The power of writing with an ‘undiluted voice’ (interview with Ann Handley, author of Everybody Writes)

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Ann Handley is all about empowering people to become better writers in a marketing context.

Ann (above) is the Chief Content Officer of the 40-person education and training business Marketing Profs and the co-author (along with CC Chapman) of Content Rules, one of the early ‘bibles’ of this thing we call content marketing. She is also a columnist for Entrepreneur magazine, a LinkedIn Influencer and keynote speaker.

Ann’s new book is called Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content. Leading blogger and best-selling author Jay Baer says that Ann’s book “should be included with every keyboard sold, like a combo pack of communication clarity”.

“The best marketers are also great writers” Ann says in this chat we recorded for the Reputation Revolution podcast.

In the interview we cover:

  • How to find your own voice when writing (recognising the fact that being a good writer is more about habit than art – “you just need to write … to communicate with your audience”). everybody-writes
  • Thought leaders who Ann admires: Doug Kessler (Velocity UK) – “He does have a very strong voice”; and Mitch Joel, author of the book (and blog) called Six Pixels of Separation (“He has a very, very specific point of view”). Ann says both Doug and Mitch write with what she calls “an undiluted voice”.
  • The importance of data in gaining insights that can in turn help inform your content efforts.
  • Why it’s important to tell stories from the perspective of your customers.
  • The word Ann is “almost allergic” to (it’s authenticity – “what does it actually mean?”).
  • How Ann manages her two Twitter handles – @MarketingProfs (business account with some 260,000 followers on which Ann is “personable but not personal”) plus her personal @annhandley account (nearly 9000 followers).
  • How much should thought leaders ‘give away’ through content in terms of their knowledge and expertise (“I never worry about giving things away” says Ann).
  • The concept of ‘wings and roots’ when it comes to content creation.


Here are some tips and quotes from Ann: 

  • “I wanted to create a guide that would help marketers become better writers because … good writing is a mirror of good, clear thinking…”
  • “There’s a lot of noise out there and so we have to be very direct in what we’re trying to say, and say it with a little bit of style … with a unique voice in an innovative way.”
  • “Don’t dilute your words, have a strong point of view.”
  • “Data can really help you hone in on what’s important and what you should focus on.”
  • The best storytellers really make the customer the hero of their stories so they’re always thinking about things from their customers’ point of view.”
  • “Don’t talk about what you do but talk about what you do for others.”
  • “I’m always generous in my sharing because I feel like…what I give I get back ten-fold.”
  • “Grammar problems don’t really bother me as much as people who write with this sort of boring, pedestrian, predictable point of view.”
  • “If you don’t have video as part of your content strategy, then you should…it’s that powerful and it’s that easy and really that engaging when it’s done well.”
  • “One of the best reasons to blog is just because it lends a depth of clarity that I think is really hard to get otherwise.”

CONNECT WITH ANN ON SOCIAL MEDIA:

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* PHOTO SOURCED FROM ANNHANDLEY.COM/PRESS

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