I was trolling the internet a few days back, reading random blogs (because that’s what a professional copywriter does all day, we sit around reading other people’s stuff trying to convince ourselves that our web copy is better than everyone else’s) and I came across something that truly dumbfounded me. It was the closest thing to a crime I’ve ever witnessed on a blog. And it just so happens to be the winner of my unofficial (and no-monetary-value) Online Copywriting Horror Story of the Month award.
I was reading a blog about everyone’s favorite high priced coffee vendor, Starbucks, wishing I had a few extra bucks lying around so I could cruise to the nearest barista counter and put myself into a diabetic coma, having a blast learning about the coffee titan’s various social marketing gaffes – like most people, I enjoy watching the high and mighty crumble. Even when it’s just a momentary slip, it still brings sunshine to my heart. And that’s when I realized what was happening. I was, lo and behold, reading a well written blog. The content writing was crisp; the punctuation picture perfect; the diction was to die for. And there was not a dangling participle in sight. I thought to myself “Now here’s a copywriter who’s got his act together.” Then came the obscenities.
They arrived suddenly, from out of the blue (actually the background was white with black lettering, which I find far easier to read than any other website color scheme… but more on that another time). It began with the ungraceful tacking on of the phrase “so bite me” to the end of a sentence, causing me to blink as if I’d just imagined something that wasn’t there. It concluded with the not-clever dropping of a few four-letter words. You know the ones I’m talking about.
I sat there stymied, feeling as if I’d just been slapped. Now, I’m no prude. I could give any sailor worth his salt a good run for his money in the verbal battery category. But when it comes to reading and writing matters, I’m all business. It struck me that here was an obviously gifted individual who didn’t have a solitary clue about how to communicate. Let alone having the slightest idea about effective web copywriting. I would have left a snide public comment expressing my disappointment and offering my copywriting services for a penny per brain cell, if a photo of the author hadn’t revealed someone with a head the size of a microwave and teeth to make Jaws from the James Bond movies envious. In other words, not exactly the person you want to insult and have come hunt you down. Anyway, what’s my point? That there are some people out there who should be paying for it, plain and simple. For content writing, that is. But I’m not going to be the one to tell them. Especially if they’re big.
So stop me if you’ve heard me rant about this before… although it’s probably too late. But as you can tell, it’s really starting to bother me lately how so few websites offer even marginally decent copywriting. Forget about SEO copywriting to raise their search engine rankings, or assigning the job to a copywriter who can handle the job – it actually seems the more I look, the more people are going out of their way to write bad web copy on purpose. That can’t be possible, can it? On second thought, don’t answer that. I’m not sure I want to know.