Freelance content writing and copywriting often get confused, but they’re two very different things. There is some overlap between the two, but in this article, I’ll explain the main ways freelance content writing and freelance copywriting differ.
Freelance content writing involves creating content like blog posts, website pages, and other informational pieces. Freelance copywriting on the other hand primarily involves creating content with the goal of persuading readers to take action, such as make a purchase or sign up for a newsletter.
It’s not hard to imagine where the overlap might be between the two, and it’s not necessarily a case of being one or the other. So, I’ll go into more detail below on what makes someone a freelance content writer vs a copywriter. I’ll also talk about the differences in earning potential in the two roles.
What Is Freelance Content Writing?
Freelance content writing revolves around the creation of various forms of written content that inform, educate, entertain, or engage readers. As a freelance content writer, your primary goal is to produce content that offers value and meets the informational needs of your target audience.
One of the most common tasks for a freelance content writer is crafting blog posts and web pages. These pieces typically provide information on a wide range of topics. Whether it’s a step-by-step guide to gardening or an in-depth review of the latest tech gadgets, freelance content writers are usually the ones businesses hire for this kind of content.
Other Kinds Of Freelance Content Writing
Beyond blog posts and web pages, freelance content writers are often tasked with creating educational materials. This can include writing ebooks, whitepapers, and guides that dive deep into specific subjects, offering valuable insights and knowledge to the reader.
Some freelance content writers also specialize in news and feature articles. Basically, freelance content writers can create pretty much any kind of content, typically for websites, and it’s often long-form content too. If you want to learn more about the role, check out my guide to becoming a freelance content writer.
Now, let’s contrast this with freelance copywriting.
What Is Freelance Copywriting?
Freelance copywriting is all about persuasion. As a freelance copywriter, your primary objective is to craft messages that persuade readers to take specific actions. These actions can vary widely, from making a purchase to signing up for a newsletter or clicking a ‘Learn More’ button.
Unlike the (usually) longer and more informative pieces associated with freelance content writing, freelance copywriting often involves short and impactful content. Think of eye-catching headlines, concise product descriptions, and compelling calls to action. You’re often dealing with short attention spans, and every word carries weight.
Note: Freelance copywriters may also create longer pieces of course. A good example could be a landing page for a product or service, which may be thousands of words long.
Types Of Freelance Copywriting
One of the most recognizable forms of freelance copywriting is crafting advertisements. Whether it’s a print ad in a magazine, a sponsored social media post, or a banner ad on a website, freelance copywriters are responsible for creating the catchy taglines, persuasive slogans, and enticing descriptions that grab attention and drive engagement.
Email marketing campaigns are another domain where freelance copywriters shine. You may be tasked with creating email content that not only lands in the inbox but also compels recipients to open, read, and ultimately take action. Crafting subject lines that pique curiosity and email content that delivers value is key to success in this arena.
Understanding Your Audience’s Needs
Successful freelance copywriting hinges on a deep understanding of your target audience. You need to know what makes them tick, what problems they face, and how your product or service (or your client’s) can provide a solution.
Let’s take a closer look at the main differences between freelance copywriting and freelance content writing.
The 5 Key Differences Between Content Writing & Copywriting
1. Purpose & Goal
Content Writing: Content writing primarily focuses on providing information, education, and entertainment. The main goal is to inform or engage the audience, offering valuable insights or answering questions.
Copywriting: Copywriting, on the other hand, is all about persuasion. The primary goal is to compel the reader to take a specific action, such as making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, or clicking on a link.
2. Tone & Style
Content Writing: Content writers typically adopt a more informative and neutral tone. They aim to convey information in a clear and concise manner, without overtly trying to persuade the reader (although it may involve aspects of copywriting, such as when talking about products within a wider piece).
Copywriting: Copywriters infuse their content with a persuasive and often emotive tone. They use language that evokes a desired emotional response and encourages immediate action.
3. Length & Format
Content Writing: Content pieces in this category can vary widely in length, from short blog posts to lengthy ebooks. The format is flexible, depending on the informational needs of the audience.
Copywriting: Copywriting pieces tend to be shorter and more concise. They often include elements like headlines, subheadings, bullet points, and call-to-action buttons for maximum impact.
4. Audience Engagement
Content Writing: Content writers aim to engage the audience through informative and valuable content. Engagement is measured through factors like the time spent on a webpage, social shares, and comments.
Copywriting: Copywriters measure success by the conversion rate – the percentage of readers who take the desired action. High conversion rates indicate effective persuasion.
5. Call To Action (CTA)
Content Writing: Content pieces may have a CTA, but it’s often subtle and aimed at encouraging further reading or exploration of related topics.
Copywriting: Copywriting relies heavily on CTAs that explicitly instruct the reader to take action, whether it’s making a purchase, subscribing, or requesting more information.
Finding Freelance Content Writing & Copywriting Jobs
Whether you’re just starting your freelance writing journey or looking for some extra income, below is a guide on where and how to find freelance content writing and copywriting jobs.
Freelance Job Platforms
Online job platforms can be a great way to find beginner freelance writing opportunities. Websites like Upwork, Freelancer, Fiverr, and Guru feature countless job listings for both content writing and copywriting projects. Here’s how to make the most of these platforms:
- Create a compelling profile highlighting your skills, experience, and expertise
- Browse job listings regularly (or update your gigs regularly on Fiverr), and filter your searches to find relevant writing gigs
- Submit well-crafted proposals tailored to each job, clearly showcasing your understanding of the client’s needs
Note: These platforms can be ultra-competitive – and they’re typically best for those at the start of their freelancing career
Freelance Writing Websites
Several websites specialize in freelance writing jobs. Platforms like ProBlogger, FreelanceWriting.com, and BloggingPro list content writing and copywriting positions from around the web. I recommend you:
- Regularly check these job boards and apply to opportunities that match your expertise and interests
- Build a professional portfolio website to showcase your writing samples and credentials
- Be prepared for a lot of rejection
Networking can be a powerful tool in finding freelance writing gigs. Attend industry-related events, join writing communities, and connect with other freelancers to discover job leads. Some other useful tips include:
- Participate in online forums, such as Reddit’s r/freelanceWriters, to exchange tips and job referrals
- Leverage social media platforms like LinkedIn to showcase your expertise and connect with potential clients
Pitching Directly to Clients
If you have a specific niche or industry expertise, consider pitching directly to businesses or publications in that field. Craft a compelling pitch email highlighting your unique skills and how you can add value to their content. Note that this method will take time and a lot of perseverance, but it can be highly rewarding. Be sure to:
- Research potential clients or publications that align with your niche and interests
- Personalize your pitches and demonstrate an understanding of their content needs
Now let’s turn to the important bit – who makes more money?
Do Freelance Copywriters Earn More Than Content Writers?
Freelance copywriters may earn more than content writers, largely due to the nature of the work they perform having a focus on converting readers into customers. Clients hiring copywriters are doing so because they understand they’re able to generate revenue with their words.
This means copywriting – when done well – can lead to substantial ROI for the client. That’s obviously still possible with content writing (especially if that content is for an ebook or similar piece), but generally it has less of a conversion focus. Exceptions to this would be creating content for affiliate marketers, which can clearly have high ROI as well.
Note: Blog posts can also yield high ROI for website owners that make money through display ads. So it’s definitely not a case of copywriters always earning more than content writers.
Factors like the type of clients, specialized skills, complexity of projects, experience, niche expertise, and negotiation abilities can influence earning potential no matter if you’re a freelance content writer or copywriter.
Average Earnings For Freelance Content Writers
The average earnings for a freelance content writer can vary a lot, but you can expect to earn anywhere from $0.03 to $0.10 per word as a complete beginner. Note that these are low rates, but it’s what you’ll commonly find on job boards and freelance marketplaces. They’re the rates I started at, and they can work out to reasonable hourly rates if you can write high-quality content at a decent rate.
As you gain more experience, it’s not uncommon to charge $0.20 or more per word. Charging per project will obviously vary a lot, but if you’re creating blog posts, $100-$300 per article is feasible for those with solid writing skills and niche expertise.
As for an average salary figure, Salary.com puts it at about $57,000 per year.
Average Earnings For Freelance Copywriters
Freelance copywriters can expect earnings similar to those of freelance content writers when they first get started, but generally the ceiling is a little higher. Again, this is just down to the sales-focused nature of this kind of writing. Talent.com puts the average salary for freelance content writers at closer to $80,000, a fair increase over the content writer number.
But you need to remember there will be a lot of variation here. Many freelance content writers will make more than many freelance copywriters and vice versa. It’s all about how well you can market yourself, how good a writer you are, and the kinds of projects you work on.
Both freelance content writing and copywriting can be very lucrative career paths, but which one is better for you?
Which Is Better: Freelance Copywriting Or Content Writing?
Determining whether freelance copywriting or content writing is better depends on your individual interests, skills, and career goals. Each field offers unique opportunities and challenges. To round off the article, here’s a breakdown to help you make an informed decision.
Freelance copywriting is better if:
- You enjoy persuading people: Copywriting is all about persuading readers to take action. If you’re passionate about crafting compelling messages that drive conversions, copywriting may be best.
- You prefer shorter, more impactful content: Copywriting often involves creating concise and persuasive content, such as ads, product descriptions, and email campaigns. If you thrive in the realm of brevity and impact, copywriting might be your calling.
- You enjoy sales and marketing: Copywriters collaborate closely with marketing teams and businesses focused on sales. If you enjoy working in these domains and helping businesses grow, copywriting could be the one to go for.
Freelance Content Writing
Freelance content writing is better if:
- You love informing and educating others: Content writing is ideal for those who enjoy sharing knowledge, information, and insights with readers. If you have a passion for educating and informing, this field is well-suited.
- You enjoy creating long-form content: Content writing often involves creating longer, more informative pieces. If you’re interested in optimizing content for search engines and diving deep into topics, content writing may be a good fit.
- Less pressure on conversions: While your content may indirectly support conversions, the primary goal is to provide value and information. There’s typically less immediate performance pressure compared to copywriting.