If you want to be a better writer, you have to read.
If you want to be a better marketer, you have to read and write.
If you want to be better at business, you have to market and read and write.
That’s a lot of work. And a lot of reading.
Luckily, we have this here Internet and can access amazing resources at the click of a finger. There are websites, and ebooks, and online courses, and blogs, and eNewsletters, and … a complete pit of overwhelm filled with everything you WANT to read, but can’t possibly consume with your limited free time.
I feel you on this.
Most Some days I wish I could spend all day reading all of the insightful and interesting articles that are available from marketers, entrepreneurs and writers I truly admire. But I can’t, because: work.
So what happens to most of us? We don’t read anything, because we don’t know where to start.
However, reading is an essential part of your job if you’re a marketer or business owner. It inspires you. It makes you consider challenges in a new light. It keeps you in tune with the changes happening in your industry — and in communications in general. It gives you food for thought and fodder to share.
Reading is invaluable. So how can we make it fit into our packed schedules?
Organize it. And prioritize it.
Just like all of the grand information resources there are out there online, there are also free tools that make it easy to keep your reading list organized. Add in some simple tricks, and before you know it, you’ll put a dent in that to-read-someday list.
Here are our favorite ways to keep track of our massive marketing and business reading lists:
I started using the news aggregator service Feedly embarrassingly late … as in, a few weeks ago. And gah!, I’ve been kicking myself for not using it sooner.
Feedly lets you compile news feeds from online sources of your choice. You can group feeds together by topic, so that you can see all the latest news from your favorite sources in an organized manner. For example, here is my “marketing” feed:
I have different groupings for marketing, business, women entrepreneurs and lifestyle. This allows me to focus my time when I’m looking for inspiration for a blog post, or some great content to share on social media.
You can change the layout of each feed into a simple title-only format, a magazine format (like mine above), a card format (big images with titles underneath) or full article format. This makes browsing content much more engaging than using a straight RSS feed reader. Plus, there’s an app! So you can read on the go.
Yes, Pinterest is great for sharing recipes and DIY projects you’ll never do, but it’s also fabulous for saving content to read. Create boards by topic, and populate them with articles you’ve skimmed and want to read completely, or with those resources on your to-read list.
If your reading list doesn’t match the interests of your Pinterest audience, create secret boards: Click “create a board”, and click “yes” next to the Secret option. You can give other people on your team access to the board even if it’s secret from the public, allowing you to share and collaborate on content.
I like using Pinterest to save specific articles of interest once I find them online or via Feedly for many reasons: 1) It’s a fun, visual platform that displays my content in an interesting way; 2) I’m on Pinterest a lot already for work and personal use; 3) Much of my reading list would also be of interest to my followers, so my reading list does double duty as curated content.
Tip: Be selective with the articles you pin to read, or just like those DIY projects, you’ll never return to them.
3. Email Subscriptions
Subscribe to receive emails from your favorite blogs and publications. Because if you don’t, you’ll miss your favorite content.
Even if you use a service like Feedly, your favorite sources can get lost in the mix. Receiving that content in an email can raise its priority (especially if you’re like me and you love an empty inbox. I often end up reading eNewsletters simply so I can delete them!).
Here’s another area where it pays to be selective. We all get too much work email, junk email and promotional email. We get emails on social updates, emails on account updates, emails to watch out for upcoming emails. So you don’t want to add to your inbox noise. Instead, only subscribe to emails that provide you with true value (like… ahem … this one).
Depending on which email service you use, you can even get fancy and have emails from certain senders go straight into a specific folder, something like “To Read”. This wouldn’t work for me, however — I would ignore it. But if you like your emails organized, this could be a good option.
4. Print Subscriptions
Guess what? There are actual magazines, newspapers and other publications that you can subscribe to … and get in the real mailbox!
I know, it’s totally weird.
But there’s something about a tangible publication that makes me feel more accountable. I can’t recycle or give away a printed piece before I have at least cracked it open and scanned the content. Printed publications also give you a great excuse to step away from the screens, curl up in a comfy chair, and take a break … while being productive.
Many marketing and industry publication subscriptions are free to professionals in the field (for example, Content Marketing Institute’s Chief Content Officer magazine). Just search them out, and sign up. (And if you’re a small business owner or solopreneur, publication subscriptions may be a tax write-off!)
5. Blog Post Round-Ups
This is a different angle, but an effective one. To make yourself really accountable for staying informed on the latest industry news, consider publishing a “best-of” blog post each week that curates the top articles of interest for your audience.
To create this type of post, you have to first know what those top articles are each week. Which means you have to read lots of articles to find out.
If you have trouble justifying the time you spend reading online, this is the perfect way to do it. Reading then becomes an integral part of your marketing function. You’ll get smarter and help your audience — can’t beat that!
Looking for some awesome resources to add to your reading list? Check out The Top 10 Marketing Resources You Can’t Live Without.
Have any tips to add to this list? How do you keep up on the latest news and information? Share in the comments.
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