Many people look for the services of a copywriter, when what they actually need is a content writer and vice versa. This is probably because they often mistake one for the other, but this post is about to clear that up.
What differentiates a content writer from a copywriter is actually quite subtle and an effective approach to better understanding what each one stands for, is to first take a look at the origins of both terms.
History of the Copywriter and Content Writer
‘Copywriter’ is a title that has been used for decades, especially in the field of advertising. Contrary to what you might think, copywriters actually existed way before the advent of the internet. The term ‘Content Writer’ on the other hand is relatively new and can be associated with the advent of the internet. Some people in certain circles even refer to content writers as ‘Web content writers’.
The term ‘Content Marketing’ refers to creating strategic content, with the aim of communicating and building a beneficial relationship with a specific target audience, such as a niche online community. With proper Content Marketing, a brand can more effectively reach out to potential customers and convince them to give the brand’s products or services a try. All of this can’t be accomplished unless content writing is efficiently executed. Examples of works that Content Writers commonly produce include articles, blogs, case studies and much more.
What Separates the Content of Copywriting from Content Writing?
As earlier stated, the core difference between copywriting and content writing is actually quite slight. Copywriting in its purest form is technically still advertising, as copywriters who have effectively honed their skills are capable of creating ads that can convince readers to take certain actions. Examples of such include subscribing for a newsletter, clicking a link, buying a product, completing a survey and so on. In most cases, you’ll find that the primary objective of copywriting isn’t necessarily to enlighten a reader, but to promote and sell a product.
On the other hand, the body of content writing isn’t necessarily about sales, although it can be depending on the objectives of the content writer.
While a copywriter is skilled in the art of convincing readers to take certain specific actions, a content writer’s capabilities lean more towards sharing useful information with those who are in need of it, in a compelling and engaging manner, or crafting and telling a story that the target audience will appreciate. If the content writer’s goal is to make sales, he/she will craft content in a format that subtly discusses the benefits of a product and inspires readers to try out the merchandise by convincing them it is exactly what they need to satisfy their needs.
For example, a brand that specialises in soap could hire a copywriter to promote their products for sale and get customers to buy via ‘Call to Actions’ (CTA). However, if a content writer were to be hired for the exact same job, they will proceed by either telling a story or discussing the benefits of the product, thus inspiring readers to give the product a try. With the help of a content writer, a brand can stay at the forefront of people’s minds, so that when the time comes for them to purchase a product, the brand will likely be among their top choices.
So What Exactly does a Copywriter do?
In essence, what a copywriter does revolves around generating content for ads, product packaging, Gifs, videos, sale slogans and other types of marketing material. The content of the copy created by a copywriter can be used either offline – such as on billboards, flyers, TV/radio ads and so on – or online via a website or social media. A competent copywriter can provide a variety of marketing material for a range of purposes.
Also, a professional copywriter doesn’t trump up information. Instead, he/she creates copy based on the information provided by a client. For example, a mechanic company that doesn’t actually offer 24/7 services will not be advertised as such by a professional copywriter, because that would amount to false advertising. The accurate information concerning what a brand has to offer will be presented to readers in a concise, persuasive, engaging and informative manner that convinces the targeted audience to give the advertised product or business a try.
Content writers on the other hand are more about strategic writing that’s capable of accomplishing either long-term or short-term goals. A body of work created by a professional content writer can be used for Content Marketing on a variety of online platforms such as websites, social media and email.
Content Marketing in itself is actually very important, because it helps a brand build awareness in the minds of potential – as well as active – customers. With effective Content Marketing, a brand and its products can remain at the forefront of the minds of the targeted audience. Content writing accomplishes this by showing potential customers the value they stand to gain by making use of the subject of the content.
Because content writers have to be strategic about how they craft content, they usually operate by taking into consideration a variety of factors, including: which demographic is being targeted by a Content Marketing campaign, what keywords will offer best results, what platform(s) will the content be shared on, how to optimise it for SEO, and how to ensure the content stays relevant for a long time to come. The theme of a content strategy can be stated by the brand/person requesting the content, or the content writer can be allowed to use his/her discretion to create unique and exciting topics.
What Unique Skills do Copywriters and Content Writers Require?
As you’ve seen thus far, content writers and copywriters are similar, but not the same. One other aspect in which both lines of work differ is the types of skills required to achieve their goals.
No doubt, both content writers and copywriters need to be highly creative, but a copywriter’s skillset is more tailored towards getting readers to take specific actions, as soon as possible. For a writer with such a skillset, it might be tricky to switch to creating copy that’s tailored to be more subtle and less ‘salesy’.
Difference Between the Writing Style of a Copywriter and a Content Writer
For copywriting to be effective, it needs to be concise and punchy. Therefore, copywriters have to avoid all unnecessary fluff or any language that makes a sentence longer than necessary. For example, if a copywriter is asked to pen a product description, he/she cannot afford to waste unnecessary words and paragraphs discussing anything not directly related to the product or that can’t add value to the reader.
Each sentence in copywriting must be brief and straight to the point, while delivering as much information as possible. The benefit of brief copy is that it makes it possible for targeted customers to get all the information they need without getting bored. When it comes to copywriting, each word is carefully chosen and put together with a specific intention. If a sentence is a goalless ramble that’s not in line with the rest of the copy, then it doesn’t belong there.
Aside from conciseness, copy also has to be engaging and convincing enough to get the reader to make use of the inserted Call to Actions.
On the other hand, content writing is recommended to be nothing less than 1000 words for a variety of reasons. This gives a writer the opportunity to share as much information as possible and create truly authoritative content. The more authoritative and informative the content is, the more valuable it will be considered by not just readers, but also by search engines.
Content writing for your website is done with the aim of getting the attention of readers and then getting them to read and trust your competence within your niche. This way, over time, visitors will come to see you as the ‘go- to’ choice when they want something from within you niche.
A fair amount of time and energy is also spent on the search engine optimisation of a written content. This is done using the right keywords and adding images with proper tags. Keep in mind that the longer written content is, the more opportunity there is to fit in long tail keywords, which are great for the SEO of the website on which the article is published.
With all you’ve read here, you should now be able to distinguish between when you need the services of a copywriter and when you need a content writer.
If you ever need to hire a writer for your website, email or social media marketing, keep the difference between copywriters and content writers clear in your mind, so that you can pick the writer that’s best capable of helping you accomplish your goals.