Have you heard what happens to bloggers when they die? Tweet This!
A blogger dies, and Saint Peter offers him a choice between Heaven or Hell. The blogger asks to see both. Leading him to a doorway, Saint Peter says: “Here in Hell, we have a room just for bloggers.” Inside, the blogger sees row upon row of faceless hacks, all scribbling frantically as giant red devils lay into them with heavy whips. “You must get 100 subscribers in five minutes! You must get 100 subscribers in five minutes,” devils scream. “Uh … better show me Heaven,” the blogger says. So up they go. “Here in Heaven, we have a room for bloggers too,” Saint Peter says. Peering into the second room, the blogger again sees row upon row of faceless hacks, all scribbling frantically as giant red devils lay into them with heavy whips. “You must get 100 subscribers in five minutes! You must get 100 subscribers in five minutes “the devils scream. The blogger protests, “But I thought you said this was Heaven!” St. Peter says, “Well, up Here, at least the posts get read.”*
Blogging can be brutal.
You can slave and write and slave and write and not get any readers.
And to make matters worse you have to do all that and you’re supposed to do your own copywriting.
Isn’t that just for people who write sales ads?
Or for those dweby marketing types?
If you blog and want anything you write to be read, you need some copywriting elements in your writing.
But wait. Before you panic and start envisioning your blog as a bad infomercial, step back and take a deep breath (but don’t stop reading).
Let me explain.
You can do “copywriting” even if you hate it, don’t believe in it, don’t want to do it, don’t know how to do it, and don’t care to do it – even though you know you need to.
Consider this. As a blogger, or author, or online writer of any kind, you are writing for some purpose (otherwise you’d keep your writing to yourself).
And to fulfill your purpose, whether it’s to be read, get subscribers, or, god forbid, “sell” something…
… people have to read what you have written if you’re going to succeed.
- If you want a reader to hear your viewpoint, they have to read what you write.
- If you want blog subscribers, they have to read what you write.
- If you want to sell a book, people have to read what you write.
- If you want to have a strong online presence for your business, people have to read what you write.
And here’s the truth of blogging: to get your writing read it must be compelling enough on some level for a reader to go from one word to the next. Click to Tweet This!
Recently I’ve had a number of emails from writers and bloggers bemoaning the fact that they feel everything they write now has to be positioned as if they were a used car salesperson.
Not – NOT – true.
What good copywriting is not:
It is not about selling.
What good copywriting is:
It is good writing that makes people want to read it.
If you have a product or service that MATTERS (and if you don’t you shouldn’t be here) your job as a writer is to persuade other people that it matters.
Let’s talk about buying and selling for a moment.
“Buying” online does not necessarily mean money has to exchange hands.
People can buy into things with their time or their emotional investment, as well as money.
Many people writing in the online arena believe they do not need to worry about copywriting because they are not “selling” anything.
If you “just” want someone to read what you’re writing, you are selling. You are selling words so that people want to “buy” them. They may not be paying in money but they are paying in time. You see, readers have a lot of choices on what to spend their time on. So they have to “buy” into the idea that your words are worth spending time on.
And getting people to feel your words are worth spending time on means you have to write in a compelling or persuasive or otherwise effective way.
“You can create a blog post title that just sits there or one that gets people to read your post. Or a book title that simply exists, or a book title that helps sell your book. The choice is yours.”
Rather than think about copywriting as copywriting, just think about it as writing that does what you want it to do.
Rather than investing in a PhD in copywriting, all you need to do is feel comfortable writing:
- about what you do
- how what you do will help the reader out in some way
- and what they need to do to get that thing that will help them
Here are 3 things you can do to help your writing so that readers will understand that it’s worth their investment of time, money, or emotion.
Thing 1 to Do for Easy Copywriting:
Remember, a blank stare means they don’t care.
Understand that people make decisions based on emotion, not logic. Horror movies are powerful things.
Aim your writing so that it appeals to one or more of the readers emotions such as: fear, anger, sadness, joy, disgust, trust, anticipation, surprise. Think about this, this way. If you’re telling a joke, if it does not hit on any emotion you’ll get that horrible blank stare from the listener – you know the look- the one that makes you want to crawl into a hole. Your writing needs to hit some emotion so you don’t get that blank stare (the online “blank stare” is clicking away).
Thing 2 to Do for Easy Copywriting:
Can they eat it, have sex with it, or will it kill them?
You must make what your writing feel personal to the reader.
Our basic drives are always there no matter how “enlightened” we are so, to borrow from Susan Weinschenk from “What Makes them Click,” keep in mind that a reader’s brain will always ask these 3 questions: “Can I eat it? Can I have sex with it? Will it kill me?” In other words, what’s in it for the reader? They aren’t going to care that your post is the biggest, fastest, baddest post in the world; they will care about the idea that when they are done reading your post their lives will be…(fill in the blank here with how they want their life to be).
Thing 3 to Do for Easy Copywriting:
Imitate, then stamp unique on it.
If you know you are not the most awesome writer in the world, or you don’t give two owls about copywriting, then find a piece or post that personally moves you in some way. Then imitate it. Something that moves you emotionally is something you can relate to so it’s a good base for you to use. Don’t copy the words, of course, but imitate the rhythm and style, the length of sentences, etc., when and how they place those little “persuasive” words. Once you write your piece imitating the style and flow, then, go back through and put a little more of “you” in it. You can do this by your choice of words, or how you break up the paragraphs, for instance.
So, forget about having to understand all the ins and outs of the great copywriters.
Just write well and write about what matters.
Then at least you’ll end up in Heaven, where your posts will be read.
* I extrapolated the bloggers joke from one about copywriters: http://www.tikifish.com/adjokes.html