Content marketing is a buzzword that you probably hear over and over. But is it a strategy that you ultimately want to adopt for your business? When done right, it’s absolutely awesome. When pursued half heartedly — not so much. Don’t feel like you need to reinvent the wheel. Here are 11 reads from top thought leaders to help you master content marketing. 

1. What Is Content Marketing? This article from The Content Marketing Institute provides a breakdown of the marketing strategy, what investment you should expect to make, who’s doing it, and what returns you should expect to see. 2. 5 Golden Aspects to Your Content Marketing Here’s a breakdown of why content marketing is important: for establishing authority,  integrating with social media, search engine optimization, lead generation, and lead nurturing. Adhere Creative, a Houston-based inbound marketing firm explains why content marketing is one of the most important ways to connect with your core audience. 3. 10 Ways to Get Your Content Marketing Strategy in Motion Okay, so you’re convinced that you want to get started in building out a content marketing strategy. Now what? This article from Search Engine Watch will tell you exactly what you need to get started. You need more than just fun topics to write about — you need to integrate your strategy with your SEO goals to actually bring prospects in. 4. It’s Not All About You: The Value of Objective Content Marketing Content marketing is not like writing a personal journal. You can’t just spew a bunch of ego-centric ideas into a stream of consciousness thread. From the first sentence to the last, you need to provide value to your website visitors. That means answering a question, solving a problem, or teaching someone a new skill. Don’t just sit around talking about your brand because nobody really cares. That being said, you do need to integrate your content strategy with your company’s sales goals. It’s ultimately a balancing act. 5.  Head of the Class: How 3 Colleges Create Great Content Even colleges are hiring marketing officers to help get their marketing messages heard, according to Kylie Jane Wakefield of the Contently Blog. There are some very creative ways that top institutions are reaching the general public. Berkeley’s on iTunes, for instance. Syracuse lets students run its social media strategy. And Harvard maintains a YouTube channel with a whole lot of subscribers. 6. How to Build a Successful Editorial Calendar for Your Blog If you want to do it right, blogging is a skill that you absolutely can’t take for granted. You wouldn’t start a business without a business plan, right? If you want people to actually read your blog, you need to produce great content. And great content requires forethought with plenty of strategic planning. 7. My Mantra to Blogging that Made $20,000: Remix, Reuse, and Republish Think that you need to write the world’s next greatest novel every time you blog? If that’s your attitude, it’s almost definitely holding you back from operating as efficiently as possible. If you write just one successful blog post, you’ll be able to write many more. Pick one thing. Be an expert. Reuse and reframe your best ideas.  Without a doubt, your readers will keep coming back for more. 8. We Discovered the Magic: Content Marketing & Startup PR Lessons of the Year Especially for small businesses, the idea of pitching journalists is downright scary. What if they don’t listen to your story, and what if you can’t get any press? The good news is that there’s always somebody else. You just need to be strategic, confident, and cool. Don’t be discouraged. Keep trying, and you’ll eventually get on the right person’s radar . 9. Five Important Lessons from Content Marketing Royalty Here are a couple pages devoted to the best of the best strategy from online dating site OKCupid. No matter your business (or perspectives regarding online dating), you will learn a lot from this fun and popular brand. 10. Six Surefire Ways to Fail at Content Marketing You’ve probably seen a lot of examples of what to do well,  but here’s an explicit lesson in what you absolutely – should not – never ever do. Don’t be selfish, don’t ignore your audience, don’t forget to distribute, and don’t become an SEO farm. The biggie? Don’t move forward without a strategic plan — your efforts will simply fall flat. 11. Is 2013 the Year Marketers Lose Keyword Research? SEO as a marketing discipline has been in flux over the last few years. A strategy that has held strong, however, has been keyword research. Do you think that we’re finally at a point where keyword research is becoming obsolete? Hubspot blogger Hartley Brody seems to think so. Your Thoughts There you have it — an 11 post crash course in your first steps to master content marketing. Which posts were your favorites? What other topics and concepts would you like to see covered? Read anything else awesome lately? Share your feedback in the comments below!  ]]>

TJ has worked in the digital marketing space since 2006. He has worked at a number of agencies and and helped hundreds of clients grow their business through SEO, PPC, Social Media and Content Marketing. He currently lives in Lehi , UT and enjoys spending time with his family.