We’re on Break Until January 5! In the Meantime, Check Out My Favorite 10 Stories of 2014

By the time you’re reading this, I’ll have already been on my holiday vacation for 11 days and hopefully haven’t died rafting through Laos or given up all my worldly possessions and joined a monastery after visiting Angkor Wat. (That would make me a pretty terrible content marketer, amirite?)

But at the time I’m writing this, I’m just a few hours until my flight, so I’m reflecting on the past year. Between our two publications, we published over 1,000 pieces in 2014, and while I’m proud of every story we put out there, some were better than others. And if you’re looking for something to do while avoiding your family this holiday season, I’d recommend reading these 10:

7 Keys to Great SEO for Content Marketers (by Dori Fern): A fantastic primer on how content marketers need to view SEO today. A ton of brands and marketers still approach SEO like The O.C. is still on the air, but this will help you avoid big mistakes.

The Business Model That Will ‘Save’ Journalism (by Shane Snow): Geeking out about journalism, media, and marketing with Contently co-founder Shane Snow is one of my favorite pastimes. But right up there with it is editing a 4,000-word epic essay by Shane that traces the entire present and future of an industry. For media geeks everywhere, this piece is a must-read.

The State of Content Marketing Heading Into 2015 (by Jordan Teicher): In late November, we released our end-of-year study, surveying over 600 marketers to capture the state of brand newsrooms and and examine what’s ahead for content marketing in 2015. From budgets to measurement tactics to challenges and frustrations, this write-up paints a fascinating and frank image of the content marketing industry today.

How The New York Times Built Its Content Marketing Machine (by Joe Lazauskas): Yes, I’m vain enough to put my own stories on this list, but this profile of the Times‘ T Brand Studio was a romp to write, and judging by our engagement stats, it didn’t come out too badly.

The Ryan Gosling Story That Will Change How You Talk About Your Brand (by Shane Snow): Because, somehow, this story about Justin Timberlake’s mom raising Ryan Gosling somehow relates back to brand storytelling. Shane is a wizard.

Could Red Bull Become the New ESPN? (by Natalie Burg): Red Bull may be the go-to example for successful content marketing, but considering the way their 135-person Red Bull Media House continues to innovate, it’s hard not to talk about the brand that dreams big. Might that dream include taking on ESPN?

Study: Sponsored Content Has a Trust Problem (by Joe Lazauskas): It’s always great when you publish a piece as a company that makes everyone think you’re an insane masochist. Our study this summer about how readers distrust sponsored content wasn’t a fluff piece for the content marketing industry; instead, it sparked an important discussion we had to have—and need to keep having.

10 Charts That Are Changing the Way We Measure Content (by Sam Petulla): For those of us who obsess over content measurement, this piece is like doing 10 shots of Patrón to the face with Lil Jon.

How to Work in an Office, According to Stock Photos (by Jillian Richardson): Because this piece just gets funnier—and more absurd—every time I read it. Jillian Richardson, #FTW.

How BuzzFeed Manipulates Fast and Slow Thinking to Win the Internet (by Sam Petulla): Before Sam wrote this piece, I had no idea what fast thinking and slow thinking were—let alone how the manipulation of this psychological phenomenon has helped build a modern media empire. Now, I break out these insights every time I’m at a cocktail party and feel intellectually outmatched.

BONUS: Facebook’s ‘Goodfellas’ Moment (by Sam Slaughter): I just couldn’t leave this one out. Once you read this piece, you won’t be able to stop picturing Mark Zuckerberg as Joe Pesci. “Business bad? F*ck you, pay me. Traffic down? F*ck you, pay me. CPMs falling? F*ck you, pay me.”

Happy holidays, everyone. Get some rest, and let’s hit 2015 fresh.

Image by Ben Curtis

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