Build a reference library for 21st century entrepreneurs

Once upon a time, dedicated professionals had volumes of business-oriented books and magazines keeping them in-the-know of current trends and industry standards. These days, most of us have moved our knowledge consumption to the online world, consuming favorite websites and digital information sources instead (which makes the recent demise of Google Reader all the more depressing — I’m still in denial over that one). While it’s true that many of us seek out subject-oriented sites to match our specific areas of expertise, there are a few must-reads in the digital world that all busy professionals can benefit from consuming. Here’s a few essentials to kick off your daily reading — be sure to add them to whichever Google Reader replacement you choose!

  • SEO trends and tips: If you run any kind of online business, you already know SEO can make or break your success. It’s too bad that SEO is a mysterious world to many of us, and since trends and algorithms are constantly changing, it can feel like quite the task to stay up to date. Thankfully, there are a few extremely valuable resources in the blogosphere consistently dispelling myths and outlining best steps. One such goldmine is SEOMoz’s blog. Founded in 2004 by a couple of bona fide marketing experts, SEOMoz has been a trusted source of accurate SEO info and services almost since the concept was first derived. They’re highly respected in the SEO community, and their content is well-written and as up-to-date as it gets in the space.
  • WordPress development: Despite its relative age and shortcomings, WordPress still reigns as the #1 favorite content management system. If WordPress is your CMS of choice, or if you’re looking to get educated on why it’s so popular, bookmark WPMU.org stat. WPMU covers every conceivable WordPress topic, from site building and hosting to in-depth discussions on every last widget and template. Joe Foley of WPMU.org also writes a fortnightly column on the Flippa blog: check out his previous posts!

    Another excellent resource for WordPress development is First Site Guide. First Site Guide is the beginners guide to start, run and grow your online presence. Within the site are dozens of guides, video tutorials, and more, showing you how to start your first website and make sure other people see it.

  • Development Forums: Regardless of which CMS you currently use, you’ll want to find a forum where fellow webmasters and developers congregate to ask questions and offer solutions. SitePoint Forums is a fantastic option. All bias aside (Flippa was spun-out from the SitePoint marketplace in 2009), they have a huge userbase, with active daily posts on topics like social media, development trends, design and layout, content, rich media, and all heavily used programming languages (thread categories include PHP, Javascript & JQuery, CMS/WordPress, Mobile, .NET, Ruby on Rails, Perl & Python, Database & MySQL, XML, and yes, there’s more.) SitePoint is a great place to go when you hit a wall with a programing conundrum; first search the existing threads, as you’ll likely find someone discussing what has stumped you. If not, you can always start a new discussion. Just a warning on this one; it’s easy to get lost in the volumes of posts and topics, so be clear what you’re looking for when you land, or you may whittle down too much precious time in the process. Time well spent, surely, but you have been warned.

  • Marketing: I could not possibly love the HubSpot blog any more than I do. Their articles on inbound marketing are top-notch, and, if you’re paying attention to online marketing, will probably show up several times on your Twitter feed. Neil Patel’s QuickSprout is another favourite: he’s a master of split-testing and creating content that really converts.

So there’s five daily links to help you stay on top of your game in the online space, but it’s obvious this could be a much more robust list. Now it’s your turn: what are some of your favorite sites for business professionals looking for an honest edge?

Photo credit: See-Ming Lee

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