Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content

Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content

by Ann Handley


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Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content by Ann Handley

Finally a go-to guide to creating and publishing the kind ofcontent that will make your business thrive.

Everybody Writes is a go-to guide to attracting andretaining customers through stellar online communication, becausein our content-driven world, every one of us is, in fact, awriter.

If you have a web site, you are a publisher. If you are onsocial media, you are in marketing. And that means that we are allrelying on our words to carry our marketing messages. We are allwriters.

Yeah, but who cares about writing anymore? In a time-challengedworld dominated by short and snappy, by click-bait headlines andTwitter streams and Instagram feeds and gifs and video and Snapchatand YOLO and LOL and #tbt. . . does the idea of focusing on writingseem pedantic and ordinary?

Actually, writing matters more now, not less. Our online wordsare our currency; they tell our customers who we are.

Our writing can make us look smart or it can make us lookstupid. It can make us seem fun, or warm, or competent, ortrustworthy. But it can also make us seem humdrum ordiscombobulated or flat-out boring.

That means you've got to choose words well, and write witheconomy and the style and honest empathy for your customers. And itmeans you put a new value on an often-overlooked skill in contentmarketing: How to write, and how to tell a true story really,really well. That's true whether you're writing a listicle or thewords on a Slideshare deck or the words you're reading right here,right now...

And so being able to communicate well in writing isn't justnice; it's necessity. And it's also the oft-overlooked cornerstoneof nearly all our content marketing.

In Everybody Writes, top marketing veteran Ann Handleygives expert guidance and insight into the process and strategy ofcontent creation, production and publishing, with actionable how-toadvice designed to get results.

These lessons and rules apply across all of your online assets— like web pages, home page, landing pages, blogs, email,marketing offers, and on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and othersocial media. Ann deconstructs the strategy and delivers apractical approach to create ridiculously compelling and competentcontent. It's designed to be the go-to guide for anyone creating orpublishing any kind of online content — whether you're a bigbrand or you're small and solo.

Sections include:

  • How to write better. (Or, for "adult-onset writers": How tohate writing less.)
  • Easy grammar and usage rules tailored for business in a fun,memorable way. (Enough to keep you looking sharp, but not too muchto overwhelm you.)
  • Giving your audience the gift of your true story, told well.Empathy and humanity and inspiration are key here, so the bookcovers that, too.
  • Best practices for creating credible, trustworthy contentsteeped in some time-honored rules of solid journalism. Becausepublishing content and talking directly to your customers is, atits heart, a privilege.
  • "Things Marketers Write": The fundamentals of 17 specific kindsof content that marketers are often tasked with crafting.
  • Content Tools: The sharpest tools you need to get the jobdone.

Traditional marketing techniques are no longer enough.Everybody Writes is a field guide for the smartestbusinesses who know that great content is the key to thriving inthis digital world.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781118905555
Publisher: Wiley
Publication date: 09/15/2014
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 87,045
Product dimensions: 9.10(w) x 5.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

ANN HANDLEY is a veteran of creating and managingcontent. She is the Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs, atraining and education company with the largest community ofmarketers in its category. Ann is a monthly columnist forEntrepreneur magazine, a member of the LinkedIn Influencerprogram, and the coauthor of the best-selling book on contentmarketing, Content Rules. She is also a keynote speaker,mom, and writer at AnnHandley.com.

Connect with her on Twitter via @annhandley.

Table of Contents

Foreword Nancy Duarte xvii

Acknowledgments xix

Introduction 1


1 Everybody Writes 15

2 Writing Is a Habit, Not an Art 17

3 Shed High School Rules 20

4 Regard Publishing as a Privilege 23

5 Place the Most Important Words (and Ideas) at the Beginning ofEach Sentence 25

6 Follow a Writing GPS 27

7 The More the Think, the Easier the Ink 33

8 Organize. Relax, You’ve Got This 36

9 Embrace The Ugly First Draft 41

10 Swap Places with Your Reader 44

11 Humor Comes on the Rewrite 46

12 Develop Pathological Empathy 47

13 ‘Cross Out the Wrong Words’ 51

14 Start with Dear Mom . . . 54

15 If You Take a Running Start, Cover Your Tracks 56

16 Notice Where Words Appear in Relation to Others around Them59

17 ‘A Good Lede Invites You to the Party and a Good KickerMakes You Wish You Could Stay Longer’ 61

18 Show, Don’t Tell 65

19 Use Familiar Yet Surprising Analogies 69

20 Approach Writing Like Teaching 71

21 Keep It Simple—but Not Simplistic 72

22 Find a Writing Buddy 74

23 Avoid Writing by Committee 76

24 Hire a Great Editor 77

25 Be Rabid about Readability 79

26 End on an I-Can’t-Wait-to-Get-Back-to-It Note 84

27 Set a Goal Based on Word Count (Not Time) 85

28 Deadlines Are the WD-40 of Writing 87


29 Use Real Words 91

30 Avoid Frankenwords, Obese Words, and Words Pretending to BeSomething They’re Not 93

31 Don’t Use Weblish (Words You Wouldn’t Whisper toYour Sweetheart in the Dark) 95

32 Know the Difference between Active and Passive Voice 96

33 Ditch Weakling Verbs 97

34 Ditch Adverbs, Except When They Adjust the Meaning 98

35 Use Clichés Only Once in a Blue Moon 101

36 Avoid These Mistakes Marketers Make 103

37 Break Some Grammar Rules (At Least These Five) 107

38 Learn Words You’re Probably Misusing or Confusing withOther Words 109

39 Scuse Me While I Kiss This Guy 117

40 Limit Moralizing 119


41 Tell How You’ll Change the World 123

42 Tell the Story Only You Can Tell 128

43 Voice and Tone 130

44 Look to Analogy instead of Example 135


45 Wait. What’s Brand Journalism? 141

46 Tell the Truth 145

47 See Content Moments Everywhere 146

48 Post News That’s Really News 149

49 Biased and Balanced 150

50 Nonobvious Interview Tips 152

51 Fact-Check 156

52 Approach Content with ‘Mind Like Water’ 158

53 Seek Out the Best Sources 160

54 Be Aware of Hidden Agendas 161

55 Cite as You Write 162

56 Curate Ethically 166

57 Seek Permission, Not Forgiveness 170

58 Understand the Basics of Copyright, Fair Use, and ForAttribution 174

59 Ground Content in Data 178


60 The Ideal Length for Blog Posts, Podcast, Facebook Posts,Tweets, and Other Marketing Content 183

61 Writing for Twitter 188

62 Writing with Hashtags 196

63 Writing Social Media with Humor 202

64 Writing for Facebook 206

65 Writing for LinkedIn 210

66 Writing Your LinkedIn Profile 215

67 Writing for Email 219

68 Writing Landing Pages 225

69 Writing Headlines 234

70 Writing a Home Page 238

71 Writing the About Us Page 244

72 Writing Infographics That Won’t Make People MockInfographics 249

73 Writing Better Blog Posts 254

74 Writing Annual Reports (or Annual Wrap-Ups) 257


Research and Knowledge Management Tools 264

Writing Tools 265

Productivity Tools 266

Editing Tools 268

A Few Great Style Guides 269

Non-Text Writing Tools 271

Blog Idea Generators 271

Google Authorship 272

Image Sources (Or, Stock That Doesn’t Stink) 273

Acknowledgments for Tools 277

Epilogue 279

Notes 280

Index 291

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