A bizarre word that only the Internet could have given birth to, blog is a shortening of the word Web log. Meaning it is a log, or diary, or personal commentary that happens to take place in a digital medium.
But no matter where a piece of copywriting appears, the rules and demands of persuasive and vibrant writing are the same. So while their odd name and the digital medium make blogs appear something exotic and special, demanding some sort of newfangled writing rules, they’re not and they don’t. They’re just copywriting. And they obey all the rules of copywriting.
All copywriting must use living language rather than dead language. That means – OK I’ll make it real complicated – fresh, colorful, precise and unexpected words: GOOD. Dead, clichéd, tired and imprecise words: BAD.
All copywriting must be animated by a clear purpose and a central theme. Flabby writing means flabby thinking. A central theme organizes writing the way iron filings line up in a magnetic field. You start the reader with a premise at Word One, you take them on a trip, then you kiss them goodbye, and you’ve led them on a clear and single-minded journey. That is good writing.
Finally, all copywriting must have the reader in mind. And that’s where a blog can get a little complicated. We all know that an ad or brochure has the mission of persuasion, so it’s obvious it must be about the reader. When an ad is about the writer having fun, enjoying creative freedom and delighting in the whimsy of words, he or she is writing an ad that fails.
So why would a blog follow the same rule, when a blog isn’t an ad, with the mission of persuasion? A blog is a personal “log” or commentary, right? The answer is: a blog is an ad.
Wow. That is a profound thought. Everything you write is advertising something. It may be your point of view, your belief, your argument, your experience, but you are advertising it, because you want to control the reader’s experience. You are intended and precise about the takeaway in the reader’s mind. And so, the content of the blog is about you. But the writing must be about the reader, or they will get blogged down. And leave.
The laws, rules and secrets of turning words into lethal weapons are described in entertaining detail in my book Maximun Strength Copywriting. But one of the central revelations must be stated here: media may vary. But the laws of persuasive writing don’t.
So go ahead and blog away. Talk about your day, your dog, your political opinions, your experiences as a whitewater kayaker, anything you want. You will be joining what blog search engine Technorati estimated as 112 million blogs by the end of 2007. Everybody’s got an opinion, and everybody’s got a story.
But as you write your blog, keep your emphasis on the writing part. Because a blog is writing. With a funny name.