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12/08/2016 11:46 AM IST | Updated 12/08/2016 8:31 PM IST

8 Small-Town Writers You Should Follow in 2016

So you live in a town where cows outnumber people. Does that mean you can’t be a successful writer? Of course not!

These 8 writers prove that you don’t need to be from a big city to be a big-time writer. 

Read below to find out who made the list and discover their best tips for writing success.

Cheryl Snapp Conner, Founder of SnappConner PR and Content University (TM)

1. Cheryl Snapp Conner @CherylSnapp

Location: South Jordan, Utah

Population: 59,366

Day job: Founder of SnappConner PR and Content University (TM)

Expertise: Public Relations Strategy, Thought Leadership, Entrepreneurship

Why follow Cheryl? In addition to founding her very ownContent University (TM), Cheryl is a seasoned Forbes writer who has given many renowned writers their start. What sets Cheryl apart from other writers is not only her knowledge of PR and communications, but also her willingness to reply to nearly all of her reader’s comments.

Cheryl’s best advice for writers: My biggest piece of advice would be to write with the interest of your readers in mind. It seems so basic, but for emerging writers, it is so hard to do.”

Cheryl’s most-shared piece: A Year Ago He Didn’t Write, Now This Sales VP Has Authored A Best-Selling Book 

Saul Gitlin, Principal at Gitlin Global Consulting

2. Saul Gitlin 冀碩臨 @ChinaSaul 

Location: White Plains, New York

Population: 57,866

Day job: Principal at Gitlin Global Consulting

Expertise: Marketing Strategy, Strategic Planning, Corporate Communications

Why follow Saul? Great writing is timeless, right? That’s what makes this writer stand out. For example, Saul’s Huffington Post piece on the first reported AIDS death in China is still used as a rallying call by activists, seven years after it was published. Did I mention he’s also an accomplished travel writer? It’s these diverse storytelling skills that have propelled him up the corporate ladder and made him a small-town writer to follow.

Saul’s best advice for writers: “Based on my global, multicultural, and multilingual background, my focus is always on interesting stories and commentary detailing the intersection and interaction of disparate cultures - a theme that has relevance for global business, politics, popular culture, and leisure discovery.”

Saul’s most-shared piece:A Long Weekend in France Without Leaving North America (Really!)

Nathan Ellering, Content Marketing Lead at CoSchedule

3. Nathan Ellering @njellering

Location: Fargo, North Dakota

Population: 113,658

Day job: Content Marketing Lead at CoSchedule

Expertise: Copywriting, Marketing Communications, Public Relations

Why follow Nathan? Despite graduating college only six years ago, Nathan has the writing chops of a 20-year veteran. His ridiculously practical marketing tips on his company’s blog has this writer waiting for his posts like a dog waiting for his next meal.

Nathan’s advice for writers: “Define a standard of performance for the content you publish.

At CoSchedule, I’ve implemented a process so everything I write matches five pillars of excellence:

  • Topic my audience will love

  • Keyword-driven so my audience can find my writing when they need it most

  • Research-based to back up all claims

  • Comprehensiveness to cover every detail with actionable advice

  • Email optimized to turn traffic into subscribers”

Nathan’s most-shared piece: 105 Types of Content to Fill Up Your Content Calendar

Kevan Lee, Director of Marketing at Buffer

4. Kevan Lee @kevanlee

Location: Boise, Idaho

Population: 214,237

Day job: Director of Marketing at Buffer

Expertise: Blogging, Social Media, Social Media Marketing

Why follow Kevan? Kevan’s midas touch turns nearly everything he writes into content gold. Don’t believe me? In the past six months, he’s written 10 articles with over 1,000 shares each! What makes Kevan even more impressive? He takes the time to share his best actionable advice on content marketing via his blog. What a guy!

Kevan’s best advice for writers:Delete your first sentence. Chances are, your post will be just fine without it. Maybe it’ll be even better. This is one of the top tips for essay writing and direct mail campaigns.”

Kevan’s most-shared piece: The Social Media Manager’s Daily, Weekly, Monthly Checklist 

Brian Dean, Founder, CEO and SEO Blogger at Backlinko

5. Brian Dean @Backlinko

Location: Originally from Rhode Island

Population:1M (the smallest state in the U.S.)

Day job: Founder, CEO and SEO Blogger at Backlinko

Expertise: SEO, Content Marketing, Link Building

Why follow Brian? Brian Dean is the godfather of SEO blogging. What makes Brian unique? Oh, well he just created one of the world’s most popular methods for getting high-quality backlinks. Maybe you’ve heard of it. It’s called the Skyscraper Technique and it’s advocated by content marketers around the world.

Brian’s best advice for writers: “Write short sentences. Long sentences may work offline. But they definitely don’t work online. So the next time that you edit your writing, cut out the fat. See if you can turn once sentence into two (or three). You’ll probably find that your sentences are easier to read. And you may even see that your time on site and bounce rate improve.”

Brian’s most-shared piece: SEO Tools: The Complete List (153 Free and Paid Tools) 

Aaron Orendorff, Content Strategist at iconiContent

6. Aaron Orendorff @iconiContent

Location: Klamath Falls, Oregon

Population: 21,207

Day job: Content Strategist at iconiContent

Expertise: Copywriting, Editing, Content Strategy

Why follow Aaron? This college instructor turned content strategist is the Walter White of content marketing, minus the meth. Over the past decade he’s built a writing empire rivaling that of Heisenberg, contributing to nearly every major publication on the planet including the Huffington Post, Inc., and Entrepreneur, to name a few.   

Aaron’s best advice for writers: “All powerful writing – all powerful content for that matter – starts with your audience and not you. This is uber true online, where there’s so much “noise” it’s insanely difficult to stand out. By researching your audience – from shallow quantitative research like, “What does Buzzsumo say are the most popular topics and post via social on the sites they already love?” to deep qualitative research like, “What are people loving and hating in their reviews and comments on Amazon and YouTube?” – you can actually crawl inside their heads.”

Aaron’s most-shared piece: Clinton vs. Trump: 18 CROs Tear Down the Highest Stakes Marketing Campaigns in US History

Erin La Rosa, Deputy Editorial Director at BuzzFeed

7. Erin La Rosa @SideOfGinger

Location: Originally from Belleair, Florida

Population: 3,933

Day job: Deputy Editorial Director at BuzzFeed

Expertise: Editing, Storytelling, Social Media

Why follow Erin? Erin is the best ginger writer on this list. In all seriousness, she has a razor sharp wit and is so entrenched in pop culture that she’s become a bit of a pop icon herself. Her tweets are so damn funny, they’d make Ron Swanson giggle like a little school girl.     

Erin’s best advice for writers: “My best writing tip is to actually sit down and just do it. Then do it again, and again, and again, and eventually you will get better at it, and maybe even great at it. But you can’t make mistakes, improve, and learn, unless you actually sit down and write the words in the first place.”

Erin’s most-shared piece: 17 Female Friendship Truths, As Told By Amy Poehler And Tina Fey 

Sophorn Chhay, Inbound Marketing Specialist at Trumpia

 8. Sophorn Chhay @inboundo_co

Location: Lake Elsinore, California

Population: 55,288

Day job: Inbound Marketing Specialist at Trumpia

Expertise: SEO, Social Media Marketing, Online Marketing

Why follow Sophorn? Great writers get results. In Sophorn’s case, he’s helped his company increase leads by over 400% by writing helpful articles and getting them featured in the most influential online publications, including Business.com and Business2Community. Now that’s writing that drives results!    

Sophorn’s best advice for writers: “With so many articles written on any subject, you need to figure out how to be a disruptor.

  1. You need to be different. Choose a subject from a refreshing new angle or even use a gimmick to grab their attention.

  2. Understand your target audience’s pain points and figure out how to solve their problem with a unique strategy.

  3. Understand social triggers. Each piece of content needs to include these social triggers that make your readers want to share it to their social communities.”

Sophorn’s most-shared piece:Why Mobile Marketing #Advertising Spend Is Increasing

 

That’s great! Now what?

 

Now that you’ve read the article, follow this 3-step process for quickly improving your writing:

  1. Follow these writers online and read their most-shared pieces.

  2. Analyze what makes them a success.

  3. Apply the learnings from #2 to your writing. Voila!

 

Did I forget anyone from the list? Shout about it in the comments section.

 

About the Author - Joe Escobedo

Joe Escobedo, Director of Digital Marketing at Happy Marketer and FutureMarketer

Location: Originally from Midwest City, Oklahoma

Population: 56,756

Day job: Director of Digital Marketing at Happy Marketer & FutureMarketer

Expertise: Inbound Marketing, Content Marketing, Lipsyncing

My best advice for writers: “Writing accounts for only 10% of a successful piece of content. Proper research and distribution make up the other 90%.”

My most-shared piece:How This Marketer Closed A Six-Figure Deal Thanks To AdWords Training







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