3 things Aristotle nailed about brilliant copywriting

3 things Aristotle nailed about brilliant copywriting

Ancient philosophy and brilliant copywriting are not things you’d expect to be spliced together.

The title of this blog might hint at the fact that I struggled to kick my perfectly formed arse into gear after the festivities. It sounds like I’ve gone mental (more mental). I promise this will make sense and that’s why I encourage you to read on and ignore your gut feeling that I’m scraping the content barrel.

For those north of the equator, January is the longest (and darkest) of months—all sixty-five days of it, making it the most miserable time of the year. It’s an ironic/sick joke that I get to ‘enjoy’ my birthday in January when everyone else is considering consuming the entire contents of their medicine cabinet.

During these dark winter days, I was pondering the black art of copywriting. Specifically why some feel light-headed when copy is described as persuasive or compelling. I’ll admit, persuading a customer does sound like the kind of thing a mafia goon might do to Les the barber when he won’t cough up protection money.

And I don’t think I adore these terms either but I’m trying my best not to be so bloody uptight.

(A fight I am losing – badly.)

It’s only words.

Is not something any writer should say in all seriousness but ‘persuasive’, ‘compelling’, and ‘convincing’ perfectly describe what business writers are doing, at least, what they should be doing.

As you know (well, by now you should) SEO content writing attracts traffic to your website. When a prospect lands on a page, the aim is to convert them with cracking copywriting—words that make it hard to resist the offering. If people are going to buy despite your terrible copy, there wouldn’t be much point in the job of copywriting. Even visitors, lusty with transactional intent often need further incentives to take the plunge, especially for a high-value purchase and/or services.

That brings me nicely to Greek philosophy.

(Jesus H Christ! No, we’re going back even further than him.)

The Ancient Art of Discourse.


Ah, the mechanics of language! Personally, I struggle with this. I often think I may be mildly dyslexic. It took me ages to learn to read and my spelling is still terrible.

Apparently, the part of the brain that deals with memory and spelling are the same so learning words has been cocked up during my early development. Lucky me!

(What does this have to do with what I’m talking about? Absolutely nothing.)


The process of thought and analysis and the assembly of factual information that supports a point of view. Sounds super sexy, right? Well, actually I think it does but I understand if you’re craving the usual gratuitous sexual references.


A word that has become heavy with contentious connotations. And that’s probably because we associate it with political argument. Party leaders spin a narrative and persuade us with fancy talk (present-day MPs excepted, of course).

I’m talking here about the ability to inform and convince an audience. I dunno about you but that sounds like copywriting to me.

Don’t misunderstand persuasion with arm-twisting.


If a customer doesn’t want a product, no amount of first-rate copy will get them to part with their hard-earned. Conditions have to be right. The audience has to want the product and that audience needs to be at a stage where they’re ready to buy. And that’s why understanding the intent of your audience is important when attracting the right people to different parts of your site.

More on that here.

We all manipulate words. Content writers and their derivatives are doing the same and how they write a thing will be determined by where they publish a thing.

Aristotle would have made a great SEO.

I believe he had all things content marketing in mind when he was thinking about his Three Modes of Persuasion. (LOL.)

1. Ethos

This centres on the one who’s doing the talking. In a content context, it’s the author of the copy. So that’s you and/or it’s your business.

Brand credibility is the focus here. How much do clients trust your company and do they view it as having integrity? Aristotle goes on to add the importance of expertise and knowledge which sounds very much like that ole devil called the E-A-T principle of SEO. You know the one, experience, expertise, authorativeness, and trustworthiness. Without those things, you can’t build a decent rep around your industry.

Like the blood of Christ, Google compels you to provide quality information to your audience. Because when you do, it favours your website and you’ll get another notch on the domain authority bedpost.

2. Pathos.

This brings back uncomfortable memories of my English Literature A-Level class. Our eccentric teacher, Mrs Horton, would disappear to the supply cupboard and come back with a full face of slap. I guess she didn’t have enough time in the mornings and I can relate.

We didn’t really gel, Mrs Horton and I. In reality, I was such a non-entity in her class that I doubt she would remember me. (And she’s now probably dead.)

I was the least studious student, partly because she made English Lit. really boring when it should have been anything but. She was always banging on about pathos. I seem to recall her waxing lyrical over Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads and how tragi-comic they were. Like life, really.

(Funny/sad, that.)

That’s a long-winded way of saying this: appeal to emotions. It’s what Aristotle would have wanted.

You elicit a feeling with your content.

If most of the audience feels indifferent, you’re doing something seriously wrong, especially if they’re the kind of people you want buying your stuff.

Tell a story, weave a tale, throw in something anecdotal, lay down some loaded words, words that move people. Metaphors are shit hot for making someone get exactly what you mean. I love them as much as Fred West loves a patio.

3. Logos.

It’s logic again, innit.

Well-researched info is at the heart of getting your facts straight. Where possible, support what you’re saying. Truthful, honest content should go hand-in-hand with well-written content.

I continually demonstrate to you how brilliant I am at creating cantankerous copy. If you’re a business renegade, tired to your eyeteeth of terrible B2B wordage, I implore you to click here.

Freelance SEO writer

Sarah Wilson-Blackwell

I’m a freelance business content writer at The Sarky Type®. My thang is SEO-informed blurb that sets your words on fire (ablaze with LOLs and engagement not to be confused with real fire that destroys everything in sight. Metaphors are better when they don’t require explanation. Note to self).