What an excellent question you’ve thought of! You’ve quite cleverly spotted that “copywriter” and “content writer” are used interchangeably and they sort of mean the same thing… don’t they? Let me clear it all up for you.
I am a copywriter, but I also write content.
There are also people who are content writers, but they generally only write content, not copy. Is that as clear as mud?
It’s not your fault if you’re confused by these terms. Professional writers use writing jargon all the time and there are many words which mean the same, or similar things. It’s hard to determine the difference between a copywriter and a content writer because it’s essentially the same job. A writer is a writer, right?
Perhaps the best place to start is to think about the difference between copy and content itself. Copywriting is very different to content writing. They’re both concerned with the promotion of a business, service, or product. But, there’s a key difference: “copy sells; content tells”.
This blog will dive into exactly who writes what and why:
- Copy- what’s a copywriter?
- Content- what’s a content writer?
- How are copywriters and content writers different?
- Do I need a copywriter or a content writer?
- How do I find a copywriter or content writer?
Don’t want to read the whole blog? Fair enough! Just click the title you want to read about and it’ll take you right there.
ONE: Copy- what’s a copywriter?
So, copy sells. What the chuff does that actually mean?
When you are writing something for your business and your intention is to drive customers to buy from you, that’s copy. Copy is persuasive, specific, and created with precision.
It’s psychologically manipulative (yes, sometimes in a bad way). Copy is clever. It’s somehow a science and an artform at the same time.
You’ll know you’re reading copy when, after reading one piece of writing, you feel compelled to act. You might want something, or go and buy something, or sign up to something, or follow someone on social media, because that piece of copy has convinced you.
What are some examples of copywriting?
- Landing pages
- Website copy
- Press releases
- Sales emails
- Direct mail
- Product descriptions
Copy is rarely “salesy” or in your face. It is subtle, empathetic, conversational, and- this is the important bit- persuasive. The best copywriters don’t make it sound like they’re selling anything at all.
What are some copywriting strategies?
There are tons of copywriting strategies. You might have heard of AIDA, or PAS, or another formula. Personally, I’m not a fan of these, but I do love to highlight benefits. Focussing on the benefits of, rather than the qualities of, the product or service, is a proven copywriting technique. For example:
- Working with a VA means your to do list gets done, but the benefit is you feeling relaxed, you business operating in a more professional way, and you having a better work life balance.
- Sure, buying new clothes is great, but the benefit of buying from your ethical clothing store is they’re supporting local businesses, avoiding fast fashion, and saving the planet.
- Yes, painting a room in this beautiful colour means a DIY job is ticked off the list, but the benefit of buying this particular paint is that it’s vegan, sustainable, and ethical so you’re positively impacting the environment. Or, you’re finally feeling at home in your new house. Or, you’re expressing your colourful personality… or whatever benefit you want to highlight.
Why is copywriting so precise?
When it comes to copy, every word needs to be perfect. Each sentence needs to have impact. There’s no room for typos or waffly words, it’s all about precision. You know those taglines you see on adverts? They take weeks to craft, with multiple people, with multiple versions. There are hundreds of ideas before the final one is chosen. Here are some examples:
- The Ordinary Skincare: clinical formulations with integrity
- Triodos Bank: make your money make a difference
- Oatly: plant based is the new normal
These simple- seeming phrases some how explain what the company does, how they do it, their values, and their tone of voice in just a few words. They’re memorable, they’re clever, and they’re precise. They don’t happen by accident.
TWO: Content- what’s a content writer?
So, how’s content different to copy then?
Well, remember, content tells. This is your chance to tell your customer all about you, your business, your values- but, in an entertaining, informative, and educational way. Content inspires trust and confidence from your customers, it demonstrates your expertise, and it shows the consistency of your brand. Content writing drums up interest, raises brand awareness, and communicates your values.
What are some examples of content?
- Case studies
- Social media captions
- Podcast or video scripts
Content isn’t just writing. Yes, it’s gorgeous longform blogs, but it’s also images (think: Instagram grid) and videos (think: ‘how to’ YouTube clips and reels).
What makes content good?
Crucially, the most effective content centres the audience/ customer. By that I mean, the content needs to be useful or interesting to the people who will buy from you. This is easily overlooked and could explain low engagement.
Think about it this way: you’re at a party. You see someone wearing some amazing earrings. You ask the person about the earrings, you get chatting about where they bought them from, how they’re made, how much they were. It’s a mutually interesting conversation, everyone’s happy. You’ve formed the start of a positive relationship.
Your content is the earrings. It needs to be eye catching, attractive, but there has to be a relevant story behind it to get that conversation going.
You could catch the attention of your audience with a cracking headline, or a beautiful image, but it needs to be saying something about your business, while also being useful to your potential customer.
What is bad content?
Bad content does the opposite. Writing for yourself, about yourself, writing in detail about what you know to show off your knowledge… none of this is going to start that conversation. You aren’t going to get that lovely positive relationship started. You’re going to put people off. Make sure you’re putting your customers right at the centre of what you do.
Bad content is also content which does not perform. Blogs without SEO keywords which don’t drive traffic to your website, or social media captions which get no engagement.
Don’t worry, all of this is fixable.
How are copywriters and content writers different?
Now you know: they’re both writers, and they both write things to promote your business, but, they write different things.
One writes copy which “sells”, and the other writes content which “tells”.
THREE: Are copywriters are more expensive than content writers?
Generally speaking, the answer is yes. Copywriters are more expensive than content writers for a couple of reasons. A single, strong piece of copy- one cracking sales email, for example- could get hundreds of pounds of sales. So, it makes sense that the copywriter would charge quite a bit, doesn’t it? Their skill and talent has got you loads of money. You’ve got a super successful email, which you can use again and again. So, their fee has to reflect that.
Content writers work is more of a slow burn. A beautifully written blog, packed full of key words, might be found on Google, it might be shared with others, it might be read and re-read, but it’s unlikely someone will read one blog and instantly act. No one’s reading one blog and handing over cash. A blog will have piqued their interest, or added to their research, or made them understand something. So, although blogging has a great return on investment (here are some lovely 2023 content marketing statistics) because content doesn’t immediately translate into cash money, its somehow seen as less valuable. Therefore, content marketers charge a bit less than copywriters.
Having said that- there are variations. Personally, I charge the same for copywriting as I do for content writing. They’re both so, so valuable. They both take the same amount of time and effort. They’re both creative and they both need research, and editing, and proofreading. So, I do both, and charge the same.
FOUR: Do I need a copywriter or a content writer?
I’m not being flippant, I’m being honest. You would probably benefit from the expertise of a professional writer because everyone would.
Perhaps because you’re super busy running your own business, or you have an endless to do list, or you simply have no time. Especially if you’re juggling business- running and family life and that mythical “self-care” we’ve all heard about.
It might be because you absolutely hate writing, and the idea of sitting down with a word document and three hours of your life sound hideous to you. You might have had a horrible English teacher who was mean to you, or you’ve never quite got to grips with alliteration or adjectives or auxiliary verbs.
Even if you actually quite like writing, and you have a bit of time on Sunday afternoons, a copywriter or content writer can see your business from the outside, and see benefits you might not be able to, or to write about you in a way you can’t. You can be confident there won’t be a word out of place, and everything will be accurate, and you can relax knowing your website copy, or newsletter, or blog is just done for you.
FIVE: How do I find a copywriter or content writer?
Well, you’ve found me, so well done for that. If I was one of those unscrupulous types, I’d say look no further, here’s my email address (email@example.com). But, the reality is, having a look around and finding the copywriting who is right for you is important.
Aside from right here on this very website, here are some ways to find a good copywriter or content writer:
You best bet is to add a descriptor or a qualifier, so “copywriter Bristol”, or “content writer for small business”, or “blog writer interior design”. If they’re a good SEO copywriter/ content writer they should be on Google, shouldn’t they?
The UK directory of copywriters at your fingertips. Have a browse of the profiles and see if anyone aligns with you.
- Social media
Searching for a copywriter on LinkedIn, Instagram, or Twitter will yield results. Have a good look at their profile, snoop on their website, send ‘em an email, see if you’d like to work with them.
- Word of mouth
You’ve got a network of small biz owners, so, check out some of their content or copy and ask them who wrote it. A word of mouth is a fabulous way to find a good copywriter.
Was that helpful? If so, give it a share. Now you know the difference between copy and content, and copywriters and content writers. If you still have questions, I’m only an email away.