As a writer, am I not a rare, exotic, spectacular, learnedly and blessedly talented super special species?
You see? That’s why I’m not sure I like the title of Ann Handley’s book, Everybody Writes. Hmmmm.
Let’s see, it does say “guide to creating ridiculously great content” so I better at least take a peek and see if there’s some magic hidden within. Here’s the deal.
I’m pounding away on writing work, transitioning my life from aching feet (used up with a million miles of catering production & event design work) to fairly agile fingers (writing) and diligently pushing along.
But despite writing for an entire lifetime, and always for business operations, it turns out that writing on the web for digital clients and businesses presents a unique set of challenges. One is that content is always marketing, on some level, and getting it right is imperative.See, content is always marketing, on some level, and getting it right is imperative.Click To Tweet
So to juice up my game, I’ve connected with some of the best in the business like Kathryn Aragon, who just happens (much to my delight) to receive a little thank you shout out from Ann on page 58 (WOW!) and Barry Feldman, also noted in the book, as an example of my favs.
They are the consummate professionals and I couldn’t have dropped in from another planet (say, the catering event world) and landed in better or smarter company. Transition upgrade. Game on.
And that’s where Ann’s book waltzes into the picture, since Barry’s the guy who suggested I read it. And keep it nearby, too—an added power tool in my web writer’s toolkit.
Just think. I may just have the Sorcerer’s secret in my very own possession. Excitement builds. But, then I pause.
I wonder what the outlook is, especially if everybody writes?
What I mean is, what really are the chances?
Is there actual possibility (meaning, any chance in hell) to rise in the world of great successful web writers like these guys are, and; will the Sorcerer’s book, Everybody Writes: Your Go-to Guide to Creating Ridiculously Great Content (Wiley 2014) written by Ann Handley, share some secrets to help me get there?
The thing is, I’m here. I’m a hard worker. I want to write for all the companies that Barry and Ann and Kathryn write for. Well, maybe not all. Well, maybe all.
So, I’m definitely up for a little magic or at least inspiration for effective content writing…how about you?
Starting with the chances.
Statistically speaking, content writers are wanted.
Oh my do they want me (oops I mean us) and even need me (us…that is) or so it seems. Take a look for yourself:
- 86% B2B organizations in North America alone use content marketing; 77% for B2C
- 70% B2B marketers plan to use more content marketing this year
- 32% (up 20% from last year) site finding content marketing professionals as a challenge
- 55% B2B marketers expect to spend more on content over the next 12 months
Ut oh…maybe not so very wanted after all because here’s more data I just came across …
In our survey, the median income for all respondents, which only counts freelance earnings, is between $10,001 and $20,000. When only looking at full-time freelancers, median income jumps up one interval, to between $20,001 and $30,000. Both ranges are well below the average U.S. salary (about $47,000) and the average salary for writers and editors (about $67,000).” Source: Contently, Study: 3 Freelancing Trends Marketers Need to Know About Written by Jordan Teicher
Not very promising if you’re like me and that starving artist phase went out of style by the time you finished paying off your college student loans. Hmmmmm.
While that information is sinking in, a mix of good news and bad here’s more about Ann’s book.
I learned some things…
And started to use them even before making it past chapter 3. I found myself eager to read on.
Of course, it was either that or look for a tall and towering, scary high bridge to throw myself off of.
Thank you, Ann, for letting me write that last sentence because like you I have been haunted by my early English education, where it was equivalent to a cardinal sin and punishable, to end a sentence with an “of.”
I’m so relieved that while you give a huge amount of “rule of thumb” and correct word usage along with some tricks for how to express things with more punch by changing sentence structure and forgetting you (totally) ever met an adverb, you seem to allow, even forgive, rule-breaking as…well…a rule:)
I like that openness in Ann’s thinking and approach.
Now that I consider, Barry Feldman may be a bit of a rule breaker himself. Aha.
Somehow there’s some relief knowing that it’s okay to not always fit the mold or follow a singular formula or be the same as everyone.
And while everyone writes, this gives some license, at least for me, to run away from sameness.
Typos, misspells and when-my-keyboard-thinks-it-knows-what-I-want-to-say-and-how-to-spell-it-better-than-I-do are, of course, a terror to my existence (you get this too if you’re a business person, writer, editor or detail-oriented perfectionist of any kind) but, Ann cuts us all a wee break when she mentions that this does happen.
I couldn’t help but giggle a little when she gives this example of a big brand (Scope) making a huge spelling faux pas:
Because when I linked to her source (who pointed the blunder out) I found a little blunder there too if you take a look at the author bio…
I should state at this point, Ann also mentions the human…flesh and blood, mistakes and all…factor, at intervals throughout the book, stressing that “human” is the extra umpf that powers both great content writing and best practice in social media endeavors and business, overall.
So there is hope for me, cause I’ve got that human thing covered! Check off one criteria…whew.
Sorcerer’s secrets for magic content.
Secret notions, spells and potions are not what Ann offers in this incredibly direct guide for creating “ridiculously great content.”
Filled with ridiculously great content, Ann has a very direct way to state and then, more importantly, show you exactly what she means as she breaks her big concepts and supporting points down to be easily digested and understood by anyone who wants to write great content.
I tend to gobble up my reading, especially when I’m excited to read something like I was with this. But instead of indulging on a whole big fat chocolate cake in one sitting, I found myself on a slow tea and crumpets kind of journey that felt more like an audacious, and yet soothing, adventure down the rabbit hole.
I found all kinds of paths to try, places to visit and to experience as I read, and sometimes re-read, my way through Ann’s book. When I finished the last sentence, I wanted to go back and look at some things again and some other things more deeply.
Oh yeah, now I remember, Barry mentioned using it as a reference…he keeps a copy at his desk…and I can see why. I can see using this over and over.
Deciphering the code.
It’s not magic or so the book itself states, and I’ll admit no actual spells to cast for writing gold were forked over, but I did have a few tingly moments and others where little sparks flashed.
Tricks, enlightening insights, tools of wizards and a golden key or two are given in the book and some Annisms are particularly poignant. Her overall message is a simple one:
“What will your audience thank you for?” Ann Handley, Everybody Writes
This theme is underscored from start to finish but some of the Annisms, like a few of my favorites below, are the real lightning that inspires and guides.
I love these in particular:
Ann’s Spell Spelled Out.
User-centric probably sums it up if you like a neat little bow, but my favorite of all of Ann’s shared thoughts is about the miracle of Canva saying,
I particularly like the simple, intuitive interface that puts magic wands into the design hands of muggles.” Ann Handley, Everybody Writes
My sentiment exactly. I was introduced to Canva.com recently, and am relishing in the magic wand (for graphics) I have been given there too!
What speaks loudest in Ann’s description of Canva for me is simply, “Wow, what a perfectly written (and I mean expressed) and spot on sentence.” I actually felt it. Ridiculous. Great.
Besides that, I learned how to spell “bitchface” correctly, should I ever need it, and I love the reminder Ann borrows and every writer can use: “Write drunk. Edit sober.” (Attributed to Hemingway)
Thanks for the great read and reference, Barry. Thanks for writing it, Ann.
(Hey wait…a real success it is…because here I am, your audience, thanking you. Just as it should be, per the author.)“...human,' the extra umpf that powers both great content writing and best practice in social media endeavors and business, overall.Click To Tweet
Have you read the book? What are your thoughts?
Infographic of “Annisms I Love” if you like it:)