This is the Joanna Wiebe from Copyhackers edition of our how-to-write-like series which is an analysis into exactly how the top marketing and web writers put their words on the page to captivate, engage, and convert their audience.
Why? Because (for the uninformed) she’s one of the modern pioneers of both copywriting and content marketing. In fact, using just a content marketing strategy, she was able to drum up enough consulting and copywriting work to bootstrap her own tech startup, Air Story.
Again, if you haven’t heard of that either, check it out. You know the drill.
So many of our clients in our initial briefing come to us and say they’ve read online about how to write a blog post and about how to put together a content marketing strategy and they’ve followed all the steps, but they don’t see any rewards. (Hence the reason they come to us).
And they’re not alone. A simple search in Google tells me there are 133,000,000 searches for “how to write a blog post”.
The problem is, and it’s often one of the most difficult things we have to say to our clients, but their writing sucks. No amount of graphs and images and blog post best practices are going to work if they lack the ability to tell a story and take the reader on a journey.
For this post, we’re going to break down exactly how Joanna writes her blog posts, what makes them so captivating and, if you like her style of writing and think it could be a fit for your own blog, you can take some of the tips we mention here.
For this blog post, we analyzed over 50 pieces of content written by Joanna, however, if you’d like to have a look at some of her best stuff try any of these links:
Joanna Wiebe – The Headline Queen
The first thing anyone should think about before they write their blog post is the headline. It’s super important because it’s the difference between someone clicking on your blog post and someone not.
Joanna Wiebe and the whole Copyhackers team think it’s important as well.
Heck, if you want to guest post on their website they even reiterate the value of the headline.
There’s a whole section dedicated to it where they suggest you should come up with 50 variations of headlines before submitting. If that doesn’t show you the importance of headlines, I don’t know what will.
Now I’m not saying if you want to write a good blog post, you need to write 50 headlines, but you should definitely write more than one.
Why? Well, Joanne, herself says a headline should do the following five things:
- Match visitor’s expectations
- Grab visitor’s attention
- Clearly communicated in an easy-to-understand language
- Gets to the visitor’s point
- Highlights something beneficial or valuable for your prospect.
Let’s take a look at some of the headlines Joanna has written:
- I tried writing Facebook ads. Even I didn’t expect what I found.
- How do you turn great homepage copy into killer homepage copy (a case study)
- We used these 3 copywriting principles on a homepage. And doubled ecommerce revenue. (Case Study)
- Here’s why it’s so hard to write convincing copy
The first thing that’s important to notice about these titles is the length. In fact, in all of Joanna’s content we analyzed, she uses long titles. Let’s look into these further.
It’s clear that all the headlines follow the Joanna’s five-point guideline as stated above. But what if we want to look into them further.
Let’s try rewriting one of her titles.
- We used these 3 copywriting principles on a homepage. And doubled ecommerce revenue. (Case Study)
This title is captivating it’s interesting, especially if you’re invovled in ecommerce and are looking for a way to double your reveneue. What’s more, it’s a case study so you know these aren’t tactics they’ve pulled out of thin air, they’re actually things that have worked.
All these things together make this a brilliant title.
Imagine if it was written like this:
- Ecommerce homepage copywriting tips
Now, if you think about it, both titles could work for the same content, but which would you rather read?
Headlines. They’re important. Use them.
Joanna’s content is not for the fainthearted. One of her longest blog post (an ultimate guide) is an impressive 59-minute read. The most common length for her blog posts were 15-minute reads.
With that said, the shortest blog post we found, (not included infographics) were 4-6 minute reads and even then they were a blog post as part of an ongoing series. Meaning 6 minutes was on a single point.
Now if you want that in words it translates something like this:
14 minute read: 3313
6 minute read: 1088
59 minute read: 12641
If you take anything away from this blog post, it should be: don’t call anything an ‘ultimate guide’ unless it actually is, ultimate.
It should also be interesting to know that Joanna’s ultimate guide was shared over 5400 times.
The body copy, the meat, the actual content of the blog post.
Joanna Wiebe, as we established above, writes long content. What she doesn’t do, (and you shouldn’t either), is write one big paragraph. The short version of the story is: no one is going to read it.
In fact, when we analyzed Joanna’s content, the longest paragraph we could find was 6 lines. The shortest, and majority of the paragraphs were just one line each.
So why do people write in such a modular way?
Weren’t we all taught at school to write in big paragraphs and use one paragraph per point?
Yes, we were. But remember, we’re not writing an essay, we’re writing for the internet and the requirements of writing for the internet are different.
It might not make sense for you to write one-line paragraphs, but if it is, let’s look at why Joanna Wiebe does it and what it means for her content.
The secret is in the length. More often than not, her posts are 3000+ words long. This means she’s explaining a complex topic in lots of detail.
The people reading might be beginners, or might just need a top-up of their knowledge. So short paragraphs help the readers follow along with what she’s saying. If they got lost or confused, they only have to go back one line to see where they previously were.
One-line sentences also make the text feel less overwhelming. So if you’re writing about complex topics to a less-than-advanced audience short, or even one-line paragraphs might work in your favour.
We looked a few of Joanna’s blog posts and compared word count the number of images used.
2287 words: 7 Images = one image every 327 words
5031 words: 13 Images = one image every 381 words
Now, this doesn’t really tell us much, simply because you might follow this system and use images in the same way, but your blog post would still be bad quality.
Obviously, reading a wall of text is usually uninteresting. People get bored and disengage with your content.
But one trick to know if you’re using the right kind of images is to ask yourself these questions:
- If this image wasn’t here would the blog post still make sense? This refers to using stock imagery in your blog posts. (hint: no one likes it).
- If someone looked at this image, without reading the text, would they know the point I’m trying to make?
Number two is important because it focuses on the nature of your images. What Joanna does brilliant is only uses images that add something to her point and explain the main topic further.
Style and Tone
Joanna is a copywriter, so by default, she knows how to sell using just her words. The same goes for her written blog content too.
Every blog post tells a story. The topics Joanna writes about aren’t the most interesting, they’re not tales of people jumping off cliffs or surviving in the wilderness on little-to-no food, they’re how-to guides and cases studies that help people get better at doing their job.
Despite the topics being boring, Joanna’s content is not.
That’s a core reason why her posts resonate well with her readers. It’s another reason why her readers will start the blog post and read it all, despite some of them being over 3000 words.
Even though they’re long, every word she uses counts.
Now when we look at the language she uses:
- AHA moments
- lay of the land
- K. let’s optimize
- he rolled with it
- oh lord, why don’t we just stick with knitting
- because frankly f*ck starting from scratch
- you gotta take each day as it comes
- So yeah. fewer meetings
- but a Facebook ad is doomed
- but here’s a sweet-a$$ one
What do you notice about all of these phrases? She’s not writing using academic phrases and linguistics, she’s writing as a human, for other humans. In fact, when you read joanna’s works, you can almost hear her writing it.
This only works of course, if you actually know what it is you’re talking about.
Because Joanna is the bomb at what she does, and has authority in her space, she is able to write in a colloquial way. Is this the reason she’s able to captivate her audience? I think so.
Will it work if you start adding expletives in all your blog posts? Perhaps not.
Find your voice and use it. What this means is, think about your audience, think about the problems they have, think about the stories and analagies you can use to help explain the solutions to their problems and then find a way (that comes naturally to you) to explain to to them.
Once you’ve done this, you’ll have your own town and style sorted out, people will come to know when it’s you who’s written a piece of content and what’s more, your content is likely to get read!
Joanna is a seasoned writer and copywriter and has written for many of the top publications you’ll know today. She’s trained writers, written books and even created her own tech product.
You may not be able to produce the kind of quality content that Joanna does right off the bat, but if you take some time to read through this analysis and read through her content yourself (I recommend reading it out loud) you should get a clearer idea of why she has readers coming back to read her content and wax lyrical about her advice.
If you enjoyed this content marketing analysis of Joanna Wiebe (Copyhackers), click here to see the rest.