Mastering the creation of great content with Ann Handley
With so many books and so little time, choosing the right hardback is a delicate task. Ann Handley’s ‘Everybody Writes’ has been one of those rare and special discoveries that we couldn’t put down and can’t stop returning to. ‘Everybody Writes’ nails the strategy for creating great content, and these are a few of our key takeaways from her insightful book.
Writing well is about giving a damn
Creating great content does not have to be done by self-proclaimed “writing experts”, so dispel the idea that you were not “born” to be a writer. Handley explains that “writing well is part habit, part knowledge of some fundamental rules, and part giving a damn,” and we agree because we give many damns about our content and its creation and this shows in what we put out there. A combination of good habits, reliable application of some basic rules and a tremendous amount of care is the ultimate recipe for great content. If you don’t give a damn, people will know all about it. Wouldn’t you instead be remembered for the right reasons?
It is as simple as choosing the wrong words that will give your readers a false impression – whether you sound boring, serious or intelligent depends on the tone and style of our writing. Remember the phrase “the pen is mightier than the sword”? That applies for content, too – words have power. Additionally, the skill of good writing requires “economy, style and honest empathy for your reader” – your words are reaching a unique, feeling, thinking and impressionable human, though we may not see them. This adds more fuel to superb content marketing in that you can “tell a true story really, really well”. And this applies to the writing of all formats, whether it’s a listicle or a blog or even a Facebook status.
“Everything the light touches is content.”
Often people have a narrow idea of what content is, assuming that it begins and ends with writing. However, this is far from the truth – in the trusty, reworked words of Mufasa from The Lion King: “Everything the light touches is content”. Referencing Kristina Halvorson, Ann Handley notes that content is “the entire user experience”. Handley reminds us that content is any medium through which we communicate the message we want to send out to the people who may be interested.
So, what makes great content?
Great content is not just about storytelling; it is about telling a true story well. Whether you tell this story through pictures, video, GIFs or text, your audience needs to be attracted to it in a meaningful way. When someone sees your content on their Facebook timeline, the scroll button should be abandoned as they lose themselves in the story you are telling. Posting eye-catching content is an essential part of ensuring that this is a reality for your content. Remember, we are living with a generation of people with short attention spans – and these are the people you are catering to – so content is only considered incredible if it draws these people in and encourages them to engage. It’s an age-old ethos of marketing: find out what problems people are having and then offer them an appealing solution.
More and more businesses are including content marketing in their strategies – is it time for you to do the same? Get in touch with us so we can help you with a great content strategy.