A few months ago I was asked to give a presentation on copywriting at a local business forum.
The theme was how to create authentic and natural copywriting for the web.
At the end of the talk one delegate asked whether they needed a copywriter for their web copy because they wrote their own blogs. Surely if they were able to write one they could write the other?
I haven’t actually seen any of their blogs to know what their writing is like, but this was my answer.
Blogs are a great place to express yourself and find your brand voice. They offer you a platform to sound off your opinions show your expertise and offer hints and tips.
In that sense they could be seen as the precursor to your web content because they help you develop the right tone and personality for your business.
However, what your blogs don’t do is persuade your reader to buy from you – at least not directly.
That’s the fundamental difference between writing blogs and writing web content.
The purpose of website content
Website content is there to sell.
But it also has to be relevant to your reader, interesting, powerful and optimised to help your site rank highly within the search results (although other factors are also important).
That’s quite a tall order.
It has to focus on the benefits of your product or service (i.e. how it’s going to make your customers’ lives easier) and on your reader. That means you must write what they want to hear rather than what you want to tell them about your business.
Their top priority is to find a trustworthy company who will take their pain away; how long you’ve been in business, how many people you have working for you and how many offices you have are not factors that are going to make them reach a buying decision.
They want to find someone who can tell a story to show (rather than tell) them why they should buy.
They want reassurance that the company will fulfil their promises.
And they want all that succinctly with a strong call to action so they know exactly what they need to do to complete the buying process.
Not something that should be tackled lightly.
Plus, your website copy is probably the first impression they’ll have of your company so if you get it wrong you’ve lost them forever.
So what’s the answer?
I encourage all my clients to write their own blogs.
You might think that’s a bit short-sighted of me, but it’s not because I’m a terrible business woman (or very lazy), it’s because their blog is a great way of getting their personality across.
Their readers not only get great information, they also get to engage with them and get to know them.
Would I encourage them to write their own website content?
If you look around it’s really easy to spot the companies that have written their own content.
It’s very inward facing (i.e. it’s all about them and their awards) and doesn’t address the needs of the reader (i.e. there are no benefits).
When you’re writing about your own business, it’s very difficult to stand back and think about things from your customers’ point of view. But in order to create powerful and relevant content, you have to put yourself in their shoes to work out what’s important to them and what will make them buy.
In my experience that’s something only an external writer can do. After learning about your company, products and customers, they can distance themselves from the company to drill down and isolate the key points that will convert visitors to your website into customers.
So by all means write your own blogs and use them to develop your writing style, but when it comes to your actual web copy, hire a professional.