Monday, January 7, 2008

Best Writing Blogs of 2007: My Personal Top Ten

I was absolutely thrilled to see this blog selected as one of the Top 10 Blogs for Writers this year. The list included some great blogs, some of which I've known about for a while, and some of which I found through the contest. But there were a few left out that I've really come to love. Here, in no particular order, is my personal Top 10 list for this year: the blogs Writing White Papers forgot to mention.

The Irreverent Freelancer. This writer says what we're all thinking about bad clients, unreasonable requests, and awful job ads. Kathy's writing style is brash, no-nonsense, sarcastic and funny, and she never fails to stick up for herself. In the isolating world of web writing, she's like a straight-talking best friend you can always vent to about the downside of freelancing. Of course, there's an upside too--but it's not nearly as entertaining.

My favorite post: Kathy tells a lot of stories about really awful clients who keep coming back, despite her attempts to "fire" them. One of my favorites is her Once a Freelance Scammer story, which actually gets drawn out for two other posts. After turning in a full first draft, the client writes back to tell her that they're only going to use less than half of what she's written--and try to talk her down in price. A war of words ensues. She's also got a great ongoing Get-A-Clue series where she finds job ads with ridiculously unreasonable terms--here's a recent example. Trust me, this blog is dangerously addictive.

Problogger. Problogger has really great, practical, easy-to-follow advice for bloggers of all levels of experience. They cover advice on writing good headlines and posts that attract links, and they also include advice on technical issues, monetization, and more--all in a clear, compelling style.

My favorite post: My favorite post is actually a whole section. Problogger's Blogging Tips for Beginners is very comprehensive and covers everything you need to know to run a successful blog. It's a great crash course in blogging for anyone who's just getting started or trying to take their blog to the next level.

The Article Writer. This was one of the first blogs I checked out when I was trying to decide what to do with my own blog. The Article Writer is run by an experienced web writer who is also very SEO-savvy, and the blog offers plenty of useful tips on online marketplaces, plus SEO tactics in general and social network marketing in particular as well as writing and blogging tips. Matt is also a good friend to have if you're a blogger. He's very liberal with the link love and if he likes your site, he'll Stumble it.

My favorite post: One of the reasons I like this site so much is that it feels like The Article Writer is dedicated to looking out for his colleagues. One example is his honest review of Helium, which helped me decide not to go that route.

The Copywriter's Crucible. Matt from CC was one of the first to comment on my site and to nominate me for the Top 10 award--so I'm a bit biased. But I'm crazy about his blog because of his dedication to educating clients about the selling power of educational, not over-hyped, content. He doesn't post extremely frequently, but his posts are always worth reading.

My favorite post: One of my favorites is this great article covering studies that show how people don't read ads, but they do read informational content. It cites Nielsen eyetracker studies, shows us heat maps of what text attracts readers on a print or online page, and discusses the history of the advertorial. It definitely helps prove Matt's thesis that salesy writing isn't as effective as many people believe.

The Urban Muse. This blog is generally written from a print-writing freelancer's perspective, but it definitely contains useful stuff no matter your focus. Susan from The Urban Muse is a creative, talented writer who provides tips on blogging, writing for print and online markets, interviews, and more.

My favorite post: I found the post on finding sources through social networking sites extremely useful. One of my least favorite parts of writing print-quality articles is the digging up and chasing around of sources, and this article was a big help.

Words on the Page. Lori from Words on the Page is like the big sister you (maybe) never had--she's seen it all, done it all, and is always willing to offer advice and spell out the more complicated concepts in freelancing. This blog is also one of my daily stops.

My favorite post: When Lori faced a slowdown in December of 2007 (a scary time to face a slowdown, with all those presents and plane tickets to buy), she put an offline marketing plan into action--and told us all about it on her blog. Many web writers often limit themselves to online marketing tactics and clients, and Lori's posts are great reminders that there are other markets out there--and it's not that hard to market to them. Her Marketing 101 series breaks down offline marketing tactics that can land you higher-paying contacts than you usually get online.

Bob Bly's Blog. I'm sure you know who Bob Bly is, but you may not know he has a blog. Bob doesn't blog the way most people advise you to--he posts about once a week, his posts are quite short, and they're really more intended to stimulate discussion than to educate. Bob posts questions that occur to him about copywriting, direct mail, word choice, and the industry in general. He gets loads of responses from some of the top copywriters and marketing consultants in the industry. Most of the time, the "comments" section is the best part of his blog. And when I post there, I get to "talk" to Bob Bly. I try not to make too much of an idiot of myself in the process.

My favorite post: Bob asked a simple question: is copywriting dying thanks to the Internet? My immediate answer would be an emphatic "of course not!" but on this site, there's always more than one simple answer to a simple question. The question led to a great discussion on the effect the online marketplace is having on the type of writing in demand--and how the profession of copywriting has evolved in the past decade.

Dosh Dosh. This blog is aimed at making money online through blogging and content marketing. In the style of Copyblogger and Problogger, their tips are practical and easy for the typical (non-techie) blogger to understand.

My favorite post: One of my favorites on this blog is their breakdown of different ways to make money blogging. The post discusses different types of monetizing strategies and their pros and cons. Like all their posts, it's thorough and exhaustive.

InkThinker. Kristen King from Inkthinker is smart, talented, and hilariously funny. She's always got something going on, too--from query challenges to cool guest posts and interviews.

My favorite post: This is an old one, but I love the post Kristen wrote on glamtastically inappropriate photos on freelance writers' websites. Makes me take a second look at my own photo--I'm starting to think it needs to be frumpier. Is "frumptastic" a word?

The Writing Frump. Speaking of frumptastic, Writing Frump is a kvetch blog where an anonymous freelancer writes about bad clients of all shapes and sizes. The writing style is cheery-sarcastic, and the tales of client woes are always way worse than what you dealt with last week. Like everyone else, I have a theory as to who's behind the blog--but I'm not tellin'.

My favorite post: I'm a fan of In the Kingdom of Overreaction, when a miscommunication led to a nasty blow-up from the client--and a subsequent shrugging-off when the writer corrected herself. We all work with some crazies from time to time, and I can definitely relate.

So there they are: my favorite 10 in 2007. Best of luck to all of you in 2008.


Susan Johnston Taylor said...

Awww... Jennifer, thanks for the mention! I'm truly honored. And of course, I enjoy InkThinker, Writing Frump, and all the others, too. I don't think your photo needs to be frumpier, because you're young and obviously you're not still using your high school yearbook photo or anything. That would be bad.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jennifer,

Thanks very much for mentioning me in your list.

I know my posting frequency has collapsed of late. But now Xmas is out of the way and Im free of flu I should be able to remedy it very soon. There's always plenty to talk about.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this list - you've mentioned a couple of blogs I didn't know about. Now I have some catching up to do!

Unknown said...

Jennifer, I'm truly honored to be among such talented people! Thanks for giving my little blog such a wonderful nod. :)

Kathy@TheFlawlessWord said...

I'm genuinely flattered, but the feeling is mutual. Your blog is one of my favorite reads as well.

Matthew C. Keegan said...

Jennifer, I am honored to have made your list. You understand what I attempt to do via my blog as well, something not everyone understands.

Quite naturally, I stumbled this post!

Happy 2008 too.

Matt Keegan

Jennifer Williamson said...

Hello everyone,

You're welcome! The recognition is well deserved. You keep writing, and I'll keep reading.