Content Creation: Ann Handley’s Step-by-Step Writing GPS [Infographic]

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Ann Handley's writing gpsWant to the know the greatest content marketing book I’ve read to date?

You may have already heard of this clever novel written by Ann Handley, Everybody Writes.

If you’ve read this guide already, then you understand my sentiment towards it, but if you haven’t, stop what you’re doing and get a copy right now! (You won’t regret it, I promise.)

Coming fresh out of college, I was unprepared for the business world (especially writing for an inbound agency). So, I couldn’t be more thankful this book landed on my desk!

It has transformed the way I write and the way I think about online marketing. In such a content-driven world, it’s often up to marketers to captivate audiences through writing.

And how do we do that you might ask? Through “ridiculously good” and engaging content.

In this infographic, Visually teamed up with Ann to help visualize some of the key lessons from her book.

The 12 Steps to Follow to Write Your Next Piece of Content

  1. Goal: Ask yourself, what are you trying to achieve with this piece of content? If you don’t know what or how it fits in with your business goal, it’s probably not worth writing.
  2. Reframe: Once you’ve set your goal, ask “so what?” Your goal needs to be about your reader and a problem they’re having. If you can’t reframe your goal and prove why your reader should care, go back and look at your goal again. It may be the wrong one to be writing for.
  3. Data and Examples: Support your idea! Even if you have a really, really great idea, not backing it up will end badly for you. Be sure to do some research to corroborate your idea first, that way you can prove to yourself and others your idea isn’t just taking a shot in the dark.
  4. Organize: Now that you have your idea, how should you present it? Will it work best as a blog post? How about an infographic? Don’t try to squish your idea into one given format. Let your audience and what you’re trying to relay to them, tell you how to present it best and get the most interaction.
  5. Write to One Person: One of Ann’s biggest tips is to pick out just one person to write to. Using words like people and they are too general and impersonal. Your audience will feel as though you’re not speaking to them and trying to solve their problem. Create a deeper connection with your audience by speaking to each one on an individual level. Use words like you instead!
  6. Draft: Let your fingers fly and write anything down here. This “TUFD” (The Ugly First Draft) as Ann calls it, is for your eyes only. It will help make sure you have all your ideas written down in one place so you can reference it and create a better piece later on.
  7. Walk Away: Ann suggests that you then take time away from your draft – let your ideas sink in.
  8. Rewrite: Take that messy first draft and write it into something your audience will want to read. Pretend you are the reader – would you read the whole thing?
  9. Headline / Title: Spend as much time on the headline as you did the piece. In a fast-paced, content-driven world, sometimes the title is the only thing that your audience sees. It needs to be clear and actionable enough to make them click.
  10. Edit: Go through and look for spelling and grammar errors, then send it to someone else (if you don’t have an editor). A second pair of eyes will help make sure none were missed.
  11. Readability: Take time to scan through your fully written piece and make sure it’s not a heavy block of text. It should be easy for your reader to scan. Look for areas that could be broken up by bullet points, sub-headings, bolded words, or images.
  12. Publish: Congrats! Before you hit that publish button, make sure your audience knows what to do next. As Ann says, “Don’t leave your readers just standing awkwardly in the middle of the dance floor after the music stops.” Show them what to do next!

These 12 steps are just tidbits of some of the amazing advice Ann shares in her book. To get more in-depth details and examples, you’ll just have to read it for yourself, but remember, this guide is also just that – a guide.

Your writing process might not adhere to each step and that’s ok! The only goal you should have is creating a useful piece of content your audience will love to read.

Check out Visually’s infographic below so you can start creating your next great piece of content!

Ann Handley

 

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