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Writing 101: Copywriting vs Content Writing

Have you wondered what the difference between copywriting and content writing is? Of course, both consist of the word “writing” in them. Sure, you have to form sentences and follow grammar rules to create a piece of written content. However, that’s the only similarity between these two phrases. Copywriting vs content writing is an interesting notion in digital marketing.

You’ve probably seen hundreds of articles with these words, taking about the “writing process“. The truth is, if you’re interested in digital marketing or any kind of marketing really, you must understand the difference between these two mediums.

So, copywriting vs content writing- what is it?

To understand the differences between them, you have to first understand what these two terms mean.

What is Copywriting?

Copywriting is basically any form of marketing writing. It is any form of content created to persuade readers to perform some kind of action that will benefit any business it is targeted towards.

Think of it this way. Imagine that you’re a salesperson and you’re trying to sell a pair of shoes to someone. There are several ways you can do this. You can talk about the merits of the shoes; why it’s better than the others, why it’ll be beneficial to that one individual in particular, and so on.

If you’re addressing a crowd of people, you’ll have something more generic yet personal to say. What you say will depend on the size of your crowd, the demographics, and the kind of people that makes up the aforementioned crowd.

In copywriting, you’re essentially doing the same thing. However, you’re posting it on the internet. While in the past, salespeople have made use of many methods, including door-to-door reach and more, it’s become more streamlined in the digital age.

The information is available on the internet for anyone to check anytime. You won’t be greeted by a salesperson at your door. Instead, you’re going on the internet and looking through the products yourself.

Copywriting is neat, and you dramatically increase your sales if you know who your target audience is and have the ability to sell your product or service well. The best way to do so is by showing (as opposed to telling) your customers that your product is better. 

There are various ways you can do this. You don’t have to say that you’re better than your competition. All you have to do is be a bit smart about it.

Some examples of copywriting are:

  • Landing pages
  • Product pages
  • Website copy 
  • YouTube videos
  • PPC ads
  • CPM ads
  • Social media ads
  • Sales emails

TV commercials also come in this category as the script written to create those are written to convince you to buy a specific product. The same can be said for billboards, flyers, and brochures. Those are traditional forms of copywriting. 

In the last few years, there has been this focus on internet-oriented content, and that’s actually led to this boom in demand for copywriters and content creators who can help sell products and services.

What is Content Writing? 

Content writing, to put it simply, is the creation of any text content. It has no ulterior purpose to persuade an audience, and it’s purely produced for the sake of content creation itself. Many websites and companies create content with the aim of simply educating or entertaining their audience.

This helps to establish something called brand authenticity, which can, in turn, create a loyal audience or portray a company or website as an authority on specific subjects, which may, of course, drive sales.

You can always include content writing materials in your company or website’s marketing campaign. However, you’re not doing it to convince readers to buy your product or services.

You’re just doing it before it shows that you probably know what you’re talking about, leading to trust. There’s no emotion or manipulation, or persuasion needed for content writing.

It’s purely informational. 

Some examples of content writing include:

  • Blog posts
  • News articles
  • White papers
  • Case studies
  • Tutorials 
  • E-books
  • Newsletters
  • Social media posts

Content writing is a way of showing that you genuinely understand and care about your product or service, which is why you’ve taken the time to educate your audience about it. You’re not trying to sell anything because you simply want to educate your audience. 

I’m repeating this because it’s not stated enough: content writing is about educating an audience. Not selling a product.

Copywriting vs Content Writing: What’s the Difference? 

Of course, by this point, you’ve probably realised that the main difference between copywriting and content writing is that the former is all about persuading the audience while the latter is about providing information.

However, this isn’t enough.

A common mistake between freelance writers, mainly those new to the industry, is that they just think adding a CTA (call to action) is enough to call a piece of text a form of copywriting.

That can’t be further from the truth. In fact, that’s actually one way of determining the difference between a good writer and a bad one. In the digital marketing space, I mean.

After all, if you can’t take the time to learn different forms of writing, why are you even in the marketing space?

Anyway, that’s a rant for another day. In addition to the obvious one, here are some other differences between copywriting and content writing.

1. Emotion

Copywriting is designed to evoke emotions. After all, people are emotional, and this behaviour pattern can be predicted and used to persuade a certain, set target audience to buy certain goods. Content writing does not require emotion at all. It’s supposed to be engaging, but beyond informing you, there’s nothing to it. This blog post can be classified as content writing. It’s just meant to be helpful.

2. Grammar

Obeying grammar and ensuring that you don’t make any spelling mistakes is important across the board for any written form of writing. However, the rules can be bent for a copy. 

A copy is any form of content created for the specific purpose of selling something. It’s the “copy” in copywriting. I’m embarrassed to say that it took me more than thirty seconds to realize that when I was learning about this many, many years ago.

Since the goal is to get an audience’s attention and potentially sell something, you can get away with some grammatical errors. 

However, for content writing, this is unacceptable. Why? Because the reader is reading your content for information. How can they trust you if you didn’t care enough to ensure that your content was perfect?

You need to be very particular about grammar and spelling. I actually read my blog posts several times before publishing to ensure that there isn’t any mistake. 

3. Story 

Copies often have a story that helps them attract an audience. The intention can vary from direct selling to a more subtle, creative way of doing so. Content writing doesn’t need a story. It’s just facts, anecdotes, experience, all the things required to deliver the point.

Where Does SEO Come into All of This?

So far, we’ve only argued for the case of copywriting vs content writing. But despite all their differences, there’s actually one thing they have in common: SEO. You need SEO to ensure that your copywriting materials, as well as your content writing pieces, are discovered by people. 

In the coming week, we’ll talk more about SEO in detail, courses you should take to learn SEO and more. Stay tuned!

Sura x


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