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.