The roles of a content writer and a copywriter are often misunderstood, and although there is some overlap, they are very different. The biggest distinction is their purpose – copywriting involves writing for the sake of marketing or advertising, whereas content writing entertains and engages the reader so they stay with a brand. If you’re new to the industry or you’re looking to hire a content writer or copywriter, it’s important you know how these roles differ because each has its own objectives and challenges. Let’s take a closer look at both below.
What is a copywriter?
A copywriter is a master of persuasion, using language and words to convince readers to take a specific action. Whether that’s encouraging the reader to engage with a company, download a report or buy a product, they often specialise in SEO copy, sales writing or direct response advertising. The types of material a copywriter produces can range from digital ads and print advertisements to emails, landing pages and brochures.
One of the top qualities of an excellent copywriter is their ability to write in an interactive and conversational way, focusing on short-term goals that offer big returns. A great copywriter will also be able to craft CTAs (call to actions) and headlines which persuade customers to make a purchase, schedule an appointment or sign up to a newsletter.
The role of a copywriter is often more straightforward than a content writer, but it can make or break a business.
What makes a good copywriter?
A number of copywriters focus on writing for specific industries, which means they often have a very good understanding of what a certain market needs to hear in order to take a specific action. But let’s take a look at the other skills a good copywriter will have:
• Be able to explain complicated ideas clearly
• Write copy which is never boring, no matter the subject
• Use the correct brand voice to connect with readers
• Understand basic SEO principles
• Know how to create short-form copy that is still persuasive
• Use storytelling to emotionally connect with the audience
David Ogilvy, one of the most famous copywriters of his time, said:
“When I write an advertisement, I don’t want you to tell me that you find it ‘creative.’ I want you to find it so interesting that you buy the product.”
What is a content writer?
Unlike a copywriter, a content writer focuses on producing content which educates, informs or entertains. Also concerned with creating engagement with the audience, over time they build trust in a brand, strengthening the relationship between the company and the reader. The majority of content writers are experienced in online marketing and can write content for a number of different channels, including social media posts, blog posts and e-books.
Excellent content writers are good at storytelling, and can often write blog posts that still convert customers without directly mentioning a brand. A content writer also has the skills to position a brand as an authority on a specific topic, granting the business credibility as a leader on a subject or industry.
What sets content writers apart from copywriters is their knowledge of content distribution networks and publishing platforms. Most content writers also know how to use editorial calendars and understand various writing terminology.
What makes a good content writer?
One of the benefits of content writing is that it’s free for readers, but this means a content writer will need to have the following skills or attributes to ensure people are actually finding and reading the content.
• Experience in creating engaging and long-form content
• Be able to research and generate fresh ideas to keep readers interested
• Have excellent knowledge of grammar, punctuation and English rules
• Understand how to structure and format content to ensure it’s easy to scan or read
• Use SEO principles and keywords appropriately
• Have experience in writing for different sectors
Demian Farnworth, the former Chief Content Writer at Copyblogger, says:
“Here’s everything you need to know about creating killer content in 3 simple words: Clear. Concise. Compelling.”
The job description: is there a difference?
With social media and the internet providing even greater access to information, some people will argue that a content writer can be anyone – a blogger, a CEO, an executive – as long as they have knowledge on a certain subject and they can write about it in a way their audience will understand. However, it’s important to note that the best content writers will have first-hand experience of the topic they’re writing about, and will have the skills listed above. Unlike a content writer, a copywriter is usually considered a professional wordsmith, with specialist skills in producing compelling copy that drives a business forward.
How do content writers and copywriters work?
In no uncertain terms is one profession easier than the other here, but there are some differences which can be overlooked, whether you’re looking to hire a writer or you’re looking for writing work yourself.
For example, although this isn’t definitive, content writers usually have more flexible deadlines and more time to create content than copywriters. This is usually because their work can require more research and formatting, especially when you consider they specialise in long-form pieces. A copywriter, on the other hand, can sometimes be called upon at the very last minute to provide short-form copy, so they’re used to working more reactively. However, this doesn’t mean content writers shouldn’t practise writing to tight deadlines or that copywriters will never have the luxury of an extension.
Although copywriters and content writers have different responsibilities, it’s important they strive for the best of both worlds by combining strategic writing with excellent copy.
The bottom line: copywriter vs content writer – what is the difference?
Put simply, copywriters drive sales while content writers build trust. Before you hire your next copywriter or content writer, take a close look at these definitions to determine what it is you’re hoping to achieve. If you’re looking to hire a copywriter or content writer for your next project, check out our freelance writing services at Copify today.