Blogging Versus Copywriting: What’s the Difference?

Posted on May 16, 2015 by in Editorial | 23 comments

Blogging Versus Copywriting: What’s the Difference?

When I was a kid, connecting to the internet required launching AOL on a fat and ugly beige rimmed computer screen and waiting for that little yellow man to connect to the world wide web as a horrendous dial up tone played through the speakers.

To this day, I can still hear that sound play through my head.

Back then, the internet was still so new that the word “blog” didn’t even exist yet.

Flash forward a decade and a half, and now everyone and their grandmother owns a computer, tablet, and/or smartphone with access to the internet. And blogging is so popular that it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t know what you’re talking about when you say that you blog for living.

On the other hand, even though it has been around for decades longer than the internet and blogging, very few people know what Copywriting is.

In my experience, the general reaction is a scrunched nose and furrowed brow followed by the question, “Copywriting? What’s that?”

You may not know what copywriting is, but it has been a part of your life since before you even how to talk.

Radio. Television. Government. Magazines. The internet.

Literally all of these are dripping with the words created by a copywriter. But, what is copywriting exactly, how is it different from blogging, and can you use it to make your blogging better?

Let’s find out.

What is Copywriting and How Does It (Usually) Differ from Blogging?

Blogging takes on quite a few shapes and sizes. Some people blog as a hobby and don’t expect much of anything in return for it, but most people start blogging as a way to make a nice lump of cash.

Very few actually make it in the vast world of blogging and there are quite a few reasons why some succeed while others crash and burn.

Many who start out blogging think that making money online is as easy and launching their site with a bit of content and then waiting for the dough to just roll on in. When it doesn’t they abandon the site and move on to the next shiny object that catches their eye.

However, there are others who have all the passion, hope and drive to see their blog succeed and so they dedicate time (lots and lots of time) to writing and creating their best content and do all they can to build an audience and income. But even when so many give it their all, they still find their blog floundering.

Why is that the case?

Well, have you ever stopped to wonder how bloggers like Jon Morrow, Neil Patel, and Darren Rowse managed to turn their blogs in money printing engines while others with the same drive and passion can barely eek out a living from their own?

I mean, sure, these guys have managed to build a rather big name for themselves and become an authority in their field, but these guys were once just like you and me. They were just people with a computer and a dream of making income from the online world.

So what sets them apart?

Even though these guys are classified as bloggers, they don’t just create content for the sake of creating it. Instead, they have managed to create content that really speaks to their audience and a large part of their success comes from not what is written, but how they write it.

This supposed secret skill is really no secret at all.

This skill that they combine into their blogging is called Copywriting and it’s one of a few things that sets these men and their blogs above the rest.

Defining Copywriting: What Is It?

If you looked this up on Google right now, here is the answer that you’ll likely find:

Copywriting is … [t]he art and science of … strategically delivering words (whether written or spoken) that get people to take some form of action. — Source 

Though this is true, I prefer the way that Neville Medhora (the awesome copywriter over at AppSumo) puts it:

Copywriting is essentially moving words around to sell better. — Source

Copy is used in all forms of marketing because, when done correctly, it converts towards the end goal which is usually — make more money! However, the end goal could be something else. Perhaps you want to collect email newsletter sign-ups or something along those lines.

Either way, effective copywriting can help you accomplish that.

Now, for as easy as Neville makes copywriting sound, it’s really not as simple as moving a few words around and seeing a huge spike in sales — not for a newbie.

Much like Blogging, Copywriting is a craft that has to be polished and sharpened in order to even start getting good at it, which takes time and a lot of practice.

But why does any of this matter? Why would you — if you even got this far in the post — keep reading about copywriting when you’re not looking to actually become a copywriter?

The answer is simple:

No matter what type of business you run — be that a small brick and mortar business, a niche blog, or a Fortune 500 company — implementing amazing copy in your marketing plan that is crafted and tweaked for your audience will make you more money.

Want to know why and how you can squeeze the most money from your content?

Then read on, baby!

The Power of Great Copy

Chances are that as a blogger you’ve already picked up on a few copywriting nuggets of wisdom without even realizing it. (I’ll get to that point a little bit later.)

What you may not know is just how powerful well-written copy is and has been when it comes to getting people to buy a product or to do something.

Have you ever heard of David Ogilvy? Unless you’ve ever done any research about copywriting, chances are that this name will not ring a bell. However, David Ogilvy was one of the world’s best copywriters — the original Don Draper times 1000.

In fact, he was (is) one of the most influential men in the world.

Why?

Because when he crafted copy, even just a couple sentences, it made people pay attention, desire what was being talked about, and then buy it. Even today, copywriters the world over study copy that he created and use it to create the copy that floods the marketing world.

Just take a look at this piece David Ogilvy wrote back in the 50’s:

At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in the new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock — View Source Here

This headline isn’t even 20 words long and yet it is regarded as his best piece of work and for shaping the world of advertising as we know it today. Why’s that?

Because it sold a product without actually coming across as trying to sell it.

A Rolls-Royce was a just car. It got you from point A to point B just like any other car, just in high-class style. But after a lot of research, Ogilvy singled out a unique piece of information that made the car stand out as very different and that difference made it desirable to a lot of people — whether they could afford it or not.

That small attention to detail sold quite a few cars and the idea behind how he did it has shaped the way that others create copy that help to sell products.

Great copy is powerful because it throws traditional in-your-face, buy-this-now marketing out the window and uses tactics that play on what actually move people to act.

Here is another example of great advertising copy.

Recently, the car brand, Subaru, released a commercial that showed a horribly mangled Subaru Outback after a car accident. The officer at the scene of the crash said nothing more than 2 words to the man towing that vehicle away:

“They lived.”

That’s it. Only 2 simple words that say more than any 2 thousand ever could.

The commercial wraps up showing the family (with two small children) that survived what you imagine was a horrendous accident and the father staring at his new Subaru and saying, “We lived, thanks to our Subaru.”

Nothing about the commercial comes off as “salesy” or even pushes the idea of buying the car. Instead, it focuses on a single desire that every loving person in the world wants for the people they love:

Saftey.

It’s a powerful commercial because of that — because the copy of the ad sells a desire and something far more important than just a car.

Whereas simple blogging relates information, copywritten blog content can create the desire to do something or buy something right then and there.

So even though blogging can be different from copywriting in many respects, you can use many of the tactics of copywriting within your blog to help you take your skills as a writer and your blog to the next level.

3 Copywriting Tips to Make Your Blog Posts and Website Convert Better

1) Master the Art of the Headline: The 4 U’s

This is one tip that I’m sure you’ve already picked up along the road of your blogging adventures, but it’s powerful nonetheless.

Now, even though you’ve likely heard or read about how to important your article headline is, here is one thing that many of the best copywriters keep in mind whenever they create a title/headline: the 4 U’s.

  1. Create a sense of Urgency in your title.
  2. Give your reader something Unique to read.
  3. Is there something Useful that you can relay?
  4. When possible, be Ultra-Specific.

Your headline doesn’t have to match up on all 4 of these every single time, but it should meet the mark with at least one. Of course, as a blog post, you don’t want to forget SEO factors like keywords in your headline, but don’t make the mistake of creating a keyword rich headline that’s super boring either.

Need a little help understanding how to write these types of headlines? Here are a few resources to help you out:

2) No One Cares About You So Stop Talking About Yourself and Your Business

Have you ever met someone that always found a way to boast about themselves and how great they think they are?

It’s annoying, right? No one likes to be around someone who just talks about themselves and only seems to care about numero uno.

But when people take to the online world with launching a business or a blog, many somehow manage to turn their online persona into this same annoying person that only talks about themselves. You’ll often find sites that sell a product or a service do something like this:

“We at ABC Company Inc. are a top-notch company in the such-and-such community focusing on creating amazing things for people.”

Where’s the focus of this sentence? It’s on the company, right? Well, guess what?

No one cares. No one cares about how amazing and fantastic you think your business is or what it does. The only thing that a reader or a potential customer cares about is what they can get out of you.

Take a look at CoSchedule, for example. See their headline?

How to copywrite a headline

CoSchedule’s Homepage Headline

Plan Awesome Content. Save A Bunch Of Time.

Instead of being like, “CoSchedule is an amazing WordPress plugin that gives people the ability to save time posting to their social feeds…” (blah, blah, blech!),  they simplify their message and focus on one thing everyone wants more of:

Time.

If you’re writing for your business website, blogging about a certain product or creating a landing page, don’t focus on how great and amazing the product or your company is. Remember, people don’t care about that.

Instead, focus on something that they get out of it. Better yet, target a desire like working less and making more or whatever fits with what you’re talking about.

I know these two points focus on headlines, but this idea can apply to more than just a headline.

Are you writing a product description for your online store? Then remember to focus on what your customer gets out it. For example, if you’re writing about something like cookware, don’t talk about the boring details of what it’s made of and or how the pans are non-stick.

Rather, you could write about how your customer can become the amazing party host that makes their mother-in-law jealous thanks to being able to cook faster with the cookware set.

Notice how changing the focus to something they get out of the cook set automatically changes the desire factor for the better?

You can take that idea and apply it to just about anything you write.

3) Write for One Person

You’ve likely heard of this idea before. Even though it seems counter-intuitive to write to only one person, but it’s very effective.

Just think about how easy it is for you to accidently sell something to your friends and family when they start asking you about something you just bought and you start talking about you love about that new product and start convincing that they should get it too.

As someone who comes from a very large family of mostly girls, I can’t begin to tell you how much makeup, clothing, and hairstyling tools I’ve managed to get the other girls in my family to buy based of just having a one-on-one conversation with them about it — and vice-versa. (Most of us a great salesmen without even knowing it!)

This isn’t something we as people try to do on purpose (unless we’re in sales and are doing it for work), but it just happens and happens in a natural way. Not to mention that it’s pretty darn effective.

Why is it effective?

  1. You’re not trying super hard to sell
  2. You know the person you’re talking to and thus can say things in way that speaks to who they are

When it comes to writing online, you can do the same thing by creating a character (a.k.a a customer persona) that represents the majority of your online audience and then simmering it down into a single mental entity that you can write to.

Here’s how you can do this. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is the average age of your audience? (Are they older or younger?)
  • Are they mostly male or female?
  • Where in the world are they located? (You can find general answers to these 3 questions from Google Analytics if you have it installed on your site.)
  • What kind of fears do you think they have or face?
  • If you were talking with one person from your audience face-to-face why would they talk to you or what would ask you about what you’re about the content you’re about to write or create?

Next, give your new “character” a name. Heck, give them blue eyes, glasses, and a quirky personality if that helps.

Now that you have this persona all compiled, hold on to it and related back to it when you’re about to drum up some content ideas. Doing this will give your content a strong, unique voice and will help you write amazing copy that converts better than you ever thought possible.

Wrapping It Up

As I’ve said over and over again throughout this post, copywriting is powerful. And even though it is different than blogging due to it’s marketing centric nature, it can be on of the best things you ever started doing for your blog and content marketing strategy.

Copywriting takes many forms and this overview of what it is and what you can do to make your blogging or business better doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what you could learn.

Below are some great resources that can help you get started in learning the Copy that converts:

Article Thumbnail by MPFphotography via Shutterstock

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23 Comments

  1. Not sure if

    Create a sense of Urgency in your title.

    Would fit in a rule in all cases. However I agree with the other 3 U’s 🙂

    Nice article, Ariel..thanks

  2. This post definitely bridges a small knowledge gap for me, thanks! 🙂

  3. Great tips and info. The vitality of copywriting for blogging. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Proofreading is also essential for successful writing. Eek -> eke; saftey -> safety; as easy and launching -> as easy as launching; turn their blogs in money printing engines -> turn their blogs into money printing engines.
    Sometimes spell-check just isn’t enough. 🙂

    • Not to mention:
      • …hold on to it and related back to it …
      • …what would ask you about what you’re about the content you’re about to write or create?…
      • …then simmering it down… [you can simmer it or boil it down but not simmer it down.]
      • …thus can say things in way that …
      • …(Most of us a great salesmen …)…
      • …and you start talking about you love about that…
      • [The paragraph/sentence that contains the previous two error is really a good example of poor construction.]
      • …and start convincing that they should get it too…
      • …the amazing party host that makes… [“that” should be “who”]

      I’m sorry to pile on. We all make errors in writing. I make plenty. But since Niall started it, I had to add my observations.

      The problem here is that the article is ABOUT writing. So errors of omission and commission are particularly grating.

      The errors I have mentioned are largely due to writing too quickly and not proofing and editing well. I have been there and done that. The problem with writing online (blogging, websites, forums, etc) is that hasty writing produces errors that last forever. I can’t stress enough that printing out your copy and reading it out loud is always a good use of your time.

      Always.

      The focus of the article and the good intent it includes are spot on. And there are great lessons to learned. David Ogilvy is a god.

      However, the errors in the article made at least two of us think about things you didn’t want us to think about. You wanted us to think about your insightful, splendid content. Instead, our brains were overtaken by your flawed mechanics.

      • +1 Randy!

      • Thanks, Randy. I didn’t want to keep listing the errors, but you are absolutely right. I love how you illustrated your point by self-deprecatingly writing “…great lessons to learned.” when we both know that you meant to write “…great lessons to be learned.” 🙂

  5. I would love to read something different for once about this subject matter….I’ve heard a million times that better titles and better content is the way to riches…..
    Is anyone ever going to write about (from experience), ONCE YOU GET someone interested, then what? What are the best ways or methods to reel someone in like that hard-to-catch big fish, so they are reaching for their wallet or purse?
    I appreciate your reply in advance,
    Dave

    • The best way?
      Ask for the order!
      Most salespeople forget to ‘listen’ for the buying signals & therefore fail to close the deal.

  6. This is sure an opener for me. Thanks a lot!

  7. Good to have better understanding of what I’m actually doing
    when trying to create a vacuum of a headline! I’m off to watch
    Mad Men and learn.

    Thanks, Paul

  8. I m always creating new marketing content for my site, and may be these things came across my mind, but they weren’t hardcoded. But now ur article has made be realise some basic rules about writing. Its like doing a MBA before starting a business.
    Thanks Ariel, this was awesome. Also way many thanks to elegant themes you guys have tought me a whole new interface to express myself (WP). U themes (divi) and support rocks.

    Rgds

  9. Bloggers are people who make dumb list articles with sensationalized titles to try to garner search hits on their website, which in turn they hope will turn into clicks on ads so they can try to make money. Bloggers also write very one-sided articles, which tend to either evoke extreme praise for the article or extreme flame wars. There is rarely any middle ground.
    Kind of like today’s version of yellow journalism.

    • I have been working in this industry for a while. I’m a journalist, a blogger, and a copywriter. This is the best definition I ever came across. Really. 🙂

  10. That’s an interesting difference and that makes total sense. But probably not that dissimilar to people reading blog posts. Headline gets them started. They read the first paragraph. 80% of them stop.

  11. This is by far one of the only blogs I follow religiously and read. I learn so much about design, functionality and creating the best atmosphere for my client base. I will incorporate the advice about copy in a lot of marketing that takes place. Thanks

    Keith Burroughs

  12. It’s no use quoting the great name of David Ogilvy and an article or two from someone else’s website about the profession of Copywriting. As a Copywriter I am disappointed. Your article is borrowed information. A cut and paste from other sources. Unfortunately it shows ignorance. You leave your readers with incomplete information.

    Copywriting is more than the 4 U’s and Copywriting 101. It’s definitely more than adopting a “character” or a “customer persona”. This customer profile is based on guesswork not factual statistics of previous client interaction.

    Most people aren’t writers. They don’t have the time or the know-how to produce the “quality content” that is necessary to reach readers or clients.

    When you really want to get your point across hire a copywriter.

  13. Randy, you pointing out minor flaws really doesn’t add value.

  14. The book: “How to write a lot” and “On writing” are masterpieces that teach you, ahhhh, how to write.
    What did a blogger like those you mention do in order to be thought of as gods? They wrote and wrote and wrote? Or perhaps, they also read, and read, and read, and later they wrote, and wrote and wrote.
    No one can become a master writer, whatever the field, without dedicating plenty of time to it, both reading and writing.
    Regards.

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

  16. thank you for sharing these insights, definitely a topic for every blogger to take into consideration as they develop a voice and grow an audience because it is essentially marketing your perspective…

    cute circus – http://www.cutecircus.net

  17. Well, blogging could be a daily passion and you can write about your daily activities, but copywriting could bring you less because today almost anyone is online.

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