The Difference Between Online Copywriting and Offline Copywriting

Online copywriting -vs- offline copywriting

One question I get asked a lot is “how is online sales copy any different than offline sales copy?”

Well, this question has been batted around by many self proclaimed experts over the past couple decades. And I don’t have a ton of new insights (mostly because the topic just isn’t worthy of a lengthy debate)

But what I will do for you is lay it down as simply as possible, so we can all have an easy to understand grasp of the concept.

So if that sounds good to you, then here’s a short and sweet comparison between online copywriting and offline copywriting…


(Note: I’m talking about written sales pages right now. Because audio and video have similar standards, both online and offline)


When it comes to the written word… the truth is, online copywriting is not much different from offline copywriting. Both online and offline copy needs to..

  • speak to your audience about something that interests them
  • be easy to read, and understand
  • engage your audience
  • present a compelling offer, and a call to action

The psychological principles that sell products offline are the same principles that sell online. The main difference comes down to how you structure and format the piece.


One difference is that offline is more limited by space and cost restrictions. A web page can potentially scroll on forever without the price going up. But with a printed piece (in a magazine, newspaper, direct mail, etc.) the bigger it gets… the more expensive it gets to print.


Another difference (and this is the big one) is the eye strain factor

Take a look at any book, magazine, newspaper or piece of mail. Then compare it to your digital screen.

A printed page is easier on the eyes, which means we can often use a smaller font… longer sentences and bigger paragraphs… and tighter grouping in our structure.

But online, we’re reading the words on a back-lit screen, which is much harder on our eyes. And that alone is enough to warrant different formatting.


When it comes to writing online, “whitespace” is our friend. We need to use shorter sentences, and break up the paragraphs with more whitespace and subheads. Because when someone lands on our page, if they’re greeted with big blocks of text, most people won’t stick around to read all of your brilliant words.

Take a look at this page for example (it’s not a sales piece but the formatting concept is still the same) – There’s a big headline… short sentences and paragraphs… lots of whitespace between thoughts… and even a bold subhead helps break up the page a bit more.

This type of format is easy to look at, and there’s lots of resting places along the way which makes it easy for you to take a breather, without losing your place.


Another great element that helps (and I’m the first to admit that I need to follow this advice a bit more, myself) is to have a few pictures scattered throughout the piece. This also gives your readers a place to rest from all the text on the page.

BIG word of caution when it comes to adding pictures on your page… make sure the images relate to what you’re writing about. (I can’t even count how many times I’ve seen images on someone’s page that have nothing to do with the article)

Peoples eyes are easily pulled towards images (and away from the text) on a page, and if the picture doesn’t have anything to do with the copy, then it’ll break the train of thought that you’ve worked so hard to establish with your writing.

Your copy is what’s doing the selling. Pictures should play a supporting role, and should enhance your readers experience. They should not break the flow of your message.


OK, before I turn this blog post into a full length article, I’ll end it here.

My greatest desire is that I’ve helped you see how online copywriting is really only different from offline copywriting, when it comes to the basic structure and formatting of the piece. Other than that, they both serve the same purpose. And that’s to present your offer in the best way possible for your target audience.


Until next time…

Here’s to writing more compelling copy, more often.

All the best,

Posted in Copywriting, Offline Copywriting, Online Copywriting and tagged , , .

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