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Archive for August, 2008

My First Stumbling Block to Getting Started with Social Networking

August 27th, 2008 by Bob Bly

OK. I joined Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and MySpace, and already it isn’t working for me.

Here’s why: when you join, you get e-mails every day from people saying they have found you on one of these networks … and asking to be added to your list or be allowed to follow you or whatever you call it.

These e-mails interrupt my busy day, and so I don’t reply when I get them: It would destroy my productivity and take me away from the pressing writing deadlines at hand.

But I don’t reply to them LATER, either … because — well, because I am busy, and I have more important things to do, whatever time of day or day of the week it is.

And that’s the barrier: I ALWAYS have paid writing, publishing, or consulting projects to do … and they are ALWAYS more important than banal chatting or socializing on networks.

So, my question to you is: if you are active in social media, how on Earth do you manage to find time for it?

I honestly cannot imagine how Robert Scoble or any other crushingly busy person — as so many of us solopreneurs our — can possibly justify the time required to invest in social media participation.

Nor can I imagine, if you ARE already crushingly busy with paying work, how time spent noodling around on social networks can give a better ROI than doing the work you already have.

So I am stuck on square one of “getting started in social media” — and don’t see a way to move to square two.

Any advice, thoughts, or suggestions?


Category: General | 46 Comments »

Steal This Blog Entry

August 25th, 2008 by Bob Bly

Do you liberally “borrow” stuff you find on the Internet for your own purposes, reprinting copyrighted material without permission?

According to the U.S. Patent and Trade Office, theft of intellectual property causes businesses to lose up to $250 billion in revenue and 750,000 jobs each year.

So when you steal other people’s content, you are helping to put someone out of work.

As a rule of thumb, people will violate copyright when either (a) they think the content is priced too high or (b) technology makes it easy to do so.

Now, thanks to the PC and Internet, it’s easy to steal movies, e-books, music, photos — whatever we want.

Does that make it OK to do so?

Does the imperative “information should be free on the Internet” trump the rights of creators of intellectual property to control distribution of and be paid for their work?


Category: General | 39 Comments »

Help BL Become an A-List Copywriter

August 22nd, 2008 by Bob Bly

One of my e-newsletter subscribers, BL, wrote me the other day with a question:

“I was wondering, in today’s Web 2.0 world, what I can do to write great copy? I feel like today’s world of podcasts diminishes my copy. How can one succeed in today’s landscape? I’m an aspiring copywriter and could use any advice I can get.”

What would be your advice to BL?

A. Continue to write great copy using the proven principles of persuasive direct marketing and you will be successful and in demand.

B. Combine a mastery of traditional marketing with web 2.0, social networking, and other new media techniques to rise to the top of the game.

C. Become a blogger, podcaster, viral video expert, SEO copywriter, or web 2.0 guru. Forget traditional freelance copywriting. Copywriting as we know it is dead as the dinosaurs.

D. Other.

Be careful in your answer. BL is genuinely confused and uncertain. He is a real person and really needs our guidance at this early stage of his career.

And thanks in advance for helping him!


Category: General | 32 Comments »

Are Writers Unimportant?

August 20th, 2008 by Bob Bly

If writers are not unimportant, they are certainly LESS important than they used to be, argues author Michael Malice in an interview with the New York Post (8/20/08, p. 57).

“Being a writer is less of an accomplishment today than it used to be,” says Malice.

He mostly blames the Internet, noting that “there is so much more media that it’s easier to become a writer.”

Malice also warns writers that there are more writers competing with one another for projects today.

“There is this tenacity to try to do everything right,” says Malice, “because you know there are so many people waiting to replace you if you mess up.”

Is it true? Are writers less important than they used to be? Will the writing profession continue to diminish in status?

And lastly, is the floodtide of new writers — professional and amateur — making it tougher to earn a good living as a writer?


Category: General | 30 Comments »

Where Professional Critics and Reviewers Still Matter

August 16th, 2008 by Bob Bly

It has been observed many times that blogging, Web 2.0, and social media are effective because today’s consumers are more intersted in the opinions and recommendations of their peers than those of professional reviewers, critics, and experts.

Certainly the success of the reader reviews on is a great example of this.

But the dominance of Citizen Journalism over professional journalists is not universal. A case in point: the restaurant industry.

Even in this era of social networking, professional restaurante reviewers remain a powerful force in the business.

Restaurants keep extensive files on food critics. So when a food critics enters a restaurant, the staff is alerted to his presence — and can pull out all stops to ensure a good review.

Restaurant reviews carry so much weight with the dining public that “a bad write-up can land a restaurant on life support, crippling its business,” writes Adam Goldman in The Record (8/15/08, p. 30).

Successful NJ restaurant entrepreneur Drew Nierporent says seeing a bad review of your restaurant in the morning paper is “to wake up and read your own obituary.”

We are living in an era where consumers, not marketers, have the power.

And where readers, not the media, are increasingly communicating the voice of public opinion.

But not totally.

Not yet, anyway.


Category: General | 34 Comments »

Tired of Hype-Filled Copy?

August 14th, 2008 by Bob Bly

My colleague Dean Rieck, a veteran copywriter, thinks today’s new copywriters use too much hype in their writing (example:

“These days, more writers seek freelance work, spurred on by promises of big paychecks in myriad get-rich-quick e-books sold online,” writes Dean in DM News (8/11/08, p. 10).

“The result is a flood of inexperienced, poorly qualified writers. I’ve seen increasingly club-fisted writing showing up in sales letters online and offline. Are copywriters today so tone-deaf, so mired in over-the-top hard sell patter that they can’t hear how ridiculous they sound?”

My questions to you for today:

>> Do you agree there’s too much hype in copy in general — and online in particular?

>> Does hard-sell long copy turn you off, repulse you, or do you enjoy writing and reading it?

>> Does the hype-filled style of copy work in your experience or opinion? Or are today’s readers too sophisticated to be persuaded by it?


Category: General | 42 Comments »

What the Heck Are We Doing Wrong?

August 12th, 2008 by Bob Bly

According to an article in B-to-B, the average Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) earned $1.5 million last year.

Let’s say you are a copywriter or marketing consultant, and you earn $100,000 a year.

The average CMO earns 15X more than you do.

What do they know about marketing that you and I don’t?

What makes the average CMO worth 15X more in the marketplace than the average copywriter or marketing consultant?

Any thoughts?


Category: General | 30 Comments »

My Beef With Subway

August 8th, 2008 by Bob Bly

When you are imprecise with language in copywriting, it conveys an impression of sloppy thinking and can also undermine your credibility.

A case in point: the new commercial from Subway for their hot beef sandwich that says: “everybody wants to try Subway’s hot beef sandwich.”

The problem is that word “everybody” — which is so transparently an exaggeration that it defies believability.

Do people on low carb diets who are avoiding bread want this sandwich — which comes, of course, on bread?

What about vegetarians? Do they really want to try this new beef sub?

How about people that don’t like subs … people who don’t eat fast food … people who prefer ham or chicken to beef?

A better approach: “Beef lovers nationwide can’t wait to sink their teeth into Subway’s new Hot Beef Special Sandwich.”

This identifies the audience (meat eaters) and conveys the image of desirability and popularity while avoiding the obvious lie of “everybody.”


Category: General | 59 Comments »