Let me level with you.
… it’s food blogs.
I mean, have you ever searched for a recipe … and ended up clicking on a cooking blog?
Happens to me all the time.
Like, the other day I’m Googling for how long to put my sweet potatoes in the oven for. A question that I conservatively estimate should take about 8 seconds to answer.
So I search, and there’s something like:
“How to Oven Roast Sweet Potatoes — Love, Laughs & Lemons”
Okay, sounds like you’ve got what I want. I click.
There’s a title: “How to Oven Roast Sweet Potatoes”
Hmm, yep. That’s what I want. Tell me how this works.
I scroll down past seven different pictures of the finished recipe. They make it look like these were the original roast sweet potatoes God made on Day 3 of Creation: they’re golden and crispy on the outside, and fluffy inside.
“Boy, am I ready to learn this recipe or what!” I think.
I scroll down past the photos — ah, there’s the copy. What does the recipe say?
I start reading:
Food blog:“So this weekend it rained and rained and my husband Jerry and I were cooped up all day. Here’s a shot of outside our window — look at that rain! I spent a good part of it curled up with a cup of tea and a book. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I actually can’t believe what a good story this is — I’ve heard about it so much but never bothered to read it! Here’s an Instagram-style picture of the book on my coffee table, next to my coffee …”
Me: Uh, this is a weird way to start your recipe, but okay …
Food blog:“… and then after a few hours the rain stopped and — voila! — it was sunny! And we decided to go out for a walk with the kids. It was a battle trying to find 18-month-old Lylah’s shoes though. Turned out she’d hidden them in her toy box! Look, here’s a picture. So Jerry and I spent 15 minutes searching the house. It was so crazy! Eventually we found them and off we went for a walk. It was such a beautiful day, you never would have known it rained …”
Food blog:“And then 3-year-old Timmy wanted to go and pick some flowers. It was SUCH a gorgeous day, so I thought, why not? And you wouldn’t believe it — we ended up spending half an hour just lost in the forest, enjoying the divine weather. It was such a special moment. Here’s some pictures we took … ”
Me: *starts twitching*
Food blog:“ … so as we’re walking back I start thinking about what I’m going to make that night. It’s starting to get a little cold, so I think something oven-baked would really do the trick … ”
That’s when I can’t take it anymore.
I stand up and scream in frustration at my computer. “Where’s the SWEET POTATO RECIPE, lady?!?!?”
(Hayley pops her head in to my study, concerned that this time I’ve definitely lost it.)
10 pages of scrolling later, I FINALLY find what I was after …
“… and that’s how I came up with this recipe!”
And there — sweet-mother-of-potatoes — is the recipe I was promised.
I swear this happens EVERY TIME I am Googling a recipe.
Okay, so there’s a whole bunch of copywriting lessons embedded in this:
Like the fact that this is a great example of the copywriting sin of ‘burying the lead’.
Or the fact that this infuriating technique is actually the RIGHT thing to do for the right audience — telling stories about your life to make yourself a real person (see my revised #1 rule of copywriting — for the password to that post you’ll need to join my list).
And yes, those two points contradict.
What’s the answer?
Well, when you’re writing a website, you need to be able to trace a straight, unbroken line that the reader’s expectations and thought process will follow.
Food blogs that lead with a title to match a search term — THEN insert a long, rambling story — and THEN the recipe — violate this.
And that’s why I hate ‘em.
Now, if you have a website and realise that “gee, this Daniel guy knows his stuff, I should really hire him to do MY website in that smooth, linear way he’s talking about” …
… well, too bad. I hate doing general website copy.
But, I can apply this same philosophy to sales funnels, emails and sales pages. And THAT is a lot more fun for me (and profitable for you).
Sweet potatoes not included.