From Reads to Leads - Kateryna Abrosymova - E-Book

From Reads to Leads E-Book

Kateryna Abrosymova

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Content has a clear role in the marketing process. It must aid the customer journey by moving readers from one stage of awareness to the next until they become leads. In other words, content develops leads. 

If your content is going to fulfill its duty—to turn readers into leads—people need to actually read it. So how can you write content that people will read? 

From Reads to Leads teaches 11 principles that define how a content writer writes every draft. Applying these principles to your writing will help you grab the right person’s attention, get your message across, and move your reader down the marketing funnel. 

The book comes with 40 writing exercises to each chapter to help you learn and practice several writing rules that will help you focus on writing content that makes readers act instead of writing content that sits on a server and gathers dust. 

You'll discover:

  • How to understand what your readers need and how to write content that appeals to them
  • How to get the desired response from your readers and move them down the marketing funnel
  • How to figure out and communicate your key message and how to use it to take readers to the next stage of their journey
  • How to creatively turn your content into a story with a three-act structure
  • How to write an outline that focuses your writing and kills your procrastination
  • What makes writing clear and simple 
  • How to express your brand’s personality and make your writing recognizable
  • What makes content readable, and how to get your readers to stay with you till the end
  • The writer’s role in the content writing process, and how you should approach content collaborations
  • How you should react when your work is ripped to shreds

From Reads to Leads is a true roadmap to succeeding with content for copywriters, content writers, marketing managers, and entrepreneurs curious why they're not making as many leads with their content as they know they should.


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Kateryna Abrosymova

From Reads to Leads

Copyright © 2021 by Kateryna Abrosymova.

All rights reserved.

No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. While all attempts have been made to verify the information provided in this publication, neither the author nor the publisher assumes any responsibility for errors, omissions, or contrary interpretations of the subject matter herein. Adherence to all applicable laws and regulations, including international, federal, state, and local governing professional licensing, business practices, advertising, and all other aspects of doing business in the US, Canada, or any other jurisdiction is the sole responsibility of the purchaser or reader. Any perceived slight of any individual or organization is purely unintentional.

Book ISBN: 9791220083133

Amazon Kindle Edition ISBN: 9791220083126

UUID: 961e1c4b-7015-4fa6-b671-2846cc8a7d7b
Questo libro è stato realizzato con StreetLib Write

Indice dei contenuti

INTRODUCTION - Why Do Companies Hire Content Writers?

Content Is For The Reader

CHAPTER 1 - Develop Empathy for Your Reader

CHAPTER 2 - Be Like Your Reader

CHAPTER 3 - Know Your Readers’ Personalities

CHAPTER 4 - Your Best Copy Comes From What Customers Say

CHAPTER 5 - Turn Your Content Into a Solution

Getting A Response Is the Whole Point of Writing

CHAPTER 6 - Your Goal Is to Get People to Take Action

CHAPTER 7 - Expertise Earns Credibility and Trust

CHAPTER 8 - Ego Is Your Enemy. Nobody Cares About You

CHAPTER 9 - Positive Framing Creates Positive Emotions

CHAPTER 10 - Focus on Outcomes to Sell the Hole, Not the Drill

CHAPTER 11 - Talk About Problems to Persuade

Have A Message And Make A Point

CHAPTER 12 - Content Must Be About Something

CHAPTER 13 - An Aha Moment Moves Readers to Action

Structure Is How You Deliver Your Content

CHAPTER 14 - Good Content Is Like the Script of a Hollywood Movie

CHAPTER 15 - Where You Start Is Where You Want to End

CHAPTER 16 - Flow and Cohesion Tie Ideas Together

CHAPTER 17 - Transition Words Connect Ideas

CHAPTER 18 - Writers Get Lost When They Move Away From the Topic

CHAPTER 19 - Strong Punches Make Good Endings

CHAPTER 20 - What Should You Do if Your Muse Doesn’t Show Up?

Sell The Draft With Your Outline

CHAPTER 21 - Write an Outline

Clarity Helps You Convey Meaning

CHAPTER 22 - Good Copy Is Simple and to the Point

CHAPTER 23 - Keep Academic Linking Words in Academia

CHAPTER 24 - Power Words Make for a Strong Message

CHAPTER 25 - Weasel Words Make Writing Muddy and Unclear

CHAPTER 26 - Specific Words Make Copy Credible

CHAPTER 27 - Sensory Words Make Your Readers Feel

CHAPTER 28 - Stop Using Clichés; Nobody Sees Them Anyways

CHAPTER 29 - Passive Voice Is Used to Avoid Responsibility

CHAPTER 30 - Numbers Are Power, So Use Them Wisely

CHAPTER 31 - Metaphors Make Complex Things Simple

CHAPTER 32 - Images Tell Stories as Well as Words

Style Is How You Express Your Brand

CHAPTER 33 - Your Tone of Voice Humanizes Your Brand

CHAPTER 34 - Write Like You Talk

CHAPTER 35 - Consistency Matters

Formatting Is What Your Words Look Like

CHAPTER 36 - Readable Content Keeps the Reader on the Page

CHAPTER 37 - Make Content Easier to Consume

Self-Edit With The Right Attitude

CHAPTER 38 - Cut Until It Hurts

Collaboration Requires Accountability

CHAPTER 39 - You’re the Owner of Your Story

Critique Makes You A Better Writer

CHAPTER 40 - Accept Critique

EPILOGUE - Focus on Writing, Not the Final Draft


About The Author


The scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better.

–– Stephen King,

INTRODUCTION - Why Do Companies Hire Content Writers?

Companies hire content writers to create content, right? Yes… but. To be frank, people don’t really need more content. There’s already tons of content on the internet. Too much, in fact. The reality is that companies don’t hire content writers to churn out new content. They hire them to do marketing.

I started my marketing career in 2013 when I got hired to write content for a software development company. They didn’t hire me because they thought I would add value to the company, plug holes in their lead generation strategy, or produce 10 articles per week to stoke up the content bank on their website. They hired me as an experiment.

Ian, the marketing manager who hired me (and who would eventually become my business partner), decided to try inbound marketing to attract potential clients from search results. Content marketing wasn’t anything new in 2013. But very few companies in the software development industry were doing it successfully, and even fewer thought B2B buyers would actually use Google and social media to search for vendors. Ian pitched the idea of blogging to the CEO, who decided to give it a try. Now they just needed somebody who could write the actual blog posts. I shot a message to Ian the minute I saw his Facebook post saying that his company was looking for a blogger.

I had always wanted to be a writer, but I didn’t have any writing experience. At the time, I had two part-time jobs, one of which was teaching English to employees at the software development company in question. Despite my lack of content writing experience, I was hired without any hesitation or second thoughts. After all, the company already knew me. Plus, it was just an experiment—not a serious employment opportunity—and the paycheck was small.

A few months after I started, it seemed like the experiment had failed. The company wasn’t getting any results from content marketing, and the head office was about to call it quits (obviously, they didn’t realize content marketing is a long game). Ian had a month to justify the investment in content, and I fell under threat of being fired. But then Ian came up with a brilliant idea. He asked me to write an article about the technology stack behind Uber.

It was 2014, and ridesharing was all the rage. Uber was everything the tech world was talking about. As the popular taxi company started experimenting with new “on-demand” services for things like ice cream and Christmas tree deliveries, everybody wanted to build their own app like Uber. They just needed to know how Uber was built.

My article “Uber Underlying Technologies” arrived at just the right moment.[2] It attracted entrepreneurs from all over the world who wanted to build Uber-like services in cities where Uber hadn’t launched yet. It also captured the interest of managers at traditional taxi companies who had no choice but to build their own apps as the car-for-hire market had been turned on its head by smartphone applications. “Uber Underlying Technologies” also brought leads interested in rolling out their own Uber for X applications (Uber for babysitting, Uber for beauty, Uber for marijuana) that had nothing to do with taxis but everything to do with the growing on-demand economy. The article started drawing in potential clients the way a magnet attracts paper clips. My job was no longer threatened.

With the article “Uber Underlying Technologies,” Ian and I figured out what content could generate leads, and so we started exploring the idea of “how to build X” on the blog. Some of the articles we published performed well; some didn’t work at all. We tried different content strategies, and after four years of trial and error, we made a lot of progress.

By the time Ian and I left to found Kaiiax, our employer was capturing 100 B2B leads a month from their website. They tripled in size over the course of three years all thanks to a lead generation machine we constructed from zero.

Turning a website into a machine that whips up leads is a long and challenging process. It requires a compelling value proposition, strong skills in search engine optimization (SEO), a knack for designing landing pages that convert, fine-tuned content operations, talented people, and a significant marketing budget. But there’s one factor that impacts lead generation more than any other: the quality of the content.

What is content?

Surprisingly, the importance of high-quality content is often overlooked by marketing managers and even content writers themselves. That’s probably because the word “content” is absurdly vague. Technically, content is everything you create and publish. Blog posts, website copy, videos, tweets, Facebook ads—all of this is content.

The word “content” doesn’t inherently convey the idea of “meaningful marketing material that adds value.” People often treat content as something that fills empty space (think Lorem ipsum in design mockups). But this mindset not only leads to tons of trash; it also makes content writers useless. Brands have no reason to pay for content that doesn’t pay off.

Companies use content to do marketing. They’ve been doing it since the 1950s, even though they didn’t attach the word “content” to the word “marketing” back then.

All marketing is “content marketing” because all marketing uses content. Only in the 50s, we didn’t have the internet. Now we have the internet, and it turns out to be the best channel for transmitting a message to an audience with the purpose of moving this audience down a sales funnel.

Think of content as a container for transmitting a marketing message. This container can take many forms: a video, a landing page, a Facebook post, a story. In fact, in this book, I often use the word “story” to refer to content. This is because wrapping a message into a story makes that message emotionally compelling and helps the marketer achieve their goal: attracting passersby and converting them into leads who have expressed interest in a product or service.

Whatever form your content container takes, it should have a clear role in the marketing process. It must aid in the customer journey by moving readers from one stage of awareness to the next until they become leads. In other words, content develops leads. If it targets the right reader, solves an existing problem, offers better value than other content on the same topic, and shows this value to the reader in a simple and clear way, it fulfills its marketing duty—it turns readers into leads.

Writing content that turns readers into leads is hard

It’s boom time for content writers—practically a gold rush. From food shoppers to entrepreneurs looking for business partners, the internet is full of customers. Companies need content so these customers can find them. The good news is that as a writer, you’ll have plenty of work.

The bad news is that writing content that sells stuff is hard. And it’s only going to get harder, as the content ocean is rising faster than the Arctic can melt. The world of content marketing is getting competitive, and you need to work hard to win the battle for customers. But this shouldn’t deter you. Like any craft, writing content that moves the sales needle is something you can learn to do.

You probably know that the only way to learn how to write is by writing. Sadly, if you strike out on your own with a trusty laptop and a blank Google Doc, you’ll likely spend a significant amount of time producing ineffective content until you figure out how to write content that generates leads. But let’s be honest: You don’t have time for that.

I didn’t write this book to turn you into a great writer. I wrote it to help you learn and practice several writing rules that will help you focus on writing content that makes readers act instead of writing content that sits on a server and gathers dust. When you know these rules and how to use them, you can move miles ahead in your career as a content writer. Think of this book as a kick in the pants to get you where you truly want to be.

What this book is about

From Reads to Leads is divided into 11 parts, each focused on one thing your content needs in order to sell stuff. You can think of these things as the ingredients of a winning content recipe. As with any recipe, you need to add these ingredients in the right order.

Here’s a brief overview of each part:

Part 1 , Content is for the reader , offers some effective approaches to understanding what your readers need and how to write content that appeals to them.

Part 2 , Getting a response is the whole point of writing , teaches you how to get the desired response from your readers and move them down the marketing funnel.

Part 3 , Have a message and make a point , explains how to figure out and communicate your key message and how to use it to take readers to the next stage of their journey.

Part 4 , Structure is how you deliver your content , offers you something better than a listicle or a step-by-step guide: It shows you how to creatively turn your content into a story with a three-act structure.

Part 5 , Sell the draft with your outline , provides you with eight easy steps to write an outline that focuses your writing and kills your procrastination.

Part 6 , Clarity helps you convey meaning , explores what exactly makes writing clear and simple—a must-have ingredient for content that sells.

Part 7 , Style is how you express your brand , talks about how to express your brand’s personality and make your writing recognizable.

Part 8 , Formatting is what your words look like , shows what makes content readable and explains how to get your readers to stay with you till the end.

Part 9 , Self-edit with the right attitude , reveals the most important rules of editing.

Part 10 , Collaboration requires accountability , discusses the writer’s role in the content writing process and outlines how you should approach content collaborations.

Part 11 , Critique makes you a better writer , focuses on how you should react when your work is ripped to shreds.

From Reads to Leads takes you step by step from understanding your reader to writing your first draft to accepting criticism from your reviewers.

This book doesn’t talk about how to attract visitors to your website, nor does it talk about what happens after a visitor has expressed interest in your product or service and has become a lead. This book is solely about writing content that turns a reader into a lead.

Let’s clarify this thing about readers

You’ll notice I use the word “reader” when I refer to your target audience. Of course, I could use marketing terms like “target audience,” “website visitors,” and “buyers.” I could actually call this book something like How to Turn Your Target Audience into Leads. But I prefer using the term “reader” (and calling the book From Reads to Leads ) because in all likelihood, only someone who reads your content will become a lead. If someone doesn’t read your content, they’ll probably never express interest in your product or service.

Practice makes perfect

Every chapter of this book comes with a practical exercise. I encourage you to do the exercises if you want to learn how to write content that turns readers into leads. The exercises will help you practice the writing rules you’ve just learned. When you do an exercise, ask yourself if your text works. If it does, keep it and go on. If it doesn’t, ditch it and try again. Repeat this process over and over until you feel proud of what you’ve written. Don’t feel bad if you write something and realize it isn’t so hot when you take a second look. Just see where you can improve and give it another go.

Once you’re familiar with all the ingredients of content that sells and have learned to use them in every text you write, you’ll be way ahead of most writers.

But until then, you need to put your fingers to the keyboard and do some marketing.

Content Is For The Reader

CHAPTER 1 - Develop Empathy for Your Reader

Have you ever lived abroad? I mean actually lived, not traveled. When you travel, you go away temporarily to switch off from your normal life and enjoy the moment in a new environment. But at some point, your trip ends and you go back home to how things were. Moving abroad is different from traveling. It changes your entire lifestyle, creating a sense of excitement—and fear.

Living in another country is exhilarating. Every day brings a new discovery. You go places you’ve never been, eat food you’ve never tasted, and meet new people. Lots of new people. But communicating with these people can make you feel uncomfortable. They speak another language. They share a different culture. They might not get your jokes. When you move abroad, you need to adapt to something outside your comfort zone. That’s also what you need to do when you start working as a content writer. Writing for the web is like living in a foreign country.

The World Wide Web is a cold place. It’s full of people you don’t know with histories, cultures, and mindsets that might be very different from yours. To succeed on the web, you have to adopt new habits. You have to spend more time online than you ever have before, learn about things you never knew existed, and get into other people’s heads, taking on their thoughts, beliefs, and ideas.

You want people to feel at home when they’re reading your content. To create that sense of familiarity, you have to empathize with your reader (who’s a complete stranger). Empathy is your ability to think like your reader, use the words they use, and focus on what really matters to them. It’s your magical power to transform a cold place into your reader’s favorite coffee shop.

Empathy is something you develop as you get to know your reader. But what does it mean to know your reader ? Does it mean you need to know their name, the school they went to, and what they eat for breakfast? Not exactly. In content writing, knowing your reader means understanding their journey.

We take many journeys to accomplish our goals. Buying a new pair of flip flops is a journey. Building a new software product is also a journey. A journey takes us from point A to point B. When it comes to buying flip flops, point A might be when you trip on a beer cooler and rip your flip flops on the way to the beach (hopefully without any broken toes). Point B might be when you get a new pair at the nearby supermarket and make it to your beach lounge chair safe and happy. When it comes to developing a new software product, point A might be when you come up with a great idea and start searching the market to see if somebody has already implemented it. Point B might be when you’ve built the product and launched it successfully. Buying flip flops and building software have nothing in common—except that both are journeys that start in an uncomfortable place and end at your desired destination.

To understand your reader, try to imagine them on their journey (see figure 1). It’s not a smooth ride. If it were, your readers wouldn’t need your help. The journey is always bumpy and full of challenges that make it difficult for your reader to reach their destination. Your job is to help the reader overcome those challenges. The stories you write should guide your reader past the roadblocks on their way to point B. But it’s not the only thing your stories should do. They should also help the reader easily decide how to move forward in their journey.

Figure 1: How a reader travels from point A to point B.Stories help the reader overcome challenges on their journey.

What is the best way to guide your reader? That will depend on your reader’ s intent.

The reader’s intent

If we look at the reader’s intent from the point of view of a search engine, it’s a request for information that helps the reader move forward. If you understand this intent correctly, you can help the reader reach their destination while getting to know your brand and realizing they need your product to accomplish their goal.

Let’s consider the marketing activities of two software development companies: PythonDev and TechVan.

PythonDev’s search engine strategy is to target anyone searching for common software development terms and direct them to the company’s website. On the website, they can find extensive information about PythonDev’s services, technologies, and projects. As they browse the site, they see a Contact us call to action button, prompting them to make a decision.

TechVan’s search engine strategy is to first understand the lead’s intent and where in the search process the lead is likely to be. Why are they interested in Python software development? Are they just starting to look, or are they ready to start developing a product? TechVan guides leads who are in the early stages of investigating software development companies to articles that compare Python with other technologies (while providing examples of apps TechVan has built using Python) and directs leads who are interested in building software specifically with Python to another blog post that describes the benefits of this technology and what projects it’s most suitable for. Leads who are considering starting a project are guided to another article that talks about where to hire a Python developer (and lists TechVan as one of the options) and then redirects those leads to a landing page that describes TechVan's offer for Python development services. Client reviews are front and center on this landing page, and leads can quickly find projects that showcase TechVan’s Python expertise. As a lead digs deeper, they get to learn about TechVan’s key differentiators and work processes. TechVan answers all the lead’s questions in detailed client guides , leaving the lead ready to send a project request through a contact form and become a client.

The detailed information PythonDev provides on their website may inform the lead about a particular service, but it does little to simplify decision-making. TechVan, on the other hand, simplifies decision-making by offering valuable information that addresses clients’ needs at different stages of the decision-making process, helping leads quickly and confidently traverse the path to a request for proposal.

My experience at Kaiiax shows that leads considering PythonDev and TechVan would be more likely to send a project request to TechVan.

Knowing the reader’s intent is important because it allows you to map your content to each challenge on the reader’s journey. One way to figure out the reader’s intent is by analyzing search terms. Every search term has a why behind it. Why did the reader google “what is the blockchain” or “how to make a YouTube channel”? In the first case, the reader is most likely looking to learn about the distributed ledger, while in the second case, they probably want to launch their own YouTube channel. Search intent is what readers want to accomplish when they type something into a search engine. Google can detect a user’s search intent based on keywords used and rank pages based on how well they address that intent. There are four types of search intents that search engines recognize: informational, navigational, transactional, and commercial (see figure 2).

When a reader searches with phrases such as “what is machine learning,” “how is sugar made,” and “Elon Musk,” they have an informational intent. They’re looking for information they need for some purpose. Content that targets informational intent usually brings a lot of traffic, but the percentage of readers who convert is usually low.

Navigational intent refers to searches for the purpose of finding a website (“ Facebook”)or a particular website page (“Egyptian pyramids wiki”). When the reader knows what they’re looking for, they have a navigational intent.

When readers want to complete an action (most often buy something), they have a commercial intent, so they’ll search using terms that help them complete an action. For example, “best ransomware protection,” “hire web developer,” “ Asana vs Basecamp, ” and “best SaaS marketing agencies” are queries with commercial intent.

Finally, transactional intent signifies the strong possibility of a sale. Searches with transactional intent might include keywords such as “software development company,” “backup for G Suite,” and “houses for sale.” Searchers with transactional intent are the most likely to perform an action that leads to a sale.

Figure 2: Types of search intents.

To make your content align with the reader’s search intent, you need to analyze the search results for each term you want to rank for. By looking at the first page of Google results, you can define what type of content you should create (blog post, landing page, video), what form this content should take (list, comparison, how-to guide), and what angle you should choose for your story.

This SEO-based approach to understanding the whybehind people’s searches is okay, but the reader’s journey is where real marketing happens.

The reader’s journey

Writers who understand the reader’s journey don’t need search engine optimization gurus to tell them what they need to write about. On the other hand, writers who don’t understand that journey might miss out on many ideas that can potentially attract customers. And they’ll have a hard time figuring out where to take their readers next.

Understanding the reader’s journey is the foundation of an effective content strategy.

Gartner has a nice framework[3](see figure 3) that can help you visualize the B2B buying journey.

Figure 3: Gartner’s B2B buying journey.

It’s based on six B2B buying jobsthat customers must complete to arrive at a purchase:

Identify a problem

We need to do something .

Explore solutions

What solutions are out there to solve our problem?

Define requirements

What exactly do we need the product to do?

Select suppliers

Does this company offer what we need?


We think we know the right answer, but we need to be sure.

Create consensus

We need to get everyone on board.

These buying jobs don’t happen sequentially, so you don’t need to think linearly when you’re trying to map your content ideas to this buying journey.

For example, let’s say you work for a Magento development agency that wants to attract B2B retailers to their website. Here’s what your reader’s path may look like:

Figure 4: My example of content mapping based on Gartner’s B2B buying journey.

Identify the problem

In this first stage of the buying journey, your reader starts to experience a problem: My customers want to buy online but I don’t have an e-commerce store.

At this stage, the reader might be interested in researching business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce transactions and B2B e-commerce trends. They’ll also probably want to know what other companies do when they’re in the same situation. Has everybody else in the B2B industry already adopted e-commerce?

Explore solutions

After realizing they should be online (where their customers are) your reader is thinking: I need an e-commerce solution that will work with my existing business processes and systems and will fit my buyers’ complex organizational structures.

The reader’s challenge at this stage is to find a B2B e-commerce platform that can easily integrate into their business processes. They might start searching for and comparing B2B e-commerce platforms.

Select a supplier

Once the reader has chosen a platform, they can move straight to selecting a supplier and searching for a B2B e-commerce agency—or a Magento developer, for instance, if they’ve decided to build their website using Magento. In the latter case, the supplier will be a software development vendor.

Define requirements

This stage can happen before selecting a supplier, when the reader is evaluating B2B e-commerce platforms and trying to choose the one that best fits their needs.

When your reader is finally at the validation stage, they need details about the supplier to be convinced they’re making the right choice. At this stage, you should offer customer success stories, client testimonials, and other content created for bottom-of-the-funnelprospects, or prospects who are very close to converting.

All these journeys and search intents might sound a bit overwhelming for somebody who’s just starting out in content writing. But I promise to show you an easy way to explore your reader’s journey without reading in-depth Gartner reports and endlessly browsing Google. We’ll get to it in the following chapters, where I’ll show you how to apply the jobs to be done framework to writing. Until then, remember that there are three things you should do in every text:

Offer a solution to the reader’s problemsMake it easy for the reader to make a decisionWrite to one person

You likely intend to target a broad audience with your content. But here’s my recommendation: Always write to one person. Say you needed to explain how to do online marketing to your mom, your friend, and a retail business owner. Would you do it in exactly the same way? I hope not! Just imagine the expression on your mom’s face if you told her this: “For your marketing campaigns to go viral, it’s essential to get some actionable insights from A/B tests. You might also want to pivot your social media content to video, tap into advertainment, and go omnichannel.”

When you write for a large group of people, your message gets watered down because you’re trying to address too many different needs. Or your content misses the mark completely because it isn’t focused.

Writing to one person will help you focus your message and make your story feel like a face-to-face conversation between two people. One of those people is usually called “we” (if you’re writing on behalf of a company) and the other is called “you.” A face-to-face conversation eliminates distance, creates trust and understanding, and helps you develop an emotional bond between “us” (“we”) and “you.” When you write directly to your reader, it makes them feel at home. And when people feel at home in a foreign country, they’re no longer afraid. Instead, they feel comfortable and excited.

Exercise #1

Come up with ideas for content that aligns with your reader’s journey.

Come up with one content idea for each of three B2B buying jobs in Gartner’s B2B buying journey (identify a problem, explore solutions, select a supplier). The goal of your content is to attract a reader who wants to hire a web developer abroad to build a product for a startup. Assume that you’re working for a recruitment company that assists clients with hiring software developers.

CHAPTER 2 - Be Like Your Reader

What were you like when you were a teenager? Back in the early 2000s when I was a teen, I admired people with crazy colored hair, bright makeup, and piercings all over the place. They stood out. They didn’t care what others thought. They didn’t want to conform.

When I was a teenager, I was the complete opposite. I looked like everybody else; I was trying to fit in and be normal.

My twin sister Nadiya and I didn’t have many friends at school. We didn’t get asked over to other people’s homes and had a hard time getting along with classmates, especially the popular ones. It’s easy to see why. When you have a twin, you spend more time with each other than with anybody else and even develop your own special language. Most people find it weird, including the cool kids who tend to influence popular opinion.