This year, we launched the first Allee Creative book club as an opportunity for us to talk candidly during lunch about industry-related or business-related books as a team. It was a no brainer that the first book we would read together would be one written by Ann Handley. So, we chose “Everybody Writes”. Coined “your go-to guide to creating ridiculously good content,” we were convinced this book would be the perfect start to book club and we were not wrong!
The book is divided into five parts: how to write better, grammar and usage, story rules, publishing rules and 13 things marketers write. Below I have summarized our team’s top take-aways:
Part I: How to write better
You must write to become a better writer. Just like a sport or craft, you have to practice in order to be great. This is the same for becoming a good writer. In Handley’s book, Beth Dunn, Hubspot product editor-in-chief, author and speaker, is quoted “write like crap if you have to. But write every day. Keep the streak alive.” To successfully write every day, you must set aside time every day to write, even if it just for 30 minutes.
“Think before ink” means asking yourself three questions prior to writing anything.
- Why am I creating this?
- What’s my key take on the subject or issue?
- Why does it matter to the people I’m trying to reach?
Asking yourself these questions can help clear the fog and create a fluid writing experience.
“For a marketer, design and content aren’t separate processes; they are actually key parts of the same process. They are best friends and life partners, and they deserve to be treated as such.”
Part II : Grammar and usage
Part two dives into grammar and usage. Which I am certain is an area where everyone can use help. The English language is tricky even if it’s your first. I could write an entire blog post on AP-Style or grammatical errors to avoid, but instead I give you these five tips from Handley’s book:
- Use real words instead of buzzwords or jargon
- Avoid clichés
- You CAN start a sentence with “and,” “but” or “because”
- Use should have, not should of
- Understand the difference between similar/seemingly interchangeable words
(disinterested/uninterested, illicit/elicit, insure/ensure)
Part III: Story rules
Don’t tell me who you are, tell me why you matter to me.
Part three speaks to storytelling, an aspect in which all marketers take part. While telling these stories, you must express them in a unique way that makes your company stand out. These stories must show your readers what sets you apart. When creating compelling stories, focus on the following characteristics. Ask yourself:
- Is it true?
- Is it human?
- Is it original?
- Does it serve the customer?
- Does it tell a bigger story that’s aligned with a long-term business strategy?
Part IV: Publishing rules
In part four, Handley writes about how content marketers should act like publishers by taking guidelines from journalism. As a content marketer, you hold great responsibility as you gain an audience. Which means, when you are telling your brand’s stories, you must tell the truth—with fairness, accountability and integrity.
Part V: 13 things marketers write
Part five is the section our team flips to frequently, even after reading the book. This section has many useful tips, tricks and general rules of thumb—from blogging and emails to social media and hashtag etiquette. Below are just a few that we found most useful when reading the book:
- Length of blog post: 1,500 words
- Twitter is conversational, think dialogue not monologue
- When using hashtags, convey your personality and don’t go overboard
- Ideal length for meta descriptions is 155 characters
- Facebook posts with images get 4 times as many hits than without
Every time I flip through this book, I takeaway new insights and industry knowledge. At the Allee Creative office we have a copy on hand for anyone to reference. We highly recommend that everyone who writes reads Ann Handley’s “Everybody Writes”. And once you have, we’d love to hear what you loved more about it, too. Share your major takeaways with us in our comment section, below!