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Soph Reads Stuff – Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content

Hey friends! I’m back with the third Soph Reads Stuff blog and we’re tackling a big one – the marketing heavyweight that is Everybody Writes by Ann Handley. 

Ann Handley is a champion of digital marketing, with two best-selling books under her belt and a distinguished career as a keynote speaker and marketer. She’s also the Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs – an experience that she references heavily throughout the book. Basically, Ann is who I want to be when I grow up, and Everybody Writes is the copy handbook I need as a baby marketer. 

If, like me, you’re constantly Googling things like ‘how many words should a blog be’ and ‘good LinkedIn hooks’, this book will become your new bible. Ann has thought of everything, tried it, and then answered all our questions. She’s been there, done that, and gotten the T-shirt. While there are a few draw-backs to this book, it’s definitely one I’ll keep going back to. So, let’s get into it. 

Everybody Writes is a much heavier book than the two that I’ve tackled before. I started reading it nearly six months ago, and it’s taken me until last week to actually finish it. That’s not to say it’s boring – far from it. Every page is packed with helpful information, witty anecdotes and a brilliant amount of literary puns (which I am an absolute sucker for). Ann’s sense of humour resonated with me before I’d even started to read the body of the book, and if you read this quote from the Acknowledgements you’ll see why: 

I cry about everything too, so I immediately felt like Ann and I were on the same page. Ann also said that she’s “more Eeyore than Seabiscuit”, which is the most relatable analogy I’ve ever heard, so I would very much like for us to be friends. 

Everybody Writes covers pretty much everything from websites, blogs and social media posts, and then a few more things that I’d never even thought of. It starts with a series of rules covering how to write, grammar and usage, storytelling, and publishing, followed by guides on how to craft various types of content and finished with Ann’s recommendations for content tools. A lot of the stuff that was covered in the first few sections had already been drummed into me at uni, but for somebody whose background is more generalised and less writing-specific, these nuggets of writing goodness would be invaluable. 

What I loved about Everybody Writes is that every single page adds value and knowledge, while Ann’s humorous anecdotes make you feel like you’re in on the joke. Ann’s advice also demonstrates her expertise, because every single rule is based on personal experience and industry insights. Rule #39 is a personal favourite, covering mondegreens and eggcorns, which are one of my biggest pet peeves (hello, “Pacifically”). 

I think it’s clear at this point that I loved Everybody Writes. It’s going to get a pretty high rating, but I would be failing as a reviewer if I didn’t point out some of the issues with the book. 

Firstly, it’s not an easy read. Structurally, it’s less like Platform’s enjoyable, narrativised romp through personal branding and more like one of those monstrous textbooks that haunted my undergraduate degree (I’m looking at you, The Norton Anthology of Theory & Criticism). It’s a much better book than a Norton anthology of course, but it’s not for the faint of heart. You have to really commit to getting through this one. 

Everybody Writes also shows its age by referencing outdated sites such as LinkedIn ‘Pulse’, which used to be a separate app rather than the integrated system that currently populates your newsfeed. Ann has addressed that issue by releasing a second edition in October last year, which was about three weeks after I got my hands on the copy I have now (annoying, I know). For that reason only, I’m giving the first edition a four star review, and recommending that you don’t make the same mistake I did by buying the outdated version. 

Overall, Everybody Writes is an excellent resource for anybody who works in marketing, whether you’re a copywriter or not. As Ann says, in our industry, “everybody writes”. Armed with her book, you’ll be able to write more engaging and grammatically sound copy for socials, blogs and more. 

Rating: 💜💜💜💜🤍 


This is a great book, packed with useful advice on almost every aspect of marketing copy you could think of. It’s not an easy read because of how much information is packed in there, but it’s an invaluable resource for marketers everywhere. Definitely worth a read!

Want to chat about books? Find me on LinkedIn –> Sophie Colclough 🥰

How to Level-Up Your Recruitment Website

As we face a looming recession, it’s essential for businesses to focus on offering value to their customers, and one of the best ways to do that is by presenting yourself well online. We’re level-up recruitment websites every day, so we decided to share our secrets to help you attract clients, engage with candidates and stand out in a saturated market: 

Tip 1 – Overhaul your company’s digital presence

Get away from the archaic, analogue ways of working and bring your recruitment agency into the digital age. Using automations to connect applications with your consultants gives you a seamless customer experience for clients and candidates. One of the best ways to do this is integrating your customer relationship management or applicant tracking system with your website. That allows your jobs to automatically post out and applications to come through to the right consultant. It’s all about using connectivity and the customer experience cycle in a way that saves you time. 

Tip 2 – Showcase your team

Create profiles for your consultants that act as a mini social media profile on your website. They can use them as a hub for their own network, acting as a virtual business card. It can include a biography, their niche specialism and contact information, all presented with your company branding. That’s a valuable resource for your internal people. 

Consultants can use their page as business development tools as well. Their profiles offer consistent messaging for their outreach, and it brings more traffic to your site. This section helps turn your consultants into a team of mini marketers for your company. Clients arrive on your site to book a meeting with your consultant, but they can flick around, read a case study, look at some blog content or listen to a podcast while they’re there. That will consistently promote your product offering. 

In order to optimise your consultant’s pages, you should connect them to a booking app like Calendly or Microsoft Teams. If you can, choose one that has an embedded form that allows you to track attributions and conversions. It helps to talk to your consultants through that process, and make sure that content on their page works well for them. 

You can also populate their pages with case studies (which we’ll get into in Tip 3). This provides proof of the work they do, and builds their credibility on your site. It also plays into storytelling, which is essential in any kind of marketing activity. Embedding a biography about their experience, personality and interests is great, because people buy from people. Your aim should be to create connections in these profiles. 

To really level-up consultants’ pages, get a video of them talking about their work. Including consumable, personal and entertaining content on your website is the best way to engage potential clients. 

Tip 3 – Create compelling case studies 

Creating a case study shows off the great work you’ve done and builds social proof. Simple testimonials are fine, but if you want to get the most out of your previous work, include KPIs and processes to showcase your skills. Any potential customers on your website can resonate with your stories, and imagine it working for them. They also speak to your customer’s pain points and explain how you would fix them, creating a valuable and time-saving resource. 

Some things to include in your case studies are information about the sector and location you’ve worked in, your time to hire and your service offering, broken down into who bought what and how it helped them. Integrating your team’s pages will build credibility for each of your consultants, as well as add personal proof to your site, which you can do by tagging the lead consultant in each case study. 

Another thing you should focus on is using storytelling in each case study. Writing engaging copy that discusses the challenge, the solution and how you overcame it will begin to persuade people that your services are the ones to buy into. You should also include the candidates’ perspectives to make sure you’re speaking to both types of people that you’re trying to attract. 

Tip 4 – Publish valuable insights 

Another great resource for your website is an insight hub. This goes beyond a simple blog by combining your activities into one place. Whether you’re publishing a podcast, newsletters, white papers, ebook downloads, etc, a well-branded insight hub is a powerful tool. You can filter your content for clients and candidates as well, because they will resonate with different content. An insight hub can house your SEO-focussed content too. This content will not only resonate with the audience on the website, but give you stretchable content that the whole team can use for their social media activity. 

Tip 5 – Focus your copy on the customer

In order to effectively market your services, you need to find a way to communicate how they will actually affect the life of the client. What you write and how you come across in your content will impact how your customers think about you. Do qualitative research and understand their needs, then communicate how your solution will impact them or their business in an emotive way. Remember that marketing is just making your product appeal to your buyers.  

Keep asking ‘why?’. Keep breaking it down. For example, you might want a client to submit a lead form. Why would they sign up? Because they want to use your services. Why? Because that will make their business work better. Why do they need to improve it? Because it’s affecting their home life. The further down you get, the more talking points you’ll find about what your website and product offering will solve. That’s the kind of thing you should put into your copy. 

Bonus Tip – Advertise your own career opportunities

Adding a Careers section to your website is a great business development tool. If you’ve got growth objectives for the next few years, showcasing your culture and values is super important. The recruitment space is highly competitive, so create video content with your team. Make it fun and different. Showing your personalities will resonate a lot better with candidates who are recent graduates or looking to move out of scalar companies. You need to show them that recruitment is a fun industry to work in. 

Some things to include in your videos are your commission structures, flexible working environment and company culture. Don’t present yourselves as just another corporate company with stock images, plain plain layout etc. Do some research with your designers to stand out in your market. 

To learn more about creating an impactful recruitment website, listen to the full episode of the Skill Point Podcast here. 

How Good Copy Can Level-Up Your Recruitment Marketing

When we talk about copywriting, what comes to mind? 

Blogs? Emails? Websites? 

The truth is that copy is ALL of the writing on your site, socials and other online touch-points. Getting your copy right across all of them is important in creating a solid brand identity and engaging effectively with your audience. 

On Episode 3 of The Skill Point Podcast we spoke with recruitment marketing copywriter Luca Rosi, who shared his top tips for nailing your copy. 

What is the purpose of copy?

In most areas of business, copywriting is essentially sales writing. In the recruitment space, that means selling in a non-salesy way that’s engaging for your customers. 

Copy can be everything from a press release to an online blog or white paper, all of which require different disciplines and techniques to produce. 

Do this by addressing your audience rather than talking about yourself, because people want to know what’s in it for them. They don’t care how brilliant you are, they’re interested in your features and benefits. Your copy should focus on messages like ‘We will save you X amount of time and X amount of money’ rather than ‘I’ve got X awards’. 

Good copy also comes across as approachable. Luca says “Don’t overthink it, just give people a contact detail, show them that you’re available, give them the sense that you’re a friendly person. They want to feel like you’re interested in them.” Write with the goal of inviting your audience in.

How do you identify your tone of voice?

Your online presence should be written in the same tone of voice if you want to create a cohesive brand. While that seems like common sense, it’s a common error in our industry. To help you write consistent copy, it’s important that you can communicate your tone of voice to everyone who writes for you, even yourself. 

Brand guidelines will often include terms like ‘knowledgeable’ and ‘professional’ to describe their tone, but at the heart of it, a successful tone will be conversational. Especially in recruitment, your copy should feel like you’re having a chat with your audience. People should want to talk to you. 

Within that you’ve got to demonstrate your expertise and professionalism. Finding a balance can be difficult, particularly when it comes to using acronyms and industry lingo. Using clear, concise and comfortable language is the key to presenting yourself well online.

Luca’s top tip is “Never assume that anybody knows what you’re talking about.” Even if that means over-explaining a point, it’s important to make sure people understand your message, as that’s what gets them on-board. 

How do you write good job ads?

One of the most important pieces of copy in the recruitment sector are our job ads. But are we getting them right? 

When you look at most job ads, the first thing you see is the role description. 

That’s the first mistake. Remember that you’re selling the role to candidates, so you should start with what you can offer them. Think about flexible working, the salary, the benefits and why your company is great to work for. Give them a feel of the culture and slowly talk about the job as you go down. 

One common mistake is being too prescriptive. Companies expect miracles from people. It’s always worth putting in a sentence at the bottom that says ‘Even if you don’t tick all those boxes, we’d still love to talk to you.’ You can’t afford to alienate people that could be amazing at the job. You need to consider what’s essential and only state desirable experience or qualities as that; desirable. Don’t put people off.

The reality is that most consultants don’t get the time or training to understand how to write great job ads, but restructuring the process will improve your performance as a consultant and a company. 

Consultants will have visited the client, talked to the hiring manager and got a feel for the culture. When they’re calling candidates and saying ‘This is a great team, the culture is exciting’ etc, that takes time. Consider putting them in the job description instead and using calls to build a better relationship. 

When it comes to writing job ads, you can either take on a specialist writer to work on them or level up your consultants to grow your business internally. 

What is the ultimate benefit for a business for having great copy in it?

Your copy is your first point of contact with both clients and candidates. Getting it right means starting relationships on the right foot. 

Whether they’re visiting your website, downloading a report or reading an article, your copy is your first opportunity to show people your expertise. 

Making an impact with clear, concise copy will create positive impressions and increase conversions.


How to Beat the Competition with Value-Adding Content on Google

When it comes to marketing, making it easy for people to find you is one of the most important aspects of your path to success. 

Whether you’re using hashtags on social media posts or focusing on SEO to help your audience find you on Google, getting yourself out there should be the first step in your marketing strategy.

On Episode 2 of the Skill Point Podcast we sat down with David Ellis, an SEO expert and founder of Teranga. We asked him all our burning questions about how Search Engine Optimisation can help you level up your marketing game, and the changes that Google’s algorithms are making to the type of content that will get you to page one. 

What’s ranking well on Google right now?

Google is increasingly prioritising genuinely good content. While keywords are important, the algorithms are also looking at readability, dwell time and click-through rates. When you’re creating content you should consider the question:

Google wants to give its users the best and most relevant content as quickly as possible. If someone finds exactly what they’re looking for on page one, Google has achieved their goal. So what does that mean for you? We’ll get to that, but first, let’s look at what Google thinks is valuable. 

How does Google perceive value?

Value is increasingly being defined by the number of people linking back to an article, how long people spend reading it and how often people go back to it.

To create content in a way that Google will perceive as valuable, you need to ensure that people have positive interactions with your content and that Google’s algorithm can understand what it is and how to use it. That means using the right tags and alt text, as well as creating clear and readable content. Everybody who comes across your content should be able to see what problem you’re solving and what you’re offering, including Google. 

How can small recruitment agencies rank well? 

The key to ranking highly on Google is to pick your battles. More accurately, pick the right keywords to use in your content. 

If you’re still wondering ‘what are keywords?!’, the answer is this:

Keywords like ‘jobs’ are going to pull up a lot of results, so getting to the first page for a phrase like that will be difficult. More specific terms, which are called long-tail keywords, such as ‘senior financial technology roles in Kent’ will have far less competition, so that’s where you can hone in on your niche and start to rank well for exactly what you do. 

In other words, the more specific you are with your keywords, the more likely you are to rank well. 

Having said that, you have to be careful not to make your keywords too niche. Make sure that you’re using phrases that people will actually search for, because there’s no point making it to page one of a search that nobody’s interested in. The key is to find a sweet spot where there’s enough search volume and not a lot of competition. 

To build an authority in your niche, you need to create that all important value-adding content. Your website, blogs and social presence need to provide concise, clear information to the customer, with engaging images that load quickly. Make sure what you’re creating is well-written or produced, research-backed and clearly presented. Remember, it’s all about the consumer!

So how do you make value-adding content?

Our favourite method of creating genuinely value-adding content is – you guessed it – PODCASTS! Sitting down with industry experts and getting their perspectives, insights and opinions is guaranteed to give you mountains of great content. 

Once you’ve recorded a half-hour episode, you can get social media clips, graphics and blogs out of it, perfect for sharing to your network and on your website. These blogs are going to be rich in keywords because you’re discussing the things that matter in your industry, whether you’re talking about all things talent or diving into the topics that are specific to your niche. 

People value having content in forms that are easy to consume, and having a podcast that they can passively consume is a great way to do that. Once you’ve stretched it into bite-sized content that they can engage with on platforms like Linkedin, you’re really meeting your audience where they are. 


Make Your Brand Resonate With Your People

Creating a great brand can be difficult. Branding is much more than your visual assets and tone of voice; it should be based on your purpose, mission and vision. Building your brand in a way that reflects those core values will make it resonate with its audience and internal people.

On our brand new Skill Point Podcast we spoke to Richard Williams, the founder of the digital branding agency Unearthed about how he helps companies brand themselves effectively. Here is his step-by-step process for creating a brand identity that resonates with people:

1) Get Leadership Involved

Get the key people in your business in a room and have a conversation about your purpose, vision and mission. When you get people inside the company involved, your answers will reflect the core of the business. That makes it easy to get internal buy-in, because the people who are there every day have played a part in making it.

Start with the purpose. Ask yourselves ‘Why are we doing what we’re doing?’ The answer shouldn’t be about financial success or fame, it’s the thing that drives you all to get up in the morning and come to work.

Next comes the vision. Discuss what it is that you’re looking to achieve. That doesn’t have to be an achievable goal, it’s more of the overall aim of the company. Think things like ‘ending world hunger’ or ‘creating world peace’.

Finally your mission is your plan for how you’re going to achieve your goals in a way that matches your why. Think about what you do differently, the processes you’ll need to put in place and the culture you want to create for the people who interact with your brand.

2) Communicate With Your Whole Company

Once you’ve heard from your leadership team, look at the impact that their goals have on the workforce. Have roundtables to see whether those ideas are being reflected in the way that the company works. Take your employees’ perspectives and see what themes you can pull from both sides.

If you’ve built your brand successfully these two perspectives will match up. If not, that shows you where internal work needs to happen before you take your shiny new brand identity public.

Take the information from your leadership team and workforce and distil it into a powerful message. This will inform everything from website copy and visual assets to your service proposition. Your message acts as a guiding light, so whenever you make content or grow into a new area everyone in the company can see how that aligns with your purpose, vision and mission.

Your message becomes the glue that binds the company together and communicates the fact that your business is driven by more than profit.

3) Get Your Audience Involved

Your clients and candidates provide the motivation to keep the company going.

The most important part of a great marketing strategy is to listen to your audience and see what is working for them and what isn’t. Do the qualitative research that tells you why they do business with you, what’s keeping them up at night, why they chose you. Distil those answers down until it gives you a clear vision and mission so that your output speaks to your audience, making it resonate with their needs.

By aligning your brand’s mission with your audience’s input, you can craft a marketing strategy that adds value to all of your people.

4) Create Value-Driven Content

Once you’ve established your brand’s messaging, you can create content that your company can buy into and your audience resonates with.

Consider what value your content is adding for your customers or clients. Aim to translate your message into consumable content that people are excited about interacting with.

Find a tone of voice that speaks to the culture that you’re trying to create around your brand and comment on things that align with your mission. If you want to be positioned as a thought leader in your industry, share insights that you’ve learned from working in it. If you want to transform the industry, shout about what you’re doing differently and what’s working for you.

Once you’ve structured your brand around your purpose, vision and mission, your marketing strategy will make sense. If you’d like to hear more about how you can level up your recruitment company’s marketing game, tune into the first episode of The Skill Point Podcast here.


Soph Reads Stuff – Founder Brand: Turn Your Story Into Your Competitive Advantage 

Welcome to the second instalment of Soph Reads Stuff! This time we’re taking a deep dive into the marketing phenomenon that is Founder Brand

If you’ve ever been on Entrepreneur TikTok or the marketing side of LinkedIn, you’ve probably heard of our author, who is none other than the incredibly successful Dave Gerhardt. According to his own profile (and the back of the book), he’s “One of the top marketing minds in the country” (if you’re in America). He’s also a serial podcaster and solopreneur, which is a fancy word for self-employed. Basically, he’s a pretty cool guy. 

Founder Brand is Gerhardt’s blueprint for success. Released just over a year ago in February 2022, it was an instant best-seller on Amazon. The Kindle edition is currently ranking just below #600 in the Marketing & Sales category. But, is it any good? 

The book starts by introducing Gerhardt’s background as the former Chief Brand Officer at Drift and previous Chief Marketing Officer at Privy. He tells readers how each of these experiences have played into the strategy that he lays out in Founder Brand, from building an audience to creating compelling narratives that sell your product or service on social media. 

Much like Platform, Founder Brand is full of personal proof, which builds credibility for the author. The premise is also an interesting one; using your story to relate to potential customers and build a following for your brand. “Selling on social media” is presented as a conversation rather than the ecommerce platforms that most people would associate with the phrase. By using social content to convince your audience of the value in your product, you’re also creating conversations and communities for the people who buy into your brand. It really is a genius strategy. 

From the very beginning, Founder Brand is very clearly aimed at founders, and goes as far as to address them directly throughout the entire book with the second person pronoun ‘you’. It does also acknowledge its potential usefulness to marketers who work with founders, which is why I gave it a go. The founder I work with is pretty cool (Hey, Haydn!), and it would be great to learn how to market our company off the back of his personal brand. However, there is something rather disconcerting about reading a book that is literally addressed to someone else. 

If you can get past the unnerving feeling of being in the wrong book, Founder Brand is objectively well-written. Gerhardt uses clean, accessible language and includes plenty of illustrations to clarify his points. This breaks up the information-rich text well, and gives an insight into the kind of social media that Gerhardt himself enjoys. There’s clearly a lot of thought behind the content in the book, which reflects its message; ‘always offer value’. 

The bulk of Founder Brand is broken up into three ‘Levels’: 

  1. Become a storyteller, 
  2. Become a publisher, and
  3. Become a master of the feedback loop.

Gerhardt uses this structure to talk you through the strategy of creating a founder-led brand. He also tells you how to replicate his success through handy how-tos and memorable methods, such as creating a ‘villain’ that you can save customers from. Gerhardt also makes great points about how your audience thinks and how marketing makes a difference to your whole company. 

Hustle culture is rampant in our society, so it’s no surprise that this book is popular. Founder Brand tells you how to sell your product or service by positioning yourself as a successful and interesting entrepreneur. It also promotes starting your own podcast and talking about yourself or your work. What’s not to love?

It doesn’t pass the Bechdel test, but that would be a weird metric to subject this book to anyway, so I can’t really level it as a criticism. Fundamentally, my issue is that I just can’t relate to it. Perhaps because I’m not a founder, and therefore not its target audience, or perhaps because I don’t identify with the people who pop up in Gerhard’s anecdotes. They’re less relatable than the sparkling, chaotic merriment of Johnson’s personal branding extravaganza that I explored in Soph Reads Stuff #1. Add to that the feeling that I shouldn’t actually be reading it, and the book loses a great amount of charm. 

I really WANT to like it, I do. Founder Brand is a well-written piece of prose, straight from the mind of a fascinating founder, marketer and creator. Despite that, I can’t personally recommend it for anyone other than founders. If you’re a founder though, this book is literally FOR you. It’s great for getting you into the right mindset when it comes to marketing, and it’s an enjoyable read from both a visual and literary standpoint. 

Rating: 💜💜💜🤍🤍 (5 if you’re a founder) 


Founder Brand is worth a read… IF you’re a founder. It’s technically a good book, but as a young femme employee, I didn’t resonate with it. It’s inaccessible to a wide audience, which isn’t necessarily a flaw given its target market, but it does make it hard for me to personally recommend to other marketers. 

Want to chat about books? Find me on LinkedIn –> Sophie Colclough 🥰