Welcome to Marketing Monday where I give you tips and tricks for being your own content marketer. This week’s post is all about how to take your content marketing back to school.
It’s back to school season. I don’t even have kids, but I have friends with kids, and with all the advertising around back-to-school shopping, it’s hard not to miss the fact that many homes are now suddenly bereft of the pitter patter of little feet for most of the day.
What does this have to do with content marketing, you ask?
Because going back to school doesn’t have to be just for kids. Education should be a lifelong process, and with many of us having taken some time off to regenerate this summer, it’s the perfect time, not just to get back to the grindstone, but to hit the books.
So how does one do that?
Fortunately, the internet has made it easier than ever to get immeasurable information for free or very little money. Hopefully you’re already following leaders in your industry. At the very least you should be keeping tabs on them to see what they’re doing in their own marketing efforts so you can get ideas for what you might want to do in yours. You should also be following them on social media and reading their blogs. Not only is it a great way to curate content for your own audience, but it also ensures you stay up to date on the latest trends in your industry.
A few months ago I wrote a post on how to curate content no one else is curating, which gave tips for finding great content in your industry that’s not getting a lot of traction (yet). Using those same tips can help you find blogs and books on your topic you hadn’t known existed. You can also use this trick to find new practitioners in your industry to see if they have any fresh ideas no one else has thought of yet.
Following teachers and students of topics in your industry can also be a great way to make sure you’re the first to know of any significant developments in your field.
Obviously I’m a huge book lover, and while I prefer to read fiction, I do make a point of reading non-fiction every now and then to further my education, including books about my industry. While Amazon and Goodreads are both great resources, I hesitate to tell you to just do a search of your topic on those sites and see what comes up, although that could certainly work. Just be sure to check the overall rating as well as read a handful of the reviews (and for Amazon, check to see how many reviews are marked “verified purchase” because the rest have likely been bought by the publisher or someone else trying to influence the book’s ratings).
Making a habit of following leaders in your industry and regularly reading their blogs is also a great way to find out about some great books on your topic. Chances are your industry leaders are also reading up on their own industry and talking about them online. Read what they’re reading. They’ve also probably written a book or two of their own and if you like their blog, you’ll probably like their book.
I also find reading non-fiction to be kind of a rabbit hole. Most non-fiction books at least cite their sources in the back and many of them mention relevant books in their own content, which means growing your own TBR list as you’re reading.
What Have I Read?
Excellent question. If you’re a content marketer (or you’re just interested in learning more about content marketing), here are the blogs I tend to frequent the most:
The book I would most recommend is The Copywriter’s Handbook by Robert Bly. Even though it was written way before anyone had ever thought of blogs (it was published in 1985) it’s still full of great tips on how to write with the customer in mind. I have found that many of his traditional copywriting techniques can easily be applied to content marketing.
The Well-Fed Writer by Peter Bowerman is also a good one, although I didn’t like it as much I liked Bly. Bowerman sounded way to smarmy and self-important for my liking. Yes, it’s nice to make a lot of money as a freelancer, but there’s more to life than bragging about how much money you make.
That said, the book is full of useful tips I have implemented in my own freelancing life that have paid off. Like Bly, he focuses more on copywriting, although he briefly mentions blogging, which was just starting to be a thing when he wrote the book. It made me realize how severely I was undercharging my clients for my blogging services so I started charging them more, which of course is the first step to being able to make a living as a writer. This book is also where I got the idea for sending cold emails, which has been very successful in bringing in new clients for me.
Of course I also keep a copy of the latest edition of The Chicago Manual of Style on my shelf to keep abreast of changes. I also follow the Associated Press on social media so I know when they’ve made changes to their style guides.
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