10 Must-read Copywriting and Online Marketing Articles From 2011

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It’s that time of year again: time to look back at the previous year and the great ideas that were generated in the areas of copywriting and online marketing. I regularly peruse the blogosphere for articles on copywriting and online marketing, and this list represents the best of the best that I read in 2011–truly helpful, insightful articles about how to take your copywriting and online marketing to the next level. This “must-read” list includes pieces on such key topics as website copywriting, brand building, clarity, and content management. I urge you to read all those that pique your interest. Happy reading, and happy 2012!

1. 125 Tips for Building an Irresistible Brand (Copyblogger)

Summary: 125 questions to ask when building a brand. Divided into sections about brainstorming and implementing.

My 2 Cents: Branding is virtually inseparable from writing and online marketing. You must have a robust brand to use as you market your company and develop content to support promotional efforts. Because your brand provides a platform for how you interact with customers and prospects, establishing one is foundational for sharing your offerings with the world.

Read It Because: Creating a brand is not a simple task, but this post provides many excellent ideas for tackling it.

2. Five Copywriting Errors That Can Ruin a Company’s Website (Smashing Magazine)

Summary: Website mistakes that can impede, rather than further marketing objectives.

My 2 Cents: I love how the author of this post put it: “All too often, content is handled as an afterthought, hurriedly completed to meet a project’s deadline.” When you rush a writing job, it’s too easy to lose track of your purpose (converting site visitors to customers) for the sake of “getting something up there.”

Read It Because: This post offers thorough, clear tips on correcting errors that even experienced website copywriters sometimes make.

3. 26 Ways to Enhance Your Blog Content (Social Media Examiner)

Summary: An in-depth list of tips for making your blog the best it can be.

My 2 Cents: Blogging is central to many online marketing plans, and can be useful for a variety of uses, including building community, sharing expertise, improving SEO, and generating leads. But, no matter why you blog, readers are always key. Improving your blog will only improve reader experience, and better your chances of meeting your blog-focused marketing goals.

Read It Because: This post is presented in an A to Z format, and offers valuable advice for each of the 26 letters. It addresses both writing and mechanics, touching on such topics as keywords, voice, comments, headings, and readability.

4. Internet Marketing Basics: 10 Tried and Tested Tips Plus 1 (Level343)

Summary: A basic guide to internet marketing for beginners, but also a refresher for those who have been doing it for awhile.

My 2 Cents: As the author puts it, “When you put your business online, you have to act as if you have no ‘brick and mortar’.” And you have to know the principles that make online marketing different from offline marketing. Understanding these ideas will help you with one of the most important pieces of every type of marketing: planning.

Read It Because: How easy would it be if we could take our traditional marketing efforts and simply “convert” them to an online version? Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way; online marketing is a separate activity, and it’s smart to learn (and occasionally review) the basics.

5. Job One: Be Clear (UpWrite Press)

Summary: A discussion of the importance of clear writing, and a summary of the Plain Writing Act of 2010.

My 2 Cents: While the Plain Writing Act was designed for government employees, clear writing is important for everyone, especially business writers. With so much information out there, your readers are less tolerant of writing that is muddy or meandering, or doesn’t quickly get to the point.

Read It Because: The guidelines for plain writing are a great reminder, even for experienced writers, of what it means to write in a way that readers can easily understand.

6. Creating Valuable Content: A Step-by-Step Checklist (Aha Media Group)

Summary: A checklist to help you make sure each piece of content you put out is findable, readable, understandable, actionable, and shareable.

My 2 Cents: You can develop all the great content in the world, but if it is not well thought-out and well executed, then it probably won’t help you meet your marketing goals. If you’re not already, get in the habit of thinking about the mechanics of a piece, not just the information it presents. Before creating any content, be sure to think about where it will be distributed and how you want it to be used.

Read It Because: This smart, thorough checklist will help you before, during, and after you write each piece of content.

7. 20 Easy Ways to Generate New Blog Topics (eReleases)

Summary: From Twitter alerts to trade publications to “taking inspiration from daily life,” this post offers many useful ideas for overcoming Blank Page Syndrome.

My 2 Cents: If you write content on any kind of consistent basis, you know that, no matter how carefully you’ve planned, it’s inevitable that at at some point you will run out of topics. And, even if you don’t, it’s smart to have a supply of fresh ideas, in case one of yours doesn’t work out, or to replace one that went stale by the time you got to it.

Read It Because: While this post is about blog ideas, its solid suggestions can be used to generate ideas for any type of content you might be thinking of developing.

8. Own Your Content. And Keep Grizzly Bears at Bay. (Brain Traffic)

Summary: An argument for content ownership and maintenance.

My 2 Cents: So much emphasis is placed on content development that we forget that content lives on after it’s been deployed. The author of this post entertainingly likens content maintenance to truck maintenance, which turns out to be an apt analogy. A year after your blog post has been published, it can still be found online. But is it still meeting your marketing goals? The practice of content maintenance ensures that you can make sure all your content stays fresh and relevant.

Read It Because: You need to be convinced that all content needs an owner.

9. The Five Worst Ways to Title a Blog Post (Problogger)

Summary: Advice to NOT follow when titling your next blog post.

My 2 Cents: Titles are key, because they attract readers to your blog posts, and other content. So they need to be compelling, but they also need to be accurate. They can be clever, but not at the expense of clarity. And they should never promise anything that your content doesn’t deliver.

Read It Because: Other people have already made these titling mistakes, so you don’t have to.

10. 100 Whimsical Words (DailyWritingTips)

Summary: A list of 100 words you’ll definitely want to work into your conversation or writing.

My 2 Cents: A big part of writing is personality and voice. Not to mention that it can get dull using the same old words all the time. A list like this can give you synonyms for some of your worn-out favorites, introduce you to new concepts, and maybe even give you an idea or two for a new post or article.

Read it Because: It’s FUN! You’ll find old favorites like “ragamuffin,” “hoodwink,” and “doohickey,” but also some you might not be familiar with, including “effluvium,” “farrago,” and, one of my personal favorites, “perspicacious.”

Do you have other suggestions for helpful copywriting and online marketing articles from 2011? Let us know in the comments!

About the Author: Karen Marcus, M.A. is a Northern Colorado copywriter and grant writer who has been helping clients in a wide range of industries to put their best word forward for 13 years.

Need assistance with your copywriting or online marketing? Karen can help! Click here for contact info.

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