Here’s How Ann Handley (the World’s First Chief Content Officer) Writes

Here’s How Ann Handley (the World’s First Chief Content Officer) Writes

Reader Comments (46)

  1. Ann,

    Thanks for sharing, you inspire me, I love to write as well,

    When I was younger, I had troubles getting my words out and then once I started writing, I could never stop,

    Even my emails are so wordy these days ,

    Also Demian – Thanks for the post, I love this website 😉

  2. I think we have all felt the pressure of time constraints before. Some people really thrive on that kind of pressure but I think doing things last minute is asking for trouble. I know that I can work and hit tight deadlines, but I prefer to not kill myself to get it done!

  3. Demian and Ann,

    I like the idea of showing your content to a teenager to check if it is compelling. I think it will work in most cases and is really good when writing for masses (like blogging).

    However, a quite serious or a specific topics in some cases are better to write in a different style (which does not target masses).

    For example, if I am a specialist in a specific filed, I may be looking for a serious article that resolves the question I need. I don’t need an amusing and a fun reading, but just condensed and to the point information in this case.

    But on the other hand, you are right again when it goes about over-complication things. Even Albert Einstein said that everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.

    • All successful communication is clear, concise, and compelling. It doesn’t mean it has to be fun. A teenager should be able to read it and understand it. But it helps if you have a sense of humor. The Nobel Prize economist Paul Krugman has been taking his colleagues to task over this issue. If people outside your field can’t understand you, you probably don’t understand yourself.

  4. Thanks for interviewing Ann. I’m ashamed to say I had never heard of her, but now I’m excited to get her book Content Rules! She sounds like one person I would like to learn as much as possible from, so I’ll also be reading her blogs.

    I like her sense of humor. With all the millions of blogs out there these days, it’s really important to make our own as unique and interesting as possible. If I can pick up any tips from her, I’ll be all over it.

    I like the idea of writing with the idea of keeping a teen-ager’s interest. I don’t have any kids, so hadn’t thought of that perspective before, but I’ll keep that in mind now as I write.

    Thanks for all the great tips and ideas here.

    • Thanks, Karleen. Nice to meet you as well… well, you know what I mean! 🙂

      My teen is available for rent, if you’d find her feedback useful! LOL

  5. so true that the reader doesn’t turn the page to applaud, he turns it to be entertained, to learn something. Thank you for this top level explanation from Ann.

  6. Excellent interview with Ann Demian. It’s always great to get insights from those marketers whose writings we follow and admire online.

    My favorite part of your interview:

    What do you see as your greatest success in life?

    To me there’s no greater success than loving the life you’re living. Which I do.

    Never truer words 🙂

  7. Very entertaining and well written. Thanks for posting this.

    “Show it to a teenager…” indeed. A few months ago, my sons’ car stopped dead in the street while I was driving it. They’re away at college, so it didn’t affect them, but I emailed the 500-word saga of my repair job to them. I guess my “relentless focus on the audience” worked, because the older one replied, “10/10. Would read again.”

  8. “Not enough time” aggravates me to no end… and I manage the time I do have very well.

    So, I suppose I try to be “content” with what I do with the time I do have… it doesn’t work very well, but it is a consolation of some sort.

    This was a great look into the life of a great writer, Ann… thank you.

  9. Hmmmm… I’m gonna go write something now.

    But thanks for the words Demian and Ann. Both of you are inspiring individuals! 🙂

  10. Love the response to what makes a great writer “Empathy for the reader or audience, and a relentless focus on them.” Yes yes yes!!

  11. I’m so glad I got my ticket to the conference when I did. Looking forward to hearing Ann speak along with so many other very cool and talented people.

  12. More reason to -stalk- _ahem_ appreciate Ann Handley: She writes with a 2 year old MacBook Pro and has been successfully converted to the cult of Scrivener. This makes us practically related, right?

    Ann’s freshness and fun only adds to her Authority and authenticity.

    Can a woman be funny and formidable? For the second time today, I am answering that question with a yes, yes, yes!

  13. “My father never got truck driver’s block.”

    Haha! Thanks for sharing that quote. It made me laugh, even though I honestly don’t agree with it. Writing requires a lot of focus and eats up a lot of glucose in the brain.

    I understand one needs focus to drive, but you can still do 3/4 of driving in your subconscious. Writing is not something anyone can do subconsciously (at least for long). It’s almost always a conscious, energy draining practice. So, in my opinion, that’s what writer’s block comes down to — just the ability to focus.

    Anyway, great interview! I enjoyed reading it.

      • I think my bigger “truck driver” point is that writing is a muscle that needs work (and rest).

        What makes it good is simply doing it consistently with purpose and caring and empathy for the reader — not an infusion of some murky bit of magic that the notion of “writer’s block” suggests.

  14. I adore this series and especially enjoyed your hilarious answers, Ann.

    Thanks for another great piece, Demian!

    The target audience of the blog I manage IS teenagers/twentysomethings, so I would LOVE for your daughter to take a look at it and share her thoughts.

    In any event, I’ll be at the Authority Intensive and look forward to hearing you speak then!

  15. Awesome. Simply awesome. I think the line about being empathic and constantly focusing on the reader is a gem. Often times we get caught up in trying to show what we know rather than helping.

    Thanks for a great interview!


  16. Amen on silence Demian. Ideas flow freely from fingers to keyboard to Word Doc when I sit in quiet. Music and all other noise distracts me.

    Practice writing. Practice writing. Practice writing. I post 5 times daily. 2-3 vids usually and 1-2 articles. Why? Writing makes me a better writer and content creator.

    I would add that going overboard leads to burnout. Practice, rest and let your creative juices flow during down time. I took today off. I hopped online at 6:30 tonight. So no late night sessions because I need to rest, relax, and hit the cyber world hard again tomorrow.

    Thanks for sharing!

  17. Always love reading your stuff Ann. I’m pretty much carrying a copy of Content Rules around with me at all times as reading material. I LOVE that you have a giant note pad in your space too. I recently started working in a “bullpen” style office space so I have limited availability to have an easel for mine so I switched from the massive post-it style tablets to a large Crayola coloring pad. It get’s the job done for me and they easily fold down into file folders for storage of important ones. 🙂

    Nice write up.

      • Hey whatever works! I’ve just found that strategy, design, heck even random thoughts that pop into my head all flow easier and lead to another cool idea when I doodle them in color instead of just typing a note on my computer.

  18. Loved reading through this interview. Ann, your answer to this question made me stop and think . . . and analyze myself.

    “What do you see as your greatest success in life?

    To me there’s no greater success than loving the life you’re living. Which I do.”

    The reason it made me think and analyze is because I love the life I’m living on so many levels even though they all seem to pull me in different directions.

    The other thing I loved was your answer to this one: “Before you begin to write, do you have any pre-game rituals or practices?” Don’t we all?

    Thanks for a great interview!

  19. Why is it always so hard to actually start writing? (or is it just me)

    Anne, how is your journey with Scrivener going? I have heard a lot of good things about it. Has it changed your writing life as it did for David.

    Thanks for a great interview Demian.

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