Hooked on a Book: Everybody Writes by Ann Handley

Everybody Writes by Ann Handley of MarketingProfs is a staple for anybody who has to write a lick of copy. Yes, I’m talking to you CEO, Sales Manager, Marketing Strategist, Social Media Manager and everything in between.

In true Ann Handley fashion, Everybody Writes is exceptionally well written and makes you feel as though you’re chatting over a cup of coffee. This book will teach you how to fall in love with writing, find your voice, and become a more confident and compelling writer.

Let’s dissect the six parts of the book, shall we?

Part I: Writing Rules: How to Write Better (And Hate Writing Less)

Part I delivers on its promises (an Ann Handley rule). By the end, you’ll walk away having learned three lessons: how to organize your writing, how to find your voice, and how to craft content that doesn’t suck. It’s that simple.

Key takeaways:

  • Ditch (some of) the rules you learned in high school
  • Embrace writing as a part of your daily life; it’ll pay off in the end
  • Learn to love The Ugly First Draft (TUFD)
  • Write with simplicity and empathy for a more personal touch
  • Make content readability a high priority

“Empathy for the customer experience should be at the root of all of your content, because having a sense of the people you are writing for and a deep understanding of their problems is key to honing your skill.” — Ann Handley, Everybody Writes

Part II: Writing Rules: Grammar and Usage

Grammar might not be the most exciting subject to read about, but it’s certainly important.

As noted in the title, Part II covers the technical stuff. Grammar, vocabulary, etc. There’s an entire section in this part that includes a long list of mistakes Handley’s seen marketers make over her 20+ years of content writing. Plus, it’s written in a way that won’t bore you to death (I promise).

Key takeaways:

  • Keep your vocabulary simple and easy to understand
  • Avoid moralizing (see what I did there?)
  • Focus on using an active voice versus a passive voice

“Lose the excessively prescriptive and the moralizing, because it can come off as condescending.”  — Ann Handley, Everybody Writes

Part III: Story Rules

It’s hard to write about your company’s story in a way that doesn’t result in a total snoozefest, I know. But believe it or not, people want to hear it!

Part III teaches you how to use storytelling in a way that engages your audience and keeps them interested. Handley explains how to take your story and make it about your customer, instead of you.

Key takeaways:

  • Use your brand’s story to connect with your audience emotionally
  • Lead with truth and relevance
  • Emphasize the human side of your brand
  • Find your voice and tone, then carry it into all of your content forever and ever

“Make sure your customer is the hero of your story.” — Ann Handley, Everybody Writes

Part IV: Publishing Rules

Most of us are accustomed to opening up our laptops and hitting publish when we finish a piece of content, without taking a moment to hold our writing to a higher set of standards. In Part IV, Handley gives you a quick dip into the world of publishing with do’s an don’ts to carry into your writing process.

Key takeaways:

  • Cite as you write
  • Always fact check your work (no alternative facts please ?‍♀️)
  • Read up on the basics of copyrighting

Part V: 13 Things Marketers Write

Part V of this book is AMAZING.

Here, Handley teaches us best practices for different content types including email, social media, blog posts, landing pages, headlines and more. After reading Part V, you’ll learn how to optimize your content for ROI and engagement.

Key takeaways:

  • For email: keep subject lines short, use personalization, use a human voice, specify your call-to-action
  • For landing pages: deliver what you promise, keep your headlines benefit driven, avoid TMI
  • For headlines: avoid clickbait, place your reader in the headline, create a curiosity gap
  • For social media: connect with existing communities, keep it brief, use visual assets

“Remember: your value is not what you do or what you sell, it’s what you do for your customers. That shift may seem subtle, but it’s everything.”  — Ann Handley, Everybody Writes

Part VI: Content Tools

Part VI seals the deal on making this book a must-read for anybody in marketing. Handley hand delivers a long list of free and paid marketing tools that include writing, research, productivity, stock images, and blog idea generators.

Emily @ Content Vulture

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