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Your reader account is probably chock-full of feeds from some great blogs. Blogs you read to stay current on marketing tools and tricks or get smart about concepts and new developments in your industry. No doubt, reading is fundamental to professional growth, whether you’re a CEO with stripes or a damp-eared rookie.
And while the business part of your brain may be kept fat and happy, what’s going on with the other part? The part of your being that is nurtured by interests and hobbies that have nothing to do with reports, code or the AP Stylebook?
We want to help you find some balance between business and personal reads. Check out these blogs for fresh brain fuel that will still teach you a thing or two about marketing.
FOOD AND DRINK
Many readers may recognize The Pioneer Woman as a truly wonderful treat for the eyeballs. Fabulous photography and rich storytelling make this blog a favorite of many homemakers, busy mothers, and foodies more interested in the joy of sharing a meal than the science of culinary arts.
What bloggers/marketers can learn: Have a product to sell? Take note how Ree, the blog author, doesn’t bang you over the head with pitches for her cookbooks. Instead, she freely offers cooking advice that lets you know she’s the real deal. You’ll buy her book on your own accord because you want more of what she’s serving! The “soft sell” approach could be one to mimic.
Stonyfield Farms, makers of healthy organic yogurt products, features a blog for the wholesome-loving adult. Whether you’re a parent, aunt/uncle, or godparent to an inquisitive, growing youngster, you’ll probably find Stonyfield’s stories center and ground you with topics ranging from teaching kids how to be lil’ organic farmers to the best yogurt-substitution recipes.
What bloggers/marketers can learn: Stonyfield does a good job at covering a broader base of content related to their primary topic – not just “all yogurt, all the time.” Instead, they realize readers are whole people, with lives and families that run parallel to their interests in eating healthy and being earth-conscious. Folks setting a blog’s editorial strategy should take lessons: address your whole reader, not just a slice of their role or responsibility.
Another fun blog to check out is Fearless Homemaker, written by Amy Donovan. Unlike Pioneer Woman where recipes read like a daily diary, Fearless Homemaker showcases a more eclectic array of good eats and craft projects. While not truly a B2C blog in the strictest sense (sports a few sponsor-y things, though), Fearless Homemaker could be one to watch.
What bloggers/marketers can learn: A lighter, quirkier read, Fearless Homemaker is one blog people turn to when they want something new and likely untried among their circle of friends. It’s a little fun, a little flirty, and overall personable and approachable. When trying to pinpoint a voice for your blog (one used consistently in content production), be sure to tie it to your brand position. Sell handmade goods on your blog? Fun and flirty might fit you well.
Ahh, the real deal you never got in school (or from your parents) but wish you had. That’s what Peter Dunn delivers on his Pete The Planner blog. With funny yet straight-up advice about budgeting, credit, and loans, you’ll learn how to embrace being accountable for your own decisions and financial destiny. Pete doesn’t pull any punches, and while occasionally there’s some sting when his words strike too close to home (as in, you recognize yourself in the completely lame scenario he describes), there’s no time like the present to get on the right track. PS – Pete is offering a new book you just might want to buy, What Your Dad Never Taught You About Budgeting.
What bloggers/marketers can learn: I love the way Pete infuses humor with his “don’t be stupid” counseling. As an author, media personality, and consultant, Pete found a way to wrap his business objective – making people more financially responsible – with a style that compels readers to do better, to try more. Like The Pioneer Woman, Pete uses a content strategy that freely offers deep, actionable advice to anyone who cares enough to read his blog. His “moneymakers” feel secondary.
Sometimes what you need to keep moving is a kick in the rear…or two! Tone It Up is produced by fitness leaders Karena and Katrina, best pals who took their passion for health and fitness to new levels with a blog, fitness studio, instructional video series, subscription-based diet plan and exercise equipment.
What bloggers/marketers can learn: These ladies have great photography down to a science. Okay, naturally as fitness buffs they’re easy to look at. But the quality of their imagery coupled with the composition of the photos fits nicely with their position that every man and woman can achieve their fitness goals, and have fun while doing it. Marketers, think about the photography used on your site or in your collateral. Does it help tell your brand story or merely fit the hole in the template?
Some folks are religious, and others consider themselves spiritual. Whether you know your holy book by heart or simply feel a connection with a higher power and wonder about your role here on earth, Modern Reject is a blog that will get you thinking.
Author Nicole Cottrell writes on her “About” page that she doesn’t like religion, but she loves Jesus. Sound unconventional? You bet. Nicole’s posts look at parables and scripture lessons through the lens of a flawed human. She’s a modern woman who strives to build up more than she tears down.
What bloggers/marketers can learn: Nicole covers sensitive territory with grace and humility every day. She doesn’t have all the answers – nor claim to. It’s likely that your business interests cover more traditional products or services but I think it’s important to take a lesson from Nicole – invite discussion and debate, and seek opinions and points-of-view from your targets and partners. It is possible to be both an authority and approachable company.
Marie Forleo is a whirlwind, and I haven’t even had the pleasure of meeting her in person. One look at her blog and readers get pulled into a vortex of straight talk about how to achieve financial and emotional freedom. Covering lessons in business and life, Marie’s video and text posts cover real issues and offer authentic encouragement to help women entrepreneurs go make themselves happy. She offers several training programs and live events you might want to check out, too.
What bloggers/marketers can learn: I love what Marie does with video almost as much as I love the niche she’s carved for herself covering the real issues and fears that paralyze people from reaching happiness and success. Personally, it’s rare that I watch a video segment. I’d rather process words than moving pictures. But her authentic, personable style – and passion for people – shines in her videos. Take heed: if you do video, put people in front of the camera who actually like being in front of the camera. We know if you’re sweating bullets up there.
Heather Rast is Principal of Insights & Ingenuity, a brand-building Internet marketing firm. She helps clients earn brand preference through thoughtful positioning, useful content, and supportive online communities. Heather writes frequently for Social Media Explorer, MarketingProfs, and Content Marketing Institute. She’s @heatherrast on Twitter.