People sometimes use the terms content writing and copywriting interchangeably. While there is some overlap, they are two different kinds of writing, each requiring specialised skills. Understanding their differences helps you to know when to use each technique. In this article, we compare content writing vs copywriting, so you can learn and understand the main differences. A useful starting point is to look at the definitions of both terms.
What Is Content Writing?
Content writing is a broad description of text that aims to inform, entertain, or educate an audience. Websites often use content writing to indirectly generate sales. But a content writer focuses on building long-term relationships with their readers by generating loyalty and trust, rather than making an immediate sale.
Content writing is mainly long-form and includes:
- Blog posts
- Editorial pieces
- Newspaper and magazine articles
- Press releases
- Podcast scripts
- Email newsletters and campaigns
- YouTube scripts
- Film and television scripts
- White papers and technical content
Blogging is one of the most common forms of online content writing and so it’s worth taking a closer look at it.
Content Writing and Blogging
Many content writers produce blog posts for businesses. Blogs can generate large volumes of organic traffic to a site by providing solutions and the information their readers are searching for.
Blogging is an accessible, friendly, and engaging way to create interest from your readers. Blogs can be used to indirectly market products and services by building a business’ reputation, trust, and authority on a topic. So, while content writing isn’t used for the sole purpose of selling things, it can be a useful tool to do so.
What Does It Take to Be a Successful Content Writer?
Regardless of the industry or niche you’re writing for, there are a few essential skills you need to succeed as a content writer. You need to have:
- The ability to write engaging long-form content that provides value and information for your readers
- An understanding of SEO practices
- Excellent grammar and spelling skills
- The ability to self-edit and proofread
- The ability to meet deadlines
- Good research skills
- The ability to distil complex subjects into easy to read, structured content
So, now that we know what content writing is, let’s look at copywriting.
What Is Copywriting?
Copywriting is writing that’s designed to make the reader take action, for example buying a product, subscribing to a newsletter, or booking an appointment. It focuses on advertising and promoting companies, products, and services. Copywriters use calls to action (CTAs) to maximise conversions of website traffic into paying customers.
The main aim of copywriting is to persuade. It uses principles of marketing psychology to lead the reader to take the desired action.
Copywriting is generally short-form and includes:
- Websites, including homepages, product pages, landing pages, and about pages
- Taglines and slogans
- Promotional commercial materials
- Direct mail letter campaigns
- Email campaigns
- Social media adverts and promotional posts
- Sales letters and materials
What Does It Take to Be a Successful Copywriter?
Copywriting is unique and requires different skills from other types of content creation. As a copywriter, you need to:
- Know how to accurately target specific audiences and demographics with language that appeals to them
- Have excellent research skills to understand the market, competition, and needs of your audience
- Write impactful and attention-grabbing text
- Use highly persuasive language and employ techniques such as generating a sense of scarcity and urgency
- Have a deep understanding of SEO
- Deliver copy on time
- Always proofread the text
Now that we understand what content writing and copywriting are, let’s compare them.
Content Writing vs Copywriting — 3 Differences
1. Intended Purpose
One of the main differences between content writing and copywriting is their intended purpose. The primary aim of copywriting is to persuade. Whether it’s buying a product, contacting a business to enquire about their service, or subscribing to something, a copywriter uses language to encourage the reader to take action.
Content writing, on the other hand, has a broader purpose. Rather than trying to persuade, content writing aims to inform, educate, entertain, and improve the lives of readers. Compared to the immediate impact sought by copywriting, content writing seeks to build lasting relationships with readers.
Copywriters have a deep understanding of consumer behaviour and often use psychological marketing techniques to write effective copy. Their calls to action often include a sense of urgency or scarcity to encourage the reader to do something right away. Copywriters write to persuade. While the text they produce may be short-form, there’s a lot of strategy behind it.
Content writers seek to build a relationship with their readers based on loyalty and trust. This means they don’t encourage immediate action or try to create a sense of urgency in their work. Instead, they rely on providing quality, valuable, and engaging content. Content writing aims to position the business as a trusted source and authoritative voice in the industry.
3. Turnaround for Results
To put it simply, copywriting has short-term objectives (e.g. to make the reader act now) whereas content writing often involves playing the long game. A copywriter seeks to make rapid sales by emphasising what the consumer can immediately gain from the purchase or call to action.
Content writers aim to build a loyal following over time to lay the groundwork for future sales and conversions. The relationship is based on trust and familiarity, and sales are the result of the provision of valuable information and content. Trust is an increasingly important factor in e-commerce. Without solid content writing, it can be hard to build trust with a potential customer or client.
Content Writing vs Copywriting – Which Is Better?
The reality is that businesses today need the skills of both content writers and copywriters. We can’t say one is better than the other! It depends on what the client is trying to achieve with their writing.
If the client aims to build a long-term relationship with its customers, by answering the most frequently asked questions on a blog, then they need a content writer. If the client wants writing for their website that encourages visitors to read about their latest project and call to schedule an appointment, then a copywriter is more suited to the job.
All businesses, especially those with an online presence, must be able to use a combination of reliable content writing and impactful copywriting to build lasting relationships with their readers and generate sales.
Content Writing vs Copywriting – Know When to Use Them
Both content writing and copywriting play an important role in a business’s online strategy.
Content writing is primarily focused on building up the volume of traffic to a website and providing high-quality, information-rich text to readers.
Copywriting aims to convert views into sales using much shorter form texts that target specific demographics in a focused way.
Ultimately, any business or website should use both content writing and copywriting within its marketing strategy. If you want to learn more about digital marketing for an online business, check out our other articles here!