Mid-September and the “Back to School” articles have been full of tips and tricks for getting students ready to continue their education after lazy summer days.
For those of us out of school and working in the marketing industry, it can be hard to set aside time to continue our own educations and keep up on the latest trends, technologies, opinions, case studies… we’re all too busy (or at least, that’s what we all say, anyway).
When you aren’t assigned textbooks anymore, it takes a bit longer to identify the best sources for your continued education. I asked a few of my colleagues at Overit this week to share what they read (and do) to keep learning.
Lawrence Basso – Motion
I typically read Motionographer and FX Guide. FX Guide has audio podcasts that I listen to on my commute back and forth to work (they’re each about an hour long, which is perfect for my ride). The great thing about FX Guide is that they have the obvious visual effects-related material, but they also have a podcast called The RC, in which they talk about new camera tech and video-related gear, which has been great for me.
Believe it or not, my feed on Vimeo is a good resource, as well. Seeing what new work other people and studios are putting out, as well as seeing the behind-the-scenes videos, is great and very informative at times. Same with Dribble.com – a very good source of inspiration.
Dark Horizons and Deadline.com are good sources of movie news, to keep current with that area. Lately, I’ve been browsing Skillshare and am currently putting together materials to teach my own class on digital comic book coloring, which should be fun.
Tim Jensen – PPC
There are a number of outlets I routinely read with great information to keep up on PPC and general web strategies:
- Search Engine Land
- Search Engine Journal
- Search Engine Watch
- Beyond the Paid
- PPC Hero
- RKG Blog
- Occam’s Razor
As you can tell, I read a lot. Of the many authors I follow, I’d start by recommending Bryan Eisenberg (@TheGrok), Rand Fishkin (@randfish), John Doherty (@dohertyjf), Annie Cushing (@AnnieCushing), Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan), John Gagnon (@jmgagnon), Brad Geddes (@BGTheory), and Avinash Kaushik (@avinash).
I recently read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, which examines the factors that contribute to individuals’ high levels of success. “What makes high-achievers different?” This book reveals that success comes from a lot more than just hard work, and other factors like environment and culture contribute just as much. The biggest takeaway I found to apply to my work was a reminder to carefully look at all the data around a situation and not just make quick assumptions.
Outside of reading, I make sure to attend conferences when I can, interact with other professionals on Twitter (I’ve learned a ton from participating in the weekly #PPCchat conversations). I’ve also been going through courses on codeacademy.com, as a general understanding of code is becoming increasingly valuable for working in SEO, PPC and web analytics side of things, even if I’m not the guy building websites from scratch.
Josh Shea – Development
I like Smashing Magazine. It’s a great resource to see what’s trending and how people are utilizing technology. Further, I use Stack Overflow when developing for troubleshooting. There is great community insight there.
I really like the principals set forth in The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master. It was published back in 1999, so its not really a part of my continued education, but it continues to influence the work I do.
How else do I continue to learn? Honestly – I just try stuff. I’ve found it’s how devs learn best. Getting an idea and deciding to just build something, even if you don’t know how yet, is always the best way to learn.
(For more on this thought, check out Josh’s post “Why Failure is Inevitable – And Important”)
Liz Grimes – PR
I’m mostly reading things having to do with the fields my clients are in, so I’m always on TechCrunch, Mashable, CNET, etc. Even though the reading I do isn’t always related to best practices in PR, becoming knowledgeable about a wide variety of topics makes me more aware of the messages our clients should be communicating and what stories people want to read.
When I want to brush up on the latest PR Do’s and Don’ts, I always check out PRDaily, the postings of various professionals I follow on LinkedIn, and Peter Shankman’s blog posts and Twitter account (@petershankman) for marketing and business insight.
On top of my constant reading and researching, I’m constantly in touch with other PR professional in and out of Overit (my colleagues’ blogs are always helpful!). Networking has helped me learn a lot about this industry.
Shawn Rosko – SEO
Some of my favorites are Moz, Social Media Today, SEO by the Sea, SEO Blog. I recommend following and reading the work of Stephan Spencer (@sspencer) and Kris Jones (@KrisJonesCom), and checking out Kris’ books. As well, I’d always recommend Groundswell. It’s a great read for anyone who hasn’t read it yet.
Besides reading and experimenting with my own work, I learn a lot from more experienced SEO friends. We talk online a lot.
Patrick Branigan – Design
I tend to read individual designer’s blogs more so than collectives, which are of best use when I’m looking for a technical tutorial on something specific. For example, I’ll sift through Smashing Magazine, Six Revisions or Noupe when looking for an answer to a specific question I may be challenged with, often pertaining to tools, programs or approaches to trending challenges like “complex navigation structures on mobile specific sites.” But blogs that are full of “Top 5” and “Best of” lists generally don’t interest me.
Smashing Magazine and A List Apart are two blogs that are insightful and are both suggestive more so than instructive, which allows you to not get stuck in a specific mindset when on a quest to answer your question. I also love to keep track of Teehan+Lax. The company’s blog and Labs writing is very inspirational and informative.
As of late, my favorite space for reading on the web is Medium. It produces a variety of content from an array of brilliant minds, and more often than not it pertains to life in general. I recommend engaging in blogs just enough to inspire you to go out and create, because this is what yields results and causes reactions.
- Frank Chimero (@fchimero)
- Justin Mezzell (@JustinMezzell)
- Luke Wroblewski (@LukeW)
- Jeffrey Zeldman (@zeldman)
- Lisa Barone (@lisabarone) [Have I ever told you you’re my favorite? – Lisa]
- Malcolm Gladwell (@Gladwell)
I’d also recommend reading Why We Fail from Rosenfeld Media, as I believe failure is one of the most important concepts for a designer to understand and become comfortable with. All of the Rosenfield Media books are topical, so choose whatever one seems interesting to you.
Last four tips:
- Stay on top of things using Twitter. Twitter has extraordinary value. It’s introduced me to people I’ve admired for years, and has allowed me to make conversation with those that matter to my career.
- I can’t express how much I love Skillshare. This service allows you to learn skills and tricks from professionals directly, and it has a robust community that allows for great feedback and beneficial conversation.
- Pay attention to technology. If you get a chance to try out new technology, do so. If you have time to read up on tech news via Engadget, Mashable, etc., do so. Talk to developers and SEO professions and understand what they do. Immerse yourself in technology and technicalities because they drive your challenges as a design professional and these tools will also help you overcome these challenges.
- Stay open-minded! Experiment! If you feel stagnant or as if you’re not learning anything, then you’re not doing your job.
Oh, sure, I get to go last and Tim and Shawn already take all my hot search reads. Thanks, Janae!
The number of blogs I read on a daily basis has dwindled significantly over the years, but there are still some I can’t live without.
The search maven in me is really into Search Engine Watch (which I sometimes write for), Raven, SEER Interactive, and Portent. I also really like Marketing Pilgrim to get some good variety and Penelope Trunk when I need that combination of leadership advice and batshit crazy.
To be honest, most of my news comes from Twitter and the links passed around my network of influencers. I’ll typically read anything written or shared by:
I can trust those folks sort the signal from the noise and not lead me wrong.
These are just a few of our favorites. Have recommendations for our list? Comment below!