I have a lot of blogs and news sources in my reader. So many I can’t possibly read them all every day and stil get any work done. But there are relatively few I consider indispensable, and on the face of it, they don’t seem to have a lot in common. Subject-matter-wise, they’re all over the board. There is a common thread, however; or maybe a couple of threads. Each of the following does at least one of two things on a consistent basis:
- challenges me to think about something in a new way
- offers usable information that I can incorporate into what I’m doing
Now that I think of it, those [apparently] rare ingredients comprise a recipe for blogging success. I know my own posts can’t boast of either more than occasionally, and perhaps it’s the consistency that’s the real trick with the recipe. Each of these are very successful blogs with lots of readers, so they’re obviously doing something right.
My most valued feeds, in alphabetical order:
Chris Brogan – The guy is practically synonymous with social media in general, and blogging in particular. He preaches the word on social media as a marketing strategy to the faithful, the backsliders, and the non-believers. And he knows what he’s talking about. A must-read for people involved even peripherally with online or social media marketing.
CSS-Tricks – One of the few web dev blogs that consistently presents useful and interesting information. Chris Coyier puts out nuts-and-bolts stuff, like explanations of absolute and relative positioning, centering a navigation bar, etc. But he also offers code snippets, downloads, and a forum. Worth a daily visit.
Duct Tape Marketing – John Jantsch offers practical and pragmatic advice for small businesses. He’s packaged his approach in a book, webinars, and a 14-lesson training program. I have bought and read the book, and recommend it highly for small business owners. His blog posts prod and educate. His website is full of links and resources. If you own a small business, you should be reading this blog.
Fuel Your Creativity – For me, FYC is more about inspiration than anything else—a site that feeds the designer part of my soul.
Hubspot – Hubspot is working to bring measurability to social media marketing. Their blog is a major training resource for business people trying to figure out how to benefit from "attraction" marketing, as opposed to "interruption" marketing. They sell a service that helps measure the effectiveness of online marketing efforts, but they’re not pushy about it. And they offer free webinars and a lot of great how-to-market-online information.
Seth’s Blog – Seth Godin does blogging all wrong. He doesn’t allow comments on his posts, his blog is hosted on Typepad rather than on a webhosting platform he controls, and he apparently spent no more than a couple of minutes customizing his blog’s appearance. But Seth is a marketing guru’s guru and an iconoclast’s iconoclast. He can succeed by doing things differently because he’s Seth Godin. He delights in flipping concepts on their heads. He turns kvetching into a useful exercise in logic. And often, he asks some interesting questions. His posts and observations are usually short, often simple, and almost always thought-provoking (consider that a warning).
ThemeGrade – ThemeGrade fills an important need in the world of WordPress blogs: it reviews and rates WordPress themes on code and SEO compliance based on standardized testing. Before ThemeGrade, it was up to you to figure out if it was a good idea to install and spend time modifying that cool theme you loved the look of. TG ranks themes with gold (currently about 3% of submitted themes), silver (13%), bronze (31%), or no rating (currently 53% of submitted themes). We’re proud to say our Evo4 CMS WordPress theme was rated silver.
WNYC’s Radio Lab – Maybe the most interesting audio on the Internet. Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich have fun exploring interesting ideas and we get to go along for the ride. The audio programs get posted about every other week, so this isn’t a daily listen. The podcasts are 15-60 minutes each, and every one is more than worth the time.
WP Beginner – There are several "How-to" WordPress sites, and a lot of them are good, but WP Beginner is my favorite, because it usually serves up something I need or have wondered about. And though it’s suitable for beginners as its name suggests, there is plenty of advanced information there also, simply and straightforwardly presented.
Zen Habits – I’m a regular reader of Buddhist and zen materials. Being mindful and present, appreciating simplicity: these are things that are difficult to bring into our working lives. But that’s what Leo Babauta’s blog is about, and I appreciate its quiet, gentle, and practical advice about working, living, and balance.
So that’s my list of indispensable feeds. I hope there’s something on it that helps you. If not, well, we don’t have a complaint department, but feel free to tell me what should have been included on the list. And Merry Christmas.