Content marketing is an essential part of modern marketing.
Content includes everything from written words to images to videos, but is commonly assumed to mean the creation of copy.
However, there are several different roles within a company that might create copy as part of their job descriptions, like copywriters and content writers.
And when you have these roles confused, you might not be going to the right people for the right thing, or end up hiring the wrong person to fill the wrong role for their skill set.
In this article, we’ll go through the clear differences between copywriting vs content writing. We’ll also explain how they are similar, and the skill sets that are required for both roles in order to be successful.
What is Copywriting?
Copywriting is the practice of creating copy that is used to raise brand awareness, persuade an audience to take specific actions, or otherwise connect quickly to a customer.
It is often used solely for advertising or marketing purposes, with the ultimate goal of selling something.
Copywriting is typically short-form content like a social media post, digital advertisement, or company update. Things like headlines, slogans, tag lines, advertising copy, and landing page content all fall under the copywriting umbrella.
Usually, copywriting is meant to have an immediate effect by quickly engaging audiences and encouraging them to take an immediate action.
What is Content Writing?
Content writing often fills the voids left behind after copywriting.
Rather than focusing on selling something, be that through advertising or marketing, content writing is meant to inform, educate, instruct, or entertain audiences.
It’s typically a longer type of content, like blog posts, eBooks, white papers, or detailed sales copy and reports.
Content writing is often thought of as a more detailed and skilled version of copywriting. The content writer needs to have detailed knowledge about content best practices, SEO, and editing and proofreading.
Content writing is often part of a longer-term content strategy while copywriting tends to fill in the blanks and provide short, quick copy for immediate use.
That also means that content writing tends to take longer, requires more research, and is more thought-provoking than action-oriented.
Copywriting vs Content Writing: 5 Top Differences
Now that you understand the basic differences between the two different ideas, let’s dive deeper into some of the clear distinctions between copywriting and content writing.
1. Copywriters Create Traffic, Content Writers Convert Traffic
Because copywriters are more focused on creating copy that has a clear action-oriented purpose, they tend to write things that drive organic traffic.
That includes things like advertisements and surface-level articles that attract wide audiences.
Once those audiences are brought in, however, content writers take over to help convert the customer through the buying journey.
The more detailed, skilled writing provided by content writers tends to have more use to those in the consideration or decision stages of their journey, while copywriting tends to focus on the awareness stage.
2. Content Writers are Part of a Long-Term Strategy
The work that content writers do isn’t always measured by metrics and KPIs.
Rather than going for clicks and conversions, content writers are a part of long-term content strategies that might include elements like increasing brand awareness, nurturing leads, or building towards a long-term SEO strategy.
3. Copywriters Write Short-Form Content, Content Writers Write Long-Form Content
Copywriting tends to be short-form content that is meant to get quick reactions from audiences. For example, copywriting usually includes:
- Ad Copy
- Email Campaigns
- Landing Page Content
- Ad Scripts
- Direct Mail
- Social Media Posts
On the other hand, content writers are much more likely to be working on long-form content that educates and informs audiences rather than quickly conveying messages. Those types of content might include:
- Blog Posts
- Newspaper Articles
- White Papers
4. Content Writers Focus on SEO
Copywriters are typically working with one goal in mind: get the most clicks.
That means that rather than focusing on things like SEO, copywriters are much more concerned with catchy headlines and interesting taglines that bring in the leads that a company needs for campaigns.
On the other hand, content writing is highly focused on SEO.
The articles and longer-form content that content writers are creating use SEO to gradually increase the reliability and authority of a brand.
While this process takes time, it’s an important skill that utilizes keywords and content optimization.
5. Content Writers Focus on the End Stages of the Customer Journey
Copywriters want to engage with audiences at the beginning of the customer journey.
Typically, the awareness stage is the part of the journey where audiences are learning about their options and becoming aware of solutions.
By using ad copy to target those people, copywriters can bring more people into the top of the funnel.
Content writers, on the other hand, focus their time on moving those leads through the customer journey with copy that sets up a customer for future sales.
By building trust and authority with audiences, content writers help move a customer to the end stages of the customer journey.
Copywriting vs Content Writing: What are the Similarities?
For all that they are different, there are still similarities between copywriting and content writing.
The key similarity is that both of the two roles require strong writing skills.
Whether you are writing short ads or detailed eBooks, you need to be able to write strong, convincing copy that appeals to audiences while being well-written and grammatically correct.
As a writing job, both copywriting and content writing also require a certain level of research skill and dedication to knowledge.
In order to write successfully, both copywriters and content writers need to be analytical thinkers who are able to add creative ideas into their writing.
Skills for Both Copywriting and Content Writing
While there are some clear differences between copywriting and content writing, there are similarities in the skill sets required for both roles.
Let’s take some time to explore those skills so you can work on improving your copywriting or content writing skill set.
Work on Time Management
Both copywriting and content writing require an individual to manage many different tasks within the same time period.
Both roles will often require employees to put together many different content pieces on the same day, so knowing how to manage your time and focus on the task at hand is important to both copywriters and content writers.
Understand Your Audiences
Each piece of content that is created has an audience in mind.
Understanding these audiences is key to creating content that resonates with them and encourages them to take action or purchase from a brand.
Spending time researching the customers in your industry or for your business will help you improve the writing you create whether you are working as a content writer or a copywriter.
Improve Your Writing Skills
Knowing how to be a strong writer is key to both copywriting and content writing.
No matter how long or short the content is, it needs to be well-written, powerful, grammatically correct, and interesting to read.
Knowing the best ways to write requires you to stay up to date on trends and learn how to properly engage with your audiences.
Become a Good Communicator
Knowing how to be a team player is another important skill for both copywriters and content writers.
Oftentimes, writers work with teams, and so knowing how to communicate correctly and work well with others will help you succeed.
You will often be writing things based off of plans that others have created, so being able to give feedback is another important communication skill that copywriters and content writers need.
Even the most sales-focused copy will require a level of creativity that engages audiences.
Catchy taglines require just as much creativity as coming up with stories to sell for long-form content pieces.
Allowing your creativity to combine with your technical writing skills will help both copywriters and content writers succeed at work.
Knowing the difference between copywriting vs content writing is important.
Without a clear understanding, you might be hiring the wrong person to fill the wrong role, which can lead to confusion down the line and missed opportunities with your content goals.