One Editor’s Favorites: Sources, Research, & FREE SUBSCRIPTIONS

Lost for ideas of where to read about writing? Feeling like you’ve fallen behind on content strategy trends and such, because Buzzfeed is just too EASY to keep reading instead?
I’ve been there. (Heck, I still feel like I’m there! Tell me more about how I can transform a stool into a flower pot, Buzzfeed DIY!) But over the spring and summer of this year, I’ve started to take stock of my favorites in the content strategy/freelancer space, and I thought I’d share with you all.
Some of these resources are things I found to do my full-time job better. Others are things I picked up for personal reasons. But I can’t imagine life without them now, and I hope you’ll enjoy them, too!

1. Contently/The Freelancer

Contently is a source for online media workers, like writers and graphic designers. Their portfolio service (which is free!) is one of the best out there, in terms of ease of use and search engine friendliness. Having a portfolio where links to all your digital work lives is so important, even if you already have a website or blog (which is a great idea, and I’m happy to discuss with you if you’d like!), or you use Twitter a ton.
Contently also has a daily subscription email (free!) all about being a writer today, called The Freelancer. A lot of it is directed towards people already working as freelance writers professionally, but it’s so important to learn early about the culture of writers, how business is done, and how to get new skills/experiences. I read The Freelancer every day.

2. Freelancers’ Union

Freelancers’ Union has a fantastic blog, designed with professional freelancers in mind—and they share regular interviews with innovators, which is a big plus. They also have a really amazing founder, Sara Horowitz, who’s killing it on Twitter, too.

3. Feedly

To keep everything all in one place, I use Feedly (on my desktop, and also on my phone). It’s an RSS reader that allows you to select websites you want to track, so you can read the NYTimes, Jezebel, Vox, Slate, Grist, and Everyday Feminism, all in one place.
Lots of fun to try out, and free!

4. Google Trends

As you’re trying to decide on articles in the future (and as you’re writing SEO, if you ever do that professionally), Google Trends will become your best friend. You can type in search terms and find out what related terms people are searching, how popular the term is (and has been, over time), etc.
Also free.

5. Google Alerts

Google Alerts are so easy to set up—and once you’ve done that, you can get a personal email (sent daily, weekly, or whenever news happens) that gives you top hits for specific search terms. I’ve put in my own name, and topics I care deeply about (company titles, etc.)—and it’s helped me find article topics, keep tabs on important news mentions, and make sure I’m aware of relevant stories.
Google Alerts is free, as well!

6. Always Subscribe

This may seem obvious, but it wasn’t to me at first: if you’ve found a website that you like, get on their mailing list: it’s the easiest way to keep tabs on what they’re doing and saying. (And of course, it’s also easy to get yourself off their list, if you don’t like their email newsletters, or you’re getting too many emails, etc.)

7. Content Marketing/Content Strategy Resources

I say this all the time: CMI (Content Marketing Institute) is always useful for learning more about content strategy and the professional industry of content storytelling. That’s definitely true (and I’m excited to chat more with some of you about the webinar this afternoon!), but I have a few more options for you, if you really enjoy CMI’s resources:
Seth Godin (THE voice of marketing)

Content Strategy for the Web (a book—can’t recommend this enough!)

Hope these resources are useful for you all! Anything I missed that I should be checking out? If you come across others, please feel free to send them my way. I’m always up for new tools and tricks!

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