conversational blogging

This blog originally appeared on It has been updated and represented here.

Have you checked your mail today? Did you get any letters from a charity or maybe a magazine? Perhaps a letter about a new financial opportunity?

What about online? Have you clicked a link or an ad that took you to a landing page?

Both the mail and the landing page are sales letters. If you felt the urge to buy or donate after reading them then you’ve experienced the result of good copywriting. That’s a type of a writing designed to persuade, and people who write that way are called, well, copywriters. And the words that they write are called “copy.”

When I studied to be one, I was surprised to find there are rules, formulas, and secrets to choosing words that make people want to act. The action can be anything – to read your blog, buy an expensive item or donate to a worthy cause.

I’m sharing three of those secrets with you so you can start persuading people to read your blog and come back for more.

1. Spend most of your time on the headline

In my studies, I was told to spend 80% of my time on headlines. At first, that didn’t make sense to me because you’d think it’d take more time to write more words. Headlines are usually just one sentence or less. Why should it take so much time?

The answer is: If your headline doesn’t capture someone’s attention, then none of the other words will be read.

It’s simple but true. David Ogilvy is known as the father of advertising and one of the most successful copywriters of the modern era. He says,

On the average, five times as many people read the headlines as read the body copy.

Another copywriting legend is Drayton Bird. He says,

On average, they say, 8 out of 10 people will read your headline. But only 2 out of 10 will read the rest of your copy.”

You want to be better than average right? That means spending time making your headline the best it can be. When you do, more people will read the rest of the words too.

There’s quite a lot that goes creating great headlines. If you’re interested in learning more about it, you can read Bird’s blog about what makes a great headline. You can also learn more in this blog with advice from copywriting masters

2. Have a conversation

The best copy never feels like a sales pitch, even though it is designed to sell something. It feels like you’re talking with a friend. Trying to be funny, cute, or vapid won’t work (unless you’re writing to an audience who appreciates cute or funny. I’d still avoid vapid in all cases).

How does this translate to blogging?

It means your posts should grab and hold the reader’s interest.

That may sound tough, but there are a some tricks to make it easier.

Arguably the most important, and most challenging, is to write like you speak. If you’ve been taught to write academically, it’s an entirely new skill to learn. Also, if you’re writing in a non-native language, it’s even more difficult. But don’t give up! With practice, you’ll be able to do it.

Another way to make your writing sound conversational is to use the word “you.” A lot of formal writing is written in the third person with all sorts of machinations to avoid using personal pronouns. That means not using “I”, and definitely not “you”. But simply using the word will transform your writing into something that feels more familiar and personal.

The final way to make sure you’re writing conversationally is to use contractions. Most people use them when they speak which makes your writing flow more naturally. If you doubt this, write something without using contractions, then read it aloud. My guess is you’ll feel the difference right away. You wouldn’t talk to your family, best friend or even your nosy neighbor like that.

But if you aren’t selling anything, do you really need to know this secret? It’s true, the majority of blogs here aren’t selling anything – except that they are.

For example, you want people to read more of your blog right? That means you’re selling the value of what you’ve written. You want someone to feel motivated to act-click to another post-after reading your blog. Or you might want them to comment. Either way, you’re trying to get the reader to take action – but instead of buying something, they’ll be clicking a button.

3. Make the layout appealing

How your blog looks could be stopping people from reading it.

A large block of text is intimidating. It makes the reader question whether they have the time or enough desire to slog through it.

There are lots of ways to make it look easier to read, but these are the basics:

Break the text into short paragraphs. Try to keep to 4-5 sentences. These little chunks make reading easier and look much more friendly than one big wall of words.
Use subheadings to separate out the logical sections of your content. This makes your blog easy to skim so the reader can dive into the parts that they want to read and pass over those they don’t.

Only use images that relate to the topic or help create the feeling you want your reader to have. Pictures break up the text and also help to make it feel shorter and easier to read.

Putting the copywriting secrets to work

Will these three copywriting secrets actually get you more readers and comments? After all, that’s what I promised in the headline.

If you consistently apply them, I believe they will. That’s because the secrets are based on hard science. You see, every ad, every promotion a company does costs them money. Sometimes a lot of money. So the methods used to write those ads have been tested and refined over decades.

The three I shared with you are just a small sampling of those methods. In fact, there are whole books written about each of the topics above. But even just knowing about them – and practicing them – can help you get better results for your blogs.

As a final example let’s compare the first title I came up with for this post with the one I used:

First: 3 Copywriting Secrets to Make Your Writing More Persuasive

Second: 3 Copywriting Secrets to Get More Readers and Comments

I could write another thousand words about why the second one is better, but I’m wondering what your thoughts are. Let me know in the comments if I chose the right one, and what you think makes the difference.

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