Content writing is the art of informing, educating, and entertaining readers through writing. The content written on web pages is mostly written by content writers who also use videos and pictures to relay their points. They create valuable content and express ideas through different media like text, audio or video format. Content writing is a broad topic and encompasses the entire media industry. Due to digitalization, this area is growing at a rapid pace.
Copywriting is a more niche job. A copywriter works to promote a particular idea or concept (product or service), and their job isn’t to inform or educate the readers. They create material that persuades the reader to buy, directly contributing to the sale of the product or service they are trying to sell. They try to influence the readers by appealing to their emotions and creating a sense of urgency. Copywriting is a synonym for marketing writing.
If I were to represent content writing and copywriting in a Venn diagram, then content writing would be the universe, and copywriting would be a subset of that universe.
I hope you understand the job description of a content writer and a copywriter, and as we progress further, I will point the difference between the two in more detail.
Industry statistics related to Content writing
According to Technavio, a global market research company, the content writing, and marketing industry will create a valuation of $412.88 billion, as seen from the excerpt below.
Also, most customers don’t blindly buy products and services on the internet. They do their research first by reading blogs written by content writers like you and me before purchasing anything online. From the excerpt below, you can know how many potential customers do this in the United States.
Now that you better understand the industry let’s dive into understanding the differences between the two better.
Copywriting v/s content writing
Copywriting involves selling your brand to your target audience. ‘Copywriting is salesmanship in print, it aims to persuade’ as Albert Lasker, the great advertising executive. Whereas content writing does everything other than informing, instructing, educating, or entertaining.
Copywriters persuade their readers by creating a sense of urgency. They stitch scarcity into their headlines, making the readers believe that the products or services they offer are limited, only creating a sense of urgency. On the other hand, content writers focus on building content that engages the audience and doesn’t pressure them. They look to establish trust with the readers.
Content writers are more focused on SEO. Copywriters may know about SEO, but content writers know to use SEO to drive inbound traffic to their blog or website. They will also learn how to optimize the keywords in their content, going the rankings up on a search result page.
Copywriters write for short slogans, tag lines, video scripts, catalogues, billboards, postcards, etc. On the contrary, content writers write in a long format like articles, blog posts, white papers, e-books, etc.
I know this sounds old school, but grammar usage differentiates a copywriter from a content writer. A content writer needs to have good grammar. Since they write in long format, if they have spelling mistakes and grammatically incorrect sentences, it reflects the quality of the content and leads to a bad user experience.
But it is not so stringent for a copywriter. Some copywriters have made mistakes in their spelling which have become memorable over time. For example, spelling the word cool as Kool. The reader easily spotted this on ads and stayed in their memory for a long time.
Imagine if you were reading a blog on a topic and the content writer is discussing the effects of cucumbers starts spelling cool as Kool. Won’t this ring alarm bells in your head? Won’t you doubt the authenticity of the content despite the fact the content writer makes some valid points? This is why grammar is very important for a content writer.
It is hard to measure the benefits of content writing in the short term as the focus is always on long. If a copywriter writes a hit ad or slogan metric like click-through rates, immediately measure the success rate.
But in the case of content writing that contains good content strategies like the White hat, SEO tactics take time to show results. So, content writers’ content has a long shelf life, and just updating them now and then is enough to stay relevant. Copywriters need to keep creating new ads from scratch and not rerun any old ads.
Content writers drive organic traffic to the website or blog; they create valuable content, whereas copywriters focus on converting traffic into sales. Good content drives traffic to the website, and good ads written by copywriters convert that traffic into sales.
This can be seen in a website like Amazon, where content writers write about the products and give information. Copywriters create beautiful and eye-catching ads that help sell the products to the customers.
But one thing I have to add. Copywriting and content writing both focus on creating a brand for their content. Storytelling has taken centre stage for branding and building a loyal customer base. The most successful brands are expert storytellers making use of content writers and copywriters alike in crafting beautiful and compelling stories that appeal to your empathy gain your trust.
The Final Takeaway
I hope after reading this, you can understand the basic difference between a content writer and a copywriter and know that the job descriptions overlap sometimes. In this digital age with no clear boundaries, the line between content writing and copywriting becomes faint, and they tend to overlap. There is no hard and fast rule about which job description falls into which category.
I have seen many content writers create amazing marketing material called copywriting strictly. I have also seen copywriters post quality content on blogs not necessarily in their domain. Copywriting has existed even before the digital age, and content writing is making strides after the advent of the internet. Hence there will always be some overlapping between the two.