Ever wonder what the difference between a content writer and copywriting is? Sure, they sound similar in practice.
But when you look at the two of them side by side, you’ll notice some distinct differences.
Knowing these differences will help you decide which form of writing best suits your character and freelance career.
What are the Differences Between Copy and Content?
Copywriting’s not only about writing sales pages. It’s about writing high-quality persuasive content for your website, emails, and social media advertisements.
The purpose of copywriting is to get people to take action, whether that’s buying a product or service, clicking on an ad, booking a call, or signing up for your email list.
To become a copywriter, you need to understand the psychology behind human behavior and use your knowledge to craft messages that resonate with the target audience.
Content writing is creating and distributing relevant, useful, unique content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience. It includes blogs, articles, social media posts, and e-books – anything that provides value.
A good content writer identifies the needs of their audience and then creates relevant content that solves their problems.
To be a great content writer, you need to write interesting articles and provide the right information to your readers in the most efficient way possible.
Want to be a copywriter? You need to be able to get to the heart of a product or service. And to gather this information, you need to talk with clients and customers in a way that makes them feel comfortable and at ease. So if you’re shy, getting used to speaking to clients may take a little time.
It also helps to be a great listener – listening carefully to what clients want and how customers perceive the product or service is key to writing conversion copy.
Equally, to be a copywriter, you need to work under pressure and meet deadlines without compromising quality.
Great content writers are lovers of words and stories. Most content writers are excellent storytellers with an excellent grasp of language and grammar.
Naturally, content writers enjoy variety. Brands often expect content experts to write in different formats – from formal business reports to casual blogs.
But one of the most important personality traits you need to be a content (and copy) writer is patience. It’s not unusual to spend hours researching, planning, and organizing your ideas before putting pen to paper.
Copywriting is a skill. What’s more, it’s not something you can learn in a few days (or weeks). You need to be a student of the craft before you can become a master of it.
Great copywriters keep up with the latest trends and developments through training, seminars, and conferences. In addition, they read books about a wide variety of copywriting topics and learn from more experienced copywriters.
A good way to become an effective copywriter is to study successful advertisements and figure out what makes them work so well. Then apply those principles to your own copy.
Some content writers have degrees in journalism or communications, but there are no formal requirements for becoming a writer. If you have a good grasp of language and grammar, you’re ready to be a content writer.
Beyond that, content writers need SEO knowledge (search engine optimization) to help their content rank on search engines. If your content doesn’t rank high in search engine result pages, then chances are it isn’t going to get read by anyone (except those who already know about it and are actively looking for it).
Values and Mindset
Occasionally copywriters get bad press. For example, some consider copywriting to be sleazy sales writing, offering up a variety of untruths to get people to buy a product or service.
Let’s be honest – selling is tricky. Being persuasive requires knowledge of sales psychology. But the truth is, it doesn’t have to be sleazy.
Many copywriters use ethical and authentic methods when getting their message across. But, like everything else, you have a choice. You can use ALL the tactics available or focus on those you feel comfortable using in your copy.
Content writers need the determination to research various topics, even if they’re topics that don’t particularly interest them. Sure, you can niche into a specific industry, but chances are there’ll be at least one blog post that bores you to death. But it’s your job to turn boring into engaging and informative for the reader.
Excellent time-keeping skills are essential for content and copywriters. You need to meet deadlines and keep distractions to a minimum. Self-discipline is a skill that freelancers need in bucketloads.
Whichever route you decide to take (and it’s ok to offer both), freelance writing is a rewarding and enjoyable career.
Over the past decade, Liz Slyman has worked as a copywriter and digital marketing executive for a multitude of companies from startups to mid-sized businesses to working as the VP of marketing for award-winning, platinum-selling artists, and is now teaching copywriting courses. Leveraging an understanding of the nuance of language in marketing, Liz founded Amplihigher, a content marketing, and copywriting agency, designed to connect consumers to companies in a way that results in next-level brand expansion.