How to Create Ridiculously Good Content – Interview with Ann Handley

By Guest Author

Ann Handley is a best-selling author, keynote speaker and the world’s first Chief Content Officer. Named the most influential woman in Social Media by Forbes, she is a monthly columnist for Entrepreneur magazine and a member of the LinkedIn Influencer program.

While researching the Top 25 Social Media Marketing Books to Read in 2015 I came across Ann’s latest book, Everybody Writes, a Wall Street Journal bestseller, which obviously made the cut. Everybody Writes is your go-to guide to creating ridiculously good content. Ann was kind enough to chat with me about how we are all writers and how to create killer content.

everybody-writes

You say that in today’s content-driven world, writing matters more… not less. Why?

Because we are all publishers. If you have a website, you’re a publisher. If you are on social media, you are in marketing. Our story is what connects our customers to us.

We are all writers but that doesn’t mean we are all GOOD writers. How do we become good writers and does it take a journalism degree to do so?

No it doesn’t require a journalism degree. Many of us have a complicated relationship with writing – very often based on some trauma in childhood when we internalized an idea that we weren’t “writers.”

But with some general, relevant knowledge and basic tools, we can all be good writers. Some of us can even be great.

One key thing is to take pressure off yourself to write any certain way – there is no one way to write, just as there is no one way to raise a child or roast a turkey. (But there are terrible ways to do all three!)

You’ve stated that besides writing skills content marketers should have an amateur’s passion. Can you expand on this and what other qualities should great content marketers have and why?

The root of the word “amateur” is the Latin “to love.” You have to love creating content – would you create content even if it you didn’t get paid to do so?

I also think that a curiosity about people and how the world works is key. And then, a love for teaching and sharing what you find with others.

Life is confusing. So is business, and products – especially in the B2B space.

The best content marketers I’ve ever met have a need to figure out how to make the world simpler, better, more understandable. As my former journalism school professor would say, “No one will complain that you made things too simple to understand.”

The online world and digital marketing are constantly changing and changing rapidly. What’s your advice for companies to stay relevant?

Keep talking to your customers. Answer their questions. Be a resource to them. Provide value. That’s the best way to stay current.

More generally, too, find a resource to keep you on top of marketing news and development. That might be MarketingProfs.com. Or it might be something else. What matters is that you find a resource you can consistently rely on.

As traditional marketing techniques are no longer enough, for those companies still living under a rock, how do they get started online and is there time to catch up?

Sure there is. Plan a blog. But first, find your content marketing mission: Ask yourself: What do we stand for?

For example, the New York Public Library says it is “on a mission to inspire lifelong learning, advance knowledge, and strengthen communities.”

Then, use that to craft your content strategy and voice, and identify key themes that you can “own,” for lack of a better word. You can see how the NYPL does that on its wildly popular Instagram feed.

It’s all about inspiring people to connect with a mission.

Your best content is not about what you do or what you sell – but what you do for others.

Good content doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It has everything to do with the experience you are creating for those you serve. Does that sound high-minded? It’s really not – it’s about getting comfortable embracing what makes your organization unique.

What is your favorite social media network for content marketing?
For business: blogs.
For personal use: Instagram.




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8 Responses to “How to Create Ridiculously Good Content – Interview with Ann Handley”

  • Renard Moreau

    [ Smiles ] Ann Handley really knows her stuff.

    Well, I am not doing any business blogs as yet; my blogs are the personal kind.

    I like to use Google+, Twitter, StumbleUpon and Pinterest to help promote my blog.

  • InternetLocalListings

    Many of us have a complicated relationship with writing – very often based on some trauma in childhood when we internalized an idea that we weren’t ‘writers.'”

    Love that quote. It keeps too many of us from putting our ideas out there! It’s a learning process, even for the “pros”. By learning from top influencers, we can improve–and we don’t need degrees to do so 🙂

  • Rajeev Joshi

    Very informative Interview and thanks for sharing, The book is very effective but this Interview you have shared is awesome, No doubt we all writers but how effective we writes and how effectively we are marketing that’s matter more.

  • addrea liana

    That Make Great Content. Writing great content is a choice. You can choose to put in the time and work required to create great content and build a prosperous brand. Or you can choose to take the easy path and write poor content – a path that ultimately will get you nowhere. It will only result in a waste of time, energy and resources.

  • Sri Varshan R Y

    “Life is confusing. So is business, and products” – well IMHO i think, when people mix life, business and product that’s when it becomes more confusing 😉

    Interesting point on writing things simple, everybody loves simple stuff. Thanks for sharing.

    ~ Sri Varshan

  • Kawsar Ahmad

    “How to Create Ridiculously Good Content”
    This is a nice Interview with Ann Handley..
    Many tips i have learn from this post.
    Thanks a lot for this post.

  • Kawsar Ahmad

    Hi,
    This a nice post. While researching the Top 25 Social Media Marketing Books to Read in 2015 I came across Ann’s latest book, Everybody Writes, a Wall Street Journal bestseller, which obviously made the cut. Everybody Writes is your go-to guide to creating ridiculously good content. Ann was kind enough to chat with me about how we are all writers and how to create killer content.
    Thanks

  • Sanjeev

    Ann Handley is a great writer.

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