The difference between copywriting and content writing

Copywriting versus content writing

While similar, the difference between copywriting and content writing lies in their purpose, strategy, and value. Many people confuse these two types of writing not knowing that the distinction alters the price tag attached to the work, the goals of a writing project, and results when looking to outsource your business’ written communications.

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What’s a copywriter?

Traditionally, copywriters worked in advertising because copy is essentially sales writing. Copywriters primarily create copy with the intent of selling a business or brand; their products or services. Copywriting is direct and persuasive. It presents a challenge and solution and encourages readers to buy. Above all, copywriting inspires action.

Now, we see sales copy all over the internet:

  • Website copy

  • Digital advertisements

  • Some email campaigns

  • Some social media captions

  • Sales video scripts

  • Product catalogs

  • Sales landing pages

A lot of work goes into carefully selecting words for evergreen website copy. It’s much more than pretty words on a page. Copy needs to appeal to human emotion, create a meaningful connect at first glance, and motivate readers to continue through the sales pitch. It’s a perfect balance of marketing strategy and creative storytelling.

How is content different from copy?

Content is a relationship builder rather than an action driver. It’s an engagement tool of an overarching marketing strategy used to attract, educate, or inspire potential customers through content like blogs.

In many cases, content writing doesn’t even mention the brand or business that is producing the work. If you do know the business, they likely don’t offer a sales pitch at every turn (they might offer an incentive in exchange for your email though!). While in a piece of copy, you will know exactly who you’re buying from immediately as you read.

We see content online in the form of:

  • Blog posts and articles

  • Digital features: magazine, newspapers

  • Some email newsletters

  • Some social media captions

  • Video and podcasts scripts

Content lives online to generate traffic and build trust. In the long-term, this promotes brand awareness and indirectly influences buyers. Copywriting, on the other hand, focuses on the sales goal of the piece of copy in question. Along this idea, content lets readers know we exist; copy transforms readers into buyers.

What about the price tag?

Content writing still requires a strategy, but it’s more of a big-picture vision rather than selecting each individual word based off clearly defined reasoning. In general, content writing costs less per project or per word because it’s the overall strategy that offers the value. The content itself, while needing to be of a certain standard, is much easier to write. Content writing pieces are building blocks to achieve the overall goal. With copy, every single word is selected for a specific purpose and copywriting packages based on word counts reflect that level of detail.

Content writers can be people who are skilled writers, but lack a marketing background, as long as the individual who creates the overall strategy possesses the marketing experience. Often, content writers are skilled in the topics they write about rather than writing or marketing. However, copywriters need to be expert writers and marketers in order to write copy that connects with your target audience. In most cases, they are expected to learn the topic over the course of a project.

Knowing this, it makes sense to see I’ve structured my own services into three areas: copywriting, content marketing, and consulting. Of course, the lines blur in some areas because life is lived in the gray. However, knowing the distinction helps businesses determine the goals of their writing projects and the appropriate avenue to choose when outsourcing.

Do you have any questions about this? Leave them in the comments below!

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Difference between copywriting versus content writing.jpg
Difference between copywriting and content writing.jpg