Blog Writing

50 words to pitch your blog: a writing challenge for business bloggers

Can you describe your blog in 50 words or less?

That was the challenge I set myself as part of the redesign of the Confident Writing blog. I was looking for a piece of text that would a) welcome new readers and introduce the blog and b) generate some eye movement down the page, anchored by my photo, and still have room to show the RSS subscribe buttons above the fold.

While I was playing around with the words I wanted to keep and discard (and discard and keep), I came across Mike Sansone’s idea of the “porch pitch” and used this as the frame for my writing challenge.

The porch pitch challenge

Shorter than an elevator pitch, this is an at-a-glance description of and introduction to your blog. I ended up pitching mine at 41 words and still achieved my writing and design objectives. Mike has his off pat at 28 words. If you’re good at brevity you could take it to another level again and write it twitter style, in 140 characters or less.

The idea is to come up with a form of words that tells new readers what they need to know without asking them to:

  • scroll
  • search or
  • click a link

The last point is important. It’s what makes the porch pitch different from your ‘About Page’ which a reader needs to click to find - and needs to know to look for.

Mike’s challenge is to put yourself in the shoes of a reader who arrives in the middle of your site (rather than through the front door) and who might have no experience or knowledge about the way a blog site is ‘supposed’ to work.

The Confident Writing Porch Pitch

I have to confess I edited the pitch at least a dozen times. It probably absorbed more of my (writing) time than any other part of the redesigning and restructuring process. But I’m glad I took the time to get it right, because it didn’t just deliver on my design and writing objectives, it also helped me focus - really focus - on what this blog is about, and what I hope it can offer.

This is the pitch I went for in the end:

Welcome to Confident Writing, a blog site full of writing tips and virtual coaching from me, Joanna Young. It’s a site not just for writers but for anyone who wants or needs to write with confidence - because our words count.

That’s the <50 words version.

I also challenged myself to see if I could ‘tweet’ it (140 characters or less):

Writing tips & virtual coaching not just for writers but anyone who wants or needs to write with confidence

Take the porch pitch challenge

I know some of you already have strong (and commendably brief) porch pitches, some of you have longer versions, and some have about pages that I’d find with a click. But can you pitch your blog in under 50 words? And if you can, are you happy with what it says?

If you want to review what you have, write a new pitch or take the scissors to the one you’ve already got, here are 3 questions that helped me finish mine:

  • Imagine you’re a new visitor to your blog: what do you need to know? what would make you stay?
  • Imagine you’re a new reader, and have never read a blog before: what would make you feel welcome?
  • Set yourself a word limit: 50 word maximum or 140 characters if you can. What can you throw out? What do you have to keep? Do you know why? What can you learn from that?

Sharing the learning

If you decide to take the challenge you’re welcome to share how you get on either in the comment box here, or write a post about it and link back. If you’ve already mastered the porch pitch, let us know how you did it…

Here are the links to the articles I used for inspiration when writing my own porch pitch:

Hey writer, what’s the blog idea? and Porch your elevator pitch from Mike Sansone at Converstations

If business embraced the essence of Twitter Anna Farmery at The Engaging Brand

This is the first answer to my 3 biggest challenges in writing a business blog.

Still to come: how I tackled writing the About Page, and how to promote your products and services without breaking rapport.

Joanna Young, The Confident Writing Coach
Because our words count

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7 Responses to “50 words to pitch your blog: a writing challenge for business bloggers”

  1. On January 18, 2008 at 8:00 pm Lis Garrett responded with... #

    I love a challenge! I’ll have to work on this for both my sites. :-)

  2. On January 18, 2008 at 9:13 pm Terinea Weblog responded with... #

    “Terinea Weblog provides advice on how businesses can make the most of computers and the internet with a minimal of geekness and maximum business benefits”

    Is my first attempt.


  3. On January 19, 2008 at 1:21 am Robert Hruzek responded with... #

    50 words!?! Heck, I can state mine in SIX:

    “It’s about lessons learned… from life!” :-D

  4. On January 19, 2008 at 1:52 am CatherineL responded with... #

    Thanks Joanna - I’m going to try this next week. Where is the best place on my blog to put the porch pitch, or is that not important?

  5. On January 19, 2008 at 11:30 am Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    @ Lis, that’s great. It might be particularly valuable for you with 2 sites, and the need to try and distinguish between them. Good luck!

    @ Jamie, I like it - esp the contrast between minimum and maximum - and ref to geekness (or is it geekiness?) which lets people know you’re not going to be too deadly serious :-)

    @ Robert, that’s interesting, because I thought your porch pitch was the 50 word version (I was most impressed that you had it down in 50 words)

    “Middle Zone Musings is a comfortable place to stop, have a cup of coffee and exchange ideas, big or small, with applications in the real world. We don’t ask for much, just a bit of your brain every now and then. Have a seat, take a load off, and relax…”

    That plus your photo tells me everything I need to know about what this place is about, what to expect (yikes!) and why I might want to spend some time there. I think it’s also extremely welcoming. I think of MZM very much as a place, more so than many other blogs, which is probably why I spend so much time there :-)

    @ Catherine I’m not a designer or expert on things like eye tracking (hah! that’s an understatement). For this redesign Cat encouraged me to have some words between the banner and my picture to create movement and emphasise the white space. The pic draws the eye down from the banner to explore the rest of the page (or that’s the idea, roughly). I also wanted to have my RSS buttons prominent enough, which is why I ended up with this particular writing challenge - to find the words to explain what I was about, without taking up too much space.

    Mike Sansone’s idea is that people should be able to get the information without a scroll or a click. So you could use that as a specification for where to locate it.

    That being said, your blog title and strapline already gives me a pretty clear indication of what your blog is about, and what kind of material I can expect to find there.


  6. On January 22, 2008 at 2:55 am Angela Maiers responded with... #

    Joanna, GREAT challenge. This is harder than it sounds, but it is one that all blog readers and writers should all think seriously about.

  7. On January 22, 2008 at 9:08 am Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Angela, hi :-) It was a challenge inspired of course by the blog writing/reading series that you and Mike are running.

    It is much harder than it sounds to write - but it definitely makes it easier to blog with a purpose once you’ve done it (in my experience anyway)



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