In the offline marketing world, copywriters are a hallowed lot, at least the good ones. Not so much online. I recall a few years back reading about the different types of Internet-related jobs in terms of salaries paid, and copywriting was way down the list. In the offline world copywriters worth their salt can make a fortune!
What does this have to do with blogging? Simply that honing your blog copywriting skills can make your blog more popular and, if you’re in the business of making money with it, more profitable as a result.
Two blogs I’ve found recently that can assist your growth in this area are Copyblogger and The Write Spot. Both blogs provide tips to increase your chances of success, whether those be an increase in the numbers of readers, revenue, and/or reputation.
Not to be outdone, here are a few tips of my own I’ve picked up along the way.
Keep your index page scannable.
One sure way to give your blog greater vitality is to keep copy on the home page short, so that readers can more easily scan the page and see more posts. Allow no more than two or three paragraphs on the home page per post. Copyblogger’s author Brian Clark does this and his site is an excellent model to follow. Another good example is any of the Weblogs Inc blogs.
But, what if you have a longer post? Most blog platforms provide means by which you can write a longer post, yet keep the portion that appears on the home page short, what some platforms refer to as an “extended” post. Here’s how it works on a couple of the more popular one:
- WordPress – Allow me to introduce you to the “more” button. If you’re using the WYSIWYG version of the posting interface, it’s an icon in the shortcuts bar that looks like a pagebreak. If you use what I do, the HTML version, it simply says “more.” At the point where that option is inserted in a post is where it “breaks.” The portion above the “more” insert (which looks like this by the way: ) shows up on the home page. The rest does not.
- Typepad and Movable Type – Both Typepad and MT are products of Six Apart, and they work similarly. Using the customize option, which usually appears at the bottom of the posting interface page, you can set the page to have two entry fields, one of which is referred to as the “extended” entry. The part of your post you include in the first field appears on the home page, the part in the extended entry field appears when the post permalink is clicked.
Write for scanning, not for reading
Even though flat panels have made it easier, computer monitors are some of the worst devices for trying to read copy. As a result, most people don’t read a page, they scan it. You need to write in such a way as to best accommodate that behavior.
- Keep paragraphs short – Long, ad naseum paragraphs make comprehension difficult. Best to keep them shorter.
- Use bold and italics to highlight certain words and phrases – Using them to emphasize main points will help the copy “flow” better and can draw readers into the details of the paragraph.
- Use sub-headings – When you change topics within a post, it’s always good to identify that with a sub-heading. Using something called header tag is helpful. There are different levels of header tags, classified by number. An “h1” tag, for example, is used for main titles, while the “h3” tag is good for sub-titles and sub-headings.
Since most blog platforms now include some type of spellcheck, there’s just no excuse for the misspelling of words. I use mine religiously.
Parting of learning the skills needed to be a great blogger includes learning to use the King’s English in the manner that will make it most appealing. Make it a point to increase your copywriting ability. I’ll leave you with a couple of good books written by my friend Bob Bly that are sure to help: