As a marketer, writing has not only been a major part of my job for the past twenty-five years, it’s also been a passion. I even enjoy reading about writing, particularly when the writer offers plenty of “how to” advice that I can put to work immediately.
So here I am, writing about reading about writing; specifically, I’m reviewing Ann Handley’s new book, Everybody Writes: Your Go-to Guide for Creating Ridiculously Good Content.
For many years, I’ve admired Ann’s work at MarketingProfs, where she serves as chief content officer. She’s also a recognized leader in content marketing and social media.
Ann describes her new book as “part writing guide, part handbook on the rules of good sportsmanship in content marketing, and all-around reliable desk companion for anyone creating or directing content on behalf of brands.” She delivers as promised, and with a clever, entertaining writing style that helped to hold my interest.
In addition to lots of practical advice, the book contains fascinating insights. For example, here’s her formula for judging the impact of your writing:
Utility × Inspiration × Empathy = Quality Content
Her point is that you have to perform well in all three areas to create great content. If you score a zero for any one of these factors… well, as Ann humorously points out, you can do the math.
The book is divided into six main sections that are easy to navigate your way through:
- Part I provides an overview of the fundamentals of writing. It’s laid out in a way that’s easy to understand and remember. It not only covers the key steps in the writing process, but also offers detailed insights into refining and improving your copy. For people who need help getting started, this part will get you oriented in the right direction and give you specific advice about how to structure your writing process.
- Part II focuses in on grammar and usage, and offers lots of “do this” and “don’t do that” advice. If you’re already a good writer, then you’ll find this section a refreshing, funny reminder about all the ways that people can go wrong with their words. If you’re not as good a writer as you’d like to be, you’ll learn a lot about giving your language more impact and power.
- Part III is the briefest section, but with some powerful advice about crafting a great story.
- Part IV contains tons of practical advice about what to write and how to write it. You’ll find lots of detailed suggestions, such as how to properly cite others’ work within your own. I particularly liked her chapter entitled, “See Content Moments Everywhere,” which will open your eyes to the opportunities all around you for interesting stories that will help your brand punch above its weight. (And that’s just one example of 15 subjects she covers in this section.)
- Part V alone was worth ten times the price of the book. In it, Ann offers point-by-point guidance for 13 different types of content that marketers create, such as blog posts, tweets, e-mails, headlines, home pages, infographics, and more. Nearly every marketer will learn something on every page of this section, no matter how experienced you are. It’s a great reference guide and something that I expect to return to again and again.
- Part VI concludes the book with a list of various types of tools and resources that writers will certainly find useful.
With so many wonderful resources available to marketing writers today, especially content marketers, it takes a lot to stand out in the crowd. In Everybody Writes, Ann Handley delivers one of the most useful pieces I’ve seen. If you’re a writer, or aspire to be one, you should definitely check it out.