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December 11, 2019

22 Learning Resources For You to Excel as a Content Marketer (Free + Paid)

22 Learning Resources For You to Excel as a Content Marketer (Free + Paid)

If you’re in your first content marketing role, there’s a chance you feel overwhelmed with everything there is to be learned.

And if you’ve been your role for a while, you may have put learning on the backburner because, well… There’s so much you could be learning, so it’s easier to not do it at all.

In this post, I’ve distilled the entirety of the wide world web into free and low cost learning resources to keep you ahead of the game, with a few higher cost ones at the end. My goal is to give you an easy place to start your learning journey and find what works for you.

This way, you make it a regular part of your routine, which will make you feel at the top of your game and help you tackle every project with confidence.

Before you get started, set yourself up for success:

The only way these resources will be helpful is if you actually dedicate the time to absorb them and put your learnings into practice. My tips to make that happen:

  • Block out a recurring appointment on your calendar dedicated to learning. Commit to something that’s impossible to avoid—even just 30 minutes each week—and increase the length over time.
  • Show up for your appointment! Showing up every week is more valuable than going hard once every 6 months. Learning in smaller increments, but regularly, will allow you to implement and reflect regularly.
  • Focus on what matters most right now. You don’t need to master writing, editing, email marketing, and video all in the next month. Focus on improving a skill that will make an essential impact on your work right now.

Free learning resources for content marketing

I jumped into content marketing head-first with zero marketing experience back in 2015. I was a journalism graduate and writing was my second nature, but the marketing part of it was something I was yet to get good at.

These blogs, content libraries, and videos are exactly what I spent many hours soaking up. They’ll do you good—I promise.

Remember: focus on the narrow area you’re looking to get better at right now. Use native filtering options (like blog categories), site search, or even filtered Google search (for example, “site:coschedule.com social media”) to find what you need.

You can also use a free service like Feedly to create a reading feed that will keep updating as new content gets published in a certain category.

1. Copyhackers blog and Tutorial Tuesdays

Copyhackers is the resource for copywriters. Their blog posts are usually 20+ minute reads and they leave nothing out. They covered a topic you want to know more of? You’ll know (almost) everything there is to know once you’ve read the blog post.

Great places to start are their copywriting and growth marketing categories, but there’s also a site search field you can use.

On top of that, there are the Tutorial Tuesdays. You can tune into the live sessions based on their calendar, or watch the recordings later together with accompanying transcripts and more resources.

My favorites to get you started:

2. Ahrefs blog and YouTube channel

I feel like Ahrefs doesn’t need an introduction—their software is an industry OG at this point. Their blog posts are like mini books that get you from start to finish of whatever you’re hoping to do.

SEO basics, outreach tips, tools, link building, keyword research, and traffic tips—it’s all there. Their YouTube channel is hyper valuable with actionable tips and processes too, with videos typically hovering around 10 minutes in length.

My favorites to get you started:

3. Content Marketing Institute blog and research

Content Marketing Institute is the literal content marketing institution. I’m on their website almost daily, not just because of the daily blog posts, but also because I’m looking for data to reference from their content marketing benchmarks report, their ebooks, and more.

Your preferences of CMI’s content will depend on where you are in your content marketing career, but there’s something for everyone.

My favorites to get you started:

4. CoSchedule blog and podcast

CoSchedule is the name behind one of the most flexible and powerful agile marketing tools on the market—a place where you can centralize all of your marketing projects and tasks and hit your deadlines.

I binged everything there was to binge about CoSchedule way back in early 2017, when I participated in their Certified Marketing Strategist course. 

Their blog is one of the best places to learn about efficient marketing that gets results. No fluff, no time wasting, no superficial content. They’ve built their entire company on the idea of a 10x marketing formula (their CEO also wrote a book on it—more on that later!), and their content shows you how to find your own way to do the same for your company.

My favorites to get you started:

5. Copyblogger blog and free membership

Copyblogger is another household name for copywriters. Their blog is an endless source of writing wisdom, they certify top writers, and they have a free membership packed with ebooks and webinars on writing.

No matter what area of content marketing you’re pursuing—being a better writer will help, and Copyblogger has the tips to get you going.

My favorites to get you started:

6. Foundation Marketing blog

My favorite content in the world is the one that lets me dive deep on topics that I know I can get better at—for the benefit of my audience and my business.

The team at Foundation do exactly that. Their content goes extra deep on each topic they analyze (such as Reddit marketing and content inspiration), while keeping a conversational, easy to read tone.

Use the search bar at the top or dig into one of their categories in the dropdown menu.

My favorites to get you started:

7. Whiteboard Friday video series

Whiteboard Friday doesn’t need much of an introduction—pretty much everyone I know in the marketing industry soaked up the Whiteboard Friday videos when they first entered the industry.

Started a long time ago by Rand Fishkin, the co-founder of Moz, it’s now viewed by millions and hosted by some of the best marketers today. 

Your best bet is to check out some of their most popular episodes listed at the top, as well as exploring by category (available in the top-right corner dropdown).

My favorites to get you started:

8. HubSpot certification courses

If you’re looking for a structured, start-to-finish way to kickstart or refresh your content marketing learning, head to the HubSpot Academy. Of course, they offer the content marketing course, but if you want to learn about inbound marketing, social media, and sales, they offer it all. For free!

The content marketing course covers storytelling, content creation framework, idea generation, ranking in search engines, content promotion, and more.

At the end of the course, there’s an exam you can take to get certified.

Low-cost learning resources for content marketing

Let’s dive into books, audiobooks, and online course platforms.

Books and audiobooks

If you’re willing to invest a bit of cash, you can see into some really smart people’s brains thanks to the books they’ve written.

If you like audiobooks, you can listen to one of the below books for free when you sign up for a 30-day free trial of Audible. Some books are cheaper in the Kindle format, so check that out if you want to read on your smartphone or tablet (with a free Kindle app) or a Kindle device.

Not all of these books are strictly about content marketing, but they’ll help you come up with and score ideas, write better, position you products, and avoid wasting time on marketing with low return.

Marketing and content marketing:

9. Content Inc. by Joe Pulizzi. A content marketing bible of sorts, one you can come back to no matter how good you get at doing your job as a content marketer. An excellent resource when you’re looking to build a content-driven business from the ground up.

 

 

10. 10x Marketing Formula by Garrett Moon. As I mentioned earlier, CoSchedule’s CEO wrote a book that’s the ultimate “focus on strategies that multiply your growth and drop everything else” guide when it comes to content marketing. Great guidance on finding your content core and turning it into content projects and, ultimately, profitability. Love it. (PS it’s also available on Kindle Unlimited—at least in the UK version!)

11. Practical Content Strategy & Marketing by Julia McCoy. This book reflects Julia’s content strategy course, which means it’s very structured in nature and takes you through creating a content strategy from start to finish. From funnel mapping, keyword research, authority building, writing, promotion, and editorial calendar setup, it’s all in there, packed with exercises so you can apply what you learned right away.

12. Obviously Awesome by April Dunford. This is not a book on marketing, but on product positioning. Still, it deserves to be in this category, because when you learn where your product fits on the market and the exact difference it makes for your customers, you can market it better. It’s an easy, immediately applicable read!

 

Writing:

13. Writing Tools: 55 Essential Strategies For Every Writer by Roy Peter Clark. One of the first books on writing I ever read, and it was a game-changer. Tips cover topics like outlining, word order, editing, using patterns, cliffhangers, and more. Each tip comes with a workshop at the end so you can implement it right away.

 

14. On Writing Well by William Zinsser. A cult favorite. Covers everything from style, brevity, clutter in writing, to business writing, writing in your voice, and more. It’s one of those books that your favorite writers credit for being good writers.

 

 

15. So You Think You Can Write? by Julia McCoy. Another excellent book from Julia, this time on writing for the internet. She goes into blogging, social media, ad copy, journalism, creative writing, and more.

 

 

Ideas and creativity:

16. Break The Wheel by Jay Acunzo. If you’ve ever seen Jay’s work, you know this book is here to kick your ass. If you’ve been using marketing strategies everyone else claims to be the “best practice” and it wasn’t the right thing, Jay gives you the questions you need to answer to figure out what works for you.

 

17. Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath. I love this book because it unpacks the reasons why some ideas stick around for decades, while others stand zero chance of making it even a week. Full of examples and practical applications of storytelling, emotions, simplicity, and more.

 

 

 

18. The Creative Curve by Allen Gannett. Ever thought that your work isn’t good enough because you weren’t lucky enough to be hit with a great idea out of the blue? This book shows you why creativity isn’t based on luck, but on actions and strategies you can implement intentionally. No more writer’s block.

Online course platforms

19. Depending on your budget and time, you can jump into one of the many online platforms that host courses from industry leaders.

CreativeLive, Udemy, Coursera, and Skillshare are just a few.

Having hosted my own content marketing course on Skillshare, I got into the habit of finding courses that target a topic I want to upskill on and fit into the time I have. 

Skillshare courses typically range between 20 and 60 minutes in length, which means you can book a two-hour learning appointment with yourself and get through the whole thing in one go!

 

Note: Many courses on Skillshare are available completely for free, while others require a premium membership (~$15/month). If you use any of the links I’ve shared, you’ll get two months of premium for free, and you can cancel any time.

Some suggestions to get you started:

Premium learning resources for content marketing

These are advanced programs that cost a premium rate (around $500 and up), and they’re a great option if you’re ready to invest your time and money into a targeted, structured, deep knowledge that will set you apart.

I believe that the resources I listed up until now—blog posts, videos, tutorials, and books—are quite essential to excelling in content marketing (along with a lot of practice). I don’t feel the same about premium courses. They’re not must-dos, and you can be a top performer without them.

If you do want to take that next step, here are my recommendations.

Note: All of these run limited time enrollments (usually several days or weeks) before they close them for some time (usually several months). Subscribe to their email notifications to learn when they’re open again.

20. CMI University by Content Marketing Institute

Content Marketing Institute took all of their wisdom and packaged it into a core curriculum that covers:

  • The business model of content
  • Developing purpose and focus in content marketing
  • Investing in audiences vs. buyers
  • Architecting your story
  • Content measurement by design
  • Story map your operation

There are also additional, elective courses on topics like audience development, account based marketing, user generated content, and more.

Check out Content Marketing University for enrollment details and other information.

21. Customers from Content by Grow and Convert

Benji Hyam and Devesh Khanal are known for sharing the success they’ve created for their clients. This makes their course, Customers from Content, a literal shortcut to learning the strategy they’ve used to make those results happen.

It includes:

  • User research
  • Content creation
  • Content promotion (+ pain point SEO)
  • Conversions
  • ROI and analytics
  • Scaling

Check out Customers from Content to learn more about their system and sign up for updates.

22. Content School by Copyhackers

Joanna Wiebe of Copyhackers is well-known for her copywriter-focused courses like 10x Landing Pages and 10x Launches (and more).

But in late 2019, she announced something that made many content marketers, myself included, very happy—she (pre)launched Content School.

Technically, she launched one course inside of it called Master of Guest Blogging, which you can still enroll in. Content School, which will have more courses inside of it, is officially launching in summer 2020, which is when I’ll update this section with more details.

Until then, I’m binge-watching and implementing Master of Guest Blogging. If you want to do it too, it will be part of the Content School launch, but if you’re impatient, you can get it sooner right here.

Get your content marketing learning on

Which of these resources are your favorites? Which ones have you added to your reading or watching queue? Are there any you think I should add? Let me know!

Want to be a better, more efficient content marketer? Get the insights from my work as a freelance content marketer: data, stories, and everything I’ve learned, right in your inbox. Unsubscribe anytime.

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