Bly is probably one of the world’s most famous and experienced copywriters, and he not only has more than 20 years experience, worked for over 100 clients and authored 50 books, he is also a noted authority on the creation of online copy and online trends and has taught university classes and given numerous seminars. In other words, he knows his stuff. The Online Copywriter’s Handbook is a rich and pithy guide to producing online copy and using and displaying that copy for maximum effectiveness.
Review by Magdalena Ball
The Online Copywriter’s Handbook
by Robert W Bly
2002, hb, 319pgs
If you are reading this review, chances are that you’re a regular Internet user, and that you’ve been impressed, bored, moved, changes or irritated by the online copy that makes up the world through which your mouse clicks. According to Bob Bly, you aren’t alone. More than 100 million people worldwide (xiii) use the Internet. That’s a lot of opportunity for promotion and purchasing power which sellers and writers will ignore or underestimate at their peril. Bly is probably one of the world’s most famous and experienced copywriters, and he not only has more than 20 years experience, worked for over 100 clients and authored 50 books, he is also a noted authority on the creation of online copy and online trends and has taught university classes and given numerous seminars. In other words, he knows his stuff. The Online Copywriter’s Handbook is a rich and pithy guide to producing online copy and using and displaying that copy for maximum effectiveness.
There are chapters on dealing with the specifics of online writing and what makes the online world different from the offline one, the 9 elements which should always be included in online copy, how to adapt existing print copy to the web, tips on using illustrations, advertising, creating and advertising in e-zines and creating special promotions. Bly’s prose is as casual and clean as he advocates, with a very low “fog index” and short crisp “chatty” sentences. The book is very easy to read, and contains practical steps which anyone looking to write for the Internet or to promote something online can use.
The book is primarily geared towards advertisers or people looking to use copy to generate leads or sales, but it will also be valuable for freelance copywriters who want to write for the web, anyone looking to promote their own material. Part 1 of the book deals specifically with the art of producing good copy. Chapter 2, which outlines the fundamental steps for creating persuasive online copy, is particularly practical, and contains a wide range of real examples to illustrate Bly’s 7 critical elements. Another section which stands out for its ease of application is the chapter on adapting print copy to online copy, which also illustrates the differences between the two very succinctly.
The book is worth buying alone for Chapter 4, which contains the clearest guide to using graphical charts to convey quantitative information that I’ve come across. This is information that online writers may not be that familiar with, and can really add power to web copy. For technical writers, the adequate use of graphics is a must, and Bly’s explanation of the different types of charts, using photographs, tables and categories, flash presentations and creating visual metaphors is very well done.
The second part of the book is geared much more towards online commerce, which is great if you are selling something, but often creating web pages, running ad campaigns, advertising and putting out e-zines is a distinct activity from the copywriting. On the other hand, if, as is becoming more common, you are a jack of all trades looking to create your own copy, your own e-commerce web site and conduct your own publicity campaign (eg a self-published author or small merchant), this section will prove very helpful. Even if you don’t care much about driving leads to your website or ensuring that your product sells, and I suppose at base, this is at the heart of most online copywriting after all, The Online Copywriter’s Handbook is a very practical and useful compendium of information about writing for the very specific online market. Bly is the guru of copywriting, and his book The Copywriter’s Handbook is a classic, must-read for anyone looking to work in the lucrative copywriter area. , The Online Copywriter’s Handbook goes a step further and looks at how to write in a way which will appeal to an online audience, and to use that copy to persuade people to act now. It contains many illustrations and examples, resources, a glossary of terms and of course Bly’s wealth of experience.
For more information, visit:
The Online Copywriter’s Handbook:…
Or visit Bly’s own web site at: http://www.bly.com