The best ten Things of 2020

Ten Things is my newsletter. Each edition has ten links to interesting, thought-provoking, useful or beautiful things from the worlds of content, digital, business for good, culture and beyond. These are the top ten Things of the year, according to clicks from readers.

1. Lockdown workshop tips

I feel slightly embarrassed, but the most popular thing of the year was something I wrote right at the beginning of lockdown about how to plan and run an online workshop. It’s probably not that useful now, as we’ve all become pretty adept at this since then.

How to plan and run an online workshop

2. Tropicana’s rebrand disaster

Next up, a case study with looks at how Tropicana spent $35 million on a disastrous rebrand which cost $20m in sales.

The Worst Rebrand in the History of Orange JuiceThey paid $35 million to then lose $20m in salesmedium.com

3. Martin Amis on writing great sentences

Martin Amis’s rules for how to write a great sentence, including one of the best pieces of writing advice I’ve ever been given: read your sentence back to yourself.

Martin Amis Explains His Method for Writing Great Sentences

4. Tips on content testing

Practical, actionable tips on how to test whether or not your content is helping your users, from my brilliant client, Abi Cox at Change Grow Live.

How do we make sure our content is useful?

5. How to judge creative work

It’s hard to judge creative work and remember that our guts aren’t always right. This framework from Article Group gives you some questions to help make your judgement and feedback on creative work more objective, and more useful.

The marketer’s guide to judging creative work

6. The grim story behind ‘Just do it’

If you don’t know the origins behind Nike’s famous slogan — ‘Just do it’ — it’s quite a story, but not a happy one. The TL;DR: Dan Wieden took inspiration from the last words of a violent criminal before he was executed.

The Shockingly Grim Origins of Nike’s Famous Slogan

7. PDFs must die

From Matt Fenwick and Gather Content, a useful summary of all the reasons PDFs are awful (and a few instances when they’re not). Bookmark this for next time you have to have ‘That Discussion’ about why putting a PDF on the site is a bad idea.

Why are PDFs (mostly) awful and what’s the alternative?

8. A checklist for self-editing

A really useful and comprehensive checklist for editing your own writing from Indrani Sen. I’ve stolen lots of these ideas.

A Self-Editing Checklist From an Editor-in-Chief

9. How to plan a content audit

Another one by me. In this post, I share some steps to help you plan a content audit that works for you and a template that’ll help you get started.

How to plan a content audit that works for you

10. A tool for clear writing

This thing is good: Up-Goer helps you write in a more simple way by showing you when you’re using the ten hundred most used words. It’s harder than you think. I used it for this, and it took me a few tries to find the right words.

The Up-Goer Five Text Editor’

Like the look of these Things? You can sign up to Ten Things here.

You can also browse a full list of every Thing I shared this year in this spreadsheet.

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