You know your business will need written content soon, but you’re not sure if you need a copywriter or content writer.
You try to find the answer online, but all you see are job descriptions that look the same.
So you end up just using the terms interchangeably, hoping that the right person will show up to do the job.
That’s the story of too many businesses. The copywriter vs. content writer debate confuses even the most experienced professionals..
So let’s settle the debate once and for all. Here’s a look at the key differences between copywriters and content writers and when your business should use each.
What Do Copywriters Do?
Copywriters are the wordsmiths of the marketing world. They use their writing skills to create persuasive, attention-grabbing copy that encourages readers to take action. This could be anything from signing up for a newsletter to making a purchase. But no matter what the goal is, copywriters write with the intention of getting people to do something.
To do this, copywriters must understand both the product or service they’re selling and the customer they’re selling it to. They use this knowledge to create copy that resonates with the target audience and speaks to their specific needs.
For this reason, human psychology plays a significant role in copywriting, and copywriters must be experts in understanding how people think and make decisions.
Copywriters also need to be well-versed in the art of persuasion. They use persuasive techniques like emotional appeals and social proof to convince readers they need what’s being sold.
That’s why the best copywriters are often likened to salespeople. But unlike salespeople, copywriters don’t rely on personal relationships to close the deal. Their goal is to use their words to create a connection with the reader that’s so strong that they can’t help but take action.
And finally, copywriters must be able to write clearly and concisely. They know how to get their point across without wasting the reader’s time.
Examples of Copywriting Assets
So, when would your business need a copywriter? Well, any time you need to create persuasive, action-oriented content, you’ll need a copywriter. This could be for things like:
- Website copy
- Sales pages
- Landing pages
- Video scripts
- Email marketing campaigns
- Social media ads
- Product descriptions
The key is that all of these assets need to be written with the goal of getting people to take action. If no action is required, then you don’t need a copywriter.
What Do Content Writers Do?
Content writers, on the other hand, create content for the sole purpose of providing value. Their goal is to educate, inform, or entertain their readers. Unlike copywriters, content writers aren’t trying to sell anything. Instead, they’re focused on building a relationship with their readers.
Think of it this way: if you just met someone at an event, you wouldn’t start trying to sell them your product or service. You would strike up a conversation and get to know them first.
That’s what content writers do. They use their words to start a conversation with the reader and build a relationship of trust. Once that relationship is established, the reader is more likely to be open to hearing about your product or service. But it all starts with providing value.
To achieve this, content writers must be experts on the topics they write about. They need to be able to provide readers with accurate, up-to-date information that’s relevant to their needs. That also means they need to have solid research skills. They must be able to find reliable sources and thoroughly vet the information they include in their articles.
Not just that, but content writers also need to be able to write in an engaging way. They need to be able to hold the reader’s attention from start to finish. This means using storytelling, humor, and other strategies to keep the reader engaged.
And finally, content writers must be able to format their articles in a way that’s easy to read. They know how to break up their text with subheadings, images, and lists to make their articles as scannable as possible.
Examples of Content Writing Assets
Okay, so when would your business need a content writer? Any time you need to create content that’s designed to provide value, you’ll need a content writer. This could be for things like:
- Blog posts
- Social media captions
- Lead magnets
- Email newsletters
As you can see, the content writer’s goal is very different from the copywriter’s. Copywriters are focused on persuasion, while content writers are focused on education.
Of course, there’s some overlap between the two. For example, a blog post can be educational and persuasive. But in general, the main difference is the intent behind the words.
Why Can’t One Person Do Both?
Now, you might be thinking, “Can’t one person do both copywriting and content writing?”
The answer is yes, some people can (like me), but not everyone can. And that’s okay!
The reason is that copywriting and content writing require two very different skill sets.
Copywriters are skilled at writing concisely, persuasively, and for a specific purpose. They need to be able to capture the reader’s attention and then guide them toward a specific action by using strong language and persuasive techniques (hooks, offer stacking, psychological triggers, social proof, and more).
Content writers, on the other hand, need to be able to write in-depth articles that provide value to the reader. They need to have strong research skills and be able to back up the information they include in their articles with credible sources. And they need to be able to engage the reader from start to finish with their writing style. Not everyone can do that.
So, while one person can certainly do both sometimes, not everyone has the skillset necessary to be a successful copywriter and content writer. If you’re not sure which one you need, it’s always best to hire someone who specializes in the type of writing you need for your project.
What Happens if You Hire the Wrong Person?
“Reem, what’s the worst that could happen if I hire the wrong person for my project? Like if I hire a copywriter for a blog post or something?”
The answer to that is, unfortunately, it depends on the person.
If you hire a copywriter to write a blog post, they might be able to do it, but the quality might not be as good as it could be. The reason is that copywriters are trained to write persuasively, not necessarily educationally. So while they might be able to get the job done, it might not be as helpful or informative as it could be.
There’s a chance it could end up being sales-y, which is the opposite of what you want in a blog post.
On the other hand, if you hire a content writer to write website copy, they might not be able to do it. The reason is that website copy needs to be short, sweet, and to the point. It’s not meant to be educational; it’s meant to persuade the reader to take action.
Therefore, the result might be a website that’s hard to understand, doesn’t have a clear call to action, and doesn’t convert visitors into leads or customers.
The bottom line is that your chances of getting the desired result goes up exponentially when you hire the right person for the job and vice versa.
Are the Rates for Copywriters and Content Writers Different?
Definitely. Copywriters tend to charge more because the output directly impacts the client’s business, usually in terms of sales or leads. And because copywriting is very concise and doesn’t always require many words (think taglines!), copywriters charge per project, not per word.
Content writers usually charge less because their output is more evergreen and doesn’t have as direct an impact on the bottom line (although it can). And because content writing generally requires more words to get the point across, content writers charge per word.
Do All Businesses Need Both Copywriting and Content Writing?
In most cases, yes. All businesses need content because it’s what helps you rank on Google, build trust with your audience, and establish yourself as an expert in your industry. Copywriting is also important because it’s what you use to persuade people to take action, whether that’s buying your product, signing up for your email list, or scheduling a consultation.
The only businesses that might not need both are very small businesses with a very tight focus or companies that only do business offline. But in general, it’s always best to have at least some copy and content for your website and marketing materials.
Is There Ever an Overlap Between Copywriting and Content Writing?
Yes, there definitely is! For instance, to write a sales page, the copywriter will often also act as the content writer because they have to educate the reader about their problem, the solution, and why your product is the best one on the market. In this case, the copywriter has to be able to do both: write persuasively and provide helpful information.
Similarly, in a blog post, the content writer might also have to do some light copywriting to persuade the reader to take action at the end. For example, they might ask the reader to sign up for their email list, download a free guide, or check out a related blog post.
However, the overlap is usually not as extensive as it is in a sales page or blog post. In most cases, the copywriter will focus on the persuasive elements, and the content writer will focus on the educational elements.
As you can see, copywriting and content writing are two very different things. They both have their place in the world of online marketing, but they serve different purposes.
If you need someone to write persuasive, sales-oriented copy for your website or marketing materials, you need a copywriter. But if you need someone to provide helpful, educational information for your website or blog, you need a content writer.
The most successful businesses use both copywriting and content writing to create a well-rounded marketing strategy. But if you can only afford one or the other, make sure you hire the right person for the job. Otherwise, you might not get the results you’re hoping for.
I offer both copywriting and content writing services! So if you’re not sure which one you need, or you need both, I can help. Just contact me, and we’ll figure it out together.