The difference between content writing and copywriting

August 20, 2021


John Thomas

Two types of writing often get confused: copywriting and content writing. Both terms are often used interchangeably, but they are not one and the same.

The world of digital marketing is vast and filled with different styles, formats, and strategies. Within that world, two types of writing often get confused: copywriting and content writing. Both terms are often used interchangeably, but they are not one and the same.

In this post, we’ll take a look at the definitions of copywriting and content writing and explore the similarities and differences between the two. We’ll also discuss when it’s best to use each type of writing so you have a better understanding of what constitutes copywriting and content writing, and you’ll be able to decide which professional to hire for your next project.

The Difference Between Copywriting and Content Writing

Let’s start by observing some key differences between both types of content creation. Note that these guidelines are not set in stone, they’re meant to give you a general idea of how copywriting and content writing differ from one another. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at each type of writing.

Objective of Content vs. Copy

The main difference between copywriting and content writing lies in the purpose of the content. Copywriting is all about persuasion. Its goal is to convince the reader to take a certain action, such as buying a product, signing up for a service, or clicking on a link.

Examples of copywriting include advertising copy, out-of-home marketing, and promotional copy. In these examples, you have a limited amount of real estate to convince your audience that your product or service is for them. With copywriting, every word counts and must be selected with the utmost care and strategy. 

On the other hand, content writing is focused on providing information and educating the reader. While it may also include a call to action, its primary purpose is to help readers understand a topic or issue, often lending itself to brand perception over a longer period of time. This writing format includes your blog posts, articles, tutorials, ebooks, etc. The overall goal of content writing is to build relationships with your audience and establish yourself or your brand as an expert in your industry.

The bottom line is that copywriting exists almost purely for selling, while content writing is primarily about education and information sharing, although there can be selling goals incorporated as well.

Length of the Content

Another difference between copywriting and content writing has to do with the length of the content. Copywriting is typically shorter than content writing and requires artful word choice for maximum impact. That’s because copy needs to be straight to the point to be engaging and effective. The goal of copywriting is to get the reader to take action, so there’s no need to include too much information. Content writing tends to be longer as it takes more to explain a process or industry topic. 

Tone and Voice of the Content

The tone of copywriting is typically more casual and pulls in more emotional queues. Since copywriting is designed to sell, and leveraging emotion is a quick, effective way to drive engagement. On the other hand, content writing tends to be more formal and straight forward since coloqialisms and playful language can make it harder to understand the topic that a content writing piece is trying to convey. 

There are exceptions to this rule, however. For example, social media copy straddles the line between copywriting and content writing. It’s shorter form and can be more playful depending on your brand. However, at the end of the day most social media strategies are aimed at driving brand awareness rather than direct response sales.

As for voice, copywriting is typically written in the second person, addressing the reader directly. For example, you might see phrases like “you can get started today for just $X” or “Buy one, get one free!” Content writing is usually written in the second or third person. 

Now that you understand the key differences between copywriting and content writing, let’s figure out which one is right for your business.

How Content Writer Roles are Different from Copywriter Roles

When getting ready to hire a writer, it’s essential to understand the difference between content writers and copywriters. Like their disciplines, the two types of writers are distinct, with different skill sets, day-to-day duties, costs, and challenges.

The Copywriter

Copywriters are responsible for creating the text that appears on advertisements, brochures, websites, and other marketing materials. They often work closely with creative directors and art directors, who provide the visual concept for the ad or campaign.

A good copywriter must be able to distill complex information into a few short words or sentences. They also need to write headlines that are particularly catchy and attention-grabbing.

Copywriting is a highly specialized form of writing, and it takes a lot of practice and experience to get good at it. The best copywriters are masters of persuasion. They understand how to use language to influence the emotions and actions of the reader.

The Content Writer

Content writers create the text that appears on websites, blog posts, articles, and other online materials. They might be responsible for finding new ideas and topics to write about, or they might be assigned specific topics by their editors.

Content writers need to be able to research accurately, cite sources, and write efficiently. They also need to be experts on the topic they’re writing about (or be able to do effective research) to produce high-quality, informative content. Some writers also specialize in a specific type of writing, such as SEO articles or product descriptions.

Draft sources both types of writer so you have access to the exact type of professional writing you need for your content programs. 

Types of Content Writing and When to Use Them

Now that you understand the differences between content writing and copywriting, you can start to figure out which one is right for your business. Types of content writing can include but are not limited to:

  • Articles

  • Blogs

  • Ebooks

  • Emails and newsletters

  • Guides

  • Landing pages

There are a few situations when it’s appropriate to use content writing, and the team at Draft is equipped for all of them.

You Need Help with your SEO

If you’re struggling to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs), content writing can help. A good content writer will be able to produce keyword-rich, informative, and engaging articles that will not only help you rank higher in SERPs but also drive traffic to your website.

You Want to Build Authority as a Thought Leader 

Establishing yourself or your business as an expert in your industry is always a good idea. Our content writing services can help. You can position yourself as a thought leader in your industry by producing high-quality articles, blog posts, and white papers.

This is especially important if you’re trying to attract new customers or partners. Establishing yourself as an expert will make it more likely that they’ll want to do business with you.

You Need to Create or Improve your Company’s Blog

A corporate blog is a great way to connect with your customers and build brand awareness. But if you’re not a good writer, it can be tough to come up with topics and produce informative and engaging content.

That’s where our content writers come in. We can help you come up with topics, do the research, and produce blog posts that will help you connect with your customers and build your brand.

Types of Copywriting and When to Use Them

In contrast, there are a few key situations when copywriting is the more appropriate option. Copywriting can include but is not limited to:

  • Billboards

  • OOH advertisements

  • Press releases

  • Product packaging

  • Radio ad scripts

  • Taglines

There are a few situations when it’s appropriate to deploy copywriting:

Advertisement Campaigns Aren’t Converting

If you’ve been running ad campaigns, but they’re not resulting in conversions, it might be time to hire a copywriter. A good copywriter will be able to create ad copy that’s persuasive and motivating, driving users to take the desired action.

Your Website Needs a Makeover

A well-designed website that doesn’t generate leads or has a high bounce rate could benefit from copywriting. A copywriter can help you create more effective website content, from the headline to the call to action.

If your text blocks are too dense or your headlines are uninspiring, a copywriter can help you fix that.

You’re Launching a New Product or Service

When you’re launching a new product or service, you need to create excitement and interest around it. A copywriter can help you do that by writing compelling product descriptions, website copy, landing pages, and even email marketing content.

A good copywriter will be able to take a complex product or service and explain it in an easy way for the average person to understand. They’ll also be able to highlight the unique selling points of your offering and show why it’s better than the competition.

The Bottom Line

Copywriting and content writing are two different but equally important types of writing. If you’re not sure which one is right for your business, our team at Draft can help. We offer both copywriting and content writing services, so we can create a hybrid solution that meets your needs.

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