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My top articles of 2017 (so far)
Posted by Samantha Steele

Our content strategist shares her top seven articles from around the web of 2017.

Good content has always piqued people’s interest and today it’s the engine powering the internet. The surge in popularity of long form content - articles over a thousand words - proves the mantra ‘content is king’ has been right since the time of Chaucer, though good content isn’t limited to long articles.  

Content and wordsmithery are my passions and as Spitfire Inbound’s Content Strategist my job is to develop content strategies for clients, as well as commission, write and review articles. This a terribly exciting time to be in content production and I’m reading excellent content from around the web for inspiration and guidance.

Here are some of my favourite articles from 2017 (so far) and why I think they’re worth the read - some for the writing style, others for how they handled a complex topic, and some are simply excellent pieces of content. I hope they inspire you as much as they inspired me!

Bad fad – Ruby Tandoh on how clean eating turned toxic  

This excellently written article takes a nuanced subject with many different people and personalities and turns into an interesting trends article that taps into some fundamentally human characteristics.
 

There are many toxic layers to the wellness phenomenon. It is no coincidence that the faces of wellness are unfailingly young and thin, overwhelmingly white and all the talk of purity against that backdrop of privilege leaves a rather unsavoury taste in the mouth. 

12 Things About Being A Woman That Women Won't Tell You

This is probably one of my favourite articles, and it’s one of Esquire’s most popular pieces of content ever. A hilarious take on feminist issues, British columnist Caitlin Moran takes down some common misconceptions about feminism in this genuinely funny feature. Humour is what we call a ‘sharing trigger’ and adding it to a serious topic in her jocular colloquialism immediately transforms it into something memorable and fun.

You get feminism. You don't need Tits McGee here to take you through it one more time. So, what I am going to do, instead, is tell you 12 things about women that women are usually too embarrassed to tell you themselves.

Because I am a chronic over-sharer, and incapable of keeping secrets. I'm like that other Deep Throat. The chatty Watergate one. That's the Deep Throat I am.

The first 25 days of Trump have been a zoetrope of galloping despair

Naturally, considering the year started with President Trump’s inauguration, there’ve been some excellent articles written about what’s seems like one calamitous event after another. This one by American columnist Lindy West turned complex politics into an easy-to-digest article, which goes back to the principle expounded in Inbound 2016: complexity mustn’t be dumbed down for your audience, it just needs to be made manageable.

Today, during my morning routine of opening my laptop, clicking on literally anything, and just screaming and screaming, I made the astonishing discovery that Donald Trump has only been president of the United States for about three weeks.

 

Swan Late

This article intrigued me with it’s premise - adult ballet - and grabbed me with it’s opening line: “I discovered I couldn’t dance when I was ten years old.” It weaves touching, relatable, personal details with an interesting history of the dance and interviews. As an inept adult ballerina myself, I loved the writing style and the context added to what could simply have been a personal story.

Rosa tries to remind them of how much they’ve learned and of the rationale behind clean technique, but there is a certain hard reality any late beginner will face, one I struggle with all the time.

‘As an adult learner, starting ballet at age 20-something or 30-something or 40-something, you’re not going to be a professional,” she says, but ‘the beauty of that is that your development is going to be more for yourself and your own fulfillment as opposed to trying to reach an external goal.

 Why pitches are key to great content marketing

As the Content Strategist at Spitfire Inbound, I found this article by content marketing experts, Contently, extremely interesting. It not only inspired me to look to what motivated me to write in my many year’s experience as a journalist, it also helped shape our upcoming content strategy process with clients. We’re trying our hand at harnessing the power of creativity from our talented freelance writer pool, and I think it’s going to add vibrancy to our content going forward.

Go find a six-year-old—preferably a nephew or niece, not some random kid at Whole Foods—and ask them to make up a story. Watch as their eyes light up, how their words jumble together with excitement and wonder. Observe how their arms wave and their fingers spread, as if they’re conjuring a tornado of imagination. Listen as they come up with characters and ideas that you never would’ve thought of yourself.

Then give them an assignment. Tell them what it has to be about. Are they as excited about the story? Is it as imaginative and filled with wonder?

If your nieces and nephews are anything like mine, the answer is probably no. 

Balancing the books: how Waterstones came back from the dead

An excellent example of a case study, this article turns what could be a dry set of facts into a layered article that shows the dips, dives, ins and outs of turning what was once a dying business into a flourishing one. Aside from being very interesting, the detailed facts and numbers add weight to a daring story of resurrection.

With a mixture of tough love and an unshakeable belief in the power of the physical book, which seemed quixotic in the era of e-readers and online discounting, Daunt began to turn things around. He closed underperforming stores and fired 200 booksellers, at the same time as declaring that his managers would be given back responsibility for their own stock, because what sold in Hampstead might not go down well in the Highlands.

One of his boldest moves was to inform publishers that he would no longer do business through sales reps and they could no longer buy window space – which meant turning his back on £27m a year.

 U Up?

The New Yorker has a bold editorial style that comes through in this daring, creative and funny piece that imagines a Whatsapp conversation between the public (personified as the author of this piece) and former American president Barack Obama. With no introduction or conclusion, this is a lovely snapshot into the popular mood with small clues, like punctuation, word choice, cadence and sentence length all adding to the emotional subtext.

“Me: I miss you so bad

Me: Things without you really really suck

Barack: Does someone else have your car keys?

Me: Yes

Barack: Good.

Me: Honestly, sorta seems like you don’t even care”


The wonderful thing about the plethora of content being created is there has been a resurgence of quality writing. What are your favourite features of the moment? Visit our Facebook page and let us know! 

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