Content Writing and Copywriting: What the Heck is the Difference?

content writing or copywritingAre you on the fences—wondering if you should hire a content writer or a copywriter?

Here’s the problem:  Too many people confuse content writing with copywriting. Such madness.

As you peruse the Internet, you can’t help but notice a sizable number of people referring to any and all web-related content as copywriting.

Yes, on one hand, the two terms are interchangeable—content IS copy, after all.  However,  there is a commodious difference between a content writer and a copywriter; content writing and copywriting. These differences CAN and WILL make a major impact in your profits—and your losses. Let’s explore further and set the record straight once and for all!

Experience Levels Vary Drastically

Content writing is just that—content writing. Anyone who decides to write text to publish on the Internet is officially considered a content writer. On the same token, content writers may or may not have prior experience doing what matters most: writing for businesses.

Marketing pieces such as brochures, advertisements and direct mail; and intracompany documents such as manuals, training tutorials, reports and whitepapers, are often specialties reserved by copywriters. Content writers are usually partial to writing articles and some types of web copy.

 Sales Savvy May or May Not Be Required

As said, writing content does not require any particular expertise, hence any expectations of performance.  Content writing is often tied-in with SEO optimization, delivering copy to gain backlinks for search engine rankings, Internet presence, syndication by publishing outlets and increasing traffic.

Copywriting, on the other hand, is tied-in directly with sales….

Selling. Results. Income. Revenue.

As a copywriter, landing a client on the first page of Google may be great for bragging rights, but if that copy doesn’t compel the visitors to buy or book (an appointment), the copy has failed.

failed content writing

Writing copy for companies to accomplish their goals of making more income, becoming more credible, or increasing brand awareness takes sales savvy and experience, in order to envision the bigger picture.  And you can bet your bottom-line on that.

 Speaking of the Bigger Picture…

Content writing and copywriting are not synonymous with seeing the bigger picture. Content writers focus on providing content with relevant keywords in the most coherent manner possible. In addition to choosing relevant keywords, copywriters must also conceptualize the bigger picture to determine how to best approach a project.

Copywriting demands use of psychology—entering the mind of your ideal customer to anticipate how they will REACT to the copy: Will they buy or will they deny?

copywriter reputationReputation is Everything

Spending a decent amount of time browsing the Internet will present some revealing facts:

  • Content writers may or may not use their real names
  • Content writers are often not given credit (ghost writing)
  • Many content writers deliver very poor-quality work (can we say Google Penguin-bait?)
  • Content writers can be based anywhere in the world

Keeping those points in mind, you can better understand why “content writer” is a term that commonly throws the baby out with the bathwater. Yet, on the other hand…

TRUE copywriters are usually established writers with reputations to uphold and real names in their signatures. They have clients to please—whom also talk and spread the word whether good or bad—goals, and an obligation to get results. Not to just submit content and dilly-dally off to the next project. And most won’t even LOOK at a pen for “pennies-per-word.”

Whew, I feel so much better, now that I got that off my chest! I would love to hear any comments from those of you who think content writing and copywriting are one in the same, as well as those of you who could careless who you hire, because “content is content.”

 What do you think of the points I made here; fact or fiction? Leave a comment!

By Jarvis EdwardsCopywriter

Jarvis Edwards

About Jarvis Edwards

Jarvis Edwards absolutely loves helping companies and individuals find more success with their marketing endeavors. As senior copywriter at Ayiam Digital, he provides his time-tested copywriting ability and hands-on marketing strategy for every project he takes on. Follow him on Twitter @Jarvis_Edwards.
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5 Responses to Content Writing and Copywriting: What the Heck is the Difference?

  1. Gail Moore says:

    I really appreciate this post. I have been looking all over for this! I found this site on Google. It was excellent and very informative. I have read a few of the articles on your website now, It’s really a great and useful piece of info.

  2. Anxhela says:

    Copywriter was my first job in the advertising industry. However I got the job after being noticed as a freelance copywriter. I did not get to become a copywriter immediately, nor did i have a degree at that time. I was an associate to do the first cut in my native language and i was sort of like the intern.All advertising must consist of 3 major items, copy, art and marketing concept. Usually the copy or art takes the lead after digesting the clients brief.It is fun but hard work and you need a great partners to produce fantastic advertising. It is really a satisfying job if everything fall in place, however tensions can ride high most times. The pay will be good in due time and only if you are good. It is such in the ad industry, all starting pay suck until you gain more experience and move up. Time however is never fixed for progress. It is how you handle it and how it is perceived.A note for you, when you write a copy, it is not for you, it is always or the target market, so what can sound witty and interesting may be deemed as boring by the target audience.Get some copywriting job freelance first, perhaps registering on and doing some freelance job there will help you gain some experience and build your portfolio. Do not charge too high for the job until you have some quality work under your belt. With that you can probably apply or even get noticed by the agencies.Some writers are better at certain product categories then others. While some generalist are better at doing quick passable copies. All of these types are needed in an agency. WHat agecies don’t need is the slow ones that takes ages to write a copy.

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  4. This really answered my drawback, thank you!

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