The difference between content writing and a content strategy

April 19, 2023


John Thomas

In this post, we’ll explore the difference between these concepts, so you can better understand how they work together to create a cohesive content marketing strategy.

There’s no question that content is king when it comes to digital marketing. According to an independent study, 97% of respondents said that content is a valuable asset to their business, and 72% said they would increase their content budget in 2022.

But content doesn’t just appear out of thin air—it needs to be crafted. Behind the scenes, many players are involved in developing, curating, and managing content. As such, it’s essential to understand the difference between content writing and content strategy.

What is a content strategy?

Let’s start by defining our terms. First, what is a content strategy?

A content strategy is an overarching plan that guides content creation, curation, and distribution. It encompasses everything from the topics you write about to the channels you use to distribute your content. It’s the framework that ensures all your content works together to achieve your business goals. In other words, it’s the “why” and “how” of your content marketing.

Content strategies answer important questions such as:

Who is your target audience?

Before creating content that resonates with your audience, you need to know who they are. What are their pain points? What problems do they need to solve? What information do they need? Understanding your target audience is essential to developing a content strategy that meets their needs.

Creating buyer personas is a great way to get to know your target audience. Think of your ideal customer, and then build a detailed profile of that person. Include information like their age, gender, job title, interests, and goals. Once you clearly understand your target audience, you can begin developing content that speaks to them directly.

For example, if you’re targeting small business owners, your content might focus on time management, digital marketing tips, and employee productivity.

What are your business goals?

Your content strategy should be closely aligned with your business goals. What are you trying to achieve with your content? Do you want to increase brand awareness? Drive website traffic? Generate leads? Improve customer retention?

Since you can use content to achieve various business goals, it’s best to have a clear understanding of what you’re trying to accomplish before you develop your strategy. That will help ensure all your content is working together to support your end goal. 

What does your content calendar look like?

A big part of any content strategy is the content calendar. This tool helps you plan, track, and manage all your content in one place. It includes information like the topics you’ll be covering, who will be writing the content, when it will be published, and where it will be distributed. Creating a content calendar can help you stay organized and on track with your content strategy.

Essentially, it’s a documented roadmap for your content that will keep everyone on your team on the same page.

How will you measure success?

You need to establish some metrics to track the success of your content strategy. What counts as a successful piece of content? How will you know if you’re achieving your goals? Establishing clear metrics from the outset will help you measure the success of your content and make adjustments to your strategy as needed.

Some common metrics include website traffic, leads generated, social media engagement, and conversion rates.

Which SEO practices will you implement?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is necessary for any content strategy. After all, what good is great content if no one can find it? You can use several SEO best practices to ensure your target audience is seeing your content.

Here are a few search engine marketing tips to get you started:

  1. Do your keyword research. Keywords are the words and phrases your target audience uses to search for information online. By understanding which keywords they’re using, you can ensure that the right people are seeing your content. Some free keyword research tools are available, such as Google AdWords Keyword Planner.

  2. Optimize your titles and meta descriptions. The title and meta description are the first things people see when your content appears in a search engine. Make sure these elements are clear and concise and include relevant keywords to attract clicks.

  3. Use images and videos. People are more likely to engage with content that includes pictures and videos. Adding visual elements to your content can help it stand out in a sea of text-based results. 

  4. Promote your content. Once you’ve created great content, you must promote it to ensure people see it. Share your content through links on social media, email newsletters, and other websites. You can also use paid advertising to reach a wider audience.

What does a content strategy look like?

In the end, you’ll have a detailed plan that outlines everything from your target audience to the topics you’ll be covering to the channels you’ll use to distribute your content. This plan will guide all your content marketing efforts and help ensure that your content is working together to support your business goals.

It can take the form of a simple document or be more complex, like a spreadsheet with multiple tabs. The important thing is that it’s clear and outlines all the critical elements of your content strategy.

What is content writing?

On the other hand, content writing is the process of creating content for your content strategy. It is a small part of the larger picture and falls under the umbrella of content marketing. Content writing is creating written material that will contribute to the success of your content strategy.

This includes things like:

  • Blog posts: A big part of most content strategies, blog posts are a great way to share your expertise and attract new leads.

  • Ebooks and whitepapers: In-depth guides can be a great lead generation tool, providing valuable information in exchange for contact information.

  • Website copy: Your website is often the first impression potential customers will have of your business. Make sure your copy is clear, concise, and conversion-focused.

  • Email newsletters: A great way to keep in touch with your customers and prospects, email newsletters can help promote new content, build relationships, and drive traffic back to your website.

Content writing is integral to any content strategy, but it’s just one piece of the puzzle. Your content strategy must include other elements, such as search engine marketing and social media, to be truly successful.

High-value content

When writing content, always keep your target audience in mind. Write for your audience and make sure your content is interesting, informative, and easy to read. While the content strategy may focus on SEO, your written content should be tailored for humans first and search engines second.

Additionally, all your content should be original and high-quality. With so much content published online daily, you must ensure your content stands out from the rest. This means publishing well-researched, thoroughly written articles that offer something new or unique.

It would be best if you also linked to other high-quality websites and sources in your content to further establish your credibility. Citing reputable sources shows that you’re knowledgeable about your topic and helps build trust with your audience.

What about copywriting?

Content writing and copywriting are two different but related disciplines. Copywriting is a form of content writing that focuses on persuasion, typically for digital marketing or selling a product.

Copywriting is about getting people to take action, whether by clicking through to your website, filling out a form, or making a purchase. The goal is to convince your reader that they need what you’re offering and that you’re the best person to provide it.

Copywriting is a highly specialized form of writing with its own techniques if you want your content to be effective. A popular example is product descriptions. When done well, product descriptions can be immensely persuasive, convincing potential customers to buy something they may not have even known they wanted.

Which one does your business need?

Content writing and content strategy are two different but equally important facets of any content marketing strategy. If you’re looking to outsource your content marketing, it’s essential to know which one you need since a single writer or agency may not be able to provide both.

Content strategist

A content strategist can help you develop a comprehensive content strategy that meets your business goals. A good content strategist will take the time to understand your business, your audience, and your objectives before developing a plan that includes various types of content, such as blog posts, eBooks, infographics, and more.

Content strategists typically have a background in digital marketing or communications. They understand the ins and outs of a content marketing strategy and can help you create a plan that will get results. And when those results come in, they’ll know how to analyze the data and make changes to your strategy as needed. 

They should audit your current content, identify gaps, and develop a plan to help you achieve your goals.

Content strategists typically work with a team of writers, designers, and other creatives to execute the content strategy. They can also create a style guide that outlines your brand’s tone and voice and guidelines for specific types of content. And their editorial calendar will keep everyone on track and ensure your content is being published on a regular basis.

Content writer

When the time comes actually to produce the content, that’s where a content writer comes in. A content writer is someone who creates content for the web. They may typically specialize in a specific industry or type of writing, such as SEO copywriting, product descriptions, or blog writing.

You can hire a content writer to produce all the content for your website, or you can work with a team of writers who each specialize in a different type of writing. Content writers usually have strong writing skills and a knack for creating engaging, readable content. They also understand the basics of search engine marketing and how to write content that will perform well in search engines.

Although not all content writers are copywriters, many have the necessary skills to produce persuasive content. Thus, you might only need one content writer on your team rather than both a copywriter and a content writer.

Collaboration is key

When it comes to content writing, collaboration is key. A content strategist should develop a solid content marketing strategy, but it will require the input of a content writer (or writers) to produce the content. Once the content is created, the ball goes back to the content strategist to ensure that it aligns with the overall strategy. 

Both roles should work together harmoniously to produce a well-rounded content strategy to help you achieve your business goals.

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