A new year gives you a golden opportunity to look backward in order to move forward with confidence.
Need a little with the backward glance? Take a look at 2011’s Hundred Top Links, Posts and Articles for Marketing Copywriters, below.
Selected from my Twitter stream, Google+ and RSS feeds, the list is cherry-picked for copywriters, content marketers and content strategists.
The roster includes stories, news, industry reports, videos, gossip, entertainment and more. These terrific posts and articles will help you think more clearly, write with greater impact and connect with today’s brightest copywriting and marketing minds.
2011’s Hundred Top Links, Posts and Articles for Marketing Copywriters
1. How to Write Faster. Can you really speed the “cognitively intense task” of writing? This Slate post explores the latest research on writing speed.
2. Tech Marketers’ Surprising Content Priority for 2012: Collateral. Confirming my own anecdotal experience.
3. Sales-Letter Magic: 10 Tips for Writing Letters That Sell. Direct mail copywriter Dean Rieck details structure and substance of a successful sales letter.
4. Copywriting: Long Copy Vs. Short Copy Matrix. Bob Kemper, Director of Sciences, MECLABS, explains factors that help determine copy length effectiveness.
5. Talking About Great Copywriting Doesn’t Make You a Great Copywriter. Looking for a good copywriter? Pass on writers’ self-serving hyperbole and look for someone who writes “…insightful, intelligent and crystal clear copy.”
6. Copywriting is Dead—Long Live Copywriting! Even though advertising is increasingly visually focused, copywriting is, and will remain, very much alive, according to “account guy” Martin Murphy.
7. What Mark Rothko Can Teach You About Writing. According to Rothko, “Painting is really THINKING. Only 10% of it is applying paint to canvas.” The same principle applies to writing, notes Publication Coach, Daphne Grey-Grant.
8. Why Disconnectors in Copywriting are Critical in Keeping Your Reader Awake. Surprise your readers to hold their attention.
9. Cut the Jargon from Your Copy. Create a list of “plain English” experts—and ask for their help when copy starts reading like gibberish.
Journalism and copy editing
10. Editing and Proofreading: Why You Need an Expert to Do It. Three convincing reasons why you should hire a pro editor and proofreader.
11. Sticky Fingers. Patti Smith recalls her childhood—and her desperate longing for a book that led her to act rashly. Beautifully written for The New Yorker.
12. Twelve Ways to End Your Article, Story, or Book Chapter. Crafting a memorable kicker—your story’s ending—is tough for even the most experienced writers. This post shares a dozen suggestions that get you moving in the right direction.
13. A Manifesto for the Simple Scribe – My 25 Commandments for Journalists by The Guardian’s science editor Tim Radford. Great advice for editors, copywriters and content marketers, as well.
14. 6 Tactics for Cutting Jargon From Quotes in Interviews. Ragan’s Russell Working tells you how to get the inside story straight from the horse’s mouth—and not from the other end.
15. The New York Times Word-Cleansing Copy Edits. In this hilarious post, author and editor Neil Strauss recalls The Times’ zealous copy edits of his work.
16. Inside Look at The New Yorker Copy Editing. Interview with Mary Norris.
17. 50 Iconic Writers Who were Repeatedly Rejected. More proof that failure is formative.
18. The Art of Business Storytelling. This 4-post series explains why stories are important to business and delineates how to incorporate storytelling elements into your marketing.
19. Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 Simple Storytelling Rules. Not just for fiction writers.
20. 5 Rock-solid Suggestions to Identify Brilliant Brand Storytellers from Story Worldwide.
21. How Storytelling Can Spur Business Growth. Almost all businesses have stories to share, they just need to figure out ways to tell them. This MarketingProf’s post tells you how.
Grammar and usage
22. 5 Frequently Misused Punctuation Marks—and 5 quick ways to correct the misuse.
23. Sometimes it Pays to be Passive. 3 great ways to use passive voice in your copy.
24. Common Errors in English Usage. Thousands of usage errors listed alphabetically in this searchable resource.
25. 5 Ways to Set Smothered Verbs Free. Want to clarify sentences, reduce passive construction and make your writing more understandable and engaging? Choose fewer and better verbs.
26. Lost in Translation? An 11-Step Checklist for Localizing Content. If you write for international clients, you owe it to them—and yourself—to check out this practical post by Sarah Mitchell.
27. Is This the Future of Punctuation!? The Wall Street Journal fills us in.
28. 2012 Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends. Loads of useful facts and figures in this study from MarketingProfs and Content Marketing Institute.
29. 5 Good Reasons to Include Hyperlinks in Your Content Marketing. Still worried that links take visitors away from your site? Get over it. Linked content builds credibility, increases page views, improves SEO and more.
30. 3 Ways to Use Google Plus In Your Content Marketing Efforts. Use the newest social network to stay on top of popular content, collaborate with your team and distribute content.
31. 7 Reasons Odd Numbers Can Power Up Your Headlines. You know odd numbers work better in heads. Here’s why.
32. 5 Tips to Improve Your Headline Click-through Rate. Data-backed insights on crafting successful headlines from Content Marketing Institute.
33. Grande Guide to Content Marketing from Joe Pulizzzi, C.C. Chapman and Ann Handley. This comprehensive Slideshare presentation explains content marketing whys and hows with overviews of content marketing platforms and best practices.
34. Content Marketing is a Wide Open Field for Smaller Agencies. Big agencies have been slow to embrace content marketing—leaving the field wide open for smaller players. Insightful AdAge post.
35. Quora for Content Marketing: Is it Worth Your Time? Does Quora help you get detailed answers to questions, keep you top-of-mind with industry leaders and help you establish professional credibility? Or is it just one more time suck? Business 2 Community answers these and other Quora-related questions.
36. Everything is a Remix. Content is not just text. This fascinating video explores historical reuse of creative content. Bonus points: My teen son’s film teacher contributed to the project.
37. Content Marketing is not Journalism. While content marketers use journalistic techniques, content marketing isn’t unbiased reportage. The world still needs fiercely independent journalists.
38. Google’s War on Nonsense. The New York Times’ Virginia Heffernan on content farms, 25-minute deadlines and content’s continued commoditization.
39. Content Curation is NOT a Strategy. Focus instead on creating original content that speaks to customers’ pain points, advises Joe Pulizzi.
40. Your Next Position: Content Strategist? Content Strategy is an attractive career option for copywriters, editors, freelance writers and other content specialists. This post delineates job features and prospects.
41. Do Organizations Need a Chief Content Officer? Okay, we know the answer, but here’s confirmation from Forbes.
42. The Lego Approach to Storytelling. Digital storytellers need content building blocks—and content management systems that support them—to create a variety of stories.
43. Content Strategy: Optimizing Your Efforts for Success. Your content needs to do more than entertain and engage. It must work strategically, aligning customer needs with business goals.
44. How Much Content is Published Everyday on the Web? An unimaginably large amount. This infographic by Contently helps you take in the facts and figures.
45. Aligning Content Strategy with the Sales Cycle. Content marketing is about customized, targeted content that meets customers’ needs at all points along the sales cycle.
46. 9 Types of Content Every Intranet Should Have. This Ragan post delineates the key Intranet content your company needs to carry out business tasks most effectively.
47. Web Content Strategy: Sites vs Apps. Website content must be readable. App content must be legible. Website content is usually read once. App content is read repeatedly. This important Contentini post compares and contrasts these and more website-versus-app content issues.
48. Templates for Content Cartography. Show these to your clients who want to “throw some web content up.”
49. Four Truths for Content Strategy. Razorfish’s Tosca Fasso shares takeaways from Confab 2011.
50. Four Ways Content Strategy Saves You Money. Dan Haley of Scripps Health and Erin Malone of RealAge tell us why healthcare content strategy saves you time and money.
51. Horizontal and Vertical Content Strategy. Busting content strategy out of its silos.
52. What’s Next for Content Strategy? Karen McGrane’s smart, funny keynote speech at CS Forum London.
Social media and blogging
53. Fake It Till You Make It. Social Media helps you fake it better than anything else, says Mitch Joel. And if you have the skills, education and portfolio, there’s nothing wrong with faking it, asserts Joel.
54. The Art of Social Media Monitoring. Third in Sean Clark’s series of posts on “Practical Social Media.”
55. The Human Cost of Social Media. Insightful video interview with MIT’s Sherry Turkle.
56. Your Price is Too High Because the Value is Hidden. Tired of getting passed over because your pricing is higher than others’? Differentiate yourself using social networks to personalize your business and create an environment of trust.
57. Why I Don’t Like You. Dislike Facebook’s “Like” button? You’re not alone. Via Mitch Joel.
58. There’s Klout and Then There’s Clout. Real clout comes from relationships, not just RTs, Likes and Shares, notes Valeria Maltoni.
59. The Google Plus 50. Chris Brogan shares thoughts on G+, the newest online social community.
60. Draft and Burn. Don’t send that angry tweet, comment or update. Write a first draft. And wait.
61. The Dangers of Letting Your Online Persona Do the Talking. Think long and hard before pushing “publish.”
62. How to Keep from Quitting Your Blog. Practical tips from Nick Westergaard.
63. 11 Easy Ways to Write an Attention Grabbing Post. Running dry on blog post ideas—and who isn’t? Here’s help.
64. 40 Simple Writing Tweaks for Better Blog Posts. Great checklist.
65. Improve Your Blog. Stop Writing for an Audience! Not sure how to create blog content that targets your audience? Mark Schaefer’s advice: Stop focusing on an imaginary group and start writing about stuff that interests you. Instead of finding your audience, your audience may find you.
66. Blogging Can Make You a Better Person—when your posts use great, sourced data. Justin Kownacki shows you how to do it.
67. 25 Interesting Things You Can Tweet (Besides Blog Posts and Retweets). You know perfectly well you’re not supposed to tweet about you, you, you. Media Bistro provides 25 suggestions for tweeting helpful stuff for them, them, them.
68. How to Talk to an SEO Copywriter. Get the best work from your SEO copywriter by giving her the resources she needs to make your site a success. Brass tacks post by Erika Napolitano.
69. 30 Things Google Dislikes About Your Website. Splash pages, keyword stuffing and excessive cross links are just a few. Learn more.
70. SEO Rapper. In this rap video, the Poetic Prophet (AKA The SEO Rapper) describes how web standards and proper design affect ranking and conversion on your site.
71. Google Doesn’t Laugh. Sorry, witty headlines and SEO don’t mix. Terrific post from The Atlantic.
72. Why Instagram Matters to Marketers. Instagram, the iPhone photo-sharing app, gives you instant content and trains you to look for stories everywhere.
73. You Don’t Need a Mobile Strategy. Mobile is a platform—a tactic, not a strategy. To make the most of the platform, you need a psychological understanding of the connected customer, says Gerry McGovern.
74. Cut the World Class, Cutting-edge Hospital Gobbledygook. David Meerman Scott tells you why healthcare marketers need to lay off the jargon.
75. What Aristotle Can Teach You About Persuasion. Terrific Marketing Smarts podcast on the practical applications of classical rhetoric.
76. Nobody Cares About Your New App. Lose the self-serving, organization-centric language and “[s]tart making your customers’ lives simpler, faster, cheaper,” advises Gerry McGovern.
77. 10 Reasons to Contact Donors Other Than to Ask for Money. Advice intended for NGO fundraisers, but useful for all marketers.
78. Stop Being So Effing Strategic. When does strategizing become procrastination? Sometimes you just have to execute already.
79. AdViews’ Vintage Television Ads. Duke University cataloged thousands of TV ads from the Mad Men era to the 1980s and made them accessible via this website.
80. What Physics Teaches About Marketing. Dan Cobley’s terrific TED talk.
81. Why Women Should be Your Target Audience. You know how copywriting experts tell you to “write to one person”—rather than a crowd? This post explains why you should make that person a woman.
82. In Digital Debate, We are Mistaking Tools for Strategies. A screwdriver doesn’t replace a hammer—and social won’t replace traditional marketing, notes Bart Cleveland in this AdAge post.
83. 10 Ways to Use QR Codes for Better Conversion Rates. Lots of practical suggestions from Unbounce.
84. Top 12 Overused Stock Photos. MarketingProfs helps you see the light about using generic, stock photos.
85. Can You Really Trust Infographics? Feeling meh about infographics? Wondering if the platform is more style than substance? You’re not alone.
86. Take Back Your Attention. The Internet: it helps you brainstorm, find facts and source information—and also distracts you in a thousand ways. Harvard Business Review’s Tony Schwartz offers 6 suggestions to help you reclaim your focus and attention.
87. 106 Excuses That Prevent You From Ever Becoming Great—and tips for getting past them—from Tommy Walker guest blogging for Chris Brogan.
88. Is Sitting a Lethal Activity? Alarming data from The New York Times Magazine on the dangers of sitting all day.
89. Keep Your Thumbs Still When I’m Talking to You. Mobile device crassness called out by The New York Times.
90. Want Inspiration? Stop Reading Blogs. To create better, more powerful, more persuasive content, get out of the blogospheric echo chamber and into the real world. Great post by Andrew Hanelly.
91. 10 Time-Savers That Aren’t Saving You Anything. Want to save time? Forget about hiring an intern, multitasking and using apps.
92. Don’t Just Do Something; Stand There. Purposelessness has a purpose: “We need space to brood and ruminate and mull. We need to slow down to get where we’re going,” writes LA Times’ Christian McEwen.
93. Want to Think More Creatively? Let Your Mind Wander. Wired Magazine explores the neuroscience of boredom.
94. Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders. In this TED talk, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg offers 3 powerful pieces of advice to women aiming for the C-suite.
Humor and entertainment
95. 100 Quotes Every Geek Should Know. “Spock. This child is about to wipe out every living thing on Earth. Now, what do you suggest we do….spank it?” — Dr. McCoy, Star Trek: The Motion Picture. And 99 more funny, geeky quotes.
96. Coffee Snobs. You’d better not order a caramel macchiato from these inked, coffee purists. A Funny or Die video.
97. Sh*t Girls Say. Even if Graydon Shepherd—in drag—said nothing, this video would be funny. But he says plenty. And it’s all vapid and hilarious.
98. Hardly Working/ Start-Up Guys. The best web strategy is one you don’t understand. College Humor’s hyped digital media gurus share a number of “dagital” solutions with “absolutely no brand cuffs.”
99. Arty Bollocks Generator. Need a pretentious bio or About page? Check out the Arty Bollocks Generator. Sample: “My work explores the relationship between postmodern discourse and urban spaces…”
100. Pit Bull and Kitten. Scary pit bull and tiny fragile kitten fight, play and learn to live in love and harmony. Get hankie before viewing.
Help improve 2011’s Hundred Best Links, Posts and Articles for Marketing Copywriters
My list of top links, posts and articles is admittedly one-sided. Please round out and improve it: Add your favorites in the comments.
And have a happy, healthy and productive new year!