7 reasons copywriters should blog

by Tom Albrighton 18 September 2013 Copywriting, Digital and social, Freelancing

When I started blogging, I didn’t really know why I was doing it. But over the years that followed, it gradually became clear that it wasn’t just an obligation, but something desirable, if not essential. Here are my top seven reasons to write a copywriting blog.

Join good company

OK, not every top copywriter blogs, but there are plenty who do. And you don’t have to spend long on their sites to see why blogging’s worthwhile. It’s an indispensable way to establish and express your personality as a writer – whatever field you’re in.

Write ads for a living? Check out top creatives like Dave Trott and Ben Kay. Interested in storytelling, or tone of voice? Tim Rich and Nick Asbury have much wisdom to share with you. Got a taste for some spicy opinions? Help yourself to some Holly Brockwell, Kevin Mills or Clare Lynch.

And those are just a few of the blogs I personally like. I could go on, but the point is made. Hundreds of leading copywriters can’t be wrong.

Blog word on screen

Image by charcoal

Spread your wings

However varied your client list, and however creative or open-ended the brief, copywriting is writing to order. You put your craft at the disposal of the client. It’s just the way it is.

Your blog, though, is a place where you can cut loose. Wordloose. Kick off your Sunday shoes and write whatever you want. Three words or three thousand. Professional or profane. Mordant or madcap. Publish it and be damned. Ignore the comments or battle the trolls below the line. It’s your party.

Now, clients may be reading, so there are limits to your liberation. But there are still wide uncharted waters between the stuff you have to write and the stuff you want to write. So get out there and sail them.

Sharpen the saw

Maybe you’ve always done B2C, and you hanker after a bit of pinstripe. Maybe you’ve never written anything longer than a Coke slogan, or shorter than an Argos catalogue. We all have things we’d like to do, but haven’t yet had the chance.

Blogging is one way to get started. Writing about what you learn is an excellent way to test, refine and crystallise your new knowledge. And the fact that someone will actually read it helps to bring focus and discipline to the effort.

Of course, writing can never replace doing. But it does mean that when the right opportunity comes along, your head is already in the right place. Chance favours the prepared mind, and writing helps to prepare it.

Close a sale

This is all very well, you say, but will any actual clients, with money, read my blog? And if they do, will it help move said cash from their pockets to mine?

The simple, unhelpful answer is ‘it depends’. Some will read, and some won’t, based partly on their professional situation and partly on their personal character.

In general, it’s probably true that your more experienced or confident prospects (such as those from larger organisations, or established agencies) will spend less time on your blog, while those who are ‘feeling their way’ in the copywriting market (startups, sole traders, SME managers) will spend more. But it’s not a hard-and-fast rule. In my experience, you simply don’t know who’s reading – and unless they tell you, you never find out.

As it happens, many new clients and prospects tell me they’ve enjoyed browsing through my posts. And it’s not just the technical how-to stuff either – opinions also appeal. Think of your clients as people, and credit them with a sense of perspective – not to mention a sense of humour – and you’ll be surprised at what they enjoy reading.

For example, I know for a fact that An honest About Us page, which some of my peers saw as risky and insulting to clients, has helped to close several deals. Other clients have wryly confessed to being guilty of my Top 20 B2B copywriting clichés and asked me to put them right.

Of course, those posts might also be turning buyers off. But that’s fine – it just means that those people who do call are already, quite literally, on the same page. Overall, the pros outweigh the cons, particularly when you factor in…

Climb the rankings

Considered purely as a tool to support traditional selling, a blog might sometimes be hard to justify. But SEO changes the picture completely. Popular, widely shared posts can have a dramatic effect on where your site appears in Google – which, in turn, has a direct effect on the quantity and quality of leads you receive.

Every page on your site can be a landing page, not just the home page. If you’ve blogged authoritatively about the exact problem a prospect is facing, your post can bring them to your site straight from Google and ‘warm them up’ before they even call, which is priceless. This ‘long tail’ search benefit is a reason to blog in itself.

In the early days particularly, it can feel like you don’t have an audience, or that it doesn’t matter much what you post. But the way SEO works means that the content of your blog directly determines its audience. This is a very important point.

Get referrals

We all like getting business from referrals. The whole process is friendlier, faster and more effective for everyone involved. And a blog can help here too.

Social media’s great, but it only goes so far. To build authority and credibility with peers, you need to unfold your argument at length. And that means it’s time to fire up WordPress.

Off the top of my head, I can think of three superb referrals I’ve had from fellow writers who I met on Twitter and who subsequently read my blog. Because I put time and care into every post, their reading gave them a pretty good sense of my writing ability – and writing attitude. And without my blog, I wouldn’t have been within a hundred miles of that business.

Pay it forward

One of the most gratifying things about getting into blogging is that people start thanking you for your posts. You may be motivated purely by calculated, reptilian self-interest, eyes fixed on the bottom line. Against all the odds, though, people start reading your stuff and actually getting some value from it. Result!

You may feel, particularly if you’re a newcomer, that you have little to offer. But everyone is at a different point in the journey, and everyone has something to offer to someone. You might come to be embarrassed by that piercingly simplistic post on benefits versus features, but to someone who’s never considered the distinction before, it’s gold.

The problem, of course, is being different enough. You’re going to need one mother of a post to end up top of 560m results for ‘benefits and features’, and even getting some modest social action could be a tall order. It’s never too early to start thinking creatively about titles, topics and style.

I hope I’ve made a convincing case for copywriters to blog. It’s made a huge different to my development as a writer – commercially and intellectually. And, as this post shows, it even gives you something to blog about…

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