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Seven reasons why copywriters shouldn’t blog

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Yesterday I read a great blog post from my friend Tom Albrighton. Its title is 7 reasons copywriters should blog.

Tom is one of the more thoughtful copywriting bloggers out there and doesn’t clutter the Internet with statements of the bleeding obvious or self-aggrandising “look how clever I am” advice.

I blog myself – you’re reading this on my blog – so I clearly agree with Tom.

Well, yes, up to a point Lord Copper. But I have a few conditions. So here, as a counterblast to Tom, are my seven reasons why copywriters shouldn’t blog.

1 It gives you the illusion that you are busy

Blogging involves intellectual effort. Or it does if you’re doing it properly. But that’s the only kind it involves. You don’t need to step outside your comfort zone. No anxious cold calling. No face-to-face networking. And, no, horror of horrors, selling.

You just sit at your desk, where you always sit, writing. Then you punt it out there and rely on Google to bring the right people to your door. And by right people, I mean prospective customers.

But how do you know how well it’s working. By the number of comments you get? The number of retweets? How are you going to spend those?

2 You are not an educational charity

You’re a copywriter so, quite naturally, you blog about what you know: copywriting. And people who want to learn how to write copy read your blog. So far so, er, not good. Because these people do not fit the profile of “prospective customer”. They fit the profile of, “someone who is too cheap to buy a book on copywriting or even give you their email address in exchange for your copywriting e-book”.

They quite happily read your pearls of wisdom and then disappear. In my experience, some of these folk can even get shirty when you do try to sell them something, writing hysterical emails accusing me of the worst excesses of tawdry, underhanded behaviour. For doing what copywriters are supposed to do, which is sell things to other people.

3 It is a very poor use of your time.

So you want more customers. More high-paying customers at that. (I have yet to meet a copywriter who wanted more low-paying customers.) Every hour you spend blogging is an hour you could have spent writing letters to people you want to work for. Or telephoning them. Or meeting them at conferences. Or, for that matter, reading books on copywriting, attending training courses or chatting to other copywriters in local bars.

4 You are contributing to Internet “noise”

Does the world need another article explaining how headlines are there to grab attention? Or that benefits are more important than features? If you have something truly original to say, then go ahead and blog it; if it’s that good, though, why are you giving it away?

5 You are creating a monster that demands to be fed

Your Twitter feed needs updating. You haven’t posted anything on Facebook for a while. How about those LinkedIn groups you belong to – shouldn’t you be starting a new discussion thread or responding to another thread started by somebody else.

And now you’re going to start a blog. Which will also need updating. Nothing looks sadder than a blog where the last post (how apt) is from several months ago.

Slay the monster before you give birth to it and create more time for other ways of promoting your business.

6 You are failing to distinguish yourself in the marketplace

When every copywriter is blogging, what’s the point? Any nominal advantage in terms of your PageRank disappears. You just contribute to the general feeling that copywriting and the advice on the web from its practitioners is a commodity.

Why not get a reputation based on public speaking? Or for fulminating on Twitter?

7 Blogging is not marketing

Marketing is defined in all sorts of ways, but the definition I can live with is “meeting customer needs profitably”. I like it because it has the word “profitably” in it. I am not sure most blogs meet that criterion.

In terms of the hierarchy of sales and marketing activities, where the more profitable ones are at the top, blogging is right at the bottom. Or maybe one step above “being alive”.

I do it. But only when I have done all these other things:

Visited prospective clients at their offices.

Attended conferences that my prospects attend.

Written sales letters to people I really want to work with.

Telephoned everybody who has enquired about our services.

Emailed everybody as above.

Sent a sales email to my mailing list.

Written an article for publication in a magazine.

*

I am aware of the irony of making these assertions in a blog post. Although I hope you will consider buying something from me now you’re here. Like one of my copywriting books. Or a freelance copywriter web audit. Or a place on my Freelance Masterclass. Or our distance learning programme Breakthrough Copywriting.

Or, at the very least, you may decide to sign up for my blog using this handy form.

Categories: Content marketing and Freelance life.

5 Responses to Seven reasons why copywriters shouldn’t blog

  • Andy Maslen
    September 19, 2013

    Thanks so much for the response Alasdair.

    I think you’ve squared the circle between me and Tom – if that isn’t a geometric and linguistic impossibility – by putting a reasoned case for blogging about stuff you care about rather than the ‘business case demands it’ angle. I can’t fault your reasoning.

  • Richard Hollins
    September 19, 2013

    I think I’m also halfway between you and Tom. I’ve picked up some excellent clients because of my blog. I’ve also referred potential clients to other writers (notably Tom and Clare Lynch) because I liked their blogs and knew they were smart and thoughtful people.

    That said, I agree there’s absolutely no need for any more posts on the basics of copywriting or why you should use a copywriter. I was guilty of those when I first started blogging but now I only post when I think I’ve got something that’s worth saying.

    One advantage I have is that I write a lot of annual reports, which is a pretty niche activity. Many of my posts are about what’s going on in that area, which is in a state of flux and where lots of potential clients are looking for guidance. It’s a good way to show that I know what I’m talking about and that I really do have the expertise I claim to have.

  • Andy Maslen
    September 19, 2013

    Excellent point Richard. If potential clients are searching on the web for the kind of content you are writing then they will find you and hopefully they will use you.

  • Phil Welch
    September 19, 2013

    Have to agree with Alasdair. It’s one of the reasons why I haven’t added to my own blog since June (too much work in this case, rather than the absence of a subject that got me writing). But I did, ahem, write a blog along similar lines last year: http://welchwords.wordpress.com/2012/11/03/get-off-the-blog-occasionally/

  • […] today, that something was actually three blogs by three other professional writers, Andy Maslen, Tom Albrighton and Alasdair Murray. They reminded me of another blog I wrote last year about what […]

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