In any industry, there are a few names that almost anyone will recognize, no matter their experience level.
Those people seem to be everywhere you look: speaking at conferences, talking on podcasts or writing about the newest trends.
After a while, you start to see them as the authority of that certain industry or topic.
These people are often referred to as “thought leaders” or “influencers”.
When they publish a new report, blog post or article, everybody wants to read it. The readers then take it as fact based solely on the reputation and past work of the thought leader.
Seeing as I am a marketer and a writer, I wanted to find who the top thought leaders were in my industry. I had a few ideas about who would top the list but I wanted to take a deep dive into all the data.
And after seeing the twentieth “Best Marketing Influencers 2017” list using nothing to rank them but opinions, I knew it had to be data-driven.
So I pulled 104 unique writers from a handful of those lists and looked at all they have written in the past year. This led to me analyzing 10,243 articles for all of the important metrics, including social shares, word count, backlink count and more.
After looking at every single writer we gave them each a scorecard and ranked all 104 of them.
The writer that took that number one spot is definitely going to surprise you.
First, to find out who I was going to use as subjects for this article, I read about every article that listed the top marketing influencers for 2017.
This gave me around 150 different marketing writers that could be used in this study.
Some were industry favorites like Seth Godin, Joanna Wiebe and Tim Ferriss. But others were up and coming writers like Nadya Khoja, Aaron Orendorff, and many more. I even included myself in this list to create a simple baseline that I could accurately compare metrics to.
After creating my list of the top marketing writers, I used Buzzsumo and Ahrefs to collect all the articles that those writers have published over the past year.
That left me with exactly 10,243 articles across 104 different writers to analyze.
I culled the list a little bit because some of those writers only published a few (or no) articles at all in the past year.
Each of the I analyzed articles contained data on the total social shares, backlinks, word count and other important data points. And the data is really what we care about, so let’s jump into the analysis.
Who Is The Most Published Writer?
After looking at how much each of the 104 writers in the sample wrote, I thought it would be interesting to see how many total articles each writer had published under there name. After all, you can write a few super in-depth articles once or twice a year and still rank up near the top of the previous sections.
Or one of your great articles can be republished over a bunch of different sites under their name.
I know some of my articles have reached around 6k words while others only were around 1k.
In this section, all of those articles are worth the same and will actually play a significant role in determining the top marketing writer. One article with 100 words is counted the same as one with 5k words.
But before we get into that, let’s look at what the whole sample looked like.
In this sample, there were 10,243 articles published by our 104 different writers. That means the each of those writers would have to publish around 100 different articles each year. Or about two a week, which, again, sounds pretty doable for the average writer.
However, as you can see in the chart below, only one-third of the sample published more than the average:
In fact, most published 50 articles or less, and I only got out about 20 in the last year. You’ll notice that a number of people that publish 50 articles a year and 50k words were exactly the same.
That shows me that most people are producing about the same amount of content each year, except for a few major content machines.
This thought is backed up when you take a look at the median of the sample: 40 articles in a year.
That means you would only have to get 0.75 articles out per week and, again, from an average writer’s standpoint that seems doable.
But just like in the last section, we aren’t looking for an average writer in terms of article count. Instead, I want to find who the most published writer was in the last year.
To hit that mark of 682 articles per year means that there would need to be 57 articles published per month.
Or, if we want to break it down further:
He would need to publish almost 2 articles per day, for every single day on the calendar. Not just workdays–every single day.
I am guessing that since he is such a big name that those articles could be extensively reposted, guest posted and syndicated on different sites.
But when I looked into that, only 60 of the 682 articles were 100% directly reposted or syndicated articles.
That means that there were still about 622 articles published under John Rampton’s name in the last year.
Now let’s take a look at the runner-ups:
- In the second spot behind our must published writer is Michael Brenner. He had 587 articles published under his name.
- Next, we have Ginny Marvin from Search Engine Land, with 529 articles. However, it looks like 56 of those were reposted or syndicated on other sites.
- In the fourth spot we have John Jantsch. He put out 508 articles in the previous calendar year, with 46 reposts.
- And finally, we have Neil Patel, with 503 articles and 61 reposts. It’s interesting that he also wrapped up the last section.
Here are the rest of the top 20 most published writers from our sample:
Based on our top writers, it looks like about 10% of the total articles published were actual reposted or syndicated. I had a feeling that those would inflate some of the total numbers but actually thought it would make up a bigger chunk than that.
Is The Output Even Possible?
This section to show up and coming writers that you don’t have to write your life away to be a prominent voice in the community.
An average writer should shoot to publish about 1.5k words each week to be right in line with most of the other thought leaders.
Out of all the people in our sample, it looks like about only 28% of those writers published more per week:
Also if you are putting out one article a week, you are already ahead of 58% of our sample! And you’re writing more than me!
However, if you are trying to figure out how much you should publish each year, I would shoot for one article every two weeks.
So don’t look at all of these huge numbers that some of the thought leaders are able to publish–they are mostly outliers.
Instead, look at the guidelines I set out above and you should be able to create consistent content without feeling overwhelmed.
Who Is The Most Domain-Diverse Writer?
Next stop in our quest to find the ultimate marketing writer: I’m going to try to find the most domain-diverse writer in our sample. These are the writers that not only publish a ton of content on their own blogs but also get it picked up by other sites.
I anticipated that the top writers in this category would be a lot different than the previous ones. That’s because getting your content on other sites takes a different kind of marketer altogether. They have to be constantly building relationships and hustling to get the attention of other site editors.
I can attest to how hard this is because it’s one of my least favorite things to do as a writer.
And I think that not every writer is cut out to be hustling 24/7…it’s exhausting!
In this section, I’ll be using the number of unique domains that each writer is mentioned on to pick the winner. In this sample, there were 1009 unique domains represented across the industries and, frankly, the world
The top 5 most represented domains can be seen below:
Most of those should be familiar sites to anyone in the marketing world. But I was surprised to see Entrepreneur so high on the list.
Now, according to the sample, the average writer is published on about 25 different domains each year. The median is 11 domains, which seems a lot more reasonable to me. Especially because, according to the data, I was only published on 7 different domains this year.
In fact, most of the writers were actually published on less than 25 domains this year. Only about 19% of the sample hit that mark. Over half of them don’t make it on 10 unique domains, either.
But we aren’t looking for what most writers achieve, we are looking for what the top writers do.
In this case, the most domain-diverse writer in our sample is Tim Ferriss, with author credits on 111 unique domains.
This put him at nearly 4x more unique domains than the average and 11x more than the sample median.
I’m not really surprised to see him at the top because he is one of those hustlers I was talking about in the beginning of this section!
He writes about startups, health, productivity and really anything you can think of. That large cross section gets him featured on a ton of different unique domains that the other writers may not have the access to.
I mean, the second most published writer had almost 30 less unique domains to his name.
Although these writers may not hit the same numbers, it’s still important to look at the runner-ups.
- In second place we have John Rampton, with 79 different domains. He has been on every list so far, so his chances to take top writer look pretty good.
- Next on the list is another person who has been on others list, Neil Patel. He was able to grace the pages of 74 unique domains.
- In the penultimate spot, we have Grant Cardone. In the past year he was on 66 sites, as well as being an author, speaker and thought leader.
- And finally, Ann Smarty takes the last spot in this section. She also is a fresh name to add to the running and was published on 63 domains.
Here are the rest of the top 20 most diverse writers:
As you can see, there are a few names that keep popping up near the top. I think that picking the top writer may be a little harder that I thought.
Who Is The Most Shareable Writer?
In this final section, I’ll be looking at who is the most shareable writer of 2017. This will have a few different sub-sections, broken down by first by the cumulative total and then each social network.
And because there are so many subsections in this part of the article, I’ll only be highlighting two writers in each of them.
Those writers will be those who have the most total shares and the most average shares.
So let’s take a look at those shareable writers!
Total Social Shares
First, I thought it would be a great idea to look at the writers who can garner a ton of shares, no matter the social network.
In our sample, I made sure to include each of the Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn shares for each article. Those are the most relevant social networks for marketers.
Over the past year, the 10,243 articles in our sample received exactly 5,632,958 shares total.
Next, we are going to look at who had the most average shares in the sample. We all know that someone who writes a ton of articles is going to have more total shares, but what about those who only write a few articles?
I think an amazing writer is someone who can consistently get a lot of views or shares on just a few great pieces of content.
In our sample, the average totals shares came to 550 per article. I don’t know about you, but that seems extremely reasonable. But I may be a little biased because I actually beat the average in this section, with 715 shares on average.
That writer is actually a new name to add to the running: Dharmesh Shah, the founder of HubSpot. He received an average of 2,761 shares on only 27 articles, which is extremely impressive.
92% of those shares were on Facebook:
The runner-ups were hot on his tails, with the second best having only 200 less shares.
After looking at the most shareable writers overall, it’s time to tally up the top writers by Facebook shares.
Based on what we have seen so far, Facebook plays an important part in the sharing strategies of these writers.
In fact, with 216 shares per article, it has the highest number of average shares when compared to the two other big social networks for marketers.
It obviously also led the most total shares of all three social networks, with 2,211,946 across the sample of articles.
The writer that had the most total Facebook shares was also the person who led the total shares: Grant Cardone. His 429 articles received exactly 448,675 shares, beating the closest runner up by over 100k shares.
To hit those numbers I am guessing he took a few cues from our Facebook study to create the perfect visual.
Do we have another new name to add to the list when I take a look at the average Facebook shares?
Nope! It’s Dharmesh Shah again, with 2556 Facebook shares on average.
He led the second runner-up by a factor of 2x, which was a much bigger gap than I expected. And he had about 12x more shares than the sample average. But he does run a massive marketing company, so there is that.
Twitter is by far my favorite social network right now. But I’m aware that a lot of people don’t share my love for the platform.
It was the least popular of the social networks that I collected data on, but it’s also one of the smallest in terms of active users.
When I was running my own site, Twitter was my best friend because it was so effective at that time. In this day and age, it may not be as great but I still love it for helping me get my feet wet.
That’s why I was very interested to see who led the total Twitter shares count.
That Twitter warrior was Ginny Marvin, who is making her second appearance on the list.
With her 529 articles, she received 135,574 Twitter shares in total.
That count was almost 20k more than the writer in second place and took up about 10% of all Twitter interactions.
I wonder if any of the top writers used hashtags to boost their share count?
Let’s look at who took the crown for most average Twitter shares.
The writer atop the leaderboard was a brand new name in the running, Dr. Pete Meyers from Moz. He received on average 1495 Twitter interactions across only 13 articles. That is about 10x more than the same average.
Finally, we have one of the most misunderstood social networks: LinkedIn.
It was our second best social network, which makes a lot of sense because most of these articles dealt with a work-related topic.
The only writer that I can think of who did not adhere to strictly work topics was Tim Ferriss. Wouldn’t it be great if he was the top writer on LinkedIn, right after I said that?
Luckily, fate would not be that cruel today.
Instead, Grant Cardone, who has been in almost every section, had the most LinkedIn shares of all the writers. He received 496,050 shares on his 429 articles in the past year.
That’s almost 4x more than the next writer in the list, and was actually more than the next four writers combined!
I think it’s safe to say that Mr. Cardone kills it not only on LinkedIn but social media in general.
For the last writer ranking exercise, we have the most average social shares.
As you can see the top 5 is filled with newcomers:
Three out of the five haven’t been on any lists yet, including the top writer.
The top writer isn’t actually a writer in the traditional sense, but a cartoonist: Jon Youshaei.
He led the pack of other content creators with 1648 shares across his 7 unique articles on LinkedIn. This was 9x more than the sample average and led the next best writer by 300 shares.
So Who Is The Best Marketing Writer of 2017?
Now that you have seen all of the categories that I used to evaluate these writers, it’s time to name the top writer of 2017.
But first, let me how we named the winner.
Unlike other lists of top thought leaders, I tried to be extremely objective in every part of this article.
I mean, I would love to have my name near the top of this list but I am not that shameless.
That’s why I let the data make the final decision by giving points to each of the top 10 writers in all 12 metrics that I tracked.
Those points were assigned in reverse chronological order, so the top writer got 10 points, the second best got 9 points, and so on.
After tabulating all of the numbers, I was able to name a winner. And if you’ve read the whole article so far, you should not be surprised by who took the crown.
It was none other than Grant Cardone, who ranked in all but three categories and received 67 points in total.
You can see his final scorecard below. All of the important metrics that we look at are included, as well as where they ranked when compared to the other writers:
In second place we have another name that popped up throughout this article a lot: John Rampton. He was right on Mr. Cardone’s heels with a total score of 59.
In third place we have the Wizard of Moz himself, and one of my favorite people in the marketing community: Rand Fishkin.
But when it comes to fourth place, we have a tie at 40 points with Aaron Orendorff and Neil Patel. To break the tie, I looked at the total articles published in the last year and Mr. Patel had almost 5x more.
That means that Aaron Orendorff took fifth place with 40 points. Mr.Orendorff actually wrote an article for our blog this year on how to connect with other influencers!
In sixth place we find Deep Patel, who quietly received 38 points but who has not been mentioned in the article before now.
Dr. Pete Meyers takes the seventh spot with 32 points across all the categories. There was another tie for this spot, but Dr. Myers produced 2x more content in the last year as well.
In eighth place with 32 points we have the LinkedIn’s favorite cartoonist: Jon Youshaei.
The penultimate spot is claimed with 31 points by Ginny Marvin.
And finally, Sujan Patel closes out our list with 29 points.
If you were wondering where I landed in this ranking, I was actually in 22nd place. My scorecard can be seen below as well:
So I may not be as average as I thought.