Seven (more) reasons why copywriters should blogNovember 14, 2014
Some time ago, I read a blog post by my friend and fellow copywriter, Tom Albrighton, titled, “7 reasons copywriters should blog“.
So, have I changed my mind? No. Because I have been blogging for years and I DO think it’s a good idea. IF you do it for the right reasons. Tom offered seven. Here are mine, some of which overlap, some of which are fresh.
Reason the first: you’re a writer, so write!
Gymnasts practise gymnastics. Flick-flacks, vaults, er running and jumping to music. Pianists practise the piano. Scales, etudes, choons. Surgeons practise surgery. Dead pigs. Baloons. Medical students. And they do it whether or not they are getting paid to do it.
Stop practising and you get rusty.
Which is bad news for your next team, audience or screaming patient.
We’re writers, so we should practise writing. A blog is a good place to practise because the feeling of actual or potential scrutiny makes us perform better.
Reason the second: meeting briefs all the time is tiring
Ooh, I luv a nice tight pair of briefs, me! Well, most of the time. But after a while you get to that point where you feel it would be nice to write without having to achieve something. Maybe you’d like to express your feelings for a change.
Writing a blog is your licence to write the way you want to as opposed to the way your clients want.
You can be naughty and break all those ‘rules’ people blog about (oh, the irony). I recently wrote a post about the suckiness of Plain English – I used all kinds of words and sentence constructions just because I wanted to. Funnily enough, people liked it.
Reason the third: feeding the monster
If you have a social media profile you need to keep updating it with, you know, stuff. Every time you write a new blog post you have something new to tweet/update about.
But beware, for as Tom said, if you want to write about features and benefits, boy do you have a long row to hoe.
Reason the fifth: sharpen your research skills
Writing a great blog post involves fresh thinking and new ideas. Sometimes you half-remember a quote or a factoid and you need to check it.
Thus you embark on a journey into some lovely little corners of the web. This week I found a brilliant site called The Online Etymology Dictionary by Douglas Harper. It’s a brilliant listing of thousands and thousands of words and their derivations.
Research is a core skill for the copywriter – what better way to hone it than on your own writing?
Reason the sixth: better than a portfolio
Clients may ask you for samples of your work. You may not have relevant samples. But you may have blogged on the topic eg why native advertising works. Send them a link to your post – you’re demonstrating your credentials and that’s really what they’re looking for.
Reason the seventh: build a community
If you have a blog, you can start building an email list of people who want to hear from you when you publish something new.
So now you can start taking your first steps into the world of <looks both ways, furtively, then whispers> selling. This may come as a shock to you, but many clients are quite happy top be sold to. Especially if they happen to need the services of a copywriter at the time.
Sending an email soliciting work is selling. And for that you need a list. Providing you maintain a healthy balance between content and copy when writing to your list they will be forgiving. I call it the bank of trust.
And one more: inspire yourself…
If you really want to build a reputation for yourself, I humbly propose that you write a book. For that you will need ideas and a habit of writing. Of writing lengthy pieces, in particular.
My most recent book tipped the scales at 60,000 words. For direct response bods and those working in corporate communications, long-form copywriting comes naturally. For our colleagues in advertising and social media, it’s more of a stretch.
Blogging is a way to get experience in writing chunky prose. You may even find that the subject of your latest post provides the inspiration you need to write the book itself.
Just one more…
In the end, why NOT blog? You’re not hurting anyone. Nobody dies. If it feels good, do it! I’d suggest ignoring anyone who lectures you about not doing something you genuinely want to do.
But I stress the word ‘genuinely’.
Because I think you should also ignore anyone who lectures you about doing something in which you have no interest.
I know copywriters who don’t blog.
I know copywriters who don’t have websites.
I know copywriters who don’t use social media.
They’re not starving. They just have the confidence to do what they like doing and which they know works for them.