8 Marketers Share Where They Go for Creativity, Research, Humor & More
I’m always fascinated by the things people discover on the Web. With a seemingly endless supply of options, finding the content that speaks to you on a regular basis is like uncovering a gem. Virginia is always sending me the coolest things from the most random places online. This is what inspired the following post. I wanted to know what other people in the industry were reading, so that we could all benefit from finding new, cool places to consume great content.
Both Virginia and I handpicked some folks in our network, and asked them where they went online for personal interests, news, research, a simple laugh or a creative kick in the butt.
Here, we’ve collected feedback from Lisa Barone, Jonathon Colman, Bryan Eisenberg, Ian Lurie, Aaron Wall and Marty Weintraub. And of course, as the woman who inspired the post, Virginia weighs in, too (and then she nudged me to share mine).
Ian Lurie, Founder/CEO, Portent Interactive
Where you go to get a laugh:
- TheOatmeal.com: I am totally envious of Matt Inman. He’s brilliant beyond words. And, I agree with him on everything. So. Brilliant.
- Penny-Arcade.com: Love their comic. Especially as they’ve had kids, and I see I’m not the only one warping my children the way I do. Also, their D&D podcast episodes have been a crackup.
- XKCD.com: Just funny. All the time.
Where you go to get creative:
- SmashingMagazine.com, of course.
- 37Signals.com/svn: When I start going off the deep end and thinking I can actually design stuff, which I can’t.
- Swiss-Miss.com: A great design site. Tina Roth Eisenberg consistently finds great, interesting designs from all over the world, in all different disciplines.
- UXMovement.com: A great site for disciplined thinking about design and human interaction. Nothing up there since August, though. C’mon, Anthony!!!?
- AlistApart.com: I won’t bother saying how great they are. They’ve been cranking out fantastic stuff for years. They rock. Read them.
Where you go to get news: This has changed a lot for me. I go to some of the standard sites, like CNN.com. But also, I’ve started looking at these sites:
- Hacker News: If you’re alert, there’s a lot of very interesting, breaking views on what’s going on in tech and in other spaces.
- Reddit.com: I know it’s not a news site. But there can be useful stuff up there, especially in the AMA (Ask Me Anything) category.
- Twitter: If a story’s breaking and I want to track it, Twitter search is my first stop.
- BBC.co.uk/news: Call me unAmerican, but they do a better job reporting on stories here in the U.S. than we do, and their world news is great.
Where you go for research people share: There’s a huge list of sites I visit for research. The standards, of course: SEOmoz.org, Forrester.com (but only with a skeptical eye), and a lot of marketing agency sites. But also:
- Occam’s Razor: Avinash’s blog for great thinking and research into analytics.
- HBR.org: The Harvard Business Review has a lot of really well-thought-out writing and research on marketing, communications and business.
- MineThatData: Kevin Hillstrom is constantly in research mode. You can learn as much about HOW to do it as you do from the data itself.
- NeuroscienceMarketing.com: From the psychology of beer to the impact of color on buying decisions, Neuromarketing is a pile of great stuff. You could skip 1/2 the conferences this year and just read this blog.
Where you go for personal interests: I’ll probably embarrass myself, but everyone already knows what a nerd I am, so:
- Lifehacker.com: Sometimes has cool ideas. I’ve been a fan since Gina Trapani was there, and haven’t given it up.
- SmarterWare.org: Gina’s blog. She doesn’t publish there too often, but it’s still great.
- Uncrate.com: Toys! Expensive toys! Personal submarines!
- D&D podcast archive: The Dungeons & Dragons Podcast: Just because.
- Penny Arcade, again, because I gotta represent.
- TableTopGamingNews.com: I warned you. Nerdy.
- CyclingNews.com so I can keep up with my favorite sport.
- Bicycling.com to remind me what lousy shape I’m in, and because once in a while they do actually publish something I haven’t read 10 times in the last 10 years.
Marty Weintraub, CEO, aimClear
Where you go to laugh: My Facebook feed.
Where you go for creative inspiration: Not the Internet. I like to travel, fine wine and James Beard Award-winning restaurants. I do use Yelp a lot to collect restaurants around the world.
Where you go for industry/search news: I read the daily SearchCap in Search Engine Land every day. I’ve been training aimClear from this incredible roundup for four years.
It’s one of the only ones I take by email, so I don’t miss it before it cycles off into SEL Premium-users-only land. I also read:
- Search Engine Watch
- My own team’s blog posts on aimClear Blog
- Search Engine Roundtable
- And I love Danny Sullivan’s stuff (everywhere)
Where you go to read others’ research: The posts discovered on the Search Engine Land SearchCap.
Where you go for personal fulfillment: Not the Internet.
Catch up with Marty on Twitter @aimClear.
Jonathon Colman, Information/Content Strategy, REI
Where you go to get a laugh:
- XKCD: Humor with a classical romanticism that’s disrupted by tech and code.
- The Oatmeal: Home-grown in Seattle, most folks don’t know that the artist is a co-founder of SEOmoz.
- TheOnion.com: A staple for over a decade; no one does satire better.
- PhDcomics.com: I’m in grad school!
Where you go to get creative: Outside.
Where you go to get news:
- The Dish (Andrew Sullivan): A sane, rational conservative who’s supporting Obama.
- FiveThirtyEight (Nate Silver): Best election forecasts and statistical modeling you can find.
- Memeorandum.com: Round-up of all things politics.
- Wonkblog (Ezra Klein): Approachable, engaging breakdown of domestic policy and economics.
Where you go for research people share:
- SlideShare: My first stop every morning.
- Twitter: My next stop.
Where you go for personal interests:
You can catch Jonathon at JonathonColman.org.
Aaron Wall, CEO, SEO Book
Where you go to laugh: Sometimes I watch cartoons like Top Cat and South Park. We have DVDs and Netflix. And then some stuff is on YouTube, too. The comments on YouTube videos are quite amazing in an oh-man-is-Idiocracy-true sort of way.
There are also loads of laughs to be had via links shared on IM with friends and chatting with my wife about various things. We both play games sometimes, too.
As a marketer, reality has a lot of comedy embedded in it, as we are constantly exposed to media and analyzing it.
Where you go for creative inspiration: I like looking at things like Victorian advertising cards, trading cards and small toys like Kinder Surprise, Lego and Nanoblocks. I like them for a reminder of childhood, a snapshot of history and the ability to take pictures of things to put in blog posts.
In terms of web stuff, a lot of success is just applying one concept from one market to another. Some things are shared in our forums in terms of trends and shifts (or even highlighting articles about the history of various markets), some things bubble up while searching, some bubble up through social channels like Twitter.
Where you go for industry/search news: Typically a lot of big issues either show up in our forums, on Techmeme, in Search Engine Land’s daily newsletter or on Twitter.
I also have a bunch of RSS feeds on iGoogle and maybe look at that a couple times a week. I don’t always keep up with Twitter, but if I skip it for a while I try to read all the posts John Andrews makes.
Where you go to read others’ research: I like to read nonfiction books like:
- “The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires“
- “A Thousand Years of Non-Linear History“
- “Debt: The First 5,000 Years“
I think a lot of web content suffers from a bias toward immediacy, and books are a good compliment.
I also like to read about finance stuff:
Where you go for personal interests: Hard to believe with how chubby I am, but now I try to exercise daily and listen to podcasts (like This American Life) or music when I do. Outside of listening to podcasts, when I am away from the computer, in most cases I generally don’t use a cell phone or try to bring the Web with me.
You can catch up with Aaron at SEOBook.com.
Lisa Barone, VP of Strategy, Overit Media
Where you go to get a laugh:
- YouTube: A constant source of funny kid videos, animals doing adorable things, or people falling down and getting hurt.
- Dooce: One of the best storytellers on the Web, with the battle scars to prove it.
- Various Twitter accounts: @dr_pete, @netmeg and @RedHeadWriting are all people who come to mind as personal favorites. I appreciate people who can make me laugh.
Where you go for creative inspiration: Thx, thx, thx is a thank-you note for the day, and is always good for a laugh or to get your mind going in a different direction. She hasn’t updated since July, though, which makes me fear she may be stopping. I hope not. I’d cry.
“Cool” feed: It’s a collection of things deemed “cool”. I don’t remember where I grabbed this from, but it quite honestly houses everything awesome or funky you need to know about on the Web. Sometimes I’ll use it for content, other times it’s good tweeting material to get people talking.
Where you go for industry/search news:
Between those three I have a good mix of information I should know.
Where you go to read others’ research:
- eMarketer’s Recent Articles: eMarketer is awesome about posting other people’s research, which puts it in one convenient spot for me to find.
- Nielson Wire: I feel like a lot of people aren’t reading this feed. You should be.
Where you go for personal fulfillment: I get off the Internet. I go workout, or I go home and spend time with my boyfriend and friends. I think too many people rely on the Internet to find fulfillment or validation. Don’t forget your outside life.
Virginia Nussey, Social Editor, Bruce Clay, Inc.
Where you go to laugh: If I’m laughing, there’s a good chance I’m on Facebook. This may lead me to YouTube or BuzzFeed or that dirty, dirty Tosh.0 blog. I follow in insane number of accounts on Twitter so when I dip in there’s always something different and interesting popping up there.
Where you go for creative inspiration: As far as launching points for my own blogging, Hacker News is a starting point to get thinking in fresh ways about website functionality, entrepreneurialism and business issues, as well as get different perspectives about top tech companies like Google and Apple than what you usually hear from the search community.
I also like the American Express OPEN Forum emails for stories about innovative things businesses are doing in online branding and advertising.
Where you go for industry/search news: Monday, Wednesday and Friday, FM Signal emails me analysis on marketing and tech news. Media maven John Battelle’s possy comb over the stories in our field and identify emerging themes.
The news is examined in context of trends in marketing and societal communications. While I look for news in many places, here I get the background needed to understand how it fits into the larger momentum of technology, such as its effect on how brands and humans communicate.
When I’m actively looking for news, I’ll type “Search Engine Land”, “Mashable”, “TechCrunch” or “NYT Bits Blog” into my address bar.
Where you go to read others’ research: I trust research done by the recognized top-tier: comScore, ClickZ, Google, Microsoft, SEMPO, MarketingProfs, Content Marketing Institute, SEOmoz, Bill Slawski, Aaron Wall, David Mihm, Marty Weintraub …
Where you go for personal interests: My fashion sites are where my brain first goes for personal time off. I’m hooked up with Refinery29 in my inbox, my Facebook feed and Twitter. They’re my No. 1 because they’re light reading and photo slideshows that cover fashion in several extremely accessible and highly applicable ways.
Emails are city-focused and share events like art or store openings and sales, and interviews with local style starlets and celebs. Beyond the city-specific, they keep me up on trend alerts for clothes, hair and makeup and DIY tutorials for manicures, accessories and home decor.
Then for high brow fashion editorials, I check up on Fashion Gone Rogue; for tabloid trash I’m type-in traffic for Daily Mail; for national and world news I get the Afternoon Update from NYTimes; for neat science it’s emails from New Scientist; and for nature and culture it’s NatGeo in my Facebook feed.
Find Virginia here on the blog or @VirginiaNussey on Twitter.
Jessica Lee, Content Manager, Bruce Clay, Inc.
Where I go to get a laugh:
- I go to HappyPlace.com to laugh at the irony of reality.
- And of course, The Oatmeal. My first taste of Matt’s work was “How a Web Design Goes Straight to Hell.” I was hooked ever since.
- FunnyorDie.com (co-founded by Will Ferrell) has some pretty hilarious stuff. I’m kinda obsessed with the “Drunk History” series.
- My friends on Facebook; their collective comedic genius is amazing.
Where I go to get creative: For me, nothing sparks creativity more than being out in the wilderness. I’ve come up with some of my best ideas on long hikes surrounded by natural beauty. And traveling, which I don’t do enough of in my opinion. In short, life experiences and getting up and moving is my greatest source of creativity.
Online, I go to:
- TED talks: These talks breathe life into stale topics, and allow me to look at something from a new perspective.
- Ignite events: I love the format of Ignite – 5 minutes, 20 slides. It’s so easy to digest, and impactful at the same time.
- Pinterest is a source of inspiration to me. I often get lost in the pictures of far-off places I’d love to visit or the endless ideas for interior design.
- I like ColorSchemeDesigner.com to experiment with color palettes.
- PicMonkey is also a fun place to experiment. Any ol’ boring photo can become a creative work of art — for free!
Where I go to get news: Search Engine Land, its SearchCap and the Marketing Day roundup. Also, my Twitter feed is a great place to find stuff, even thought it can be a bit of an echo chamber.
As for what’s going on in the world, conversations with friends and family keep me informed. You know it’s bad when you’re so consumed with Web marketing issues that it becomes your “current events.” Then I talk to people and I’m like, “Oh yeah, that election thingy is coming up.”
Where I go to read others’ research: I follow the Content Marketing Institute for all things content-related to gauge the pulse of that particular segment of the industry. Econsultancy is a good resource for Web marketing research. HubSpot does a lot of cool things, too, and I use Google Scholar search to find interesting studies on various topics.
Where I go for personal interests: I’m a huge animal advocate, so I follow the orgs I support. A Humane Nation by Wayne Pacelle of The Humane Society of the United States, and Animal Place on Facebook are a couple I keep up with.
I’m also fascinated by people and their stories. Humans of New York on Facebook is an awesome fix for this.
And you know where to catch me, right? Here on the blog or @BzzContent on Twitter.
Bryan Eisenberg — Author, Speaker, Marketer
I guess I have gotten really lazy since I found Zite for my iPad.
I get most of my laughs, news and personal interest from the category of topics I set up there.
I’ve been going to LinkedIn app lately to see more of what people are sharing.
And getting creative comes from spending time with my kids!
You can find Bryan at BryanEisenberg.com.
Do you have a reading list you love and want to share with us? Please share your resources with us in the comments below and tell us why you love them so much.