On the face of it, they appear to be identical.
Blogging and copywriting is, essentially, the exact same thing; they both refer to the process of constructing sentences and paragraphs for the web and other forms of marketing material (although the former is exclusively web-only, obviously). But in practice, they’re really quite different. And, if you’re just getting your teeth into modern digital marketing or have simply been doing some ‘blue sky thinking’, you may be wondering how this can be for two disciplines that seem intrinsically linked.
In this blog post, we’re going to delve into the topic a little further and offer some of the key reasons why blogging is different to traditional copywriting.
A case in point
The very webpage you’re reading right now is a perfect example of the difference between blogging and copywriting.
We’re using this space of the web to offer advice, insight and an opinion on a popular topic. We’re not trying to unveil a new product, direct you to a specific event or deliver a crucial piece of company news. Had we been doing any of those things, the task of writing would have been very different.
Let’s consider why.
What does a copywriter do?
Copywriting has been around for as long as commerce and words have existed.
The job of a copywriter is to lure-in readers, inform them and push them down the path of purchase by using a clever combination of inviting headlines, snappy straplines and punchy paragraphs that are capable of convincing anyone reading to take action.
Copywriters tell stories, but they do so in a very deliberate, commercial manner – albeit one that is rarely obvious.
Great copywriters can prompt us to buy stuff with nothing more than words – it’s as simple as that. Sometimes, it’ll only take one of the elements above (a strapline that answers a specific question we have, for example), but more often than not, a concerted effort is required to keep people engaged and build that all-important level of trust.
What does a blogger do?
If a copywriter is the person who writes the adverts within a traditional magazine, think of a blogger as one of the columnists.
If you’re not familiar with columnists, their job is relatively simple; they’re given a page or two to write freely (within reason) about a topic that will benefit the readership. There’s no selling involved when you’re a blogger – the only thing you’re imparting is your knowledge or opinion on a given subject.
Typically, bloggers will be tasked with guiding people towards a particular call-to-action (or ‘CTA’ as it is more often called), but that’s rarely a product; normally, the reader will be drawn in by the blog post and feel engaged enough to do something more, such as download a corresponding white paper or sign-up for further blogs via an email-based newsletter.
Both copywriting and blogging are creative endeavours, but the latter is usually given a bit more free reign when it comes to the writing style.
Results: long term versus short-term
A key difference between blogging and copywriting relates to results.
As a copywriter, your job is usually to win people over quickly. That snappy headline, for example, is intended to draw people in and encourage action immediately, whether it be to buy a product or sign-up for updates on when it’ll be available. As a blogger, you’re rarely tasked with quite the same level of urgency. Blogging is a long game – sometimes, a very long game.
This is because blogging is a form of content marketing, which is focused on building audiences slowly and gradually in order to generate a layer of trust. This is done by producing content that is both free and helpful, and doing so regularly (the more consistent you are as a blogger, the more likely you are to build that audience).
Once trust begins to build, some of those followers will likely become paying customers, whether it be in the form of hard-and-fast product sales or via subscriptions to access premium content. Marketers often refer to this as ‘flicking the switch’, and as a blogger, it’s your job to foster those relationships that turn strangers into brand advocates.
The blogging hobbyist
Perhaps one of the most profound differences between blogging and copywriting is the fact that there are millions of people who indulge in the former as a hobby. If you’re a regular user of the web (who isn’t, these days?), you’ll almost certainly have discovered incredibly useful content in the form of blogs that have been written by people who have no interest in gaining any commercial advantage from their work.
Blogging is a form of creative writing which gives aspiring authors, hobbyists and experts who want to share their knowledge a platform from which to express themselves in full view of the world. Indeed, free online publishing is arguably one of the most important revolutions of our time, and it has given everyone a voice in the digital realm.
So, why don’t we find hobbyist copywriters?
While there will undoubtedly be a few people out there who practice the art of writing advertising copy, it’s fair to assume they’re in the minority. This is because copywriting is a marketing task whose single-minded focus on selling will ensure it’s unlikely to become a hobby.
Unlike blogging for pleasure, copywriting is something that needs a business, product line and industry full of prospective customers to be worthwhile.
Relaxed vs supercharged words
If you’ve got this far – firstly, thank you – but secondly, it’s because you’ll have read the words above in much the same way you’d read a magazine article. There’s no rush. We haven’t hurried you along or suggested you need to do something; the words above and those you’re reading now are intended to inform and educate, nothing more.
If you instead turn to an advert on Google, for example, you’ll have a very different reading experience. This is because while blogging is generally centred around a relaxed form of writing, copywriting is all about supercharging sentences and paragraphs for maximum effect. Come the end of this page, for instance, you’ll (hopefully) feel slightly more knowledgeable on a subject in which you have specific interest. Come the end of that Google ad, you’ll either want to buy something or will have been given serious food for thought about a future purchase.
This doesn’t make blogging lazy or copywriting intrusive – they both serve a purpose at a given moment in time.
The key is how – and when – they’re delivered. For instance, if a blog is found naturally within Google search listings during a period of research, it’s likely to be met with open arms. Similarly, if a piece of advert copy surfaces when someone searches for a specific product to which it relates, it’s unlikely to annoy the reader. Unfortunately, both blogging and copywriting are open to abuse and poor craftsmanship. For example, a blog or advert which appears during a search for something entirely unrelated will almost certainly be a source of aggravation.
It’s entirely possible to be both a competent blogger and great copywriter (or vice-versa), but if you head down that path as a career, it’s vital to keep in mind the differences between the two disciplines. Words can be used in many different ways, but that’s why they’re some of the most powerful tools we have to hand as marketers!