What I Learned About Blogging from The King of Advertising

If you were to ask those who work in advertising who’s the person who got them into the industry, most of them would say it was David Ogilvy.

Called by Time Magazine “the most sought-after wizard in today’s advertising industry,” Ogilvy was a visionary like few others. He managed one of the most successful advertising firms in history, and he did it with the effortless charm of those we call talented.

So, yes, there are a lot of things the king of advertising can teach you about being a successful blogger.

1. Don’t just be a blogger. Be the blogger.

“I am a miserable duffer in everything except advertising. I cannot read a balance sheet, work a computer, ski, sail, play golf, or paint. But when it comes to advertising, Advertising Age says that I am “the creative King of Advertising.” When Fortune published an article about me and titled it: is David Ogilvy a Genius?, ” I asked my lawyer to sue the editor for the question mark.”

I am not a blogger. I am not one of hundreds of millions of bloggers. I am not even among the top 1% of bloggers.

I am the blogger. I aspire towards mastery, because being a blogger is what defines me. I have supreme self-confidence in my ability to provide value to my readers, no matter what.

I wake up at four in the morning to punch the damn keys. I write two blog posts before evryone else wakes up.

“Be more ambitious. Don’t bunt. When you get a job to do a story or an ad, try and hit the ball out of the park every time.”

Most bloggers out there struggle because they aim too low. They don’t want to put a dent in the universe, they want a bit of side-money. They want a thousand readers. They want a few comments. They just want to know they’re not invisible.

That type of thinking, playing small and calling yourself a realist is the number one reason you’re not successful as a blogger.

Aim for the company of immortals. Each and every single day. And you will find yourself doing twice the work in half the time. You will realize that you can provide more value to more people in ways you never even thought possible.

2. Be as clear and concise as possible.

“I don’t know the rules of grammar… If you’re trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language, the language they use every day, the language in which they think. We try to write in the vernacular.”

One of the biggest things that I admire about Ogilvy is the conversational tone of hist adverts. They’re effortless to read.

The truth is that a lot of bloggers try to sound smart. It’s a mistake. If you’re actively using a thesaurus to replace the first word that comes to you, then you are failing at this.

A big part of my success as a blogger is the fact that I am not a native speaker of the language I write in. I have no other choice but to write in the easiest, most simple, and clear manner possible.

Blogging is not about showing others how smart you are, blogging is about showing people that what you have to offer is valuable.

3. Focus more on the art, not the craft.

“If you have a truly big idea, the wrong technique won’t kill it. And if you don’t have a big idea, the right technique won’t help you.”

This is why I don’t believe in SEO, keywords, or growth hacks. I believe in doing the work, in being a decent human being, and playing the game as if your life depends on it.

I believe in feeding your brain with enough information, so you can connect enough dots to come up with a brilliant idea.

I believe in spending your time thinking of ways to write that brilliant idea into existence in such a way that as many people as possible can benefit from it.

You should stop looking for a technique or shortcut and just punch the damn keys.

4. Show your readers the respect they deserve.

“The consumer isn’t a moron; she is your wife.”

If you read something that genuinely adds value to your life, odds are that the blogger actually respects you enough to not bend facts or clickbait you into reading their content.

They care enough about you that they always aim to deliver the most value in as short a blog post as possible.

A lot of bloggers don’t respect readers. I can see a few of you protesting. But if you have high expectations, and they aren’t met, are you truly going to give 100%?

That’s how bloggers fail. They quit long before they give up, and thus they stop showing the readers the respect they deserve.

Instead, try to write as if your ideal reader were going to read your post. Maybe it’s your significant other, maybe it’s your mom. It doesn’t matter. Write as if someone important to you is going to read your post, then let me know what that does to the quality of your content.

5. Be willing to do the work.

“Hard work never killed a man. Men die of boredom, psychological conflict, and disease. They do not die of hard work.”

A lot of bloggers out there never figure out the fact that there’s no elevator to success. You have to take the stairs. Sometimes you even have to crawl.

It does not matter what you do unless you are willing to do the work.

If you’re not willing to work hard, you’re never going to build a proper audience, you’re never going to bridge this gap between the quality of the content you admire and the quality of the content you produce.

“When I write an advertisement, I don’t want you to tell me that you find it ‘creative’. I want you to find it so interesting that you buy the product.”

You should aim to create content that leaves people speechless. Something so good that it makes them stop and think, maybe even act.

You have to create the type of content they’d gladly pay for. If you’re not doing that, you’re wasting your time and your readers’ time.

6. Work on your headlines.

“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”

The more you work on your headlines, the more people will read your post.

It’s as simple as that.

And always deliver upon the promises you’ve made in your headline. Actually, no, scratch that. You should always aim to over-deliver.

“Some copywriters write tricky headlines – double meanings, puns and other obscurities. This is counter-productive. In the average newspaper your headline has to compete with 350 others. Readers travel fast through this jungle. Your headline should telegraph what you want to say.”

7. Don’t try to sell your readers on the idea that you’re perfect.

“Tell your prospective client what your weak points are, before he notices them. This will make you more credible when you boast about your strong points.”

Vulnerability is the only way to be authentic enough that you’re readers trust you.

If you try to pretend that you’re perfect, you’re going to bore people to sleep.

You should write in such a way that you feel naked, you should write in such a way that people would trust you enough to want to be your friend.

I have always blogged about the truth, even when my fingers would shake against the keyboard. I have written about my health issues, money issues, depression, and anxiety. I have written about heartbreak. I wrote about all that from a personal perspective, and it hurt to do so, but I did it because the truth is the only way I can show others that I am just as real as they are.

If you want your readers to care about your blog, then you need to show them the real you. They are not interested in your highlights, they want the behind the scenes.


David Ogilvy got to become the most important name in advertising because of his passion, supreme self-confidence, and the respect he had for his customers, which is what you must do in order to become a successful blogger.

3 thoughts on “What I Learned About Blogging from The King of Advertising

  1. I full-on dig David Ogilvy. I’ll add some other entrees to the wonderful serving of this blog post.

    “Vulnerability is the birthplace of courage.” ~ Brene Brown

    “Adversity does not build character. It reveals it.” ~ James Lane Allen

    “Intention is the heartbeat, but is intensely over-rated. The warm-up is often not part of the performance so to speak. It is simply vastly more important the way an idea comes across. And, when it does come across, be yourself. No one else is hirable for that job. ImaginAction your work into being, resonant and robust and clear.” ~ Jordan Hoggard

    Liked by 1 person

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