data to different contexts rather than just the one you found it in.
Data is super important when it comes to content marketing. In fact, data from eye tracking has actually shown that people look for numbers in online texts because numbers usually means facts.
Guess where I got that information? Yup. NNG.
See what I did there?
Anyways, having access to such a wealth of information allows for you to create some really original blog posts, with my own assessments of the data. For me, applying your own insights, comments, criticisms etc. to anything is what really makes a thought leader, so I would really suggest rummaging through the Nielson Group’s data for inspiration on original and through-provoking pieces.
I don’t think I could go back to the days without the valuable information that they offer.
Unbounce has some fantastic marketing insights that really helped me get to grasps with some of the more complicated aspects of marketing.
In fact, it’s their post The Top 75 Must-Read Online Marketing Blogs that guided me to some of the marketing blogs that I’ve named today and I continually went back to that one particular blog post as my go-to reference for the days when I just wanted to sit down and rummage through some marketing blogs to catch up with the rest of the pros.
Aside from that one particular blog post, they’re always offering up posts that are extremely data-driver and super actionable. They’re particularly helpful with regards covering topics that relate to conversion rate optimization, landing pages and a/b testing. These topics are often a huge learning curve for new marketers, start-ups and small businesses, yet Unbounce explain them in an easy to understand way that makes us wonder why we were ever confused in the first place!
Jon Morrow of Copyblogger blog is a fantastic source of information. Morrow, of course, provides a ton of information on how to get more readers, build your email list, become an authority in your niche etc. But what really makes Boost Blog Traffic stand out for me is its constant flow of high-end guest posters. “At any given time, we are considering posts from more than 100 different top writers across the web, and only the best of the best will be published.”This take no prisoners strategy has meant that the quality of their guest posts are unbeatable.
Content verve’s is “all about content, copy, and conversion” but they aren’t for the faint of hearted. They tend to dive into the deeper end of conversion optimization, create fantastically detailed case studies, and come up with some great, insightful and unique data.
When I first ran into Content Verve it was because I needed some specific information on a very specific project I was working on.
And they were the ones who had the answers.
It’s really hard to get shortcuts, tips and hacks that actually work. There always to be some catch, some reason it worked for someone else but won’t work for you etc.
Or, at least, that’s my experience.
But Brian from Backlinko is actually different, which is refreshing.
If you want to get your hands on really unique, actionable and down-to-earth advice, Backlinko is where you need to be. Brian is a serious genius, who isn’t afraid to share his secrets.
Reading his blog allowed me to go from your average marketer following the same old same old, to thinking of marketing from completely new angles. Every time I read one of his blog posts, I kind of want to run and implement each idea right there and then.
Not always realistic, but that is genuinely how much I adore his work.
I particularly love his post on Content Upgrades. Check it out now.
Technically, I’m not including this in my top 10 blogs because of its blog element (although, her blog is great too!).
This for all my fellow podcast lovers out there.
I really enjoy listening to podcasts when running or walking, but I really can’t stand bad quality ones so I usually end up just listening to music because I find that quite a lot of marketing podcasts can be… well… a little lower in quality.
Amy Porterfield’s podcasts are so super easy to listen to, easy to understand and really helped to get me up to date with marketing while I was doing other things.
Which, for me, was super important. No one can sit down for hours a day and just consume information. It’s just not healthy. But when I wanted to go for a walk, or pick up groceries etc. I can just listen to Amy too!
I love me some multitasking.
Denise has this way of taking her very personal experiences, applying it to her work as a marketer, and then sharing them with the world.
I don’t just like reading her posts for learning purposes, I actually really enjoy reading them and I think I’d probably still be interested and engaged in her content even if I was involved in the industry.
Which is a huge testament to her writing.
In posts like How to Stay Visible Online When You’re Having an Adventure Offline she really injects her own personality, opens up herself to her readers, and makes you feel welcome while also teaching a whole lot. Which is awesome.
She does Google Hangouts too, which I’ve yet to attend because they just haven’t ever fit in with my schedule… but I will!
Convince & Convert is often cited as the number 1 marketing blog on the net. Which I get, I really do. It’s an awesome blog.
The only reason it’s not further up on my list is because everyone reads it, so any information that you get from it, thousands of people do too, so you’re never really getting ahead of the game with them like you would be from reading blogs that are in more of a niche.
However, in saying that, the posts do allow you to easily keep up, which is equally important for start-ups and small business owners who don’t spend their entire livelihoods devoted to marketing alone.
Jay Baer is such an expert, he also randomly drops super useful advice within blog posts. He takes it for granted you know some of this stuff, when as a matter of fact, this is the first time you had ever heard of it. This prompts you to go ahead and research what he’s talking about, and tada! You’ve just got some extra value from his posts.
9. Aim Clear
What really made Aim Clear stand out for me was their extremely timely content. I’m not sure how these guys do it, but if I can’t find information on a particular marketing craze/debate/issue etc. I can almost always find it at Aim Clear.
They’re super focused on display advertisement, have the best content I’ve seen around Native Advertisement and have some great PPC articles with advice that you won’t find anywhere else.
10. Brian Solis
Of course, we don’t all have the skills, time or person power to be able to achieve what huge marketing firms with large marketing teams can. The reality is that businesses with less than 20 workers make up nearly 90% of all business.
That’s not an opinion, that’s a fact.
If you’re like the rest of us and don’t have a huge team at your disposal, then you might find yourself floundering to keep up with the behemoth’s in your industry.
That’s why sites like Brian Solis are so important. He focuses on the future. His content doesn’t give you information about marketing now, marketing that will be out of date in the next few months, but instead he looks further down the road.
If you’re coming up with your 2015 markeing strategy sometime soon, I would strongly recommend reading through some (meaning: all of) his blogs so that you can make a more informed decision on your future plans based on his projections.
Of course, there were more than just these 10 blogs that contributed to my learning, but these were the ones that helped me out time and time again. Got any thing to add to this list of 10 blogs? Please share in the comment section below!