What’s the difference between copywriting and content writing?
There seems to be an inordinate amount of discussion on the differences between copywriting and content writing. And really, who cares? Does it really matter? The ultimate goal is to get your target audience engaged and wanting more, surely!
Well yes, it does matter. It matters to me, anyway. And it should matter to you.
A while ago, this article caught my attention. An amusing, informative discussion between a copywriter and a content writer, they discuss their different writing skills, breaking each down into:
What they do
A copywriter presents the facts given to them by their clients and condenses it into concise, persuasive, informative and interesting copy.
A content writer must think strategically, build brand awareness, make it valuable and trusted, and include keywords. She or he will consider what platforms it will be shared on and whether it can be evergreen.
Copywriting needs to be actionable, establish an emotional connection, ignite desire, and instruct on the action needed to fulfil that desire. It’s more instant. Think of the words on a product label, sales leaflet or press release.
Content writing is more of a slow burn – you write to attract attention and to boost the organisation’s website rankings. It takes longer but it's important as you’re building trust and being authoritative through things like case studies and white papers, as well as blogs.
How they fit into a marketing strategy
Copywriting is just one part of a piece of marketing; you also need design, branding, and many other things to help bring the emotion across. Marketing is necessarily visual.
With content marketing, you know who your target audience is, and you write according to what they need, using the phrasing that they would type into a search box.
They’re both about communicating.
Both need excellent grammar.
Both need to be flawless.
Copywriting is short, sharp and succinct.
Content writing can be much longer, enabling the writer to inform, educate, answer questions, and get in those all-important long-tail keywords for optimising your SEO and reaching a wider audience.
And finally, to quote Katie Rottner (the ‘copywriter’ author of the article referred to above), who summed the difference up perfectly:
“Content writers answer questions. Copywriters sell.”
For me, though, I need to be a master of both writing mediums. Some of my clients need my skills to write or refresh their web content or create regular blogs and newsletters. Others use me to write their sales literature. And there are those who use me for a bit of everything! I’m adaptable like that. Probably comes from my years of experience in advertising and marketing agencies.
Have we missed anything here? Do you have a different perspective on the differences between copywriting and content writing? I'd love to know what you think, so do comment below!