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Bloggers versus Copywriters: 8 Reasons why Bloggers do it Better

A Guest Post by Glenn Murray from Divine Write.

It’s true. Bloggers do it better. The good ones do anyway.

See for yourself: Choose a handful of your favorite blogs and a handful of static websites, and compare the writing.

(TIP: Try to choose sites that look professionally designed, as they’re more likely to have professionally written copy.)

Which ones grab you? Which ones keep you reading? Which ones are friendly and full of personality, and make you feel like you’re part of a conversation, not on the receiving end of a lecture?

Guaranteed, it’s the blogs. (As a copywriter myself, this is a painful admission. But it’s true.)

It seems counter-intuitive, I know. After all, most copywriters write for a living, whereas most bloggers just wish they did. And most copywriters are trained, qualified, experienced writers, whereas most bloggers are trained, qualified and experienced at something else entirely.

So why are your favorite bloggers writing more effectively than most copywriters? I’ve thought long and hard about this, and I see 8 main reasons…

1) They know what they’re writing about

Most copywriters write about something different every day. Especially freelance copywriters. And it’s rarely something they’re even interested in, much less something they know a lot about. Sure, we can interview our clients ‘til the cows come home, but there’s only so much you can learn that way. (That’s why the best copywriters are those with a lot of life experience and broad business experience.)

Your favorite bloggers, on the other hand, are writing about their own niche expertise. They know their subject matter inside-out, and they’re passionate about it.

So they’re more informative, accurate and helpful.

2) They have a more immediate and real incentive

Most copywriters write about other people’s products and services. Rarely their own. And they’re usually paid by the hour or by the job. Very few of us write for royalties or on a performance basis. In other words, we get paid for our work, not for our results.

Your favorite bloggers, on the other hand, are selling their own stuff. (Yes, this applies to affiliate links and banner ads too. The end product may not be theirs, but the click is — the click’s their product.) And they get paid only when they write effectively. When they engage their readers and compel them to act — e.g. click a banner ad or click thru and buy an affiliate product.

So they’re more results-focused.

3) They know their audience

Most copywriters have only a relatively vague knowledge of their audience. They don’t get to meet readers or even talk to them. And half the time their clients aren’t any better informed. Even when they’re the business owner, they tend to know their product a lot better than they know their audience.

Your favorite bloggers, on the other hand, know their audience intimately. For a start, there’s a very good chance their readers are like them, with similar interests and goals. (The readers are reading their blog, after all!) They also interact with their audience on Twitter or Facebook, and in their comments.

So they know what to say to their audience and how to say it.

4) They’re not writing for clients

Copywriters have to write for their clients, because the client is the gatekeeper. It can be the best copy in the world, targeting the actual audience perfectly, but if your client doesn’t like it, it won’t see the light of day. Copywriters always have this nagging at them. It’s like one of those cartoons where there’s an angel sitting on one shoulder and a devil on the other. Only in this case, there’s no angel. Ask any copywriter and they’ll agree that most clients have no idea what their audience really needs to hear. They know about their product, and they want to talk about all the stuff they think is cool, even if their target readers won’t give two hoots about that stuff. And then you have the old-school grammar-nazi: “You can’t start a sentence with ‘And’! I know because my high school teacher told me so in 1964.” Don’t get me started on the old-school grammar-nazis…

Your favorite bloggers really have it over us here. They write direct for their readers. There’s no suit-wearing, check-book-wielding, middle-aged middle-man, getting in the way. There’s just them and their readers.

So they write what needs to be written.

5) They get immediate and real feedback

Sure, we copywriters know when our clients are happy, but we rarely hear anything about what our readers think. Or how they respond.

Your favorite bloggers are on the front line. They know what their readers think and how they respond, because they have access to comments, click-thrus and subscription stats, not to mention Twitter, Facebook, and so on.

So they’re more responsive to their readers.

6) They’re not writing for themselves

There’s no getting around it. Copywriters see themselves as artists: They love to write for the sake of writing. Unfortunately, this means a lot of copywriters value the art more highly than they value the commercial imperative. They try to make everything sound poetic or clever or witty or profound. Usually what readers actually want is simple, informative logic. (Sure, there’s an art to turning something complex, obscure and illogical into something simple, informative and logical, but c’mon guys, sometimes a sentence is just a sentence.)

Unlike copywriters, your favorite bloggers probably see themselves as business people or entrepreneurs, not specialist writers. They write only because it’s a means to an end.

So they don’t muddy the waters with pretentious writing.

7) They’re not writing for their teachers

I think I was wrong in point 5. There’s not just one devil sitting on the copywriter’s shoulder, there are two. One’s their client and the other’s their high school English teacher or college Literature professor. Sadly, most of us are taught that complex writing is quality writing. I remember when I started out as a professional writer in 1994, this was the very first thing I had to un-learn. Readers don’t want complexity, they want clarity.

Your favorite bloggers would probably rather spend their time counting their money than writing complex prose. (And most of them probably weren’t paying attention to their high school English teacher anyway!)

So they write more clearly and concisely.

8) They follow best practices

Most copywriters don’t follow best practices. Even those who know what they should be doing usually don’t have the freedom to do it. And the rest are too tied up in misguided rules, bad habits and blissful inexperience to get it right.
Whether they know it or not, your favorite bloggers do follow best practices. Some may have taught themselves those practices, some may have been taught by a copywriter, some may just have a sixth sense. But they all follow them.
So they know how to write very well.

So what’s it all mean?

It means your favorite bloggers write better than most copywriters because they aren’t pressured into writing badly. Nor do they write badly simply out of habit. They have the freedom, the incentive and the understanding to write what their readers need to hear, and to follow the best practices most copywriters overlook.

So they’re more likely to say exactly the right things, in exactly the right way.

Now excuse me while I duck for cover…

Glenn Murray is a specialist SEO copywriter. He heads copywriting studio, Divine Write. You can contact him on Twitter (@divinewrite) or by phone on +612 4334 6222. Visit http://www.divinewrite.com or for further details.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Sue Keogh says:

    Well argued piece but it seems odd to say one thing is better than another when they serve different purposes. A good blogger might not be so good at writing the sort of concise static content that so many sites require, a copywriter may not be good at blogging…but you could also say that the designer is no good at coding, the developer is no good at project management…and on it goes!

    Just my thoughts anyway. Thanks, Sue (copywriter, blogger, editor, writer, content producer and general editorial enthusiast)

  2. MAC says:

    Also, copywriters don’t really write. They concept. I’ve been a copywriter for over 15 years and most of my time is spent coming up with ideas for commercials, ads ect. This is one of the main reasons why I want to start blogging. So I can learn how to get that one-to-one communication skill. BTW, this is my first day on this site and it’s awesome. I look forward to learning as much as I can from it.

  3. In the agency world blogger and copywriters are very different. I would think that journalists have most in common with bloggers, more so a columnist as they deal with opinion.

  4. Bob Burns says:

    Whoah! Bloggers do WHAT bette exactly? I wholly agree that the typical blog content is superior to your typical content on a corporate or small business website. But, then, reading Bill Bryson writing about England is far more entertaining and engaging than a Fodor’s guide. The key is the intent and purpose.

    But does that excuse “corporate” copy that is not engaging and compelling? Certainly not! But I wonder how well your typical blogger would do if tasked with creating effective copy for a drycleaner’s website, for example?

  5. Julian says:

    hi Glenn,
    i agree with you…
    however, there are some people that do better on blogging and also some that do better on copywriting

  6. Julius says:

    This provides a very good comparison, and I think it’s useful to those who are deciding which career to take.

  7. Good discussion…it seems heat is going on. Well Glenn, though some points are really good but others are simply not true. It seems you are biased and just wrote this article as you are writing for a blog not any client (see that’s the difference between a copywriter and blogger). You are a copywriter and writing for a blog like a blogger…so in that way other copywriters can also write without any problem. We know a blogger most of the time writes for himself whereas a copywriter has to work on a different task all the time, BUT that doesn’t mean copywriters don’t have any niche or personal command over some specific topics. Both can work in both way! We should come out from any prejudices, only then we can see a clear picture. I hope you admit?

  8. hi Glenn,
    i agree with you…
    however, there are some people that do better on blogging and also some that do better on copywriting

  9. In the agency world blogger and copywriters are very different. I would think that journalists have most in common with bloggers, more so a columnist as they deal with opinion.

  10. Very interesting topic. I never thought about copywriters and bloggers in this light before.

    I’m currently training to be a copywriter while I blog part-time. So, I suppose I’d be both, though what would you call me? It would be interesting to see how I come out.

    In the end, I think I’d come out just fine.

    But I agree that many clients have no idea what they’re doing and what would benefit their customers. After all, that’s the reason why they would hire a copywriter isn’t it?

    But, like Brian Clark, I think it would be very profitable if copywriting and blogging collided. That way, you’re knowledgeable about writing and have a passion for writing, but you also speak from the heart and know the needs and desires of your readers/customers.

  11. I am a blogger and I do write content for my static websites as well.Primary difference in style of writing as a blogger and as content writer (do I qualify for copywriter tag?) is,when I write a blog post I tell a story and when I write for static websites I keep in mind of keywords (again isn’t it copy-writing) for which I am targeting the content.I do feel successful Bloggers do have copy-writing skills as well,otherwise they won’t be successful.While all content writers can turn into blogger(if they choose to do so) all blogger can’t be copywriter.IMHO

  12. True copywriting for clients is the one Internet marketing service I do NOT offer clients for those very reasons listed like “having to pass the gatekeeper” and all. Been there done that. I write my own copy for my websites where I’m selling something and I write my own blog posts. There’s one difference that no one has brought up about “good” copywriters versus “good” bloggers. And, that is TESTING.

    Even the best bloggers don’t “test” with what they write. They just preview their post and publish it. “Good” copywriters, though, I mean the ones that MUST write good copy or they’ll be selling their house next month, are feverish testers. It’s not that they write so much better. It’s that they write to sell. And, that takes testing and tweaking.

  13. Dian Fenison says:

    The real difference concerning Do-Follow and No-Follow backlinks might not be crucial to the standard internet browser, but to internet marketers together with affiliate marketers, they are 2 of the most important terms you will find. Created in 2005, “NoFollow” is known as a tag that can be included in html links to instruct yahoo and google to not count the hyperlink towards target website rating. Thanks for your blog post. Very worthwhile.

  14. The best blogs are well-written by people who obviously understand the craft of writing, whether they get paid by others to write or not. But if they make income from their blogs, they are professional writers. I’ve been a writer for 30 years and written a lot I am proud of. Most of it, in fact. And I’m proud of the income, too. I also blog and I do enjoy choosing my own topics and writing in my own voice. But I don’t view it as superior to what I do for a living.

  15. Krystle says:

    I agree with this post completely. Bloggers give more insight that readers can actually relate to, that’s why they’re so successful. In a way, it’s more personal unlike copywriters who write in a more technical manner.

  16. Blogging actually is an art to be proud of. it’s a thing of job to write and touch lives through your write-ups. I ve been in this blogging business though not for too long. I speciallize in job vacancy advertisements. cheers

  17. Ted Pendinun says:

    I think bloggers are probably more passionate about what they write. They’re writing about what matters most to them. And it’s very true: They do know their audience very, very well.

  18. Ajeva says:

    I’m screaming ‘Ouch!’ but at all points, I have to agree. This made me think of Seth Godin’s blog and how he’s doing better than those copywriters writing guides, tutorials or how-to stuff on the Web. So, we can call bloggers as the thought leaders of online writing then.

  19. Honestly, I don’t get this. How are bloggers and copywriters even in the same CATEGORY?!?! Two completely different jobs and two completely different purposes. Like comparing a textbook writer to a novelist. Sorry, but it really pisses me off when people write posts/articles just for the sake of being controversial, but the arguments really don’t have any bearing.

    http://marianlibrarian.com

  20. this isn’t a jab at copyblogger.com is it? ;)

  21. nick says:

    The best blogs are well-written by people who obviously understand the craft of writing, whether they get paid by others to write or not. But if they make income from their blogs, they are professional writers.Everyone can’t write the blogs…Blogging actually is an art to be proud of. it’s a thing of job to write and touch lives through your write-ups.nice blog thanks for sharing….

  22. Mike Radford says:

    This was an “ah-HA” read for me! I knew instinctively blog readers want what they want when they want it, but your article really drove the fact home for me. Thank you, thank you. As a professional banquet speaker I have to give my audience what they want to hear which is my real-life stories from 30 years in sports broadcasting. No copy writer could “recreate” the passion and fun of a personal experience. Your post made my day by showing me I’m really on the right track. Again, thank you!!!!

  23. Alex Wilson says:

    Well, Glenn, you sure set off a firestorm. This is the longest string of responses I have yet encountered. Here’s my take: A blog is a letter to a friend (much as Stefan alluded to above) while copy, by definition, has to be less personal and subtle. It must grab attention…or else.

  24. Copywriter is just like a worker, and blogger is like an entrepreneur, they work at a same thing but entrepreneur keeps growing while the worker statically static.

  25. David_R8 says:

    Throughout this post are disturbing and disingenuous stereotypes that belittle the abilities and motivation of any writer.

    There is a world of difference between expressing opinions in a blog and distilling an idea to it’s essence such that can be presented in a 30 second radio ad. To wit, Mark Twain is attributed with the following: “If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter”

    As rebuttal I offer this in the same order as the post:

    1) If the best copywriters have “a lot of life experience and broad business experience” it follows that the best bloggers have the same. Instead, the point made is that bloggers have “niche expertise” and “They know their subject matter inside-out, and they’re passionate about it”. This is illogical.

    2) Regardless of the compensation model, if your copy writing skills are poor, you will be hungry very soon. Full stop.

    3) The thinly veiled message here is that copywriters are idiots and those that read their material can’t tell the difference anyway. That means half of those reading this falls into the idiot category because you read good copy everyday. In which half are you? Thought so…

    4) It is true bloggers write for themselves; and to get paid if #2 is correct.

    5) If copywriters don’t know what their audience thinks they aren’t asking the right questions. If a product sells, the ad copy had a part to play.

    6) Suggesting that copywriters are artists run amuck is ludicrous. Remember, point 4 said they write for their clients. Clients don’t have budget for artistic forays that express the writer’s inner being.

    7) What professional writer would ever say “Complex writing is quality writing”? Suggesting that copywriters strive to make their writing more complex is ridiculous. It is unfortunate the author had to “un-learn” this trait in his professional career.

    8) Point 7 said copywriters are slaves to their teachers and professors but here in point 8 they don’t follow best practices. Whose developed these “best practices”? It wasn’t teachers or professors or copywriters would follow them slavishly.

    Finally, it is natural for this blog to extol the virtues of bloggers vs. copy writers because it is a blog and the author needs to make money from those who think like him.

    Cheers and thanks for reading.
    David

  26. poch says:

    An answer to David from a purebred blogger would now be interesting.

  27. David_R8 says:

    On reflection, I think the issue is not copywriter vs. blogger. It is the medium.

    If I make my living as a “copywriter” and also have a blog, am I a blogger or a copywriter when I write my blog posts?

    Does it make a difference if 100% of my copy-writing is for the web?

    Why is a “we’re better than them” perspective necessary?

    Food for thought.
    David

  28. Steve Parker says:

    I have to agree vociferously with Brian Clark. So many bloggers are copywriters and vice versa it renders this whole discussion rather pointless. The meaningful difference is between good writers and bad, and both are to be found in huge numbers on both sides. And one can just as easily make the case that writers are better than bloggers using the same 8 reasons.

    Unfortunately this a prime example of the epidemic of pondering that so many waste their time on in social media: attempting to extract valid conclusions from sweeping, dubious generalizations.

    That said those same 8 points could be used as a starting point to examine what makes a good writer AND blogger–and that’s a conversation worth having.

  29. Copywriters says:

    How about copywriters who blog?

    I agree that people who blog are usually best placed to pitch their argument, but then surely the skills of a copywriter come to the fore.

    A blogger brings passion and enthusiasm, but a good copywriter will add to this with impeccable grammar, punctuation and the ability to write punchy, compelling copy which really gets the point across.

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  31. Copywriter says:

    Hi friends,

    I am also a SEO Copywriter write articles or content for websites. I think blogger is a good platform to express your ideas about any topic, but your content should be unique and informative and there should not be any grammatical error. Anyone can comment their views, it enables you to receive feedback from different persons thinking. They should also communicate with the clients and consult with them to know exactly what they want and in what style.