By Pamela Muldoon published October 23, 2014

The Pivot: From Banking Journalism to Content Marketing


Ann Handley and content marketing go together like peanut butter and jelly: You really can’t have one without the other.

As Chief Content Officer for MarketingProfs, a best-selling author of Content Rules (co-written with C.C. Chapman) and the recently published Everybody Writes, as well as a seasoned marketing speaker, Ann has proven to be one of the best in content marketing today.

In this conversation that took place during Content Marketing World 2014, Todd Wheatland sat down with Ann to get to know a bit more about the woman behind the online persona.  Entrepreneur, writer, marketer, mom, and dog lover, Ann gives us not only a glimpse into her working routine, but also shares a bit of her vulnerable side.

What may surprise you

  • Ann is obsessed with dogs and has had up to four dogs at one time. Abby, her 10-year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, is the only family member allowed to reside in her tiny house.
  • You read that correctly. Ann had a tiny house built in her backyard. This is her office, her workspace, and her home away from home. Though only 30 seconds away from the family home, it’s a world away when it comes to her ability to separate work from her family routines.
  • Writing is actually very hard for Ann. Her latest book Everybody Writes is her first solo book and, in her words, “it was like birthing a Volkswagen.”
  • Ann was the first person to take on the title Chief Content Officer.

Ann’s pivot

Ann has been a pioneer in content marketing, so it’s hard to believe there was a time when she was not writing, speaking and training as a leader in our industry. After graduating from college, Ann started working at a business newspaper, specifically a banking newspaper. Covering banking, real estate, and mortgage was really not for Ann.

In 1997, Ann turned her side business as a freelancer into ClickZ, one of the first websites that was a source of information for how to do business online. She sold ClickZ in 2000 and shortly thereafter joined CEO Allen Weiss at MarketingProfs.

Writing as a cornerstone of content is missing in the conversation

With her latest book, Ann wants to fill what she believes is a gap in the content marketing industry. In a time where tools are being developed to assist in the creation and amplification of content, there is a lack of emphasis on the actual art of creating and writing this content.

The conversation I think we need to have as marketers, not just content marketers, but as marketers, is how to really value the words that we’re using and the stories that we’re telling.

Listen to Todd’s full interview with Ann Handley here:

Check out all the fantastic CMW sessions available through our Video on Demand portal, including Ann’s presentation: Sorry Did You Say Something? The Future of Content is Writing.

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Author: Pamela Muldoon

Pamela Muldoon is the Podcast Network Director for the CMI Podcast Network. In her role with CMI, she assists the podcast hosts with the development, production, distribution and promotion of their shows. Pamela is a veteran podcaster who can be heard on the CMI Podcast Network with her latest show "Content Marketing NEXT". To date, she has interviewed over 200 business and marketing professionals as part of her podcast formats. She is also a professional VoiceOver talent specializing in commercial, narration, eLearning, and promo projects. Learn more at or Follow her on Twitter @pamelamuldoon.

Other posts by Pamela Muldoon

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  • annhandley

    Thanks for this interview, Todd! Appreciate it, and it was a lot of fun seeing you in Cleveland! As always.

    • Todd Wheatland

      Eep, only just spotted your comment Ann, thus demonstrating how I earned my ‘real-time’ social creds. Thanks for being so generous with your story, it’s a great one.

  • rogercparker

    I listened to this podcast today, and highly recommend it for its thoughtful blend of marketing and writing insights. I came away with numerous quotes from Ann, many of which resonated with me. including:
    * Content is the heart of marketing
    * There’s nothing else I’d rather be doing than writing
    * Ann’s use of the term “craving for a connection with an audience” as her lifelong drive to be a writer.
    * Her emphasis on/mantra, the need for “greater clarity, greater brevity.”

    I was also interested in the reason she shared for trade publishing rather than self-publishing.

    Taken as a whole, Todd’s podcast series provides a fresh context for reading and rereading our favorite content marketing books with a better understanding of their author’s backgrounds and intentions.

    • Pamela Muldoon

      Roger, I agree. Gaining a deeper insight and understanding behind the public persona of these folks is a real treat. Todd is offering up something special and unique. Thanks for offering your takeaways, too! Thank you for listening!