A Compendium of Great Writers: Following Neil Patel’s Better Blogger Advice


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Anne-Marie Hays

Written by: Anne-Marie Hays | Best Company Editorial Team

Last Updated: February 24th, 2020

man drinking coffee at a table while reading a book

In a blog titled "How to Become a Better Blog Writer in 30 Days," SEO godfather Neil Patel says,

"If you want to write better blog posts, then you MUST read other great writers inside and outside your industry. It's one of the most vital blog writing tips you need to memorize and put into action.

The books, journals, and blogs that you'll read may not be closely-connected to your topic (e.g., lead generation), but you're training your brain to think outside of its comfort zone and give you more great ideas. In turn? You'll be better equipped to write a great blog post.

The truth is that if you don't read great writing, you don't really know how to do it — and that successful blog that you dream of will evade you."

For new bloggers or people new to content marketing, weeding out the good writers from the bad can often be difficult. We asked marketers, bloggers, and writers for suggestions of "great writers" that budding content marketers can read and emulate. Here are their recommendations:


"Ahrefs blog — it's all geared around SEO and content as a foundation to a good strategy. I like this for content because it's not just about the content. It's about great writing and proper structure to ensure your content is getting read. They dive into lots of SEO stuff on the blog, but reading their posts and writing style gives you a great idea of what industry leading content should look like. I personally get lots of tips from them because they have access to data on large scales that the average person doesn't, so you can always learn something interesting from their posts." — Brad Ormsby, Founder and CEO of Colorstone Marketing

"BiggerPockets is one of the leading blogs for real estate investing which covers all possible topics related to this matter. The blog publishes a couple of new articles every day, thus being always up to date. One of the best features of this blog is that it features a large number of writers with different expertise and style to fit the needs of every content writer looking for inspiration. When I first started writing about real estate, BiggerPockets was one of the sources where I was always going for reliable information presented in a way accessible to just about anyone." — Daniela Andreevska, Marketing Director at Mashvisor

Content Marketing Institute
"Content Marketing Institute — the name says it all. This is an excellent blog to follow for content marketing. They discuss everything from telling stories within your content to getting more shares from your content. If you just read their daily posts, you'll not only learn about the topic but also get a feel for what high level conversational writing is supposed to look like. I've personally learned quite a bit about writing conversationally and keeping points concise in my posts." — Ormsby

"Their posts are all highly professional and focused on getting ROI from your content. If you're interested in learning how to not only write like the pros but also make money from your posts, then you should check them out. Their posts are heavily text oriented, usually with only one photo which shows that you don't need all the glitz and glam to get excellent results from your blog." — Ormsby

Searchengine Journal
"SearchEngineJournal.com is a great source to learn more about the latest digital marketing trends that are data-centric. Their articles are informative and concise, and their writers and contributors share expertise and tips I have used and will continue to use on behalf of my agency and our clients." — Holly Rollins, President of 10xdigital


Andy Crestodina: Orbit Media
"Orbit Media's blog gets my vote as an indispensable resource for content marketers, particularly posts by its co-founder Andy Crestodina.

Andy's posts are well-researched and equally well-written. Andy's writing style is concise and to the point with little fluff. He addresses common topics from a unique angle which makes it always interesting to read." — Stephen Jeske, Content Strategist, MarketMuse

Ann Smarty
"For how-to posts, nobody writes better than Ann Smarty. She mixes detailed explanations with screenshots to illustrate her points…and it is clear that she put tons of research into every post before she even begins to write. Ann also makes good use of text sculpting. That is, she uses bullet lists. She also uses one-sentence paragraphs. Readers are never assaulted by huge blocks of text, one following the other. This is an important skill for any kind of writing. How-to posts are not really my thing, although sometimes I have to write them – especially ghostwriting for others – so Ann's work is a great inspiration and her posts serve as great examples to emulate." — David Leonhardt, President, THGM Writers

Brene Brown
"Brene Brown writes about shame and vulnerability, which are difficult enough to think about, much less WRITE about. Yet she addresses it simply, clearly, and in a way that allows the reader to feel safe. It might look easy, but you know it's not if you've ever had to write anything about a sensitive topic.

Networking (my topic) can be a sensitive topic for many people who feel like they don't have the "right" personality for it, so I'm learning a lot from Brene on how to make people feel normal and how to address their fears." — Beth Bridges, The Networking Motivator

Brian Dean: Backlinko
"Brian Dean understands how to write for the web. He uses short concise sentences, asks questions throughout, and like other great writers, writes at a middle school reading level which Contently has shown increases shareability and improves the user experience.

Writers should pay attention to Brian's use of line breaks.

Rather than writing in typical paragraph blocks, Brian breaks his articles up into short sentences followed by line breaks which makes his content feel much more conversational.

Brian also typically builds context and intrigue for his articles by sharing a story in the intros of his articles.

Brian's content feels like you're having a casual conversation with him. Combined with his use of stories, I've been able to learn from his writing style to create content on otherwise "boring" topics, and create something interesting, easy to read, and shareable." — Kevin Ho, VP of Marketing, Wishpond

Brian Solis
"Brian Solis is an award-winning author, blogger, marketing analyst and keynote speaker who's written seven books, including Engage! — a guide for creating online content that builds loyalty and trust for your brand. Solis writes his blog posts in first person, so if you like his books you're able to get more content straight from him on the blog." — Tyler Horvath, CEO, TytonMedia.com

Heidi Cohen
"Heidi Cohen is a blogger and speaker who built her marketing career at well-known brands and has developed actionable guides for newbies and experts. Grounded in established marketing fundamentals, she provides insights on social media, content marketing, and mobile marketing." —  Horvath

John Jantsch
"John Jantsch is the author of several bestsellers, including Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Referral Engine, and more. He coined the term "duct tape marketing" to define useful, simple, and affordable marketing that is effective at solving a wide array of problems. The blog covers all things marketing, from SEO and mobile SEO to social media and lead generation." — Horvath

Jon Dykstra: Fat Stacks
"I recommend the Fat Stacks blog written by Jon Dykstra. I recommend reading and following his content because he writes in a conversational tone that is easy to follow, and he starts his posts with interesting stories and facts that draw you in. Not only are his posts easy to read, they are chock full of SEO and website growth tips that actually work and are based on his own experiments." — Stacy Caprio, Founder, Her.CEO

Joshua Hardwick: Ahrefs
"I'd suggest that for anyone who utilizes content marketing as a means of promoting their product or service should check out the Ahrefs Blog where the main writer is Joshua Hardwick. What's great about the content they put out is how informative their articles are. They also dive deep into the topic and share their expertise in the most digestible way. Also, they're great at promoting their own product between the lines of regular content. That also shows how good of a job they do when it comes to topic selection, and that's really important when you are just starting out — not to write on a certain topic because its shareable if you don't have a deep understanding of it.

I always enjoy their blog posts, guides, how-tos, and I believe any new writer, especially in a tech industry will benefit from checking out their blog!" — Jakub Kliszczak, Marketing Specialist, CrazyCall

Frank Sonnenberg
"Frank Sonnenberg's bio mentions being named one of "America's Top 100 Thought Leaders." His posts read like a thought leader's. They are informal, written to the reader, yet professional in every way. He uses plain language, targeting a small business audience. Frank sculpts his text very well. He uses bullet points, numbered lists, and short sentences, and also uses colored headings (a bit more than I'm willing to do). Frank's work is just a little less personal than I feel like writing, but a great example for me when I am ghostwriting for others. A lot of my clients like an easy, informal writing style, but as a ghostwriter, I am rarely in a position to get too personal on their behalf." — Leonhardt

Rohit Bhargava
"Marketing expert Rohit Bhargava is the founder of the Non-Obvious Company, which provides workshops for business teams. He's a Wall Street Journal best selling author of five business books and a professor of marketing at Georgetown University. His blog is laden with expert knowledge on brand humanity, marketing psychology, consumer behavior, marketing strategies, social media, content marketing, and how culture and trends affect the way businesses should do marketing." — Horvath

Ross Hudgens at Siege Media
"Ross Hudgens at siegemedia.com is a really great writer and a fantastic example of how to write compelling copy.

As an industry expert, he goes into real depth with each article, sharing his own opinions and methods as well as analysing others'. The most compelling thing about his style is that it's a relaxed, easygoing tone, but the text is still full of relevant data and examples. It's a fantastic balance of being easy to read, but full of detail and depth. It's made us realise that great content has to be comprehensive, as you only create real value for your audience when you get into the details of your subject. Without the depth, you're really just writing for you, not for them. " — Sam Orchard, Creative Director, edgeoftheweb.co.uk

Ross Tavendale: SEMrush
"I am a BIG fan of Ross Tavendale's column on SEMrush.

It's clear that he knows his stuff, and he knows how to communicate it to others well. It might be a stretch, but based on his background and current mastery of SEO concepts Ross strikes me as the David Ogilvy of search engine optimization.

Ross cuts through the noise by sharing truly novel insights about digital marketing analysis (usually on a tactical level).

Ross has mostly helped me discover ways to tactically improve my content, but he also regularly covers techniques to come up with new and exciting ideas for content." — Tony Mastri, Marketing Specialist, MARION Marketing Agency

Roy Ackerman: Cerebrations
"Roy Ackerman is an unlikely thought leader, with few followers on any social platform. But he writes thought leadership just the same. He talks about business and finance, as well as about politics and social issues. He often writes from the perspective of his personal life, including his Jewish heritage, as well as from his experiences with clients. It is on this last point that he serves as a great example to other bloggers. He reminds his readers that he has clients. He reminds us of what he does, and that he does it well. And he does so in a way that is completely without boasting or selling. I really need to remember to blog about client experiences more frequently." — Leonhardt

Seth Godin
"Seth Godin is a professional writer who has authored over 18 bestselling books and made a huge splash in the online marketing arena. He teaches The Marketing Seminar, an online course on marketing strategies and tactics. His blog is equipped with free ebooks and videos, as well as how-to posts on writing better content, authentic storytelling, branding, thought leadership, and the psychology of marketing." — Horvath

"After reading Seth Godin's book, Linchpin, early in my career, I have enjoyed the daily insights on his blog.

Seth focuses on concise insights that provoke thought about the real workings of the world (and how they pertain to marketing).

Seth's approach goes against the recent wisdom of content marketing and SEO experts by not writing 1000+ word blogs to gain visibility.

Godin's insights help me improve my introspection as a person and marketer, and guides me to search for new opportunities daily." — Mastri

"Pay special attention to how Seth Godin (especially his books) writes BRIEFLY. He addresses just one idea, one topic at a time. Too often, we try to do too many things with one article or story. Check out how short his posts are at his blog." — Beth Bridges, The Networking Motivator

Seth Williams: REtipster
"The REtipster blog is written by Seth Williams, who is an experienced real estate investor. The best thing about this blog is that all the information, advice, and tips come from the personal experience of the writer, which makes it very reliable and relatable. The articles cover a wide range of topics from real estate investing as well as reviews of major products and services in the industry, which are always detailed and completely honest." — Andreevska

Sonia Simone: Copyblogger
"Sonia is the heart and soul of Copyblogger, which is a fantastic resource I have been turned onto for a while now. What I find especially helpful is her ability to break down practical insights for content marketing as a whole. With 'content marketing' being used as a catch-all phrase that can lack substance, Sonia keeps the strategies simple and actionable. This simplicity does not sacrifice depth of thought, so not only do you receive strategies you can use, but also the insight as to why they're effective. Also, she has a great wit that comes through, which helps lighten up potentially dry, boring topics. Her Sonia at Copyblogger email blasts are a welcome addition to my inbox. Any writer will benefit from her wealth of knowledge, easy to digest style, and direct messaging." — Shaan Patel, Founder and CEO, Prep Expert

Stephen King: On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
"Obviously Stephen King is a very prominent fiction writer that most of us know, and in this (relatively thin) book, he discussed various techniques and principles that we can apply on our content — even if we are essentially writing non-fiction

This is, as mentioned, a book about fiction writing, so we will need to differentiate between principles and techniques that are specifically for fiction, and those we can apply on our content marketing work. (Thankfully, this is not very difficult). The book is written in a light, rather playful manner where King used anecdotes and illustrations to explain various techniques.

Essentially content marketing is about telling a (good) story, and this book especially helped in that aspect. As a non-English native writer, this book taught me various techniques and industry secrets in English writing, for example, to avoid using adjectives unless it's absolutely necessary. Many techniques we can apply, and a very fun read overall. Also, I guess most of us writers always have that dream to write a successful novel, and this book will help in that regard." — Steve Kurniawan, Nine Peaks Media

Steve Pavlina
Steve Pavlina covers various subjects in his blog from relationship to health advice, but he's especially famous with his productivity lessons. In his blog, you get two things (or more, if you are willing to read his other sections): productivity tips (a thing a lot of content creators are struggling with), and an example of good blog writing.

It's important to note that blog writing requires different approaches than for example, writing a book. Steve Pavlina's blog is an example of a well-structured blog that is designed to engage online readers, so we can use various techniques like how he used bullet points, when he uses bold text to emphasize things, and so on. Also, his productivity lessons are useful to help us structure our work ethic and avoid procrastination.

I often struggle with productivity in general, especially when I have a lot of projects and deadlines at hand. This blog has helped me overcome this subject.

Besides that, there are many practical examples we can learn from this blog on how to write an engaging blog post, how we should use images and videos, and so on." — Kurniawan

Theodore Schleifer at Recode
"One of the best blogs focusing on tech news, and especially Silicon Valley news, is Vox's Recode. It has plenty of quality writers, but I'd recommend reading articles written by Theodore Schleifer, a Senior Reporter on that site.

Tech market today is one of the fastest changing and evolving fields. It's a challenge to find writers that are able to comprehensively write about those topics. What's really impressive with Mr. Schleifer is the attention to detail and the way he concisely and clearly presents the financial aspect of tech companies.

Mr. Schleifer writes relatively long and well-researched articles that aren't hard for laymen to understand. They're backed by facts, and you can see by the author's eloquence that he was involved in covering politics. His articles are based on facts but also centered around stories that will hold the interest and attention of readers.

Reading the articles published on Recode and by Mr. Schleifer has helped me orient myself in this large industry. The news and topics that the author delivers are useful because they're educational, unique and very perceptive." — Jeremy Rose, Director, Certa Hosting

Vicki Batman
"For a highly personal style, Vicki Batman has it down to a tee, blending personal stories and self-promotion. She talks a lot about things she likes. This is what readers want from authors: to get to know them, as well as their books. Many of her posts feel like she's just sat down across the table at the diner, and has something to share.

Vicki writes short, crisp blog posts that get to the point. She doesn't need to sculpt her text, although she's not afraid to use one-line sentences and ample illustrations.

I rarely write quite that informally, although I find her a great inspiration for setting the stage for some of my longer posts in a more personal way. And I do find her to be a great example when writing less business-oriented posts." — Leonhardt


A note from the author: We want this to be a living document to help new content marketers, copywriters, and more to find ‘great writers' in their industry and out. If you have a blogger, reporter, or writer that has been influential to you within your content niche, drop me a line at [email protected], explaining your suggested blog/writer and what takeaways we should look for. All suggestions are welcome.

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