It’s that time of year again — time for us to look back and pick out our favorite posts from last year.
The editorial team got together and selected the posts that struck us — the ones that made us stop and think, the ones that got us up and writing again, the ones that pushed us to see things in a new way.
Because while we create the blog, we’re also writers — and we need education, advice, and inspiration just like you do.
As we did last year, we’ll divide these into categories so you can zero in on the posts that interest you most.
The writing posts
Also known as: The hard part.
The writing. The thinking. The rewriting. The rethinking.
Brian kicked off the year by talking about why 2013 was the Year of the Writer — time for us to claim our own power and value. Here are our favorite posts about actually putting the words together.
How to Find More Content Ideas than You’ll Ever be Able to Create
A big part of the agony (and delight) in being a writer is figuring out what, exactly, you’re going to write about. Peter Shallard has some ideas on digging deep and finding the meaty ideas.
How to Write Interesting Content for a “Boring” Topic
And Pratik Dholakiya takes it further, with some brilliant suggestions for finding the excitement in topics that a lazy writer might call “boring.”
The 5 Things Every (Great) Marketing Story Needs
We all know our audiences crave good stories. But what are stories made of? How can we get better at telling them? Here are some nuts and bolts.
37 Tips for Writing Emails that Get Opened, Read, and Clicked
Email can make or break your content marketing strategy. Henneke reminds us that we can’t ever take the audience’s attention for granted — and how we can write email messages that serve them better.
Which Works Better, List Posts or Stories? Let’s ask a New York Times Editor
Andy Crestodina interviews the small business editor from the Times about two well-worn content styles, and comes up with some surprises.
How to Immediately Become a More Productive (and Better) Writer
Jerod Morris on small but mighty ways to improve yourself as a writer. Bathtub markers play a role.
10 Ways to Write Damn Good Copy
In which Demian Farnworth digs deep into 10 different flavors of engaging copy. This post makes a good partner to 5 Ways to Write a Damn Good Sentence. Coming in 2014: Demian explores 3 Ways to Write a Damn Good Syllable.
Our resident recluse Robert Bruce likes to make writers think. Then he likes them to take those thoughts and go do something with them, preferably not involving leaving a comment where he can read it.
A selection of his marketing fables from 2013:
The getting-it-done posts
Why We Still Need to Write, Even When We’re Scared
The headline says it all — a great post from the heart by Beth Hayden.
10 Productivity Tips from a Blue-Collar Genius
Demian’s post will inspire you, move you, and possibly encourage you to go chop a bunch of wood or do something equally useful.
How to Create Consistently Great Content for the Long Haul
Beth writes about one of my favorite topics — developing the habits of a consistently productive creative person.
The Google+ and SEO posts
One reason 2013 was the year of the writer was the rise of Authorship (in the Googly sense) and the way it paired with Google+.
If you missed the story as it unfolded last year, here’s a quick tour.
Get Over Yourself and Get On Google+
Tough love from Brian Clark.
Seven Ways Authors Can Build Online Authority with Google+
Demian became our resident authorship and Google+ guy this year. This post is particularly chock-full of useful advice.
Claim Google Authorship for Your WordPress Website in 3 Easy Steps
Brian Gardner’s useful and quick tutorial for Genesis owners.
What if Author Rank Never Happens?
And finally, Brian Clark asks the question you must always ask about an SEO strategy: Is this approach worth pursuing if it has no effect on Google at all? Because dancing just to make Google happy is a chump’s game.
The writer files
Sometimes you just want to know what your favorite writer’s desk looks like. Kelton Reid puts this series together for us, and it’s always a fascinating look into the habits and mindset of fine writers. Here are just a few (or you can read the whole series here):
How Brian Clark Writes
How Gibson, Galaga, and Google Docs work together to fuel Brian’s writing.
How Seth Godin Writes
His high school English teacher wrote in his yearbook: “You are the bane of my existence and it’s likely you’ll never amount to anything.” Come on, that’s just cool.
(You remember Godin will be keynoting our live event this May, right? It’s going to be epic, you should come.)
How Maria Popova Writes (of Brain Pickings)
Maria gives the secret to her breathtaking productivity. Alas, the secret turns out to be a lot of intense work and dedication. The editorial staff here all sort of hate her, and by hate I actually mean respect enormously.
How Hugh Howey Writes (the bestselling author of Wool)
It used to be that “successfully self-publishing fiction was impossible.” Hugh Howey has been one of the leaders of the mighty charge smashing through that old truism.
How Elizabeth Gilbert Writes
Gilbert is known for her monster bestseller Eat, Pray, Love, but she’s written widely (and well) on all kinds of topics. She also has an interesting process, as well as a covetable attic “Sky-brary” you have to see.
The best of the rest
21 Things You Need to Know about Self-Publishing 2.0
James Altucher’s useful and highly entertaining post on professional self-publishing. If you’ve been thinking you might write a book this year (or ever), read this.
How to Make WordPress Sites Load 72.7% Faster
From Jerod Morris, and just plain useful. If you need this post, you need this post.
6 Proven Ways to Boost the Conversion Rates of Your Call-to-Action Buttons
Joanna Wiebe is a marketing badass who knows how to rock talent and metrics. Worthwhile not just for the advice (which is excellent) but also to see how Joanna thinks about marketing problems.
And one for the new year …
5 Quick Things You Can Do This Week to Fix Your Marketing
Hey, it’s New Year’s week. Time for resolutions and all that good stuff. Before the week is done, why not go take care of one of these and start the year strong?
We’ve got lots more marketing education for you … 15 instant-access ebooks and an in-depth marketing course delivered by email, in fact. You can go snag them here.
Was there a favorite of your own that we missed? Let us know in the comments!