In Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content, Ann Handley highlights tactics for  creating ridiculously good content that attracts and retains customers.

Writing well is part habit, part knowledge of some fundamental rules, and part giving a damn. We are all capable of producing good writing. Or, at least, better writing.

Favourite Takeaways: Everybody Writes

Story Telling

Our writing can make us look smart or it can make us look stupid. It can make us seem fun, or warm, or competent, or trustworthy. But it can also make us seem humdrum or discombobulated or flat-out boring.

That means you’ve got to choose words well, and write with economy and style and honest empathy for your reader. And it means you put a new value on an often-overlooked skill in content marketing: how to write, and how to tell a true story really, really well.


Content isn’t limited to the text on our Web pages or product pages or blogs or e-mail newsletters. It’s broader than the things we think of as marketing. Content is essentially everything your customer or prospect touches or interacts with—including your own online properties and Web pages and the experiences they offer, but also everything on any social channel (like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and so on). Think of your content, then, as any medium through which you communicate with the people who might use your products or services.

Good writing is…Often the foundation of good content that gets noticed, no matter what form that content ultimately takes. A mirror of good, clear, thinking that’s an antidote to the complexity that can sometimes characterize our business world.

Utility, Inspiration and Empathy

  • Utility means you clearly help your customers do something that matters to them—you help them shoulder their burdens, you ease their pain, or you help them make a decision.
  • Inspiration means your content is inspired by data (more on this later) or it’s creatively inspired (or both). It’s fresh, different, well-written, well-produced, nicely designed—and it feels like it could come only from you.
  • Empathy means you relentlessly focus on your customer. You view the entire world through is or her eyes—because, remember, everything the light touches is content.

In our world, quality content means content that is packed with clear utility and is brimming with inspiration, and it has relentless empathy for the audience

Utility × Inspiration × Empathy = Quality Content

Good writing is like math: it has logic and structure. It feels solid to the reader: the writer is in control, having taken on the heavy burden of making a piece of writing clear and accessible. It might not follow a formula, exactly. But there’s a kind of geometric architecture to it.

Use Familiar Yet Surprising Analogies

An analogy is a comparison that frames the unknown with the known. Think of an analogy as a kind of gift to your readers that helps explain a complex process or concept with familiar, relatable specifics. In other words, it helps make the abstract more concrete.

Any fool can make something complicated. It takes a genius to make it simple.—Woody Guthrie

Business—like life—can be complicated. Products can be intricate and concepts may seem impenetrable. But good content deconstructs the complex to make it easily understood: It sheds the corporate Frankenspeak. It conveys things in concise, human, accessible terms.

Recommended Resources

Research and Knowledge Management Tools

  • Evernote (
  • Diigo (
  • Microsoft OneNote (
  • Springpad (
  • SimpleNote (
  • Workflowy (
  • Pocket (
  • Wridea (
  • Google Keep (

Writing Tools

  • Scrivener (
  • yWriter (
  • Ulysses (
  • Mellel (
  • Microsoft Word (
  • Pages (
  • Draft (


  • WeaveWriter (
  • Scapple (
  • Write or Die (
  • Written?Kitten! (
  • 750Words (
  • Ommwriter (
  • Zen Writer (
  • WriteRoom (
  • Quabel (
  • Cold Turkey (
  • SelfControl (
  • Offtime (
  • StayFocusd ( – Chrome Extension
  • LeechBlock (
  • Pomodoro Technique (
  • Tomatoes ( – Online Timer
  • Unstuck (

Editing Tools

  • Grammarly (
  • Hemingway (
  • ProWritingAid (
  • Autocrit (
  • SmartEdit (
  • Wordcounter (
  • Cliché Finder (
  • Plagium (
  • Visual Thesaurus (
  • Word Hippo (
  • Inbound Writer (
  • Read-able (
  • Edit Central (
  • Readability Formulas (
  • ( improve.jsp)

Great Style Guides

Non-Text Writing Tools

  • Dragon Naturally Speaking (
  • Rev (
  • Speechpad (
  • Speakwrite (
  • CastingWords (

Blog Idea Generators

  • Portent’s Content Idea Generator (
  • Blog About (
  • UberSuggest (
  • Topsy (
  • TweakYourBiz Title Generator (

Image Sources

Searchable Photo Databases

  • Creative Commons (
  • Compfight (
  • Dreamstime (
  • PhotoPin (
  • Free Images (
  • MorgueFile (
  • Public Domain Pictures (
  • Fotolia (
  • Ancestry Images (

Photo Collections

  • Death to the Stock Photo (
  • Superfamous (
  • Little Visuals (
  • New Old Stock (
  • Unsplash (
  • PicJumbo (

Create your Images

  • Canva (
  • TinEye (

Need help with developing a digital strategy for your business? Get in touch.