Are you wondering what the difference between copywriting and content writing is?
Maybe you have seen job offers where companies are looking for copywriters. And then again, others are looking for content writers. It’s both about writing, so why isn’t it the same?
Or maybe you are running a business and wonder who you should hire? Which one is better?
See, both copywriting and content writing are important for your business. For a successful campaign, companies need both.
So, what’s the deal?
At their core, copywriting and content writing have different purposes. But in reality, they often merge into each other – the difference between copywriting and content writing is a fine line.
Both are great to help a business to get more revenue. Both are great ways to earn income as a writer. They way they are written can be quite similar.
Their big difference is what they are written for. Content writing is about offering value. Copywriting is about persuading the reader.
So, let’s have a closer look at what each of them. What exactly is the difference between copywriting and content writing?
What Is Copywriting?
Copywriting is the skill to persuade others through your written words. It’s a more strategic way of writing where every sentence is there for a reason. You lead the reader through your copy and persuade them to take action. That action can be to buy something, to opt-in their email or to click on a link.
Copywriting is very different from the writing you learn in school. And it’s even further from academic writing. Most people have the wrong idea. They think that copywriting needs to be more formal. The opposite is true. In copywriting you want to write the way you speak. So, the reader feels like they are having a conversation with you.
I often get asked if I would write as I speak when I’m writing for lawyers or doctors. The answer is, yes I would. When people read copy they might not use their full attention. Especially busy people like doctors, lawyers, and business owners. So, when you write easy, you have a chance to capture their attention.
For good copywriting, you need to know the emotional triggers that persuade people. You have to know the audience, the product, and the offer and present it so people want to buy it. You have to understand what makes them read on and how to build up the need to act.
Copywriting Isn’t About Being Creative
So, copywriting isn’t just writing. Most people think to make money as a writer, they need to be very creative. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
There is so much more behind it. That’s why I think copywriting is a skill that needs to be learned and honed.
Still, everybody can learn it. I flunked English in school – twice. Still, my career really took off as a copywriter. I learned copywriting from my mentor Allan and it got me to a point where I earned 10,000$ a month. Later, I added more skills to it and branched into other professions. But copywriting was a turning point in my life. From being severely in debt to making a six-figure income.
Once you know the principles, copywriting is a very mechanical thing. You don’t have to be creative to be a good copywriter. Much more so, you need to know what worked and add your twist to it.
David Ogilvy, one of the most successful copywriters in the word, said:
“When I write an advertisement, I don’t want you to tell me that you find it ‘creative.’ I want you to find it so interesting that you buy the product.”
This shows that making a sale is the core of good copywriting. As a copywriter, you need to be in the head of your audience. It’s not creative, it’s based on market research.
What Is Content Writing?
What is content writing? And what is the difference between copywriting and content writing?
Content writing has a different purpose than copywriting. It can be persuasive too, but that’s not the main goal. The target of content writing is to add value to the reader.
You present them with valuable information and their trust in your business grows. So the main goal of content writing is to inform and educate, sometimes to entertain.
With great content, you are nurturing possible buyers. Content warms the up to buy from you later.
A financial advisor, for example, could run a blog where he gives valuable advice on how to save taxes. He or she positions themselves as experts and the readers will trust them more and more. Now, the reader might need financial advice. They will hire the financial advisor they already know and trust.
So, content writing can still generate sales but much more indirectly. It’s not as predictable as copywriting.
Content writing is – just like copywriting- also very informal. You don’t need to be an academic writer in order to write good content. Actually, if you never did academic writing, both copywriting and content writing will be easier for you.
If you have been an academic writer before it can be a bit harder. You have to unlearn the academic language before you can start out as a successful content or copywriter.
The Purpose of Content Writing
Keep it simple so your audience can follow your thoughts. They might not be reading your content with their full attention.
Content writing is also very much about relationship building. It should show character and make the reader feel understood.
Let’s take Facebook or Instagram posts as an example. You want the reader to leave comments and maybe even share your posts. You want it to be a two-sided conversation with the user. So you have to write in a way, where people want to respond.
So, as a good content writer, you are responsible to increase traffic and engagement. To grow the audience and build trust with the reader.
The goal could be to get more readers on a blog, or more followers on Facebook. It’s closely linked to content marketing and generating leads that you want to market to later.
The Main Difference
So now you know what copywriting and content writing is. Let’s get to the core. What is the difference between copywriting and content writing?
Generally said, the main difference between copywriting and content writing is their outcome.
In content writing, you want to inform a reader and build a relationship with them. Blog articles and sometimes emails are a great example of content writing.
In copywriting you want to make a sale. It’s strongly focused on getting the reader to act on something. Copywriting could be used on a landing page or in a sales letter, for example.
So, the difference between copywriting and content writing is this-
content is for relationship building and copy is for making a sale.
But, there is more to it.
They Are Not So Far From Each Other
There are content writing pieces that also generate sales. And there is sales copy that also helps with relationship building.
A blog article, for instance, can also have a call to action (CTA) in the post – usually somewhere in the end.
Or, a great landing page can be written in a way were your readers relate with you.
It’s just usually, selling something in a content writing piece is more of a nice side effect. It’s not the main target. The goal of content writing is to inform and educate the reader and thus positioning you as an expert.
Copywriting is a bit more strategic. Every sentence leads the reader through the copy always with the goal to get them to act. Sometimes the “sale” can be more indirect. Maybe you are asking the reader to opt-in their email for something. Or, of course, you could be selling a whole product with copywriting.
Anyway, a really good campaign has both – content writing and copywriting. They are not opposites, they work well together. That’s why the two aren’t actually that far from each other.
What Do They Have In Common?
Copywriting and content writing also have some things in common. That’s why the difference is often unclear.
Both are written in a conversational style. Both nail the language of the target audience. Both are written with a goal in mind.
And both copywriting and content writing are very valuable skills in today’s age. Both are very much in demand in the online world. Most people think “I can write” and try to do content writing and copywriting themselves. But, both are skills you need to learn and develop to reach the desired results.
Copywriting might be a bit more mechanical while content writing is a bit more creative. But both are learnable skills.
How To Spot Great Copywriting
Great copywriting is conversational and captivating. Already the headline draws you in. Each sentence makes you want to read the next sentence. It’s direct, there is no additional fluff.
The best copywriters are masters at captivating the reader. They know their language and pain points. Then, the copywriter shows the reader how the product is solving the reader’s problem.
How To Spot Great Content Writing
Good content writing is interesting and valuable. The content creates a great customer experience. The information is valuable and claims are backed up with sources.
Both content writers and copywriters should be aware of one thing – the different requirements that different platforms have. You wouldn’t write the same way for a Facebook ad and a blog article.
Each platform has its “rules” that you have to play by.
Another difference between copywriting and content writing are project types and payment. So if you looking for a career as a writer you want to consider the differences. If you are in business and want to hire a writer, you also want to know how to pay them best.
Typical Copywriting Projects
As a copywriter, you would typically write landing pages, sales letters, and Facebook ads.
But even blog articles, video scripts or Facebook posts can have a CTA. So some companies might hire you to do that.
Most copywriters start out and learn several forms of copy. But later in their career, they specialize in one or two. You probably won’t be the best copywriter at every single type of copy.
Still, the underlying principles are the same for all types of copy. You have to understand the audience and write in their language. You have to know what the offer is and why the reader should care. Then you put all that into a copy that makes them want to act.
So, copywriting isn’t only about writing. It includes a lot of research and marketing knowledge. You have to build your skill before you can call yourself a copywriter.
Typical Content Writing Projects
Typical projects for a content writer are:
White papers, blog posts, LinkedIn articles, Facebook and Instagram posts and video scripts.
Anything where you use content to bond with the reader.
Most content writers pick a niche that they know well. So there are content writers that write for tech, luxuries, fashion, self-help, any industry you can imagine.
The more specialized you are the more value you can offer as a content writer.
Content writing also includes a lot of research. You bring together the most valuable information you can find. You want to deliver actual value.
The content has to fit the company, business, and product as well as resonate with the audience.
Now you know that project types are a difference between copywriting and content writing. Let’s have a look at payments.
Getting Paid As A Content Writer
Content writing is great because it’s more in demand than ever before. Thanks to the internet, everybody kinda expects to find valuable content online and businesses have to offer that.
Most businesses outsource content writing as they grow. So there is a big market for content writers.
When you want to earn money as a content writer, make sure to work with companies that value your work. You usually get paid by project and you want to find a long term partnership, so you have a constant income stream.
If you work with them long term, you have time to fully understand their products, audience, and voices.
If you work on several projects for different businesses, you will lose a lot of time in research. If you have one retainer client, you already know a lot about them. You only need to do basic research on your topic.
Really good content writers are hard to find, so if you refine your skill you will be valuable for the business.
Getting Paid As A Copywriter
Copywriting is persuasion in print. It’s a bit more advanced, but if you hone your skill you can get paid very very well.
How you get paid exactly depends on the type of project. Writing a landing page might be a one-time gig. Sales emails could be a regular project.
Imagine you are writing a landing page for a company. They might pay you 2,000$ for the project. The thing is, if your copy is great, you will make that company gains 10x or more the amount in revenue. So, for them, paying you that 2,000$ isn’t a big deal because they earn it back later anyway.
That means copywriting is very scalable. The better you get, you will need less time to earn more.
That’s another difference between copywriting and content writing. Great copywriters will usually get paid better than great content writers. Simply, because content writing usually can’t be scaled that high.
A Copywriter Probably Can Do Both
Now you know the basic difference between copywriting and content writing. If you looking into getting a career in writing, then I would highly recommend copywriting.
With copywriting you learn all the principles of writing like writing as you speak, the psychology behind and so much more.
When you are able to write to persuade, you will also be able to write engaging content.
It’s actually a good idea to add some copywriting into content writing, to sell your audience on your ideas. That’s why I said, a successful marketing campaign needs both, content writing and copywriting.
If you are a business owner looking to hire an external copywriter, make sure to check if the person is actually a copywriter. Too many people who say they are copywriters are, in fact, content writers.
None of them is better or worse than the other, but when you hire them, make sure they understand their craft.
Nail Copywriting And Content Writing
Copywriting and content writing are great because they’re predictable. You can do it from home, anywhere in the world.
Last year I launched my High Income Copywriter Program.
In this program, my team and I are teaching the principles of copywriting that will get you a high-income.
You can also use the principles as a content writer.