Copywriting versus content writing: what’s the difference?

With the emergence of content marketing, savvy business owners, executives and marketing directors know they need quality writing to help drive their marketing efforts. What many of them don’t realize, however, is that there are different types of marketing writing.

Copywriting and content writing are not synonymous. They frequently cross paths, but the goals in each are notably different. Before you hire a writer, be sure his or her skills align with your needs. Here’s a brief guide to help you differentiate copywriting from content writing.

Copywriting is an art form

When you need someone to convey the value of your products or services, you’re looking for a copywriter. Copywriting is essentially brand messaging. It requires creativity, precision and persuasion. We’re talking about the heart of advertising – the little things that make a big impact, such as:

  • Tag lines
  • Catchphrases
  • One-liners
  • Calls to action
  • Short narratives

A copywriter usually works in tandem with a designer, or in a trio with a designer and a creative director, to create cohesive, visual messages that help your brand stand out. Put simply, copywriting is selling.

Content writing is a science

The New Age extension of copywriting is content writing, which revolves more around educating and growing your audience. Content writing is typically less dazzling and more informative than copywriting. It also replaces the unabashed sales pitch in copywriting with more of a “soft sell” that aims to establish trust and goodwill with the audience.

Other noticeable differences between copywriting and content writing are length and frequency. Copy is meant to be short and sharp, whereas content can run thousands of words. And while copy is project-based, content is ongoing.

Copywriting and content writing are informed by the personas of the customers you wish to reach. A copywriter, however, can be much more eccentric with his or her writing. Content writing, on the other hand, has several layers of strategy, including search engine optimization, social media and email marketing.

Pop quiz: copywriting or content writing?

Now that you know the differences between copywriting and content writing, let’s see if you can identify which type of writing these common assignments call for. Remember, copywriting = selling, and content writing = informing or educating.

  1. Website
  2. Blog article
  3. Press release
  4. White paper
  5. Business proposal
  6. Print ad
  7. Social media post

Answers: 1) Copywriting, 2) Content writing, 3) Content writing, 4) Content writing, 5) Copywriting, 6) Copywriting, 7) Content writing

The best writers know both

At this point, you might be thinking you need a copywriter and a content writer. Most businesses do.

The good news is that seasoned copywriters can switch gears between copywriting and content writing with ease. They know when to be creative and when to be exhaustive; when to write for humans and when to write for search engines. They even know how to develop a complete content strategy that places the right types of copy or content in front of the right people at the right times.

One of the things I love about working with The Simons Group is that we have a team of writers, all of whom produce quality copy and content for clients day in and day out. Meet our team here.

Does your company prefer copywriting or content writing? Why? Let us know in the comments.

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