What is the difference between content writing vs copywriting? Understanding how the two are similar and different as well as how they are connected will help you improve your content marketing strategy.
Moreover, knowing what both terms stand for will help you successfully use content writing and copywriting for their respective purposes. Hence, here’s everything you need to know about the two practices.
What Is the Difference Between Content Writing and Copywriting?
- 1 Content Writing vs Copywriting: Definitions
- 2 Content Writing vs Copywriting: Similarities
- 3 Content Writing vs Copywriting: Differences
- 4 Content Writing vs Copywriting: Examples
- 5 Content Writing vs Copywriting: Best Practices
- 5.1 Content Writing: Buyer Personas
- 5.2 Content Writing: Stats and Research
- 5.3 Content Writing: Substantial Value
- 5.4 Content Writing: Knowing Your Goals
- 5.5 Content Writing: Supplementary Content
- 5.6 Copywriting: Titles and Headings
- 5.7 Copywriting: Directing Attention
- 5.8 Copywriting: Cutting Out Unnecessary Parts
- 5.9 Copywriting: Connecting with the Audience
- 5.10 Copywriting: Linking for Navigation
- 6 Content Writing vs Copywriting: Common Mistakes
- 7 Content Writing vs Copywriting: Trends and Predictions
- 8 Final Thoughts
Content Writing vs Copywriting: Definitions
So, what is content writing and copywriting? The two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, but they aren’t actually synonyms. In fact, there are quite a few differences between them even though they both involve a form of writing.
Content writing refers to writing with the intention of creating content in the form of texts (that could be accompanied by other types of content such as visual or audio content). Content writing aims to inform, educate, or entertain the audience. It is commonly used in content marketing.
Copywriting refers to writing with the intention of creating copy in the form of texts. These pieces of copy are used for marketing, advertising, and promotional purposes. The aim of copywriting is to persuade the audience to perform a specific action such as making a purchase or subscribing to an email newsletter.
After understanding what content writing and copywriting are, it is much easier to understand the difference between a content writer vs copywriter. Content writers create content for content marketing purposes while copywriters create copy for ad campaigns and similar promotional activities.
The main content writer and copywriter difference is in their respective goals. The former needs to find ways to inform, educate, or entertain readers. The latter should persuade readers to do something. This difference in goals is what sets apart content writers and copywriters and makes their work and the respective finished products quite distinct from each other.
If you compare content marketing vs copywriting, there are some obvious differences too. Content marketing is related to content writing – content writing is the process of creating content for using it in content marketing campaigns. Copywriting, on the other hand, is about advertising and promotional activities that are not a part of content marketing.
Content Writing vs Copywriting: Similarities
A lot of inexperienced writers ask themselves, “Is content writing and copywriting the same?” when they first see the two terms. The answer is obvious: they aren’t. Otherwise, would there be two terms to describe the exact same thing? That being said, there are some ways in which content writing and copywriting are similar to each other.
First of all, at their core, both of them are about writing. This means that if your writing skills aren’t particularly good, you may struggle with both content writing and copywriting. Luckily, you can hire experienced writers from the writing services reviews site Rated by Students to help you with any content writing or copywriting you may want to do.
Secondly, both of them rely on text as a primary format, but they can be and often are accompanied by content or copy in other formats. For instance, a blog post can have images while a piece of copy can be used in an ad that also uses images. Videos, audio content, and other formats can all be used with textual content or copy.
Thirdly, both of them are a part of the greater marketing strategy that you can have. While a content strategy vs copywriting strategy are definitely different, they are both included in the marketing strategy of any specific business or independent professional promoting their products or services.
So, is copywriting the same as content writing? Not really. But they definitely have quite a few similarities which leads to confusion. Understanding how the two are similar is the first step to understanding how they are different as well as how they work together in subtle and not-so-subtle ways.
Content Writing vs Copywriting: Differences
When comparing content vs copywriting, there are some very obvious differences but there are also some that are not so obvious at first glance. Here are the main points to keep in mind about the content writing and copywriting difference:
- Type – Content writing is concerned with content while copywriting is concerned with copy. Both content and copy come in the format of text, but they are inherently different in the way they are written.
- Length – Content can come in different lengths though it tends to be on the longer side. On the other hand, copy is always shorter and comes in bite-sized pieces even as small as single words or phrases.
- Purpose – There are three main goals that content writing should accomplish (either together or one at a time): informing, educating, or entertaining. There is one primary purpose of copywriting which is persuasion.
- SEO – When comparing the two, SEO content writing vs SEO copywriting are clearly not the same largely due to the respective goals content and copy should accomplish. Content writing SEO is usually more advanced than copywriting SEO.
- Creators – Content writers are concerned with content writing while copywriters are concerned with copywriting. When it comes to copywriter vs content writer salary, it depends on specific cases. However, copywriters are often paid quite well because of their work being essential for advertising.
- Methods – The methods, practices, and techniques used for creating content and copy respectively are similar in some instance while being completely different in others. For instance, CTAs are mandatory for copy, but can be absent from content.
If you were still wondering, “Is copywriting and content writing the same?” you can now see that they aren’t. The two practices are quite different from each other but still incredibly important for marketers in different industries. Don’t underestimate the power of each respective type of writing and use them effectively in your own campaigns.
There are also some other types of writing and marketing that are commonly associated with either content writing or copywriting or both. However, they are not the same as either one of these and should be treated as separate practices or approaches.
For instance, copywriting vs content marketing. Content marketing is the practice of using content for marketing. Content writing is used to create that content. Copywriting is not related to content marketing, so it is important not to use the two terms as interchangeable ones (because they are not).
There’s also the discussion around technical writing vs copywriting. In some cases, copywriting could be considered a part of technical writing because it requires a certain level of skill and expertise. That being said, these are still two different types of practices, so you need to differentiate them from one another.
The same can be said about SEO writing and copywriting. SEO writing simply means that you are optimizing your content for search engines while copywriting means you are creating copy for promotional and advertising purposes.
Likewise, consider copywriting vs writing. The latter is more of an umbrella term for all types of writing that can range from content writing to technical writing to SEO writing to copywriting. In this regard, copywriting is a part of writing, but writing doesn’t always refer to copywriting.
Content Writing vs Copywriting: Examples
To help you better understand the similarities and differences between the two practices, it’s worth looking at content writing and copywriting examples. If you still don’t understand how they work or need help, you can get in touch with an expert writer from the custom writing reviews site Top Writing Reviews. Having a professional helping you is always a better choice than trying to do something you don’t understand on your own.
Content Writing – Blog Posts and Articles
The most common examples of content writing are blog posts and articles. These can be evergreen articles or news articles, tutorials and guides, listicles, opinion pieces, and even press releases among others.
Content Writing – Social Media Posts
Social media posts are also a commonly used example of content writing. There’s a lot of variation between formats (tweets vs Instagram posts vs Facebook posts), so social media posts could be both longer and shorter.
Content Writing – Email Newsletters
Another interesting example of content writing are email newsletters. Emails as a whole can vary in format, but email newsletters are all considered a part of content writing because they rely on content (i.e. informing, educating, or entertaining the audience).
Content Writing – E-Books
A lesser used yet still valuable example of content writing are e-books. They are perfect for illustrating how content writing can require a lot of time and effort because some pieces of content are particularly lengthy and require a lot of research and planning.
Copywriting – Ads
The most popular example of copywriting are ads. These can be both offline and online ads that are featured in different environments and in different formats. For example, these could be banner ads on a website, but these could also be ads at the top of search results.
Copywriting – Product Pages
While they are not always mentioned, product pages are actually an example of copywriting as well. Rather, they are a mix of content writing and copywriting, because the text on a product page is meant to both inform the audience and persuade it to buy the product.
Copywriting – Landing Pages
The same can be said for landing pages. But while product pages are static, landing pages are specifically created for advertising, marketing, or promotional campaigns. This makes them ideal for a mix of content writing and copywriting.
Copywriting – Variations
What’s interesting about copywriting is that there can be variations on the formats that are usually considered content writing that would then be considered copywriting. Some examples of these include:
- Social Media Ads – Native ads on social media look like regular social media posts but act as ads.
- Sales Emails – Emails that are created with the sole purpose of persuading the recipient to purchase something are considered a form of copywriting.
Content Writing vs Copywriting: Best Practices
Being successful at both content writing and copywriting requires practice, but you can already start mastering both of them. Learning how these best practices are applied will help you better understand how content writing and copywriting work respectively.
Content Writing: Buyer Personas
Knowing your target audience is absolutely essential for successful content writing. But simply knowing who your readers are isn’t enough. You should also create buyer personas for the different segments of your target audience so that you can write content that will be loved by specific groups of people.
Besides, by segmenting your target audience and creating buyer personas, you can better personalize your content and make it more informative, educational, or entertaining for your readers. In other words, working this way with your audience is one of the most important aspects of content writing.
Content Writing: Stats and Research
One of the easiest ways to prove that what you are saying is right is by including statistics and linking research in your content. This way, you are demonstrating that it isn’t just your opinion but rather a known fact or a finding supported by actual research.
Some content formats actually require you to use statistics extensively (e.g. white papers), but most content benefits from statistics and research in moderate amounts. Otherwise, you could bore or confuse your audience with all the numbers you are using.
Content Writing: Substantial Value
Your content is pretty much useless if it isn’t providing substantial value to your target audience. In other words, if you like writing about something, it doesn’t mean that your audience will enjoy reading about it. This is why you should always think about your readers first and deliver real value to them.
Keep in mind that the value you deliver needs to be in line with the goals of your content. If the goal is to inform, then the value should be informational. But if the goal is to entertain, then the value should be in the entertainment factor. In some cases, there could be multiple goals applied to a single piece of content.
Content Writing: Knowing Your Goals
Speaking of the purpose or the goals of your content, you should know these before you start writing the said piece of content. If you don’t know why you are writing the said content, then you can’t produce a high-quality product.
Try to stick to your goals and avoid being too promotional – that is the purpose of copywriting. As mentioned earlier, content writing can use CTAs, but it isn’t mandatory. Still, it’s good practice.
Content Writing: Supplementary Content
It goes without saying that content almost never comes in the form of a simple text. This is why you will also need to prepare supplementary content in the form of visuals, audio content, and the like.
There are quite a few formats to choose from, so it is completely up to your needs to decide what will work best. Consider the platform where you are publishing the said content because it can guide you in choosing the right format for supplementary content.
Copywriting: Titles and Headings
Content writing also relies on titles and headings, but they are particularly important for copywriting. In some cases, copy can be so short that all you will have are titles and headings, but these are needed for longer pieces too.
For instance, landing pages and product pages (both of which use a combination of content writing and copywriting) both require you to use titles and headings to break up text into parts and sections.
Copywriting: Directing Attention
Directing the audience’s attention is particularly critical in copywriting because you will be pretty much showing your readers what they have to take note of. The great news is that you can use both textual and visual elements to direct attention.
Adjusting parts of your text (with the help of fonts or by using effects like bold and italics) as well as using graphic design elements are both popular ways of directing the audience’s attention.
Copywriting: Cutting Out Unnecessary Parts
Copywriting is the most effective when it comes in small pieces rather than overwhelming your audience with a lot of information. This is precisely why you need to be cutting out any unnecessary parts.
Any unnecessary or odd words should be edited out. If there are sentences that can be shorter, then you should make them shorter. Expressing an idea with a limited number of words is a real skill that you need to master to excel at copywriting.
Copywriting: Connecting with the Audience
Empathy plays a big role both in content writing and copywriting because it helps you connect with your audience. But it is arguably way more important to connect with your audience when writing copy compared to content.
Copy is meant to persuade, which is incredibly difficult to do if you can’t connect with your audience. Your readers need to trust you enough to perform the action you are asking them to do (e.g. subscribe to your newsletter, make a purchase, etc.)
Navigation tends to be overlooked in copywriting, but it’s still important, just as it is in content writing. This is why you should definitely take care of linking when writing copy and content for landing pages and product pages.
You can include internal links and external links alike depending on what you want to achieve. Link to the sources you used for your stats and research, valuable resources your readers can check out, and so on.
Content Writing vs Copywriting: Common Mistakes
It’s easy to make mistakes both in content writing and copywriting, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t avoid them in the future. Here are some things to keep in mind when creating your content or copy.
Always plan ahead before you start writing. Whether you are writing a long-form step-by-step article or a native ad for Instagram, you need to plan what you want to include in the said piece of content or copy. Note down your ideas, organize them, and create an outline. Then, use it for writing your content or copy.
After you have written your content or copy, you should always take the time to proofread and edit it. You will likely find at least one linguistic mistake, but you could also come across factual mistakes that could also prevent you from creating high-quality content or copy. Fix these as soon as you find them.
Trying to Do It All Yourself
Sometimes, there is simply not enough time to do everything on your own. Even if you have a team, your writers might not be able to complete everything on time. This is why you should consider outsourcing and hire experienced writers from the writing agency Trust My Paper to help you with content writing and copywriting.
As mentioned earlier, you need to be delivering real value to your target audience when writing content, but this equally applies to copywriting. Even sales or ad copy needs to have some kind of value for your audience.
Content Writing vs Copywriting: Trends and Predictions
It is never easy to completely predict the future, but experts are still trying to find ways to see emerging trends and make predictions. Hence, here are some interesting trends and predictions related to content writing and copywriting.
Personalization and Diversification
Content writing and copywriting will continue using personalization to its fullest. After all, customers are still the number one priority for companies. Moreover, both content and copy will see more diversification in their formats, types, and topics. There are already many formats and types of content and copy that marketers are experimenting with, but this trend will likely continue into the future.
Voice Search Optimization
Voice search is becoming more and more important which has led content writers and copywriters to start optimizing their content and copy for it. The way this optimization is implemented will likely continue evolving too as more people start using voice search and more companies start utilizing voice search optimization.
AI Content and Copy
Artificial Intelligence has already greatly influenced all kinds of industries, so it’s no surprise that AI content and copy are gaining more popularity. This includes both the AI-generated content and copy and the AI-powered formats (e.g. gamified ads). There’s a lot of room for development, so AI will continue actively influencing and changing content writing and copywriting in the coming years.
All in all, content writing and copywriting are both essential for successful marketing, so you need to understand how the two work to use them effectively. Don’t be afraid to experiment, but first master commonly used content writing and copywriting practices.
Lillie Jenkins is a creative copywriter and content writer. She has worked as a copywriter since graduating school, so her writing skills are well-honed. She writes publications in such fields as marketing, business, education, and personal life. More than writing Lillie loves to travel and read professional literature.