The biggest difference between copywriting and content writing lies in its intent.
In the shortest of words, copywriting is about selling while content writing is about building trust.
But obviously, it’s not as simple as that. Let’s take a look into the various elements through which we can differentiate between the two.
Copywriting vs Content Writing: The Purpose
Copywriting is selling the personality of your brand. Content writing is also doing the same, but in a subtly long-term manner, while providing valuable content.Copywriting is selling the personality of your brand. Content writing is also doing the same, but in a subtle long term manner while providing valuable content. Click To Tweet
The best copywriting fuses the personality and ideology of the brand, with an intended call-to-action scheduled in the near future. Content writing focuses more on educating, informing, or entertaining the audience, to build a long term association.
Copywriting is written with the intention to act as a catalyst to lead the audience to take immediate action. Content writing is written to build a rapport with the audience, form a trustworthy relationship, generate interest, and eventually lead them to take action.
As Copify blog mentions, a copywriter is a master of persuasion. Using language and their craftiness with words, they are able to convince readers to take a specific action, for the benefit of the brand.
One major skill of a good copywriter is the ability to capture the audience’s attention, with the bare minimum content/words needed. It would not be wrong to say that the best copywriters are able to convey their ideas in the shortest of phrases.
The skills of a good copywriter are:
- Highly refined writing skills
- Knows audience psychology and what words would arouse their curiosity
- Able to write effective CTAs (Call to Actions)
- An understanding of user experience
- Ability to convert complex ideas into simple words
- Select the best vocabulary within a specific context
- Ability to see the audience’s perspective
A content writer, whereas, is usually an expert in his/her domain. They write content to engage with their audiences, building a relationship with them over a period of time. A content writer’s focus is all about strengthening that relationship and forming a trustful bond with the audience.
Good content writers are great storytellers who can convey a brand’s message, without even directly selling to the audience.Good content writers are great storytellers who can convey a brand's message, without even directly selling to the audience. Click To Tweet
The skills of a good content writer are:
- Strong research skills
- Adaptability to write for various mediums/channels
- Strong understanding of SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
- Be a strong critic of one’s own work
- Knowing your audience and their needs
- Ability to convey well what you mean
- Strong grammatical skills
- Write original content
Types of Writing
Copywriters usually specialize in short-form copy like advertising headlines, CTA content, blog titles, etc.
As per Quiet.ly blog, some of the content that falls within the cope of copywriters are as:
- Ad headlines
- Slogans & taglines
- Website landing page content, especially CTAs
- Email campaigns
- Radio jingle scripts
- Press releases
- Sales letters
- Social media content
Content writers are more known for the evergreen content they create. Especially long-term content like blog posts, website content, whitepapers, etc.
Some of the content that falls in their scope are as:
- Blog posts
- Newspaper articles
- Magazine articles
- Company profiles
- Email newsletters
- Social media content
- Website content
- Video scripts
In the battle of copywriting vs content writing, lead times are something that sets them both apart.
In the industry, content writers seem to have more lead time, and hence longer deadlines as compared to copywriters. This might be due to the fact that content writers usually need to do more research in their writing.
Also, content writers usually plan their content much more than copywriters. Copywriters can be brought in the last minute to provide a sales copy but no one usually asks a content writer to provide a 500-word blog post in a matter of 15 minutes.
Sense of Urgency
Copywriting is primarily about selling. It has a sense of urgency. It has to communicate a brand’s appeal quickly and in such a manner that initiates the audience to take quick action.
Whereas, content writing is mostly slow-paced with a longer lifespan. Since the focus is to create evergreen content, there is no sense of urgency.Copywriting is primarily about selling. It has a sense of urgency. It has to communicate a brand's appeal quickly. Whereas content writing is mostly slow-paced with longer lifespan, since the focus is to create evergreen content Click To Tweet
From an SEO Point of View
I’ll keep it simple here. Both copywriting and content writing ideally need a good understanding of SEO.
The difference– content writers intend to bring organic traffic to the website through engaging original content. Copywriters aim to convert this traffic into leads and sales through their words.
Long vs Short
A lot of people think that copywriting is all about short-form content and content writing is about lengthy paragraphs of content.
It’s both true and false.
Sales copy by a copywriter can span tens of pages whereas the description on a website page by a content writer can be as short as two sentences.
So yes, there are both sides to the coin. In the end, it all comes down to the skill of the person and the requirement of the job.
Copywriting vs Content Writing: Bringing Them Together
We have discussed a lot about how copywriting is synonymous with selling. On those lines, consider content writing as pre-selling. You use content to warm up your audience to your brand with the hope of them eventually buying from you at some point in the future.
Dan Lok brings these two together well in his article. Take two examples of what would happen if both these are exclusive of each other.
Example 1: You only consider copywriting
You will be selling your service/product all the time but the audience wouldn’t be clear on what the value is. You might eventually make leads but because there is no engagement, and hence no relationship built, the conversion would not happen.
Example 2: You only consider content writing
You will be putting a lot of valuable content out to your audience, engaging with them, and building a relationship. But eventually, if there is no sales message, they wouldn’t know when or what you are selling. This again would result in no conversions.
The best strategy
Needless to say, the best content strategy is the one that brings both copy and content together. This can be done in 3 ways:
Scenario 1: Copy and content together
You write an engaging and informative blog post (content) and in the end include a persuasive CTA (copy) asking the reader to subscribe to your blog.
Scenario 2: Copy followed by content
You write a compelling CTA (copy) to ask readers to register their details to access a free eBook (content).
Scenario 3: Content followed by copy
You conduct a free webinar (content) and then send them to a landing page (copy) to buy your new book.
Copywriting vs Content Writing: As A Career
If you intend to stick to just one of them, you are jeopardizing your career.
In the present industry, it is important to have both copywriting and content writing skills to be able to sell your skills well.
If you’re starting off, I’ll recommend starting with learning copywriting skills first. This is because it is more difficult to master and it provides you the skills for maximum communication in the minimum of words. Eventually, the more you improve your copywriting skills, the better your content writing becomes.
Like I mentioned earlier, they are two sides of a coin. If you are a content writer, you already have most of the skills to become a great copywriter. You just need to refine them. And, if you are a copywriter, you already have laid the foundation for becoming a great content writer.
Who Do I Need for My Business
If you are a business owner, you need both. For the multitude of reasons explained above.
You need content writing to warm up your audience to your brand and the value you provide. And you need copywriting to change those leads to conversions and make actual money.
Well, hope that clears it up well as to what the differences of copywriting vs content writing are. Though there are differences, the skills are more overlapping than we can ever imagine.
In short, copywriting is usually short-term, sales-focused, with low lead time and high sense of urgency. Content writing is more evergreen, engagement & relationship-focused, with high lead time and usually not much sense of urgency.Copywriting is usually short-term, sales-focused, with low lead time and a high sense of urgency. Content writing is more evergreen, engagement & relationship-focused, with high lead time and usually not much sense of urgency. Click To Tweet
What do you think? Did I miss any point or element which I think I should have included?
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