If you are writing for your business, non-profit, or personal site, you need to read Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business*. If you are creating video content, writing a blog, posting on social media, or hosting a podcast, you need to read this book. I consider this a must reading for all the organizations and colleges I have been a part of. Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman have written an easy to read yet, tip rich book on writing content for your different platforms.
I just finished reading this book about an hour ago while a passenger on a trip through the Shenandoah Valley. I honestly could not put the book down. Each page had a set of gems that will improve what you are doing with your internet presence. With my current employment and volunteer organizations in mind, I have written pages of ideas that I am eager to share with them. Perhaps the first important tip is to read this book.
Handley and Chapman clearly shared the purpose of their book. “It demystifies the publishing process and shares the secrets of creating remarkable blogs, podcasts, webinars, e-books, and other web content that will attract would-be customers to you” (Handley & Chapman, 2012, p. xviii). They also provided great insight on sharing content once created.
The book spans 270 pages and covers three major parts:
- The Content Rules
- The How-To Section
- Content that Converts: Success Stories (With Ideas You can Steal)
“Your potential customers are going online to search for information about the stuff you sell” (Handley & Chapman, 2012, p. 5).
It is, therefore, key that you have a presence on the internet.
The first part covers the “content rules.” The authors believe that everyone can help promote their business or organization by contributing to the internet. In the examples at the back of the book, they shared success stories where in many cases many of the businesses encouraged all their members to participate. I am an advocate of this concept. However, the content rules are 11 rule to help build content that works. These content rules include:
- Embrace that you are a publisher
- Insight inspires originality
- Build momentum
- Speak human
- Reimagine; don’t recycle
- Share or solve; don’t shill
- Show; don’t just tell
- Do something unexpected
- Stoke the campfire
- Create wings & roots
- Play to your strengths
Each rule had its own chapter. The chapter on speaking human had a section on “Eighteen Business Buzzwords We Need to Ban Because They Make Us Sound Like Tools.” I need to print out this list and post it near my writing areas because I am guilty of using a number of them. They also included countless ideas for reimagining content you have already produced. I am planning to borrow and modify their content schedule. Throughout the book, they shared ideas to build content around as well as places to discover new ideas. Also throughout the book, the authors liberally reference their journalism roots and how these lessons contribute to better internet products.
In the How-To Section, they covered the following topics:
- Ebooks and White Papers
- Case Studies
- FAQs and FUQs
In each chapter, they shared countless tips that will help you create great content. I have seen a number of these tips in other places; however, it was great to see all this wonderful information in one place. This will be one of those books that I will recommend over and over to those interested in getting on the internet. Because of what I learned in this book, I am planning to venture into the world of ebooks. I have a couple of ideas ready to go. I am also planning to take a fresh look at our FAQs.
The last section focuses on success stories. There were 10 stories shared and each story lasted 4-5 pages. Here is a list of the businesses highlighted:
- Reynolds Golf Academy
- Cool Beans Group
- U.S. Army
- Boeing Company
- Indium Corporation
Each company shared strategies they used and the varying levels of success they garnered. There is also a section in each review on ideas you can steal. As I noted earlier, many of these companies reach out to all of their employees to be contributors to blogs, videos, and social media platforms. These companies were nervous to allow their employees to write on behalf of the company, but now they have no regrets.
The internet is not going away. If you have an organization or business, you definitely need to read Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business. This book is packed full of great insight and tips. It is another book that has found a prominent place on my shelf.
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