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

  • 3h 32m
  • Ann Handley
  • John Wiley & Sons (US)
  • 2014

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

Everybody Writes is a go-to guide to attracting and retaining customers through stellar online communication, because in our content-driven world, every one of us is, in fact, a writer.

If you have a web site, you are a publisher. If you are on social media, you are in marketing. And that means that we are all relying on our words to carry our marketing messages. We are all writers.

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

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

Our writing can make us look smart or it can make us look stupid. It can make us seem fun, or warm, or competent, or trustworthy. But it can also make us seem humdrum or discombobulated or flat-out boring.

That means you've got to choose words well, and write with economy and the style and honest empathy for your customers. And it means you put a new value on an often-overlooked skill in content marketing: How to write, and how to tell a true story really, really well. That's true whether you're writing a listicle or the words 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 just nice; it's necessity. And it's also the oft-overlooked cornerstone of nearly all our content marketing.

In Everybody Writes, top marketing veteran Ann Handley gives expert guidance and insight into the process and strategy of content creation, production and publishing, with actionable how-to advice 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 other social media. Ann deconstructs the strategy and delivers a practical approach to create ridiculously compelling and competent content. It's designed to be the go-to guide for anyone creating or publishing any kind of online content — whether you're a big brand or you're small and solo.

Sections include:

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

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

In this Book

  • Everybody Writes—Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content
  • Foreword
  • Introduction
  • Everybody Writes
  • Writing Is a Habit, Not an Art
  • Shed High School Rules
  • Regard Publishing as a Privilege
  • Place the Most Important Words (and Ideas) at the Beginning of Each Sentence
  • Follow a Writing GPS
  • The More the Think, the Easier the Ink
  • Organize. Relax, You’ve Got This
  • Embrace The Ugly First Draft
  • Swap Places with Your Reader
  • Humor Comes on the Rewrite
  • Develop Pathological Empathy
  • ‘Cross Out the Wrong Words’
  • Start with Dear Mom . . .
  • If You Take a Running Start, Cover Your Tracks
  • Notice Where Words Appear in Relation to Others around Them
  • ‘A Good Lede Invites You to the Party and a Good Kicker Makes You Wish You Could Stay Longer’
  • Show, Don’t Tell
  • Use Familiar Yet Surprising Analogies
  • Approach Writing Like Teaching
  • Keep It Simple—but Not Simplistic
  • Find a Writing Buddy
  • Avoid Writing by Committee
  • Hire a Great Editor
  • Be Rabid about Readability
  • End on an I-Can’t-Wait-to-Get-Back-to-It Note
  • Set a Goal Based on Word Count (Not Time)
  • Deadlines Are the WD-40 of Writing
  • Use Real Words
  • Avoid Frankenwords, Obese Words, and Words Pretending to Be Something They’re Not
  • Don’t Use Weblish (Words You Wouldn’t Whisper to Your Sweetheart in the Dark)
  • Know the Difference between Active and Passive Voice
  • Ditch Weakling Verbs
  • Ditch Adverbs, Except When They Adjust the Meaning
  • Use Cliches Only Once in a Blue Moon
  • Avoid These Mistakes Marketers Make
  • Break Some Grammar Rules (At Least These Five)
  • Learn Words You’re Probably Misusing or Confusing with Other Words
  • Scuse Me While I Kiss This Guy
  • Limit Moralizing
  • Tell How You’ll Change the World
  • Tell the Story Only You Can Tell
  • Voice and Tone—Don’t Get Hung Up on Whether Something’s Been Said Before—Just Say It Better
  • Look to Analogy instead of Example
  • Wait. What’s Brand Journalism?
  • Tell the Truth
  • See Content Moments Everywhere
  • Post News That’s Really News
  • Biased and Balanced—Seek Out Opposing Viewpoints
  • Nonobvious Interview Tips
  • Fact-Check
  • Approach Content with ‘Mind Like Water’
  • Seek Out the Best Sources
  • Be Aware of Hidden Agendas
  • Cite as You Write
  • Curate Ethically
  • Seek Permission, Not Forgiveness
  • Understand the Basics of Copyright, Fair Use, and For Attribution
  • Ground Content in Data
  • The Ideal Length for Blog Posts, Podcast, Facebook Posts, Tweets, and Other Marketing Content
  • Writing for Twitter—Dialogue, Not Monologue
  • Writing with Hashtags—(Or, Don’t Be a Hash-hole)
  • Writing Social Media with Humor—Strong Voice, Tight Writing: A Q&A with Tiffany Beveridge, Creator of My Imaginary Well-Dressed Toddler Daughter
  • Writing for Facebook—Rallying Cries That Unite an Audience
  • Writing for LinkedIn—Always Be Helping
  • Writing Your LinkedIn Profile—‘Responsible’ Is Overrated
  • Writing for Email—What Would You Open (WWYO)?
  • Writing Landing Pages—Less Is So Often More
  • Writing Headlines—Learn How to Effortlessly Write an Intoxicatingly Irresistible Headline—and You Won’t Believe What Happens Next!
  • Writing a Home Page—We Get You
  • Writing the About Us Page—When It’s Not Really About You
  • Writing Infographics That Won’t Make People Mock Infographics
  • Writing Better Blog Posts
  • Writing Annual Reports (or Annual Wrap-Ups)
  • Acknowledgments for Tools
  • Epilogue