Bloggers versus Copywriters: The Rhetoric Debate

Bloggers versus Copywriters: The Rhetoric Debate

A few days ago, Glenn Murray wrote a post for ProBlogger called Bloggers Versus Copywriters: 8 Reasons Why Bloggers Do It Better.

Sly fox that he is, Glenn warned me the post was controversial, knowing full well I’d rise to the challenge of debate. He was chuckling over my impending comments, and I hadn’t even made any yet!

Of course, comment I did. I had 500 words banged out in three minutes. Then I came to my senses and decided to write a post about it all. It’s much more fun that way.

Now, to be fair, comparing bloggers to copywriters is a little like comparing masterful wizards to sword-in-the-stone apprentices. They don’t perform the same job, have completely different goals and career motivations and have very different skills sets.

They do have one common trait: they write. They have a second common trait: they use copywriting techniques to get results. They have a third common trait, which is listening to Brian Clark’s wisdom on the subject, always a smart choice.

There are possibly other common traits, such as alcohol consumption, but for the sake of this post, none of that applies. (One should never drink before 5pm, after all, and my clock says it’s noon.)

But I digress. The matter at hand is Glenn’s conclusive statement that bloggers do it better.

Have I ever mentioned that one of my favorite classes in university was Critical Thinking? For a year I studied the art of argument, and it was a great deal of fun. You take an argument and then pick it apart to determine its validity of premises (supporting statements) and conclusion (the ultimate “therefore” claim at the end). It goes something like this:

Bloggers know what they’re writing about: That’s quite the sweeping statement, there. Some bloggers don’t have a clue what they’re writing about. Some rewrite other people’s posts. Some scrape. Some run to Wikipedia. Just because they call themselves a blogger doesn’t mean they’re an expert. Some are, though, so let’s give Glenn a half-point start from the gate. (I like to be generous.)

Bloggers have a more immediate and real incentive: Another sweeping statement? More immediate? More real Tsk, Glenn, really. How do you know this? Do you have proof? I didn’t think so. Moving on…

Bloggers know their audience: Ah, Glenn, it’s been a while since you’ve been in the real world, yes? Some bloggers know their audience, but truthfully, some have just launched their site, have no clue who they’re talking to or have been paid to ghostwrite and have never even come close to knowing their audience. I wish I could give you points for this one, but you missed the net by a mile.

Bloggers aren’t writing for clients: Only if you define client as “person with cash in hand”. I consider my readers clients – I provide them with material they like to read, and they provide me with their loyalty and friendship, or maybe a comment. There’s an unspoken agreement in place with blogging, which does indeed create a client-provider relationship. Oh, and by the way, this premise does nothing to support the conclusion, which is that bloggers do it better than copywriters. Out it goes!

Bloggers get immediate and real feedback: True, but copywriters also get immediate and real feedback, though just in a different form from bloggers – cash form. Copywriters can pen a page of good copy, publish it, tweet the link and watch sales occur before their very eyes. Sorry, Glenn, but this premise ends up in the black hole of doom.

Bloggers aren’t writing for themselves: Well, if they’re not writing for themselves, who they’re writing for? No one’s put a gun to their head, and they have to have some sort of direct motivation to begin blogging in the first place. Were bloggers not writing for themselves, thousands of blogs would shut down – you can’t carry out an activity you don’t enjoy for very long, and bloggers always counsel each other to write for themselves first.

Bloggers aren’t writing for their teachers: No, they’re not. True. And last time I checked, neither are copywriters. Do I smell the beginnings of a red herring? (And is there anything Glenn said that actually upheld his conclusion? I’m beginning to wonder…)

Bloggers follow best practices: I’m sorry, I think I missed something here. Which best practices? What kind of best practices? Whose best practices? What are these best practices that Glenn speaks of? A mystery! (And one more premise for the black hole of doom).

So without even needing to defend the consort of copywriters, Glenn’s argument crumbles and withers away. Which does indeed prove a point: that maybe some bloggers should consider making solid arguments with supportive statements we can all applaud.

You know, like copywriters do. 😉

Want to sharpen your arguments and your rhetoric? Here's the very textbook I studied for the art of argument – and look how well it's served me!

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.

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  1. Sitting here with the biggest, widest grin on my face. I have nothing insightful to add to the discussion (isn’t that what we’re supposed to do with comments?!) but couldn’t not thank you so much for this awesome reply. Had you left this as a reply over there, I’d have followed up with ‘what she said’ because I read that post, gritted my teeth and moved on without saying a word.

    James, I salute you (and am starting a Mexican wave in your honour ;))

    • Well, my dear El…Love the that’s what she said! That saying cracks me up like an egg thrown at a wall by a Major League Pitcher! I actually enjoyed the article. It’s nice to see someone say something nice about bloggers 😉 Maybe I just travel in the wrong circles lately!

      James,
      My apologies for not adding to your post. You picked that apart well, I really hope Murray responds! Should be interesting.

    • Woot! The Wave in my comment section! *throws up hands*

  2. Will Glenn Murray continue this debate with another “reply-post”?

  3. Hi,

    Great counter-argument!

    I really liked how you presented this counter argument.

    I would have to agree with you, because your points are more powerful and carry weight. I really like reading copywriters blog more than actual bloggers, like copyblogger.com, menwithpens.ca and freelancecopywritersblog.com

    Kindest,
    Nabeel

  4. Writing for passion vs writing for money? Tough. This is like squeezing a fresh lemon on your open wound; Ouch! I recall a video at YouTube where Seth Godin talks about why he blogs — and he don’t do it like everybody else do. He just writes from the heart and that’s why his blog is among the most read today ( not to mention how his books sell like hotcakes ).

    • I can say from personal experience that when you don’t write from the heart, it shows. I couldn’t blog here if I didn’t feel passion for what I do (and how I do it), and I couldn’t write for my clients if I didn’t feel just as much passion for my career.

  5. Honestly, I don’t get this. How are bloggers and copywriters even in the same CATEGORY?!?! Two completely different jobs and two completely different purposes. Like comparing a textbook writer to a novelist. Sorry, but it really pisses me off when people write posts/articles just for the sake of being controversial, but the arguments really don’t have any bearing.

    James, I really love how you presented this and tackled each counter point head on. Granted, I don’t think the original article held any weight but I’m glad you addressed this anyway!

    • Thank you! I had a good deal of fun writing this, and I’m sure Glenn’s chuckling away evilly at my rhetoric. He who laughs last, laughs loudest, I heard…

  6. It could be that I’m an idjut, but ummm….for the most part, copywriters are paid for their work, yes?, while bloggers, unless they’re part of the Big Dog networks, kinda sorta hope for money to limp their way in?

    If so, wouldn’t one think that copywriters have a more immediate incentive (it’s their livelihood?)?

    A far more insightful discussion would be, what’s better…vi or ed? ‘course, as us old-timers know, VI rocks, so it’s no discussion at all. 🙂

  7. Yeah. You get more claps from me, too.

  8. *Continues El’s Mexican wave*

  9. I was waiting for you to say:

    “At no point in your rambling, incoherent post were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having read to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.”

    A quote from Billy Madison, reworked a bit. 😉

    By the way, you may have missed your calling as an attorney. LOL.

    Heather

  10. You know, I’m still not entirely sure a lot of people know what copywriters actually do. And I mean real copywriters. People who have trained for years, gained experience and do it professionaly.

    I’m also not sure whether those same people fully understand how diverse copywriting can be. I started my current job, for a rather spiffing UK design agency, as a plain English expert. But I’ve had to learn and become qualified in so many other areas, including usability, accessibility and quality assurance.

    Your post is a smashing reposte (huzzah!), but it’s a bit of a daft comparison to make in the first place, I reckon.

    • *grin* Gotta love the word “smashing”. That’s one not heard oft enough these days. “Spiffing” is just as awesome.

      And I agree with you. I see terms and definitions bandied about and often used interchangeably (and incorrectly), mostly because people just feel a word “fits” them better and decide to take it on.

      And, as you said, there’s a wide variety of tasks that fall into place with copywriting – it’s not at all just throwing words on a page!

      (I think Glenn’s daft too. Glad you agree, and there’s a third word I love…)

  11. As a bonerfied blogger, I whole heartedly, 100% agree. There are some who fit the mold that Glenn painted, but I think that they’re few and far between.

  12. James,
    I’m embarrassed to say this is the first I have read of your work but I immediately added you to my RSS. What a great topic on which to be introduced.

    Since junior high school I have been a “gooderest” writer but only in the last two years have I been paid to do so. I have experienced @barbaraling’s “limping” my way in with blogging and although blogging helps me vent from time to time and add content to my site for both SEO purposes and human consumption, my biggest income has always come from private clients seeking assistance in creating their own persuasive copy.

    And I find it much more rewarding as I find it easier to write for others than for myself.

    Again, @barbarling is correct in her reference to the existence of the “Big Dog network,” which is a dirty little secret of the online marketing world. The Good Ol’ Boys network is alive and well and it’s a great gig if you can get in it but I see cracks in that armor spreading quickly.

    Consumers are tapped out financially and emotionally and they just want the truth and they need it at a fair price. Provide that and live large.

    Great post. Thank you,
    Wes

    • Well, consumers want many different things. Some don’t want the truth – they actually feel safer with the lies. Some thrive on emotion and have too much to spare. Some don’t care about fair pricing.

      Every person is different and so are their needs. Know their needs, provide the solution and you have a goldmine!

  13. To be fair, you have to look at it from a different perspective at times. I’m sure there are specific bloggers who do it better than specific copywriters, so to speak, and it’s always a good idea to observe other writers to see if you can pick up new strategies or tips. (Didn’t someone say the best writers cheat? 😉 )

    Then again, a part of me, after reading the original post, can’t help but think “Hah! Take that!”

    • You’d be amazed what you can pick up in general just from watching all sorts of people. A saddlemaker might teach patience. A plumber might teach fortitude. A medic might teach compassion.

      I think everyone benefits from observing each other, taking in the good that it brings.

  14. I guess bloggers blog better than copywriters, and copywriters write copy better than bloggers (generally speaking)? Otherwise, I simply don’t see where Glenn’s coming from, and you addressed each point admirably.

    I would like to emphasize just one point you made: Bloggers aren’t writing for themselves. As a blogger, I know one thing: I am only writing for myself. I appreciate that I have attracted an audience, but as a friend commented to me just yesterday, “You don’t often write about things that interest me.” Nope: I write only about things that interest me. If there are others who are also interested, who take the time to read what I have to say, or even do me the honor of leaving a comment, that is simply the whipped cream and cherry on top of what I’ve already written.

    • Actually, the point I made was that bloggers often write for themselves first, as do copywriters. You have to love what you’re doing if you want to be able to create a sustainable situation!

  15. Heh, I had read this debate the other day on ProBlogger, though now I have a change of opinion. As many of the commenters state and as you had stated in your article, copywriters and bloggers really _don’t_ have anything in common. I’m glad you cleared up this point right off the bat.

    Copywriters write to sell or increase sales. While some bloggers may do this, it’s not the same. Bloggers are more focused on providing quality content that will attract readers and subscribers, as well as provide information through past experiences and advice. Copywriting usually is all about the benefits customers will receive from a specific product or service. Blogging is not.

    I’m glad you addressed this issue and made a counter-argument of your own.

    • I’m going to have to disagree (politely, of course!) about the generalizations of focus. It’s important to remember not to stereotype or assume the extremes are the norm.

      For example, coywriting is often very much about attracting readers, “subscribers” (buyers) and providing information, and blogging is often very much about simply posting personal thoughts or entertaining others.

      Always? Of course not. There are certainly informative posts. There is certainly benefit-rich copy. But to say “blogging is this” and “copywriting is that” stereotypes too much for my tastes!

      • Sorry about my wording. I didn’t mean that all copywriters focused on increasing sales or customers. There are many projects where the intent is the build company exposure or increase leads. Others where you’re merely just providing information to readers. I just meant that lots of copywriting projects are designed so that visitors (customers) will take action, whether it is to buy a product, subscribe to a newsletter or visit a web page.

        Though a lot of bloggers share personal thoughts, most of them I see are publishing articles meant to inform, while adding their own personal experience to spice up the content. I think that’s why bloggers are so great (to me, personally). Readers can really get to know the person behind the words. They can relate to the blogger, which then increases trust and a sense of belonging. You don’t really see that in copywriting. How often do customers hear about the person writing the copy? How often do copywriters share a piece of themselves in their copy? They might have an unique writing style, but you don’t really get to know the person behind the copy. That’s what I was trying to get across. It’s just not the same.

        Another point that I want to make was that many copywriters juggle projects, even projects on products, services or subjects that they might not be passionate about. Even copywriters with pretty strict guidelines had to write copy at some point that they don’t really care about because they need the money. Sure, they can do the research to become knowledgeable about the project, but passion really shows in writing, even well written work. There are many bloggers that write about subjects that they are passionate about and it shows through. Does it make them better? No. I don’t think so. But it’s something to think about.

    • Hi Christina

      I think that’s another common misconception that copywriters are sales- or marketing-oriented. At work, I write for a lot of government and education-based clients, where my job is to provide clear information and instructions. I suppose copywriters often write armed with a specific call to action, but it’s not necessarily selling in the ‘please buy my product’ sense of the word.

      Sorry to butt in – hope you don’t mind!

      Iain

  16. Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy.

    When you had a crack at that Critical Thinking class (you never mentioned whether you passed?), did they happen to touch on the part where they advise you to actually read the argument before you decide to refute it? An important element, I should think, but you never can tell with these Canadian institutions… Or perhaps you were holding up the bar that day?

    When you have a spare hour or two (I know you read slowly), you might take another look at what my conclusion actually is: “…your favorite bloggers write better than most copywriters…”

    I think you’ll find it’s fairly clearly stated. Just after where it says, “So what’s it all mean?” (I know that’s a funny place to hide a conclusion, but that’s how they taught us when I went to uni. And that’s kinda what I’ve found most effective over my 17 year career as a professional writer. Maybe I’m old-fashioned…)

    Aaaaaanyhoo, where was I? Ah yes. Conclusions. I’m not sure who you’re arguing with (the voices again?), but I have a vague memory of discussing only “good bloggers” in my post. One sec, and I’ll find that part… Oh here it is. First line! Ha! Who’da thunk it?! “Bloggers do it better. The good ones do anyway.” (Quite caught me by surprise, that line did. All prominent and obvious, as it is.)

    Last I checked, “the good ones” do, in fact, know what they’re writing about. Does Darren know about professional blogging? Why yes! Brian, copy? A good chance… Are they directly incentivised? Yep; they want your click because they earn from it directly. Have they just launched their sites? Hmmmm lemme see… Problogger started in ‘04, Copyblogger in ‘06. Not blogosphere virgins, by any stretch. Are they ghost-writing? How much would they charge by the hour, do you think?

    K. So down to audience. (I’m actually loathe to raise this point for fear you’ll feel a little silly, James, but…) If you choose to call a blogger’s readers her clients, you’re merely playing semantics. If the client IS the audience, the blogger IS writing directly for the audience, and is not, therefore, stymied by an ill-informed gatekeeper.

    Isn’t this fun?!

    You also mentioned “cash-form” feedback. When did you last get paid for a job based on how well your copy performed? With the exception of some DM copywriters, most copywriters get paid for their output, not its results. Publish the copy, tweet a link and watch the sales occur? Really? Or were you, once again, speaking out of your… Well, you DID mention the black hole of doom…

    I must admit, though, James, your post made me smile. Much as I smile when my 4 year old daughter learns a new word, but can’t quite pronounce it properly. (She knows how to say, “brain first, mouth second”, though. But then, she didn’t go to a Canadian university… 😉 She tutors in the evenings, if you’d like to tee up a session.)

    So what’s the upshot here? Well, James, I think the most important thing is that you consider it a learning experience: The “beginnings of a red herring” would be its nose, and the black hole of doom isn’t a fit discussion before a drink.

    Oh, and if you’d like to take a look at those best practices, feel free to give me a shout.

    PS. Are we still on for that phone conf tomorrow? I really wanna get this ebook rolling. I like how you’ve added some drama to the whole thing, btw. Very nice.

    • Interesting retort. So just to be clear, you compared “good” bloggers with… good copywriters? Bad ones? Mediocre ones?

      This only serves to reinforce the argument that copywriters and bloggers cannot be compared. As a result, your conclusion is still a non-sequitur.

    • Yeah, we’re still on, absolutely. I’ll ping you when I’ve had some coffee in me and think I’ll make sense.

      Oh, and I’ll answer this later. I still have to work on trying to keep a straight face considering the nonsense you threw at me.

    • Exactly… you started with a weak premise of “top bloggers” versus “____ copywriters” and argued your point.

      But what type of premise is that? Why not compare top copywriters versus top bloggers? Or average copywriters versus average bloggers?

      And why make it so subjective? Why not validate what you’re saying with a measurement of some kind – some statistics, some analysis, someTHING!

    • Ah, Glenn, time to deal with you. I’m sorry it took so long. I had to knock down a million straw men, slip over hundreds of red herrings and regain my bearings after being diverted several times. Quite the little quagmire you set there!

      It seems that your perception of passing time has altered your original post, because here was the claim that you extended:

      Good bloggers do “it” better. “It” being defined in your words as “which ones grab you? Which ones keep you reading? Which ones are friendly and full of personality, and make you feel like you’re part of a conversation, not on the receiving end of a lecture?”

      And you brought up 8 premises to support the following claim: “I see 8 main reasons… your favorite bloggers [are] writing more effectively than most copywriters.” I’m not sure what this claim has to do with your first claim, actually… are there two claims at play here? (One must not be wishy-washy, after all. I expected better of you.)

      Also you didn’t define the scope of the word “effective” – effective at what? Gaining readers? Earning money? Keeping you reading? The scope of the word is so vague that we really can’t know what on earth you were trying to conclude, here.

      You also diverted attention away from your original claim to the secondary one. Tsk, really.

      Now if we look to your conclusion in which you present your argument, it becomes:

      Bloggers write better than most copywriters because:
      1) They aren’t pressured into writing badly (which we knock down as a premise, because copywriters aren’t pressured into bad writing either)
      2) They don’t write badly simply out of habit (same old, Glenn – nor do copywriters)
      3) They have the freedom, the incentive and the understanding to write what their readers need to hear (We cannot accept this because it’s a generalization and sweeping statement; not all, Glenn! Not all!)
      4) They have the freedom, the incentive and the understanding to follow the best practices most copywriters overlook (Refuted – who says most copywriters overlook them and that bloggers understand them?)

      Crumble, crumble… *walks away whistling*

  17. I thought Glenn’s piece was a nice impassioned post that’d get bloggers feeling some good warm fuzzies (and we all need warm fuzzies). I agree with your analysis of the argument (though, ooh-erI never want to get on the wrong side of you now! ;-))

    I actually *do* blog for clients, often on topics which need me to do some research, and not always on ones which I’m personally all that interested in. (I also blog on my own sites, in the way that Glenn probably had in mind.) Does that make me a wizard-fighter-mage hybrid? 😉

    Actually, the more serious point which bothers me is the idea that some types of writing are inherently “purer” than others. I get this attitude a bit from a few fiction writers, who tend to see copywriting/blogging as something tainted with filthy lucre…

    • I have issues with the elevation of any type of work over another, and I’ve seen it happen across all fields and in comparison to several types of work. It’s always grated on me sorely when I see people say, “What I do is soooo much more important than what you do!”

      My thoughts are always, “If it makes you feel better to think so, carry on with that. I’ll just be over here doing my job. When you have something intelligent to say, let me know, eh?”

    • I thought Glenn’s piece was a nice impassioned post that’d get bloggers feeling some good warm fuzzies (and we all need warm fuzzies).

      Oh, is that what they call shameless linkbait these days? As Glenn implies, I’m a bit long in the blogging tooth, so I can’t keep up with you kids and your lingo. 😉

      And James… if I wasn’t quite sure that snickers (and perhaps cash) hadn’t changed hands between you and Glenn long before this so-called debate, I’d take you to task for throwing a link at that post. Is it really still this easy? I’ll have to give it a whirl… you know, for old times sake. 😉

      • Brian! I’m shocked. Shame on you!

        I wouldn’t buy a link from James! I’ve found a much better way. It’s called ‘The Surefire Google Link Canon for Webmasters on a Budget’. From what I understand, this team of expert SEOs from India submits your site to Google a thousand times a day, thus “rocketing” your site to the top of the pops. It’s hard to find dedication like that, these days. You gotta snap it up when you see it. Especially at the price: only $1.5k/month!

        And I’ll see your long tooth and raise you half a head of gray.

      • Wait. I could’ve gotten cash from this?…

        In all seriousness, it happened quite naturally. Glenn told me about his post after it went live, and I thought it was worth a retort.

        So was it easy? Yup. Oh, and those old times sakes? Bring it. 😉

  18. James,

    Thank you for posting this rebuttal. I read the original post, commented on it, and have been following the comments ever since. Your rebuttal is brilliant. As you and so many others have pointed out, copywriters vs bloggers is an apples to oranges comparison. The two writing styles are distinct, and to say one is “better” than the other just because it appeals to you on a more personal level isn’t fair.

    Glenn starts with a flawed premise: “Choose a handful of your favorite blogs and a handful of static websites, and compare the writing. (TIP: Try to choose sites that look professionally designed, as they’re more likely to have professionally written copy.)” If you’re looking at your favorite blogs, of course you’re going to find the writing appealing. If you didn’t, those blogs wouldn’t be your favorites, now would they? And what’s to say that the writing on a website is “professional” just because the site looks pretty? How about, instead, we choose specific websites and blogs to compare? Websites that Glenn knows were written by “good” copywriters? Otherwise, the results are of course going to be skewed in favor of the bloggers.

    My biggest complaint with the original post was the idea that copywriters are somehow writing for their teachers and producing overly complex prose. That may be true of some copywriters, but not the best of the breed. (And we are just looking at the best of the best among copywriters, right? Otherwise, Glenn shouldn’t be allowed to limit himself to the best of the best bloggers on his side of the argument.) Overly complex writing doesn’t sell. Good copywriting utilizes short, active sentences and calls to action. They know the rules of the road and know when and how to break them.

    Of course, all of that is beside the point, since it’s still comparing two very different styles of writing. But I’m glad to see someone jumping to the copywriters’ defense.

  19. I keep coming here to comment then start grinning again and get all caught up in how well Glenn pulls off lofty and arrogant.

    Now how’m I supposed to write a serious retort if I can’t stop laughing?

  20. I feel like a fish watching two fishermen on a boat, facing opposite directions with their tasty bait dangling from tangled lines below the boat. They keep pulling harder and harder against each other, making me wait until they agree to untangle before I can take nibbles off of each hook.

    Either that or the fishermen are filming a reality show with hidden cameras and we’re the bait 😉

  21. James – you’re the (wo)man!

  22. Bet you got an A in critical theory! All said and done, it sounds like both bloggers and copywriters are pretty much the same. The differences are with the individuals.

  23. I was a copywritter once, it sucked. I put together a full brand based on quality and honesty then watched that company disregard everything the told me they stood for and everything which I spend hours presenting. That’s what bloggers, heck any company who does it’s own copywriting, get. Writing a mission statement forces you to believe in it; writing an about page, writing promises on a sales page forces you to believe every wrote you write. I stand by every word on my blog and I can’t sleep at night whenever I do something does doesn’t line up to my goals or my promises. Copywritters and Bloggers are the same, we have the same passion, it is the Copywritters’ clients and the bloggers who want to use these professions for evil and unethical profit that are the losers here. Let us stop fighting, we need to kick those losers out of our club!

    • Just to throw this out here – as copywriters, we can’t force clients to do things how we want them to do or even to hold them to the ethics they claim to follow.

      If the brand you created is one based in honesty, then that’s something you can be proud of. You can’t do anything about the direction the business takes after your part is done.

      There are two things you can control – who you write for and what you write. And if you don’t want to write for “evil” people, then don’t. Simply walk away and let them bugger things up for themselves on their own. 😉

  24. Wow, I guess I came in a little late in the game on this one.

    I would like to think that the real difference between a blogger and a copywriter is that there is no conversation with the standard work of the copywriter. The conversation is largely one-sided.

    That being said, with blogging the conversation is falsely two-sided in much-too-much of the occasion.

    There is so much comment incest that where there appears to be some good, healthy banter going back and forth, the majority of the folks that are raising their hands to comment, are just hoping for a few clicks back to their posts, will never become customers, and only have selfish motives from the host.

    Therefor, I would argue that a good copywriter, may be a REALLY crappy writer, but can still convert a sale in a higher percentage of the readership, because that is the ONLY reason the people are there… to buy or not to.

    With a blog, there is a rarely a binary decision to be made between buying and not buying. So many buttons to press, so many articles to catch up on, and so many videos to watch, you end up forgetting why you came there.

    So, what in tar-nation am I getting at?

    I think that the copywriter sneakily disguised in a blogger’s cape and hat, will out-do the whole lot, because he will use the power of direct response, give the customer only ONE choice at a time and then allow the conversation to occur around that one choice, such as starting a healthy argument like this one around your own product…mmmm?

    For most of us, it’s not about the literary quality of the writing, in the end. It’s whether or not that writing converts into a sale down the road.

    -Joshua Black
    The Underdog Millionaire

    • Great points, Joshua. Especially this one, though I’ll take it a bit further:

      It’s not about the literary quality of the writing, in the end. It’s whether or not that writing converts into a sale down the road.

      To me, it’s whether or not my writing helps me achieve my goal, whatever that goal might be. Because if it doesn’t, whether I’m wearing the blogger or copywriter hat… then why bother writing in the first place?

  25. Whatever do you mean, Joshua? 😉 “…starting a healthy argument like this one around your own product…”? Never!

    Well, maybe…

    Oh alright, you got me. A little bit. My Problogger post WAS fairly strategic in that I wanted to get bloggers thinking about the relevance of copywriting best practices, so that the Problogger Scorecard ebook would have some meaning to them, when launched.

    That’s not to say I was being insincere; I stand by my assertion that good bloggers do it better than most copywriters.

    That said, I’m happy to admit I WAS comparing apples and oranges. NOT because I was pitting bloggers against copywriters, but because I was pitting GOOD bloggers against ORDINARY copywriters. (I agree with Brian Clark: there’s no real difference between bloggers and copywriters per se. “There are effective writers, and ineffective writers. That’s it.” In fact, that’s the conclusion I was hoping people would come to.)

    So, yes, *I* was being a little strategic.

    *James*, on the other hand, was not. Her post and the resulting comment conversation arose purely out of her sense of fun (perhaps combined with a smidge of indignation). I wish I’d been clever enough to plan this buzz, but alas, my little brain is full to overflowing with the launch of the Problogger Scorecard ebook, updates to the book and, of course, that pesky client copy!

    Fortunately for me, James is fun, and it all worked out nicely, in terms of buzz.

    And in case you (and by “you”, I mean all MWP readers and hardcore James groupies) hadn’t guessed, James and I are fast friends. We mean only SOME of the nasty things we said to each other… 😉

    • Healthy arguments and only “SOME of the nasty things”? That won’t do Glenn. How about we introduce a few choice weapons into the fray?

    • Glenn,

      James actually is a ninja… I have never met her either, but she always sneaks over to my house and leaves a dead animal carcass hanging from the tree once a month, just to show that we are not to mess with her.

      As for your Scorecard book (I won’t plug the Problogger name here… aww crap, oops, guess it’s ok since James is in there too)… picked up my copy yesterday and you did a great job on it.

      Really insightful tidbits in there, even some that I have never heard before. Excellent work with the strategic argument post as well. Fabulous idea.

      -Joshua Black

      • Joshua. Those are only my minions carrying out my instructions. In reality, I’m managing my whole ring from the comfort of a secret bunker in the forests of Quebec using high-end technology to conspire my stings.

        As for the Scorecard, yeah, I highly approve. Glenn’s done a fantastic job of it, and I think it’s well worth the purchase… if only to keep him in the money so that I can make fun of him in the months to come. 😉

      • Thanks Joshua. Appreciate the warning. And your kind words. I’m actually busy updating the Scorecard ebook as we speak — adding a LOT of content, mostly in a worked example where I’ve scored a post of Darren’s. When we go to full price on Sept 1, it’ll be with a much bigger book. Don’t worry, though, you (and everyone else who’s already bought it) will get a free update to the new version.

        K. Enough almost-but-not-entirely-shameless-self-promotion! Back to James. I hear she’s scared to reveal herself because she’s actually a Cyclops. Do you know if there’s any truth to that rumour?

  26. I think some of us are comparing apples with oranges. I would rather much read a blog by a writer than read something that has been written by a copywriter. My personal opinion is that it is more authorative, has legitimacy and is credible.

  27. @James – I did realise by the name of the blog that you are all copywriters and my post still stands. I’d rather read a post by a blogger who is an expert in their industry than a copywriter who writes a blog.

  28. I’d have to say that in my opinion regarding this subjects premise, it’s actually the exact opposite.

    For one single reason.

    Bloggers can heave to a niche’ and stay there, doing all their work with one subject, honing knowledge and becoming narrowed and ultimately limited in their focus and scope.They have little incentive to actually improve their ability to form a story or “post”. Indeed, a lot of the current thinking regarding blogging is trending towards not worrying so much about how skilled your writing is and just gaining popularity.

    Copywriters on the other hand become adept at managing different writing styles. They can write about nearly anything within reason and make it informative, witty, professional, comical, whatever is needed to enhance the copy and give it the extra personality and life it needs to break through and really engage the reader.

  29. Touche! As much as I like Problogger, this post was just waiting for a head butt, and here it was. 🙂 MWP rule!

  30. In my opinion recently bloggers aspire to write articles for people that it was easy and clear

  31. I’m all for blogging to be honest with you. No one can knock the speed and adaptability a blogger has. Bloggers are the newage backbone to writing in general in my opinion especially as the internet is becoming the standard for news.

    The wizards of words best describes a blogger. They are quick on the trigger and are always offering new twists, spells and concoctions within the subjects and material they desire to write about!

  32. Copywriter here too… and I agree with the “debunking” of Darren’s post.

    Frankly, the ass kissing on the ProBlogger site scares me… that post in particular has NO BASIS at all… only “apples and oranges” comparisons, some lame “reasons why”, and not even a shred of proof!

    Blogging and writing sales copy are 2 completely different things… and as marketers, both are invaluable skills that can and should be developed for obvious reasons.

    Ansar

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