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  • Writer's pictureDavid Downs

What is the Difference Between a Copywriter and a Content Writer?

You’ll often hear the word copywriter in the sales and marketing world. If you look at Google, the word's meaning is pretty varied. There seems to be another person or position, a content writer lurking in the shadows.

Even in blogs and articles that I have written, the name ‘copywriter’ takes up space. But you’ll notice that ‘content writer’ takes up a lot more. So why is this? And is there any difference?

What are Copywriters and Content Writers?

What is a copywriter? And what is a content writer? This is the focus of today’s blog. We’ll look at what each does and, if any, the differences between them. We will see how to get the best out of whichever one suits your business best.

Once you can identify the difference between a copywriter and a content writer, your business’ message and sales can begin to take off. You can spearhead your campaigns with accuracy and more cost-effectiveness. Without them, this can sometimes be harder than it would first appear. The work of a copywriter and a content writer are not kept in individual silos, never to mingle. Misunderstanding often happens as their roles tend to overlap.

Let’s peer through the fog and discover where one role starts and the other ends.

What is a Copywriter?

In the most simple of terms, it is the purpose of a copywriter that distinguishes their role. The endgame of a copywriter is to drive the reader or listener to a defined point, to be able to make a decision. This is usually in regards to sales of your product or service.

Copywriter using phone

With persuasive words, their language, and the structure of their copy (yes, they write copy, a word originally meaning reproduction or written record; the clue is in the name), they carefully steer you towards a specific goal. This might be to download a report, buy their products or services, or join a select membership group.

Copywriters produce the words for advertising, whether digital or print. They can write a series of sales emails, brochures, and website landing pages. They will often include a call to action (CTA) in their copy; the whole purpose of everything they have written is to drive you to answer that call. A copywriter will develop a persuasive headline to encourage you to read their piece in the first place. Each word from headline to CTA convinces you to sign up for something, buy, or book a call or appointment.

What Makes a Copywriter Good?

A successful copywriter writes shorter, punchy posts. Their goals are usually short-term; minimum effort for maximum reward. They will write in easy to understand language. It will be conversational, everyday terms that we can all feel comfortable with.

Their copy is clear and expresses complicated ideas simply. They will tell a story allowing you to engage with it and warm towards their brand emotionally. They will make even the dullest of topics appear exciting.

A great copywriter will show you the benefits of their product or service. Yes, they might touch on certain features, but the feel of the wind through your hair and the growl of the V12 engine as you drive a £100,000 car far exceeds the technicality of newly devised flipper-paddle titanium quantum gear changers synced with a flandgometer.

They 'show, not tell.'

When do You Need a Copywriter?

The workload of a copywriter is somewhat fluid. There are times when they have more work to handle than hours in a week. Sometimes, they might be sitting twiddling their thumbs, so you don't need them for full-time services (unless you have many projects on the go).

However, a great copywriter will never twiddle their thumbs, feeling bored. If they are between projects, they make up a project. Or, in many cases of freelance copywriting friends, they have convinced so many clients to work with them that they have to sub-contract some of their work out!

If you have a new marketing campaign or a telesales campaign, you will want a copywriter. They will help with the words for the ads or scripts for the telesales people. They will write a series of emails that you can template and send out to prospective clients in cycles.

They will write a one-page landing page for your online campaign, driving prospects to click that CTA button and sign up for your membership or new exciting deal.

So What is a Content Writer?

A content writer does about everything else that involves words. A successful content writer will tell you a story. But unlike the copywriter, this will be to educate your readers or inform them. They write all the content that isn’t considered sales.

This will include writing web pages, blogs, articles on anything, social media posts, white papers, e-books and educational/informative literature. The point is not just communicating information but writing something that the reader will engage with. It will build trust, leading to a relationship. It will place your brand as a voice of authority in your field, growing credibility, again, developing trust.

What Makes a Great Content Writer?

Content writing covers a broad scope within a writer's capability. So they tend to specialise in particular areas. Even if they are considered ‘ a generalist’, writers will still have areas they prefer to enter, such as the financial world or facilities management. Maybe they focus on environmental issues of healthcare. They will also avoid elements, maybe outsourcing to someone more appropriate.

Content Writer checking text

Content Writing involves deeper research into topics, the business or client they are working with, or the product/service they are writing about. They will even look for fresh ideas within the marketplace, keeping their readers engaged in new and exciting content.

They are original. With thousands of blogs being published every day, there is nothing new under the sun. Novelists will tell you there are only seven plots for a novel, but the number of books published every year would suggest otherwise. It’s how you tell the story.

And in telling the story, the content writer will understand the structure and formating that will best suit what they are writing.

They will make it easy to scan and find the salient points you want to focus on or allow you to read the entire piece without hurting your eyes or brain.

Of course, understanding and being an expert on the English language (sorry to all non-English speakers and writers here, I am focusing on the UK market. However, a content writer should be an expert in whichever language they are writing, and their audience is reading or listening). They must grasp good grammar and punctuation. This is a bit of a grey area, however. A content writer will write in conversational language. They might overlook the split infinitive or ending a sentence with a preposition, and so on.

Search Engine Optimisation, SEO, is a significant trick that a great content writer should master. Understanding keywords, backlinks, authority and other elements of SEO can make the difference between a website or blog post going viral or being lost in the smog of anonymity.

A winning content writer will have, or at least gain, experience in different writing styles, business sectors, and content. It is said that it is easier to write what you know, but a content writer will send out content in the language the readers will get. Sometimes, an expert in an industry will use jargon or terms that someone less qualified might not understand. This isn’t denying their expertise but simply communicating more straightforwardly.

It is recommended to write to a reading level of year 7! That is reading for twelve-year-olds! And it doesn’t mean dumbing things down.

When Do You Need a Content Writer?

A content writer, being involved with just about any writing you require tends to be needed on a project-by-project basis. Rather than looking at quick wins like a copywriter, they are involved with longer-term projects and often work closely with your marketing team. They will produce your long-form blogs (blogs with 1,000 to 2,000 words), content writing for websites, and information in any brochures or articles.

Whenever you need research, more technical information, or need to raise awareness among your readers, the content writer comes into their own. Their understanding of SEO over time can improve your website’s ranking, domain authority, and visibility.

It’s down to you how much you need a content writer. Are you publishing a weekly blog, or maybe just weekly? How often do you update your website? How often do you want press releases or newsletters?

What is the Difference Between the Content Writer and Copywriter?

The bottom line is that copywriters build and drive your sales, while a content writer will build your name and trust among your clients and prospects.

Many content writers occasionally refer to themselves as copywriters. I do from time to time. This is usually because not everyone realises that there is a difference. Content writers often do the work of a copywriter, more as an extension to their list of services provided. But it is important to know the distinction to manage your expectations when drawing up your brief.

Next time you are looking for a copywriter or a content writer for a project, check out my list of services and see how we can work together.


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