Copywriting versus content writing – what’s the difference?

Copywriting is the same as content writing, right?

Wrong.

Yes, both involve writing to engage an audience across various channels, but that doesn’t make the two skills one in the same.

In your search for a freelancer writer, you’ve probably come across some who refer to themselves as “copywriters” and others who call themselves “content writers”. Even still, a few freelance writers will use both titles interchangeably as they offer both copywriting and content writing services to clients.

I’ll admit, when I first entered the world of freelance writing, I had barely heard the term “copywriting”. Between you and I, whenever I came across it, I automatically thought of legal copyrighting and wondered how on earth it was related to freelance writing!

After much Googling and a few online courses, I received the clarity and assurance I needed to don the title “copywriter”. Many writers, myself included, offer both content writing and copywriting services to clients.

When seeking services from a freelance writer, it’s important to know what it is you’re after and communicate that during the initial discovery stage. Often, a writer can determine the nature of writing you require based on the description of your goals, but it doesn’t hurt to also be informed on the writer terminology.

So, what makes content writing different from copywriting?

What are the similarities between copywriting and content writing?

Let’s start by looking at how they’re similar. As with all forms of writing, both copywriting and content writing are for the purpose of attracting a specific audience. Of course, you can use both to speak to the same audience. For example, on your brand’s website, you’ll likely have pages that have copy, others with content, and some with both.

Copywriting falls within the broader umbrella of content writing. Content writing includes a wide range of content from informational manuals to blogs. Copywriting is a niche within content writing that leans more towards marketing (more on that later).

To write copy or content also requires upfront research to understand your industry, competitors and your target audience. No matter the end goal, you want to communicate a message that is relevant for your audience and appeals to their pain points, likes, preferences, needs and wants.

What are the differences between copywriting and content writing?

Let’s look at what makes copywriting different to content writing. It all comes down to the objective of the content and the strategies used to achieve that objective.

Convert vs communicate

A key objective for copywriting is to convert, convince, or persuade your audience to buy what you’re selling. You may have heard the term “convert browsers to buyers” – that’s the purpose of writing copy as opposed to content.

The art of persuasion requires the use of several strategies and tactics to highlight how to meet a need or solve a problem. This includes using copywriting formulas like PAS (problem, agitate, solution) and power words to compel people to act.

On the other hand, a key objective for content writing is to communicate a message to engage and/or educate your audience. This may or may not mention the brand’s offering.

When looking at a single website, you might notice that the landing page or home page uses copy to persuade you to buy, whereas the about page (more on that here) focuses on content that communicates the brand’s story.

Marketing vs information

Copywriting is known as a marketing tool. Why? Because the process involves using words to make things sell better, it aims to boost sales – the very purpose of marketing. You’ll find that if you went to study digital marketing today, copywriting would be one of the key skills included in the curriculum. You can’t have marketing without copywriting!

As increasing sales is the result copywriting seeks to achieve, you’ll also notice that copywriting projects tend to have a higher price attached relative to content writing projects.

Not that it makes content writing any less valuable. Content writing presents high quality information in a way that connects with your audience. By offering useful information, this helps build brand awareness and keeps your audience coming back for more. Another bonus of producing regular content on your website is it improves your Search Engine Optimisation, helping you boost your search engine ranking.

Leads vs loyalty

Copywriting may not always result in an immediate sale. In some instances, it’s a slower burn – known as a lead (or “prospect”). A lead is where a potential client or customer expresses interest in what you are selling. This may or may not result in a sale, but the goal is to at least get them interested and then use ongoing strategies to nurture that lead.

Content writing can also generate interest; however, this is achieved by letting your audience know what your business is about, what you do, your experience and how this is relevant for them.

A good example of content writing is publishing regular blogs, which generally aim to engage your audience and build brand loyalty. This may eventually generate leads, however that’s not the main goal of content writing.

 

Copywriting vs content writing: which one is right for you?

Now that you have a better idea of the difference between copywriting and content writing, the question is – should you hire a copywriter or a content writer?

It depends on what you want to achieve through your content.

If your goal is to generate sales and leads, a copywriter will help you do that. If it’s to build a community or share insights, content writing might be what you need.

For some tips on how to find the right writer for you, read ‘7 positive signs indicating you’ve found your ideal copywriter’. Am I the copywriter for you? Find out by booking a discovery call with me today.

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