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Content writing vs. Copywriting

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What are the major differences between content writing and copywriting? You are not alone in asking this question, as many writers and business people often (incorrectly) use the terms interchangeably.

If you are a freelance writer and looking to increase your clientele, it is imperative that you know the difference between these two types of writing.

On the other hand, if you are a business owner looking to hire a freelance writer, knowing the difference will allow you to make sure you hire a writer that suits your needs best.

Content writers and copywriters have very different techniques, styles, approaches, tones, and sometimes even personality types.

3 key differences between content writing and copywriting

1. The intent

Copy is written with the intent of creating a sale. Examples of this include a sales video script, a sales-focused email campaign, headlines, call to action buttons, website page copy, product descriptions, sales pitches, or online ads – anything that is written with the intent of creating a conversion or a sale.

Persuasion is a key element of copywriting, with a focus on direct, short term goals with big results. Whereas content writing, on the other hand, is written with the purpose of creating engagement, hopefully, while entertaining and informing the audience.

Related: What is SEO Content Writing

This includes blog posts, most social media posts, videos, articles, podcast scripts, most email newsletters, guest posts, anything written for the purpose of engaging others, and increasing brand awareness.

A goal of content writing is for the audience to stay longer on the website or the post, to soak up the information, engage with the brand, and build trust.

Essentially, content writing has roots in journalism, while copywriting on the other hand can trace its roots to direct response advertising. Now that the intent is clear, you can probably see why having both types of writing is critical to make a business launch successful.

2. The direction

Copywriting is extremely one-directional – it is linear and focused on a singular call to action, the sale. The best copywriters write very strategically, building each sentence off of the other, enticing the reader to continue until the very end.

Effective copy clearly guides people through the buying experience, with the end goal being a purchase or opting in to your service.

Copywriters constantly look for ways to ramp up urgency and scarcity, bringing both market research and human insight and knowledge to the table when they are writing. Copywriters are able to put aside their own voice or style to produce good copy for the client.

On the other hand, content is multi-directional, like a conversation between friends. There are tangents and digressions, storytelling, and details.

Think of articles or blog posts, and how they create conversation and engagement with their readers. Often times there are links to multiple different websites, sources, products, and services.

Content writing employs multiple different calls to action and is not solely focused on the conversion. Good content writing informs, educates, and entertains while maintaining their own voice as a natural-born teacher and explainer.

Content writers build relationships between the brand and the reader. They are the go-to writers when a business needs to grow their website traffic, social media audience, and brand trust.

3. The goal

The goal of a good copywriter is to present an offer that increases the conversion rate, which ultimately brings in more revenue. If a copywriter has done their job well, that means they have created an action that has taken place.

Their goal is to sell an idea to the reader so well that the reader can’t help but take action. The interaction with copywriting is more persuasive. However, content writing creates engagement and promotes brand awareness and loyalty.

The goal of a good content writer should be to get as much engagement as possible, to get likes, shares, followers, comments, etc. while adding goodwill and value to your company. If a content writer has done their job well, then their audience is participating and engaging in their content.

Both types of writing are indispensable for all types of business, as the more content and value you add the more brand loyalty you create, the easier it is to sell.

In reality, a good content writer makes a copywriter’s job much, much easier. Ideally, whether you are a content writer or a copywriter, it is best to choose the one that best suits your skill sets and perfect your craft.

The writing process for these two types of writing is quite different. Perfecting your craft allows you to present your skills in a really powerful way and makes it easier to find clients when you are specific about what you offer. It also allows you to charge at a higher price point if you truly master one or the other.

What are some key similarities between content writing and copywriting?

  • Clarity – both writing types are straightforward, to the point, and eliminate unnecessary words.
  • Logical, backed-up arguments – research is done to support claims
  • To build trust – both styles must be doing a great job building trust with their audience
  • Good working knowledge of SEO – regardless of which style, both need a foundational knowledge of SEO in order to reach target audiences
  • To support branding – although they may build the brand in different ways, both have this goal
  • A knack for storytelling – the writing must be intriguing and compelling in both areas

Copywriting without content is a good waste of copy. Content writing without copy is a good waste of content. Being able to blend both of these into a compelling campaign not only brings in more revenue, but also allows you to engage, serve, and connect with your audience in the process.

Gonzalo Suárez
Gonzalo Suárez
Co-founder and COO @ Key Content
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