Remove the fanfare and most writing advice boils down to read more, write more, and get better feedback.

Let’s talk about that first one. If writing is output, reading is often the most important input. You’ll understand what makes Hemingway’s writing exceptional (or overrated) by reading his books, not from taking his advice. Study your idols; that is a more rewarding and reliable strategy.

Still, a lot can be learned from studying the best books on writing in parallel to studying good writing itself. Here are five unusually good books on writing that will help you put your words to work.

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Unfortunately, most of the available advice on promoting your content is either low-impact or it doesn’t lend itself well to scale.

As your company publication grows so will your audience, which means on-site activities will naturally begin to offer more leverage more often than the majority of what you can do off-site. Taking your time, or your team’s time, away from this work to promote needs to be justified with results.

This is why I’m a bit wary of so called low-effort promotional tips and tricks; it’s not that they won’t work at all, but that you’d usually be better off spending the time exploring a new archetype, conducting a content audit, or working on making your material better.

Don’t get me wrong: I remember the early days and recognize there’s a time when two dozen outreach emails are the only way to scrape and claw your way to your first few readers. But editorial teams with even a modicum of traction need to make their hours count by prioritizing ways to promote content they already have to audiences that already exist.

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Values are a codified way to operate in spite of reasonable alternatives. They describe in no uncertain terms what behavior you need to win and why.

Editorial values are not your style guide. While there may be some overlap between the two regarding how you plan to communicate, the purpose of having values is to choose the actions that will drive your strategy and enable it to succeed.

If there are no “reasonable alternatives” to a specific way to perform, you’re not communicating a value, you’re reciting a platitude. For example, there are many ways for a successful publication to set their personal bar for “koala-tea” content, but no company blog on earth has it as their mission statement to produce absolute shit (sometimes they still do, but villains are the heroes of their own stories).

As such, “write things people like” is not a value; you need to dig deeper.

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When a company increases the cadence of its publishing there’s a risk of the bar dropping lower than a limbo contest.

There’s no substitute for more quality material, but management and marketers often forget you can’t schedule insight, and good ideas need time to prove themselves in practice before they’re ready for the public. Smash cut to overzealous declarations of, “Sure, I’ll have something interesting to say five days a week!” Standards soon vanish just to get the calendar filled.

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This is Part II in a series on creating a culture of writing at your company. To read Part I, click here.

A great content marketing strategy is built on what the company collectively publishes, not what you personally write.

Knowing the difference will stop you from trying to be the lone steward of good stories in your company. Publishing interesting ideas from your colleagues counts all the same; content is an end result, and readers rarely care where it comes from.

During your search for ways to feed the calendar, you’ve probably turned inwards and considered having your teammates publish what they’re working on or thinking about. There’s a potentially high upside in making this happen, and tested ways to reduce the challenge of getting other people’s words fit for game day.

But first, you have to start with why.

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This is Part I in a series on creating a culture of writing at your company. To read Part II, click here.

Your company blog is an extension of the company itself; it’s how you talk to the world. When you look at what you’ve published as a collective, does it feel like you’re doing a good job of representing all the hardworking people who keep the ship afloat?

If you’re most companies, the answer is a firm “No.” That’s a shame, but it doesn’t happen on purpose. Because content is a cost-effective acquisition channel that can and should be measured, it usually turns into the marketing team’s pet project instead of a robust company platform. While every project needs an owner, this can cause teams to miss out on publishing high-impact stories from all across the organization.

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