Copyblogger sits atop Ad Age’s marketing blog throne for one reason: they deliver smart, sexy, and super-useful content over and over.
Brian Clark and the Copyblogger team have built an online empire by creating content that entices readers, feeds them profitable advice, and gives them the essential elements of online marketing that works.
While many factors contributed to Copyblogger’s dominance, here’s one that I’ve picked out that you can easily grasp and imitate: write like the hottest magazine publishers around.
How do magazines keep readers coming back every month and issue after issue flying off the racks?
And what does that have to do with blogging?
Let’s find out.
The gravitational pull of good writing
Do you think he chose those magazines randomly?
No, he latched onto those two because they’re incredibly effective at hooking and keeping reader interest.
Snag one of those magazines off the rack and you’re a goner. Your wife and children will have to yell at you from the parking lot to get you to put it down. (This has never happened to me before. Honest.)
But you have to take it a step further to apply this tractor-beam of attraction to blogging.
To discover the best techniques for writing potent, compelling copy, you have to actually read an issue of Cosmo — or any of the eight magazines below — with a writer’s eye and the willingness to learn.
- Paying hyper-close attention to the headlines (this is number one for a reason)
- Studying the articles’ opening sentences
- Copying their tricks to closing an article
- And pillaging their word purse
Next time you’re in a book store, pick up one of the magazines in the following list and don’t come up for air until you’ve got yourself some killer copy chops …
From the rude-but-spot-on headline “Are You Raising a Douchebag?” to the homage of the greatest male hairdressers in history, Details magazine entertains.
You won’t get many discussions of particle physics here, but you will find topics their readers want to know more about — fitness, the latest consumer toys, and how to have more success with women. Details combines those tried-and-true topics with gem headlines that jump off the page.
Bon Appetit is the Cosmopolitan of the food world: sultry and simmering with tips you want to try … this flipping minute. Part DIY chef and part narratives on food, its pages are full of words and pictures that mess with just about every sense in your body.
No one does photo-storytelling better. You get hooked on some silly narrative like William and Kate’s all-evening post-wedding bash or that 53-year old Lorenzo Lamas just married his fifth wife and you soon realize this — you are jealous you are not one of them.
This magazine on all-things technical is a tour de force of language, design, and creativity. Each month you get a carefully-packaged theme where the writers, artists, and editors sweat the small stuff. From the features to the blurbs, it’s loaded with language you must steal. No wonder it won multiple awards at the Ellies.
If you can overlook the heavy-handed smut push or obnoxious weight-loss and muscle mass claims, you can key into some strikingly useful ways to use numbers, lists, and words to make what you write very seductive.
The fact that they’ve boiled their cover strategy down to a well-honed formula is amusing, but it also shows how well that formula works.
Car and Driver
You wouldn’t expect a car magazine that often skirts the outer edges of immaturity to create a strong gravitational pull on readers, but C+D does. Each issue is full of prose that’s hilarious, cranky, and near-unbelievable at times … but isn’t that what makes great copy great?
Who can resist the potent writing of rabble rousers like Christopher Hitchens and James Wolcott? And VF’s addiction to the rich and famous — replete with beautiful photographs of beautiful people — make them a one-stop shop for everything you ever wanted to know about people’s pride and obsession with fame. Entertaining storytelling at its best.
Sure, some issues it feels like someone’s dad who wants to be cool, but RS can still pull out some probing features (like “People v. Goldman Sachs”) and rivet your attention with solid, fascination-rich headlines.
Here’s the deal: you’re not going to become a great blogger unless you read widely, and steal every trick you can.
Famed copywriting teacher John Carlton calls this the mindset of a word slut.
The best writers have it because they can’t get enough of the warm breadbasket of language. And when they write, their readers can’t get enough.
Copyblogger is living proof.
What’s missing from this list?
So tell me, what’s your favorite magazine?
Is it Glamour? Reader’s Digest? The New Yorker?
Any of these could help make you a world-class blogger. Let us know your favorite in the comments!
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