7 Lessons From Ann Handley’s Book ‘Everybody Writes’

Team Pepper
Posted on 25/01/224 min read

Table of Contents

  • Who Is Ann Handley?
  • 7 Things You Can Learn From Everybody Writes by Ann Handley 
  • Key Takeaways
  • Conclusion
  • FAQs

Writing is one of the most diverse realms of work. Regardless of your specific role as a content writer or a copywriter, your work is not just limited to writing marketing copy. It extends to session descriptions, presentation content, blogs, and so much more. You may be a writer in some capacity, and especially so, if you are a marketer. 

Ann Handley’s book Everybody Writes is a storehouse of useful insights for writers. Essentially a professional development book, it is an important read for anyone in any sort of writing business. Everybody Writes outlines essential tips and tactics to produce compelling copy and masterfully write marketing material. 

Who Is Ann Handley?

Popular for her book Everybody Writes, Ann Handley is a writer, digital marketing pioneer, and bestselling author. She has inspired several individuals and businesses to break the marketing mediocrity and achieve tangible results, using the ideas and concepts shared by her. 


7 Things You Can Learn From Everybody Writes by Ann Handley

In this book, Ann Handley provides the readers with important nuggets of information. Let’s take a look at seven reasons why reading Ann Handley’s book  is essential for every writer:

1. Writing can be learned

While each of us has been often wondering if we are really gifted with the right skills needed to become a writer, Everybody Writes illustrates how the idea of a “gifted writer” is a myth (as the title itself suggests). Writing is not a gift per se. What you need to be a good writer is dedication and the willingness to learn. 

2. Address your reader

Ann Handley’s book tells us to add utility, inspiration, and empathy to writing. Address your reader and make the information easy and digestible for them. That is one of your primary goals when creating marketing copy: make it all about the reader.

3. Start right

Another significant reason for reading this book is its emphasis on beginning your sentences the right way. Use the most important words to start a sentence. Avoid qualifiers right at the beginning. Make sure you avoid using terms, such as “I think”, “Remember to”, “In my opinion”, “According to”, etc., at the beginning of a sentence. This may dilute the strength of the introductory sentence.

4. The first draft will be far from perfect

Handley suggests starting your content creation process with an absolutely rough draft. She calls it the ugly first draft (TUFD) in Everybody Writes.

5. Show, don’t tell

As the basic principle of effective writing goes, your content should show how your product or service lives in the world. For this, your copy has to be detailed. Descriptions will help you paint a picture in your reader’s mind about the utility and benefits of your product and services. 

6. Make use of analogies

Analogies help the reader understand concepts, ideas, and unfamiliar terms. With the help of analogies, you can explain complex ideas to your reader. Ann Handley suggests using “familiar yet surprising analogies”. 

7. Focus on readability

Writing compelling content is not sufficient: you also need to ensure the copy is readable. Jargon, long-drawn sentences, and extended paragraphs are bound to irritate the reader. Use short paragraphs, short sentences, and easily comprehensible words and phrases. Slang (unless you are creating hyperlocal content) and clichés should be avoided as well.

Key Takeaways

  • Everybody Writes is a professional development book by Ann Handley, a digital marketing pioneer, writer, and bestselling author. 
  • According to Ann Handley, hard work is what makes a writer good at what they do.
  • When creating marketing copy, use the most important words to start a sentence.
  • Ann Handley suggests starting with an absolutely rough draft. She calls this the ugly first draft (TUFD). 
  • The basic principle of effective writing demands that your content should show how your product or service lives in the world. 
  • Analogies are a potent tool in writing. In her book, Ann Handley suggests using “familiar yet surprising analogies”. 


Handley’s book Everybody Writes is replete with several useful tips on writing and making your digital marketing copy a success. It offers genuine advice and careful insights into the industry practices that are effective and need to be absorbed by writers of all kinds. 


1. What companies have Ann Handley worked for?

Ann Handley is a popular name in the world of digital marketing. She has written for HuffPost, American Express, NPR, The Wall Street Journal, IBM’s Think Marketing, Mashable, etc.

2. What are some worth-reading and influential marketing books?

Apart from Everybody Writes, some remarkable marketing books include Hacking Growth by Morgan Brown and Sean Ellis, Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller, Contagious by Jonah Berger, This is Marketing by Seth Godin, The Age of Influence by Neal Schaffer.

3. What does Ann Handley talk about, in her book?

Handley’s book is divided into several parts, which talk about different aspects of writing, such as writing rules, tips on improving your writing, publishing rules, content tools, etc.

4. What are the other books written by Ann Handley?

Apart from Everybody Writes, Handley has co-authored Content Rules with C.C. Chapman.