Copywriting 3.0: How to Bounce the
Fat Kid off the See-Saw

image of seesaw in playground

Today’s copywriter is more than a mere “wordsmith.”

If that’s how you think of yourself, you’ll be stuck in Junior Copywriter ad agency purgatory for eternity.

Think back to recess in third grade, when you kept getting stuck on the see-saw with the fat kid at the other end. All the cool kids were playing kickball. And there you were, waiting for the inevitable bounce.

By investing your time in understanding five key areas, you’ll be able to exponentially improve your ability to create effective content. And that, my friends, is what it takes to bounce the fat kid off the see-saw and start playing a much cooler game.

You don’t have to be the 500-pound gorilla — you just have to think like one.

1. Real-time search

With Twitter and Facebook having made deals with Google and Bing to make content available for search, copywriters working in the online space cannot ignore the importance of real-time search. Every social media portal and social bookmarking site is now a place for content to be found online.

If you can’t sit down and have a coherent client conversation that includes real-time search, the fat kid is going to send you flying.

Copywriting 3.0 Tip: Take the time to understand real-time search. Learn the sites indexed, the type of content indexed from each site, and where people go to find real-time search results.

Check out real-time search engines like OneRiot, read how Google is incorporating real-time search, and think about how this can affect the way people phrase online conversations.

2. Article marketing and repurposing content

Article marketing is no longer about just building backlinks.

Instead, it’s about breadcrumbs. The more you leave around the web, the more likely you are to have people follow those breadcrumbs to where you’d like them to go.

If you’re not in tune with the latest in article marketing and how to repurpose online content for maximum visibility, you’re missing a key conversation that you should be having with your clients. It’s no longer about just having a blog — it’s about where those posts go after they’ve been launched on your blog. Facebook, Twitter, Posterous, eZines — there’s a world out there just waiting for your content.

Check out the new eZine WordPress plugin as well as the cool features of Posterous.

Copywriting 3.0 Tip: Read up on anchor text, SEO keyword research, and make sure that any online destination for which you write understands how an SEO strategy affects the success of their online goals.

Fat kids don’t like breadcrumbs — they like donuts. Help your clients stay light and nimble by introducing the breadcumb strategy. Which leads us to our next point. . . .

3. SEO-savvy copywriting

When’s the last time you sat down with an SEO firm to chat about how you can make their job easier?

I work with multiple firms and pick their brains on a regular basis. If you’re writing online content willy-nilly and with no regard to an SEO strategy, why on earth are you writing?

Granted, some sites are purpose-driven and others have built-in audiences. But by and large, you’re going to be working with clients who want new prospective business to land on their sites.

If you don’t understand the latest in how search engines read words or the basics of keyword frequency, keyword ratio to content length (to avoid keyword stuffing or even under use), and placement on the page, the writer who took the time to learn is going to make you look old school.

B-O-U-N-C-E.

Copywriting 3.0 Tip: Check out Copyblogger’s SEO Copywriting Made Simple guide. Connect with a local SEO firm. Pop over to SEOMoz and read their Beginner’s Checklist to Learning SEO.

And of course, you should be using Scribe (I recently reviewed it here).

4. Blogging: Where SEO and social media collide

Search engines lurv “dynamic content.”

In lay terms, that’s a consistent stream of fresh content instead of a collection of static pages that never change. It shows the search engines that a website is consistently updating and is therefore more “relevant.”

That’s why everyone’s got a blog these days. It’s also where SEO and social media collide.

A blog is the ideal place to help a client execute a keyword strategy, increase traffic, and be seen as an authority in the space they want to dominate. Show your clients you understand how blogging fits into a sound SEO strategy, and is a facet of not only their social media strategy but an overall marketing plan.

Copywriting 3.0 Tip: Read up on blog marketing strategies, don’t discount the importance of linkbait-style headlines, and understand what a good blog does and where bad ones fail.

Creating online content is about more than tweeting a blog post or putting a link on a Facebook fan page. It’s understanding how the words you use and where you use them affect your business goals.

5. What mobile means

With 42.4 million iPhones on the market (as of January 2010), you can’t argue that mobile content isn’t relevant.

The fat kid on the see-saw has been content with churning out old-school SEO copy. And that’s all fine and dandy. But he doesn’t know diddly about mobile content.

Screens are smaller, attention spans are shorter. If you can’t write something that can be read at a stoplight (not that this blogger reads and drives . . . oh, no . . .), you need to rethink your skill set.

With DVRs and online news distribution, we don’t watch commercials or read ads. So where are businesses supposed to go? They go mobile.

Smart businesses are developing mobile versions of their corporate websites. You need to know how to write for them as well as the ad networks that operate in the mobile arena.

Copywriting 3.0 Tip: You may be writing ads, but you’re not going to bounce the fat kid without reading up on AdSense Mobile and iAds.

You also need to start surfing more on a mobile device. See what annoys you about content not formatted for mobile, and who does a great job. Check out Whole Foods Market on your smart phone.

Bang-up job, I say. Straight on.

The bottom line is this: copywriting has gone high-tech. If you’re not up to speed with the changing landscape, you’ll keep getting stuck on the see-saw with the fat kid instead of in the killer game of kickball with the cool kids.

Do your homework, stay on the pulse of how social media and SEO are changing the way businesses communicate. And never forget: you’re never too old to learn something new.

About the author: Erika Napoletano is an online strategist based in Denver, Colorado. As the Head Redhead at Redhead Writing, she serves up sound yet snark-laden advice on social media, SEO copywriting, and business strategies.

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Comments

  1. Erika, this is an excellent writeup with some great resources as well. There’s a lot to learn about being seen on the web–anyone hoping to establish an online presence can’t afford to not be informed, especially a copywriter.

  2. Awesome post, Ericka. I know there are people out there that say just write for your readers and you don’t have to worry about SEO, but why not do both? It’s not hard to do a little bit of keyword research and include those in your content and your headline.

    By doing the research you are really finding out what language your readers are using. How do they search, how do they phrase their searches? When you know this, and you incorporate those terms into your content, you become a better communicator that speaks to your reader on their level.

    I really need to heed your advice on mobile searches and research. Thanks for the kick in the butt to get on that!

  3. @Chris – Glad you enjoyed the writeup!

    @Coree – Excellent point…if you’re writing for JUST your readers, you’re missing a huge opportunity to connect with even MORE readers. Glad I could give you a kick today.

  4. Hey Erika,

    I love the title…

    You really provided some great resources for us. Copywriting is a skill that I’m continually working on and improving.

    Chat with you later…
    Josh

  5. This post has made my day. Chock full of important starter-kit information and a good kick in the pants to get moving.

    THANK YOU. I’m using every bit of this today.

  6. Erika I am officially quoting you on this one “You don’t have to be the 500-pound gorilla — you just have to think like one.” that is the quote of the week! Great article!

  7. Awesome post, Erika. Snagged me immediately with your headline, kept me with your humor. This type of stuff isn’t automatically engaging information, but you kept it…playful.

    Thanks for the mobile tips. I have a lot of room to grow in that area and I greatly appreciate your suggestions!

  8. Honestly, that line killed me – You have a great sense of humor and your incorporation of that in the article was I admit amazing.

    Thanks for your great post,

    Caleb

  9. @Jess, me too, I’m a mobile moron. :) (Considering actually buying a smart phone, which news will make Brian faint.)

  10. @Sonia – If you make Brian faint, I want video.

    @Jess @Caleb @Josh – If you can’t grab someone’s attention, what CAN you do with words these days? Glad you stuck around for the meat past the title :)

    @Beki – If you use every bit of this post today…let me know how you did it!

    @Darren – What can I say? I have a thing for primates.

  11. Thanks Erica. This is one of those posts that I both love and hate. Love it because you gave solid, easy to understand, advice. Hate it because I’m a neophyte in all this and sometimes having to think like an 800 lb. gorilla seems overwhelming and can weigh me down with wet blankets for a while. Now’s where I need that Kick in the Ass. Writing that last sentence made me wonder if I’m reading too many Redhead Writings/Rants…nah.

  12. Great post, Erika. I particularly love your “bottom line.” As a kid, I never really cared for the see-saw, but couldn’t be torn away from a good game of kickball. :)

    Thanks for sharing these tips and resources. I’m going to start using them today.

  13. Thanks for the resources, Erika.

    I’m envisioning Brain Clark sitting on one side of a see-saw with all his successes and audience anchoring him down, and traditional copywriters up in the air on the other side, crying and screaming with yellow highlighters flailing.

  14. Erika, very thoughtful post.

    I’d love to see you develop these a little bit further.

    Terrific food for thought.

    Great job.

  15. @Shane – Now THAT’S a visual :)

    @Harlan – I’d love to develop these ideas further as well. The content above is a great start to pique interest. Any more detail and I’d start getting the “blink blink” action that’s deadly for a first post, however. Thanks for stopping by!

  16. I work on a site that teaches people to love their bodies and seeks to combat the unnecessarily negative treatment of fat people, as well as fat children.

    I appreciate the advice in the article, and I appreciate the fact that a good metaphor is needed to get the point across more enjoyably (one of the techniques taught here), but I think that taking a pot-shot at fat kids is so easy and only perpetuates the school yard stereotype that you’ve highlighted here that the fat kids are the losers and that the cool kids are doing something else.

    If you’d written an article, “Don’t be A Cheap Jew: How Spending Money in the Right Places Leads to Blogging Success” (e.g. good books for inspiration, coffee at your local cafe, high-speed internet, etc.) I don’t think people would have appreciated the metaphor because Jews are not acceptable social pariahs anymore – the fat kid, however, is still okay to pick on.

    I only ask that you consider the larger social ramifications when you create your witty metaphors in which to drape your otherwise good blogging advice.

  17. I hadn’t heard of OneRiot.com. I have that to add to my arsenal now. Thanks.

  18. Thanks for the post. I was excited to find the links to some basic SEO information. It’s surprisingly difficult to find good information on that for beginners like myself.

    Cheers!

  19. From one redhead to another, I say “you go, girl!”

    Great job on this – you brought up points I forgot about, and a few I didn’t even know about, like the eZine plugin. Thanks!

    - @damnredhead

  20. Thanks Erika, you just introduced me to a bunch of resources I had no idea existed. You probably just doubled my ability to be a copywriting and SEO authority to my clients.

    Alright, maybe it was a 125% increase.

  21. @Leah – Copyblogger is chock-full of killer information on SEO copywriting for beginners. Check out that resource library as well as the links to SEOmoz, too!

    @Peter – I’ll settle for 110%. We can compromise! Glad you found the post useful.

  22. 2 and 5 are the ones that really hit home for me. When I first started writing articles, I always looked at them as a means to an end, a sale… but after writing them for awhile I now understand the power of the breadcrumb trail.

    People will find you from nooks and crannies of the net that you never would think of and that is the reason to have a consistant message and a comnsistent brand out there, everywhere you leave a trail.

    The mobile thing is critical. More and more people read their email on their phones exclusively. I know I do, so I make sure when I create an email to my list or a blog post, that it fits inside that tiny little window in the customer’s hand.

    I don’t always get it right, but if that format is in your mind, and their short attention span is in your thoughts as well, then you are light years ahead of those that don’t.

    -Joshua Black
    The Underdog Millionaire

  23. @Jay – I can appreciate your perspective. As a writer, I leave it up to my audience to interpret my words. There’s no malice in an attention-getting title. There *are* fat kids in the world. However, this post isn’t about childhood obesity. It’s using a playground analogy to convey a point. As many people have said that they’ve enjoyed the attention-getting title and the resources the post offers, why don’t we keep this post about what it’s about, resources for SEO copywriting success, instead of turning it into something it’s not (an attack on children who have a high BMI)? Just a thought! Appreciate you stopping by, of course. And “fat” has never been a pejorative term as religious and cultural ones have been. It’s an adjective to describe a physical condition. Some of my best friends are of higher BMI. It doesn’t mean I want to be on the see-saw with them :)

  24. @Joshua – You’re totally on-target with regards to all of the new ways to repurpose content and how mobile is creeping over the horizon. Heck, mobile is HERE. The matter of the fact is do you understand how content WORKS in mobile? If you don’t, now’s the time to learn before the gorilla gets your goat (banana) and you’re playing a huge game of catch-up…and unnecessarily. Thanks for stopping by!

  25. Very cool tips, especially on the mobile bit. Here is some advice I would welcome from the community- how good are plugins like WPTouch when it comes to reformatting you blog for smart phones?

    I don’t own an iPhone, and the iPhones that I have played with didn’t have data plans

  26. @Erica – You amaze me. You write this kick butt article with a great title – Then you even respond to our title. Ever since coming to this blog two days ago I visit 5 times a day. This article makes me even more hooked.

    Cheers,

    C

  27. Now I feel that the next month or so is planned out! So much to learn…Thanks for all the great starting points.

  28. I agree with Jay S., the fat kid metaphor is a dangerous one. Just consider how many people you just offended–remember how many “fat kids” live in the U.S. alone, millions. And that number is far and fast reaching into other countries as well. And not just fat kids, but the adults too. Even our pets are fat.

  29. For the first time I’ve printed off a blog post on the web. This is great stuff Erika! Do you have any recommendations for mobile plugins for wordpress – to make content more digestible on smart phones??

    And do you have any other tips or resources to send for ideas on ways to re-purpose content without being hit with duplicate content?

    You’re a star!

  30. Well written article and nicely explained. Writing a article doesn’t help you out in this blogosphere. A great research and effective marketing will boost your blog with great traffic.

  31. Thanks for all the great information. The Ezines plugin sounds great and I’m going to have to try it out.

    I’m sure that I understand why posterous is useful … is it just as a tool for reusing content in a different way …?

  32. @Stacy – great to see you and thanks for stopping by today!

    @Bhaskar & @Todd – the WPTouch plugin is a great tool for WP-powered blogs and makes for easy work for mobile formatting. I’ve been playing around with it on a dev site I maintain just for plugin testing and do like what it puts out there thus far. My suggestion is to play with it on a behind-the-scenes install first and see if YOU feel it brings value to your blog’s mobile appearance.

  33. @Todd – Regarding additional ways to repurpose content, my current faves are eZines and Posterous. The duplicate content issue is, essentially, a myth of days gone by. The most important thing is to not simultaneously publish content. I generally let content season 48-72 hours on the source blog before redistributing. That way, the SE’s will index the content at the original source I want and then all other repurposing is for backlinks and breadcrumbs.

    I hope that helps!

  34. @Kim – I like Posterous for many reasons in addition to the content repurposing angle. It’s intuitive, a great on-the-fly blogging platform, a great publishing platform to easily reach multiple channels…and it’s CLEAN. Clean looking, clean interface. A UI that dreams are made of.

  35. Hi Erika – Would you use Posterous for the articles on your site? Other related info? Both? Or something else? Would it be used for something like a short blurb related to the original article with a link back to it …? Thanks!

  36. @Kim – I republish content in whole most of the time and ADD backlinks to it. It’s also a great tool for short blurbs, photos, etc. I advise clients that it’s generally best to not be so spread out, which is why I use Posterous in a “behind the scenes” way to add to the breadcrumb trail.

    I think it’s important for an audience to know WHERE to USUALLY find you. Posterous is a tool for my arsenal, not necessarily a primary one. It compliments a client’s strategy on the whole.

  37. G’day Erika.
    Congratulations. you’ve written one of the most useful posts, for me anyway, that I’ve read on Copyblogger.

    I’ve only been subscribing for a few months. I’m about to launch my blog. I’ve got some study to do now. And thanks to Brian and Sonia for providing the space.

    Regards

    Leon

  38. Wow Erika, this is an incredible article. In fact, it’s probably one of my favorites here on CopyBlogger! Thanks and … wow!

  39. I do write about SEO on daily blogs for my site and i think your post will help me to do better

  40. Erika, I think you might want to listen to Jay and to Elise. Your title is indeed effective (that’s why I’m here writing this), but to claim that ‘fat’ has never been a pejorative, and that you ‘can’t help it if your readers interpret it negatively’ is disingenuous at best. Purely from a business perspective, you also might want to keep in mind that about one third of American adults are obese. Do you really want to take the chance of offending a third of your potential readers?

    Thank you for a worthwhile article, despite its unfortunate ‘hook.’

  41. @Leon – Glad you stopped by today! This site offers a great resource for writers across all disciplines and I’m glad you found value.

    @Veronica & @Mike – Thanks for stopping by, too! I was especially flattered when one of the other commenters mentioned they printed it out. I’m glad you feel the content added to your respective professional days.

    @Pat – I love my readers, whatever their physical stature. If you’re a writer, metaphors are a key tool for conveying your message. But I never worry about possibly offending a reader – I’m just funny like that.

    You’re welcome to join Jay and Elise with their decision to take offense. I’m not going to remove the term “fat” from my vocabulary, however. We’re delighted you stopped by and see? You found something worthwhile underneath the fat :) I’ll also recommend that you don’t stop by my blog. You’re going to take LOTS of offense at THAT site! Be well and write with purpose…Copyblogger values YOU and the site offers an incredible treasure trove of resources for any writer. We’re lucky they put this site out into the ether!

  42. Hey Erika, very good post, concise and informative and the kind of post that makes me want to go off and learn.

    Just for kicks, I’ll stand with you on the title of the post. It’s brilliant, and does exactly what a headline should, it gets your attention.

    Perhaps those people that are complaining about your title should really be complaining to the people that write/design attention grabbing titles on candy bars.

    Love the way you handled the comments, another good lesson.

    Off to check out your own site. . .

  43. I couldn’t get past the fat kid thing either. I know it’s petty, and I wasn’t a fat kid, but the introduction had me feeling bad for the fat kids of the world sitting on the end of a seesaw that nobody wants to get on.

    I guess that’s what good copywriting does though, provokes an emotion. In this case, it just kind of made me feel guilty for reading further.

  44. Great since of humour- unless YOU were the fat kid on the see saw! Some sensitivity, please!

  45. How To NOT Build A Tribe:

    1) Walk the politically correct tight-rope.

    2) Try to please everybody.

    3) Allow the comments of nay-sayers and boo-hoo’ers to dictate direction and theme.

    Keep Rockin’ Erika.

  46. Go Daz! Go Todd! ;-)

  47. OMG! only the most amazing post in regards to showing me how to best leverage my writing. I already use WordBook and WPTwitter to leverage across these social platforms, and have always spun and manually uploaded them to Ezine. But this plugin! And to hear about your experience and knowledge on how duplicate content works!…how much time have I been wasting on the spinner and submission stage!! AAAh, you are a godsend Erika – thankyou

  48. Thanks for the tip on the eZine plugin, but if I post something on my blog and then have it posted to eZine, wouldn’t I get the duplicate content penalty?

  49. @Alex – I used to be a “spinner,” too. Welcome to the Dark Side – we have cookies! (and plugins) Thanks for stopping by!

  50. @Scott – the answer is no. When you publish to your blog FIRST, the SE’s recognize the original source of content as being your blog and index accordingly. :)

  51. I have to print this! Thanks for this info, Erika! Badly needed for my marketing objectives..

  52. @Michael – Thanks for stopping by and glad you feel you have some actionable items for your marketing tick list!

  53. I do write about SEO on my blog and it seems nice write up

  54. Hi guys,

    Reading this blog took me back to my childhood. I remember how I use to ride on the see-saw. But I have to say that I never played on the see-saw with the fat kid. Great blog!!! Thanks for posting.

    Kind regards,

    Sam
    X

  55. Samantha – Glad I could take you back to some playground fun while moving your business forward! Thanks for stopping by :)

  56. well mate… this is an excellent writeup with some great resources as well. There’s a lot to learn about being seen on the web–anyone hoping to establish an online presence can’t afford to not be informed, especially a copywriter. Only the most amazing post in regards to showing me how to best leverage my writing.
    :-) :-) :-)

  57. Tech – thanks for stopping by and I’m glad you found the post a solid set of resources for your professional path. Write on and rock on :)

  58. Please, Erika…listen to what critics are saying about your choice of words. I, too, am bothered by your decision to use “fat kid” as a metaphor. Sure, it was clever but it also reinforced certain unfortunate stereotypes about some children.

    No one is saying that you intended to do harm, but your title is clearly one that tears down instead of builds up. As writers, “do no harm,” should always be our objective.

  59. Matt – thanks for your insight and stopping by. It’s a hypothetical kid on a hypothetical see-saw. If I see a real one on a real one, I’ll be sure to exercise caution. A writer’s job is to incite. And obviously, I’ve done so. Ka-pow! I’m not one to walk on eggshells, nor will I ever be. From one writer to another – if you walk in the middle, you please and serve no one. Glad to have riled you up.

  60. Leon Noone :

    G’Day Erika,
    I don’t think this needs to be said. Therefore , inthe spirit of your post, I’ll say it.

    If you want to say “fat kid” say it. It doesn’t matter that all the skinny kids may feel that they’re missing out.

    Regards

    Leon

  61. Leon –

    Poor skinny kids.

    Erika ;-)

  62. How did this headline get past Bryan Clark?

    I was at Copyblogger last night researching a post about how different “top” blogs use quotes. After seeing this headline I feel no compunction to link to Copyblogger. The “fat kid” bit in your headline may have grabbed my attention, but it doesn’t tell me what the post is about. Not only is it tasteless and juvenile, it really doesn’t mean anything.

    I’m sorry you couldn’t find someone your own size to play with in third grade. That was a long time ago. You’re an adult now. You don’t need to make fun of the fat kid in order to get attention from the cool kids – and who says fat kids can’t be cool?

  63. Seriously? People come on! You’re all missing the point, you’re spinning this great article and ignoring the whole well-written point of the article.

    The point is to learn your craft. Not that anyone was fat or that we’re facing a disaster thanks to the obesity problems. If kids are getting picked on because they’re fat, maybe they should get out from behind the TV and get active. Maybe parents should partake in their kids’ lives and stop ignoring their eating habits…or getting dinner through a drive-in window.

    But I digress….It’s as many others have said on here, if you’re not thinking after the reading, then the writer hasn’t done their job.

    If you can’t deal with it, turn it off or go somewhere else….by the way, I WAS that fat kid in school and still am, only I learned my trade and am doing pretty effing good for myself. So there.

  64. Great post. Keeping up to date on SEO and Social Media is HUGE. The Internet changes so fast… it’s a full time job to keep up on it all.
    For the “Fat Kid” title- Get over it people. It’s a writer being creative. If we have to adjust to the most sensitive common denominator our writing will be totally vanilla and boring. I love that Erika shows her personality in writing along with her no-apology attitude.
    Keep up the good work Erika- you can make fun of me any day of the week.

  65. I actually never thought I would see the day when I would have to defend someone for using a title in their post like this one. Seriously, “How to Bounce the Fat Kid off the See-Saw” is really offensive?

    Considering todays political and social environment we live in, it is not only refreshing, it is very much needed for all of us to not get so hung up on walking the “politically correct tight rope” so many people think needs to be walked.

    “Some sensitivity please”… Really, how about we all try to be sensitive to the fact we are all just too freaking sensitive. God forbid someone use a word or phrase that might offend someone. And this is coming from someone, me, who just got back from his 6 month visit to his doctor, telling him you better get busy shedding some of those extra pounds you are carrying around.

    Come on folks, the title is a metaphor. And it was used to make a point. And if it painted a picture in your narrow minds of a poor fat kid sitting on some piece of playground equipment all by themselves, oh well.

  66. @Elizabeth

    I think her use of the “fat kid” was a “metaphor” for something which I think you can comprehend.

    While you may take exception with the leading paragraphs, you mention nothing of the real content itself. Was it useful, did it fit your need? Berating Erica because she grabbed your attention with less than savory (according to you) methods only shows your own insecurities. Get over them and discuss the content.

    And yes I once was fat (75lbs heavier), and no, being fat is not cool.

    @Erica, I like the article and am sure based on the “good feedback” most of your readers learned something from it.

    LT

  67. Hi Erika – Read the blog: excellent information for anyone trying to become more than a wordsmith!

    Although it’s not the point of the blog, I do have to comment on the whole “fat kid” thing. *sniffle* I wasn’t exactly a small kid, I’m not exactly a small woman, and yeah, I got a shock from the title of the article. Then again, so what?

    IMHO, as adults reading this article, we should be able to separate the information from the metaphors. All the B.S you’re getting is, quite frankly, B.S. Is the point of the article to bounce the fat kid off the see-saw? No. The point is how to get away from being the Junior Copywriter for the rest of your life.

    Did you choose your metaphor wisely? Sensitive PCs will always say no. They can get over it, too. “You can’t please everybody all the time” and there’s always going to be somebody that misses the point of an excellent article to nitpick the small stuff.

    To all the complainers, move on – you’re obviously missing the boat and you might as well swim back to shore and safety. This isn’t grade school, and nobody has time to help your abused feelings.

    Erika, from a fat kid ;) , great job, ignore the B.S. and go on doing what you do!

  68. I loved the article AND think those who are upset with the term “fat kid” need to get off your high horse and stop pretending you actually care about anyone other than yourselves. Elizabeth Able proves my point. She name dropped and then proceeds to call Erika “juvenile”. Didn’t that make you feel better about yourself? Look everyone, I know Bryan Clark! I’m a nice person! I support those poor “fat kids”! :-(

    Fat is Fat, stop pretending. The “fat kid” is HEAVY. You learned it in school, Skinny is the opposite of Fat. If you see a skinny kid standing next to a heavy kid, he is FAT.

    Society is full of wimps today because people like all of you have pussified this country into thinking EVERYTHING is ok.

    Love you Erika.

    Now all of you can write about how much of a jerk I am because I say kids are fat and use words like “pussified” on a blog. Run to church and pray for me, it will do as much good for me as your comments on a blog post will do for “fat kids”.

    STOP PRETENDING YOU GIVE A DAMN!

  69. Do you know how to spell metaphor.. better yet, how about freedom of speech. I love Erika’s writing I love her snarky comments and her sexy wit. If I saw anything less than what I have read above I would call 911 and have her put away! Erika I have a girl crush on you… don’t stop!

  70. Erika… You said, and I quote “Instead, it’s about breadcrumbs. The more you leave around the web, the more likely you are to have people follow those breadcrumbs to where you’d like them to go.” The notion that you use ‘breadcrumbs’ really offends me. I have celiac disease and am therefor allergic to breadcrumbs. So what do I do now?!?! I have no trail to follow because you are grouping me in with those who CAN eat gluten! Such an outrage!!!

    -This message has been brought to you by The People Who Have Nothing Better To Do. (a parent company of Nuke the word Fat or die).

    ~~Come on people…chill. Please look at the INTENT of the article. As you can see, I could be offended in some weird way about the bread thing, but i’m not…because im a rational adult and appreciate Erika’s work and don’t want to use it for my own soapbox issues that are irrelevant to the article.

    -Woody (I’m kinda fat, but 100% phat baby!)

  71. As a fat kid who grew up with see-saw issues (including classmates who wouldn’t see-saw with me), I don’t see why folks are getting into such a tizzy over Erika’s metaphor.

    People these days get offended over everything and take real, concrete action about nothing.

    Does childhood obesity and the treatment of fat kids make you sad? Go work with children – and perhaps the next generation will be both healthier and kinder than we grown-ups are. Complaining on the internet won’t change the world.

  72. Erika, you’ve given me a lot of homework to do… and I like it! Clearly, as storytellers and business/brand-builders, we need to be on top of all the elements you’ve noted. You’re absolutely right… copywriting has evolved in the high-tech marketing world in which we find ourselves… and we need to evolve our skill-sets accordingly.

    I really have no problem with your use of the fat kid metaphor. You’re painting a picture, making a point, introducing clarity, helping us get it!! That’s okay in my mind. I totally get the sensitivities of some… but we need to keep the context in mind here, folks. This is a blog post on copywriting 3.0… Erika isn’t writing to kids in elementary or middle schools; she’s writing to a mature audience who have, or should have, the ability to understand use of metaphor as a tool to cultivate understanding.

  73. Okay, I do work for healthy living including issues like childhood obesity and these comments have me laughing. If you really care that much about fat kids than take a few minutes and do something to help the cause instead of wasting time with your comments here.

  74. I would love to get back to the subject of the actual copywriting techniques in this post, because they rock and it would be too bad to miss out on them. :)

  75. Great tips! I’ve heard of many of these topics before, but you’ve done a good job of explaining *why* they’re important–and giving links that tell *how* to apply them.

    Also, I hadn’t really thought of making my content user-friendly for mobile devices–something that’s definitely becoming more important for all content creators.

    Thanks!

  76. Funny story: My wife’s family is from Guam. At a family-reunion a few years back she was telling me a story about Auntie Fat. In mid-sentence, the name struck her and she calls over to her Dad:

    “Hey Dad, why did we call Auntie Fat ‘Auntie Fat?’ Wasn’t her name Lucy?”

    A moment’s pause as if this is the dumbest question in the world,”Well, she was FAT.”

    Everybody laughs.

    The Chamorro culture – like many cultures – doesn’t assign epithets to attributes. Fat, skinny, pimply, smelly, pretty, ugly, tall, short, and so forth are all just descriptors. “Guapo,” “Poco,” “Bella” are all just what they are, without a value assigned.

    As a “Howlie” white-guy with a brown family, I can tell you this: We’ve screwed it up in this culture big-time because we can’t use “fat” or even “large” to describe somebody who is “fat” or “large.” I’ve seen my own small, brown kids go to incredible mental gymnastics to describe a friend who was black, fat, short, or – even – had curly hair. Enough’s enough.

    As a writer, I also know the value of a good metaphor. Were there other metaphors that Erika could’ve used that would’ve addressed the same thing? Yep, a whole world of pablum, over-used, non-engaging metaphors, right at her disposal, certainly.

    But – you know – a hammer is an EXCELLENT tool for splitting heads. It’s a favorite – I’m told – among those who love a good and gory head-bashing. Still: Reaching for a hammer when a hammer is required, now that’s the job of a carpenter. Sure, some murderers use them too, but that don’t mean we should ban the damned hammer. Most folks use them to drive nails.

    Words and metaphors have an incredible power to create connections. They can also create division, no question. But for too long writers have been leaving aside perfectly good tools because they were afraid that people were going to think that they were trying create divisions.

    Sometimes a metaphor is just a metaphor. Don’t weave to much into it. Just let it ride.

    And grow some friggin’ skin: It’s a tough world out there, so don’t be a [fat,skinny, tall, short, pimply, read-headed] victim. Life’s too short to bruise that easily.

    As my wife says,”Tuff’n up.”

  77. I would love to get back to the subject of the actual copywriting techniques in this post, because they rock and it would be too bad to miss out on them.

    Amen Sonia

  78. Like all good copywriters, Erika understands not only how to capture and hold attention, but she also understands context.

    Had Erika written that headline on a site for kids—especially one talking about body image or a similar topic—it would have been out of line. She didn’t. She wrote it here to make a point, which she successfully did.

    Sadly, we’re starting to forget there’s a big difference between a metaphor or a joke and truly malicious hate speech. I’d encourage all of us, as members of the online community, to focus our efforts on eliminating the latter and not losing too much sleep over the former.

    In the end, I think the world would be a pretty dull place if every single bit of speech had to be cleansed so as not ever to offend anyone at all ever ever ever. If this isn’t your writing style, great, but I don’t want to limit my reading to things suitable for the average second grader. I’d much rather focus on things that reach and stretch. In doing so, sometimes things might go too far. What “too far” is should be an individual choice, as we all have the option to not read further.

    For me, this works here. In a strange way, getting off-topic kind of makes a good point: compelling writing should grab you, make you think and from time to time even piss you off.

    Nice work, Erika (and great advice throughout as well)!

  79. On balance, I think Erika’s writing advice is good, but the metaphor is link bait, and the way it’s used in the title doesn’t tell me why I should read the article.

    If the post was about fat kids or see-saws, the metaphor wouldn’t break down. It’s not even accurate. Privately, morbidly obese people may tell you, with great anguish, that it’s not that “they like donuts.” It’s more of an addiction, and not in a wink-and-giggle tongue-in-cheek way.

    We may have to agree to disagree. I think it’s possible to be kind without being boring, and it’s more desirable to poke fun without resorting to a bitch slap.

    BTW, I loved @Brad Werntz’s comment.

    And, for the record, I got teased more about my weight during the years when I was fashion model thin. The jokes were funny and real. When I gradually gained 100 lbs during the mommy years there was no teasing at all. Now that I’m at the halfway point, the teasing is back. It’s all good.

  80. I loved this article like fat kids love the ice-cream man…
    I mean, this article made me feel like a fat kid in a Twinkie factory…

    In all seriousness, great post, great metaphor, and excellent example of effective writing. Also, thank science for the internet allowing all these uptight ninnies a place to criticize others without actually having to actually be a productive part of a conversation. Doesn’t it make us feel great to tear others down over ridiculous non-issues, just like the major media does on world events?

  81. Okay, party’s over… Sonia’s drunk, Erika left with the bartender, and I’m stuck cleaning up the mess.

    I’ve enjoyed hearing perspectives from both sides on the tangential aspect of this post, but it’s time to close the comments and move on.

    You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here. ;)