Book Review – Everybody Writes by Ann Handley

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Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content by Ann Handley is an excellent guide for content writers. In business, never before has it been more important to master effective communication and create compelling content to engage your audience. The enormous spread in the use of generative AI is homogenising the content we consume on business blogs and in our social media feeds. This opens up an opportunity for a content writer to stand out for themselves and for whom they write.

Contrary to the temptations offered by generative AI, writing has become an essential skill for marketers looking to establish their brand, connect with customers, and drive business growth. This is why I recommend Ann Handley’s Everybody Writes as a must-read for anyone seeking to improve their writing skills and create content that is original, stands out and resonates with their target audience.

Having read many books on content and copywriting, Everybody Writes stands out from the crowd. While many books focus on the overarching strategies of content creation, Handley’s book goes into the nitty-gritty of writing and the writing process itself. It serves as a guide and becomes a key resource for business owners and marketers looking to refine their writing skills and create content that truly captivates their audience.

What appealed to me the most about the book is it’s practical approach to writing for various purposes. It covers both digital and traditional channels, as well as media. Handley provides actionable advice on crafting compelling copy for websites, blogs, social media, email campaigns, and more. It is more granular than other books I have read in this respect, which is important because understanding the nuances of each platform and tailoring your writing accordingly is key to effectively engaging your readers and achieving your business objectives.

In addition to its focus on writing fundamentals, “Everybody Writes” explores the overarching strategies of storytelling and content creation. Handley emphasises the importance of developing a unique brand voice and using narrative techniques to connect with your audience on an emotional level.

Despite my introductory context to this review. The book itself isn’t anti-AI. Although a little dated now, the book does offer tips on using AI software to streamline your content creation process and improve the quality of your output. When I read the book, it occurred to me that using content AI tools has been very valuable for a long time, with the use of Grammarly for spelling, grammar, phrasing and Hemingway and similar tools for readability. I loved the advice to ignore Grammarly where you disagree with it’s suggestions when you know it to be incorrect, e.g. in always wanting to correct “it’s” when it is not required (as it is doing as I type!), or when it’s suggestion doesn’t align with your own voice.

Another valuable aspect of Everybody Writes is its emphasis on the basics of writing, including word choice and sentence structure. This is another area that sets this book apart from others that deal with content writing and storytelling. It gets down to the fundamentals, with which you can create clear, concise, and compelling content that effectively communicates your message and resonates with your audience. Here, Handley’s advice is important for business owners and marketers looking to improve their writing skills and create content that sets them apart from the competition.

The book reminds us that the barrier to entry to content creation is low. Everybody can write, especially today, with the drafting and ideation available from generative AI. With the right approach and knowledge of word use and content style for the various applications we use, everyone can create compelling content.

As a business owner who has read numerous books on storytelling, content and copywriting, Everybody Writes is a standout. I listened to the audiobook, which is engaging and accessible, making the book an easy listen with high retention. The wealth of information and practical tools it offers make it an essential resource for anyone looking to improve their writing skills and create content that resonates with their audience. The hard copy sits at the ready near my desk. Whether you’re an experienced marketer or content creator, or you want to improve your content creation to stand out from the AI-generated flood of cliche content, this book will provide you with the tools and insights you need to succeed.

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