What’s the Difference Between a Copywriter and Content Writer?

1st Mar, 2021
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Tara Wesson
Content Strategist

As an in-house writer, my job description varies day-to-day. The goal stays the same: I use words to help our clients achieve their digital marketing goals. One part of my day might be spent writing social media posts; another few hours will be dedicated to sales writing or blog posts. While all these tasks fall under the umbrella of content marketing, there are some key differences between copywriters and content writers. Here’s how to tell the difference between copywriting and content writing, why this distinction is important, and how to get the best of both worlds in your own content marketing efforts.

What is Copywriting?

Copywriting is the process of writing marketing copy. The goal of a copywriter is to turn traffic into sales or leads. The best copy prompts the reader to take action, all while making them think it was their idea to download that PDF or to give their email. Copy is all about the short term. Its purpose is to sell, then and there. While some of the best marketing slogans are effective because of their surprising approach, copywriting is not about creativity. It’s about practicality.

What is Content Writing?

While copywriting is unashamedly sales-based, content writing takes a more subtle approach. Its goal isn’t always to convert users into customers right away – it could be to increase brand awareness or build authority on search engines. The best content looks at users in the long term, catering to users at various stages of the sales funnel. Content writers work with marketing principles in mind, but their main goal is to produce useful, engaging and quality content which ranks on search engine result pages. There’s also more of a focus on storytelling.

Copywriting vs Content Writing – What’s the Difference?

  • The length: copy is typically short and snappy, while a piece of content’s word count can stretch into the thousands. This is because of the context – marketing copy typically appears on billboards or landing pages, while web page content gives you the luxury of however many words your writer chooses (every word should still be valuable).
  • The purpose behind the words: both are writing, but they have different results.
  • What audience are you targeting? Copywriting is a lot more straightforward than content writing, at least in terms of the message.

Copywriters and Content Writers

Copywriters and content writers have different writing backgrounds, and generally work with two different goals in mind. For the copywriter, the goal is to encourage immediate (or relatively fast) action, whether that’s a purchase, a download or giving up an email for a newsletter. The best content writers, however, know that being too salesy will achieve the opposite effect.

What Skills Are Needed to Be a Copywriter?

What skills does a copywriter need, and how do you find the best one? Find a writer who knows how to write SEO copy, but also knows not to cram their work full of keywords. You can look for the following qualities when speaking to prospective copywriters:

  • They should understand the needs and desires of the end user, and use the appropriate brand language and voice to connect with the audience.
  • They should know how to research a business and understand its goals, before writing material that aligns with those goals.
  • They should be able to write creative yet simple words which get to the heart of the topic, explaining complex ideas clearly.
  • They should be storytellers with the ability to stir emotions in the reader.
  • They should have an understanding of SEO.
  • They should know how to create short, snappy copy which persuades the user to take action.
  • They should know how to stick to the brief, deadlines and requirements of the task.

What Skills Do Content Writers Need To Have?

To find the best content writers for your project, you should look for writers with the following skills:

  • They should have an understanding of conversion copywriting.
  • They should know how to use the most appropriate to maximise your visibility in results pages.
  • They should have writing samples and experience producing high-quality longform content.
  • They should have a strong understanding of structure, and how to create scannable digital content.
  • They should have an advanced grasp of the English language, including spelling and grammar.
  • They should know how to edit and improve their own work.
  • They should know how to keep the reader hanging on their every word, while bolstering any claims with research and fact-checking.
  • They should have the ability to write across a number of topic areas and industries.
  • They should be able to pitch you quality content ideas.
  • They should stick to the brief and deadlines, and work on the content until you are happy with the final product.

Should I Hire a Copywriter or Content Writer?

That depends on the type of project you need to find a writer for, and your goals for the content. A content strategist can help you get clear on your goals, but if you’ve already got those down, here are the types of projects each role takes on. To find the best writer for your project, you just need to find a writer with the right skillset to fit your needs.

What Types of Projects Does a Copywriter Take On?

  • Ad copy
  • Sales letters
  • Newsletter emails
  • PPC landing pages

What Types of Projects Does a Content Writer Take On?

  • Blog posts
  • Social media posts
  • White papers
  • eBooks

To speak to a copy or content writer, get in touch with the team at Vine Digital. We’d love to help you achieve your goals through the written word, boosting your audience and authority online.

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