A writer makes a website—a website doesn’t make a writer.
The byline on every article, infographic, political musing, and blog is priceless. Behind that name is a blood-and-guts human confident enough to attach his or her name on a thought, insight, or perspective that is going to be devoured and judged—and potentially assaulted—instantly by a largely anonymous readership with an itchy mouse finger.
I’m guessing if I asked you who your favorite online writer was, you would have to take a few minutes to give me an answer. I’d also be willing to bet that your reply would be something to the tune of “Oh, I just read everyone who is on [insert trendy website here].” And on some level that’s perfectly acceptable. While we all identify strongly with certain websites, our devotion to a particular online content creator might be lesser.
On the other hand, it’s horrifying. In the vast expanse of the Internet there are a treasure trove of online talents that aren’t popular simply because they haven’t landed on a well known website or no one has turned us on to them yet. Or worse, a few of you out there may have been convinced by crusty, print-is-king Luddites that there is “nothing good on the Internet.”
“So who is worth reading on the Internet?” you ask. “Where can I find good content?”
Great questions! I’m glad you asked them.
Lately, I’ve been ensorcelled by Charles P. Pierce’s “The Politics Blog” on Esquire.com. There is something so brash, honest, and electric about his writing style that I find enthralling. Not to mention he thinks about politics in a way that the rest of us should adopt immediately—regardless if you’re a liberal or a conservative. He also employs his wit to write about sports on Grantland.com. I could read his thoughts on baseball all day long.
If you spend any amount of time watching television, you must read Alan Sepinwall’s “What’s Alan Watching” blog on Hitfix.com. There are times I actually look forward to his episode reviews more than the television show itself. Without him, I might not have indulged in the awesomeness of The Wire, Deadwood, or Friday Night Lights. His commenters are usually just as insightful as he is, which only adds to the value of his presence on the Internet. Recently, I haven’t totally agreed with his points on a couple of shows I follow, but getting that conflicting perspective helps me ponder and clarify my views which is what good writing—and discussions in general—is supposed to do.
Here are some of my colleague’s favorite online writers and reasons why their content is stimulating, innovative, challenging, and just plain good:
Clive Thompson is a Wired columnist and general weirdo, but brilliant.
Tamar Weinberg is an actual social media guru.
My essential daily read is John Gruber at Daring Fireball.
This dude is an excellent wordsmith and offers an articulate and sober—though decidedly Apple-centric—view of the technology industry.
If you are interested in tablets, phones, app development, tech trends or the occasional digression about Stanley Kubrick or James Bond, Gruber is definitely worth a click.
Amy Odell, former editor of New York Magazine’s The Cut fashion blog—and newish editor of Buzzfeed’s Shift blog—is a favorite of mine. She’s a witty, often acerbic writer with a voice so big it booms. And she always tells the truth as she sees it, even when it means inhabiting an unpopular stance.
And NO ONE writes celebrity fashion copy like the Fug Girls, who manage to straddle the line between sympathetic and snarky when writing about Lady Gaga’s pantsless-ness.
Brian Clark is a content chemist. Not only does execute near perfect SEO and provide a great user experience, he creates headlines and content that you can’t resist reading. In my opinion, he has serving up exactly the information that content marketers are looking for.
Seth Godin takes a different approach to content. His writing on spreading viral ideas and products is second to none. His articles always, always, always inspire me to think differently.
Danny Sullivan reports on Google and SEO and even started a search conference called SMX—I met him at SMX East in 2011 playing arcade games in a bar, so I’m inclined to like him. He has a dry sense of humor that is welcome in a world of analytics and technical mumbo jumbo.
What writers have you hanging on every last word?