If you’re serious about the scope and popularity of your blog, then you know that the old adage definitely holds true: it’s not just what you say; it’s how you say it. Whether your goal is to sell a product or simply to build an audience, the effectiveness of your copy could be the difference between success and failure. Learn to tweak your words for maximum impact, and start reaping the benefits right away!
Learn from the pros
When you first got into blogging, I’m betting that refining your copywriting skills was likely the last thing on your mind – I certainly wasn’t thinking about it! Five months in, however, I see that developing this skill will pay huge dividends in launching future ventures, regardless of whether they take place online or offline. Simply put, being able to write great copy is one of those transferable skills that I talked about last time – it can help to set you free.
While I’d love to continue to preach from my pearsonified pulpit a la Billy Graham, the truth is that I’ve just begun to focus on my own copy here in the last few weeks. That said, I’m going to supplement what I speak about with resources that I have personally used to gain valuable insight and also inspiration (something that cannot be overstated).
Extra! Extra! Read all about it!
The single most important piece of copy that you’ll write on any post is the headline. Fortunately, Brian over at Copyblogger has beaten this issue half to death, but he has a great reason for doing so – you can’t say enough about a great headline!
It’s a crying shame that blogging platforms like MovableType, TypePad, and WordPress invite you to input a headline before writing the post itself, because this is a total inversion of the way things work in the land of outstanding copy. The next time you blog, try this on for size:
Instead of writing a headline first, write your entire post. Then, with a total understanding of what you’ve written and attempted to convey, write the best damn headline you can to promote, persuade, and sell your post.
See the comments for an explanation as to why the preceeding text has been crossed out.
Because first impressions are all you’ve got
The human brain is equipped with a filter that is second to none. You can scan a page of feeds or blog entries in seconds, almost instantly deciding what holds “clickable” value and what’s not worth another look. Your synapse-jumping decision making process is guided by hard-hitting, visual elements – headlines, excerpts, and pictures. You’re looking to be engaged, intrigued, or persuaded to “jump in,” and unless someone is delivering incredibly targeted content or outstanding copy, odds are good that you’ll ignore them.
Sounds like a tough sell. With that in mind, what’s an amateur copywriter to do?
Stick your nose out in traffic and get some attention.
After the headline, the first couple of paragraphs are all you’ve got to really persuade the reader to listen to what you have to say, and with such limited space to make an impact, these paragraphs had better be good. The beauty here is that there’s no “right answer.” Maybe you go for shock value. Maybe you throw the reader a curveball. Maybe you challenge the audience. It doesn’t matter how you do it; all that matters is that you grab your reader’s attention and get ‘em beggin’ for more!
There’s no “secret” to writing great opening copy – just do the following:
- Read the experts – especially this guy, even though many people think he’s kind of an ass (which only helps his cause).
- Learn everything you can from those who know good copy. Every great copywriter has something different and effective to offer you, so go read. Now. You still here? Keep reading, then.
- Implement, implement, implement. You don’t have to sell something to justify writing effective copy. Start on your next post, and never stop learning and honing your copy game.
Simple sells. Give your readers something that is entertaining, engaging, and easily digestable, and they’ll hang on your every word. Be real, be genuine, and be specific.
Write targeted blog posts – don’t skip around to 4 different topics! Instead, break those puppies up into four individual posts. Want to keep the reader’s attention? Deliver one message, and deliver it well.
Better sign up for that psych course at the local community college…
Great copy plays on the human psyche. It speaks to our wants, needs, and desires, and it persuades us to listen with the hopes that there will, in fact, be something in it for us. Your readers are egomaniacs, and you should celebrate that fact by giving them what they crave.
Help them, please, give them something every time you post. You’ll likely be amazed at the results. Ever gotten 30 comments on a blog entry before? Those of you who have know that it’s a complete rush the first few times it happens, and the experience leaves you wanting more.
Give them what they want, and you’ll get more than you could possibly imagine in return.