Hi. This is an old, unmaintained blog. You may find these sites more to your liking:

Carson Brackney: This is my primary site.

Ad Astra Traffic: Content production/article writing service.

Ad Astra Traffic Team: For those who'd like to get writing gigs with Ad Astra.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Content writing as soft copywriting...Staying on the client's side...

If you are writing content for the web and flexing your "journalistic objectivity" muscles at the same time, you might want to change your approach. Although writing keyword articles isn't copywriting in the same sense as penning great ad copy, the two do have something in common: a client who wants to realize a return on his or her investment in content.

I was once asked to do a series of articles comparing traditional real estate agents to buyer's agents. Easy enough. After reading over our correspondence, I felt realtively sure that he was in need of material that pointed toward real estate agents as a superior option. There was nothing explicitly saying that, but it seemed to be lightly implied. Before starting, I dropped him a line asking if he had a preference in direction or if he wanted objective assessments. He wrote back right away, saying he wanted content that favored buyer's agents.

I might have approached the subject objectively and provided him with some useable content. I might have gone with my inaccurate hunch and written completely useless articles. Instead, by finding out WHY he wanted the articles I was able to deliver a great package for him.

When someone hires a content writer to author 50 articles about widgets, the buyer may be selling widgets and might prefer to avoid getting articles like "Why Doodads Render Widgets Obsolete."

Article writing is usually information-intensive and the writer generally isn't expected to produce a series of sales pieces. However, an effective content writer will understand why his or her customer wants the text and will write with that objective in mind.

There are cases where it won't matter. An expansive "Adsense site" dedicated to widgets may be a clearinghouse for information and angles of all sorts. However, it often pays (both the writer and the client) to write with the underlying goal and preferred perspective of the client in mind.

That overlap between content writing and copywriting does create an interesting sliver of ethical turf. As a copywriter, there are some products for which I simply will not write copy. I don't want to "dirty my hands" by aiding in the sales of a destructive or inferior product. Content writers who maintain an objective perspective at all times may avoid these internal debates, but do so at the risk of losing business and disappointing clients.

If one wants to write while retaining their non-commercial "purity," content writing may not be the right niche for him or her. Effective content writers recognize the underlying commercial nature of their work and utilize that understanding to their advantage. They position themselves on their clients' side, which makes them more valuable and appreciated.