Content Writing and Copywriting: What's the Difference?

Summer Browne author profile image
content writing vs copywriting featured
content writing vs copywriting featured

Digital marketing writing styles are a little bit like an extended family. Yes, they’re related and share some character traits, but each has a different and unique personality.

Content writing and copywriting are a good example of this. While they have a lot in common and occasionally overlap, the two specialties serve two distinct purposes. In a nutshell, content writing is for sharing, and copywriting is for selling.

But before we examine the differences, let’s define what we mean by content writing and copywriting.

What is Content Writing?

Content writing is like the nurturing father you see in movies. He sits with his arm around his son or daughter, comforting them and offering wise advice. They come to him when they are under pressure. He offers timely guidance that motivates and inspires them on their path.

Content writing should also provide guidance. If you’re marketing a complex or expensive product, it takes time to build relationships and make them solid.

But once you’ve established yourself as trustworthy and authoritative, readers will be willing to act on your recommendations. They’ll turn to you for useful, factual advice.

And there’s even more to it than that. Like a dad’s advice, content writing is educational, but it also has a goal. It’s trying to impart ideas and inform the readers’ perspective.

The more customers can learn from you and see real value, the more likely they will purchase what you’re selling. In that sense, content and copy overlap, as they ultimately want the same thing. But content, like fatherly advice, lets you think that the idea was yours all along.

Types of Content Writing Include

  • Ebooks
  • Blog Posts
  • Email Newsletters
  • Articles
  • White Papers
  • Social Media
  • Podcasts

Benefits of Content Writing

A few benefits of consistent content writing can include:

  • Bringing organic traffic to your site
  • Shareable content that expands your social media audience
  • Higher domain authority and more appearances in search engine results
  • New opportunities from customer engagement and feedback

What is Copywriting?

Copywriting has a couple of different personalities. One is a pushy Mother, and the other is a nosey Aunt.

First, your sales copy is like a pushy Mom. She focuses on the value of the offer and how it will improve your life.

In your personal life, that might manifest as why you need to get married, or have kids, or come over for dinner more often. In marketing copy, this appears as the specific benefits of a product, or social proof, or a comparison chart.

Conversion copy, on the other hand, is like a nosey Aunt. She pushes you to take the action necessary to receive those benefits. She wants you to sign up, subscribe, or buy. And she doesn’t necessarily introduce the idea, but once it’s out there, she’s too determined to take ‘no’ for an answer.

Types of Copy Writing Include

  • Advertisements Google/Social
  • White Papers
  • Landing Pages
  • Product Pages
  • Email Campaigns
  • Calls-to-action
  • Product descriptions
  • Jingles
  • Video Scripts
  • Company Branding
  • Taglines
  • Slogans
  • Web pages

Benefits of Copywriting

Like Content Writing, there is a long list of benefits to quality copy. Here are a few:

  • Motivates and inspires the audience to take action, like making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter.
  • It helps you to reach the right customer, the one that is genuinely interested in what you’re selling.
  • Gets your core message across effectively.
  • Highlights the benefits of what is being offered clearly and concisely.

Content Writing and Copywriting: Which Do You Need?

The answer is that you may need one, the other, or both. It depends on your company’s needs. Someone who can write both content and sales copy might be ideal if, for example, you’re scaling campaigns or taking on clients.

If you’re trying to build a brand, drive traffic, or grow organically, then you need good SEO content. In contrast, copywriting is for closing deals and getting users over the finish line.

content writing and copywriting crossroads

A content marketing strategy can develop more loyal and higher-spending customers, for example. In contrast, copywriters typically work toward short-term goals.

Also, if you’re looking to hire a writer, try to be clear about the skillset you’re looking for. Advertisements for copywriter positions, for example, often include content writing tasks and vice versa.

If you are looking for someone who can do both, ask candidates for examples of each and to explain how they approach the needs of a particular project.

Last Thoughts on Content Writing and Copywriting

Content writing is a subtle sell, it's your nurturing father. Copywriting isn’t subtle, it's obvious and in your face, like that pushy Mom.

But sometimes you need that push because it’s what plants the idea in the first place. Striking the right balance between both can drive short-term growth as well as long-term success.

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About Summer Browne

AdLeaks content writer Summer Browne has a degree in Civil Engineering, studied Law at the University of London, and speaks Mandarin Chinese fluently.