Content Writing Versus Copywriting

Content Writing Versus Copywriting

Let’s get this straight right from the beginning. When you are talking to a content writer, do not ever ask if their job is anything like that of a copywriter.  There is nothing more annoying on earth to me than to have to explain the differences between content writing and copywriting over and over again to an uninformed individual.

Content writing is absolutely nothing even remotely like copywriting.  Well, at least not in theory.  For the last three years or so, I have done a lot with writing.  I have been a copywriter, I have done the affiliate marketing thing, I have done research papers, I have practiced SEO in my writing.  In short, I have done a lot of writing in a lot of areas (thankfully not all areas).  So, let me give you a breakdown of what the uninformed person seems to associate me with versus what I actually do.

In the lay-person’s mind, there is only one type of content writer; the copywriter.  When you ask me if what I do is anything like copywriting, you are shooting so far left of the mark that you miss the side of the barn.  A copywriter writes advertisement copy for a company.  This generally means that the copywriter is focusing on a specific product or service and is targeting a certain demographic.  These articles tend to have an important focus on SEO keywords.

The point behind the writing is strictly to sell something. If the writer is an untrained writer (and believe me, it took me a couple times to figure out my mistakes when I did this), the copywriting they do will come across like a pushy used car salesman trying to get the hideous piece of crap clunker from 1949 off of his lot.  A well-trained copywriter will; however, have a much subtler sales pitch.  It is still there but is often well disguised and might read like a customer review or perhaps even more subtle than that.

In short, a copywriter sells a specific product or service using a clearly mapped out sales approach.  A content writer on the other hand doesn’t always have the purpose of selling something, especially not a product. By now, you’re probably scratching your head and wondering how important can it be if it isn’t selling anything…that is where you are completely wrong.

A content writer doesn’t have a specific mission to sell a specific product or service, and especially not a product. That doesn’t mean that we don’t sell, it simply means that we don’t try to use a sales pitch. We might intend for our articles to help a company sell a product, but we don’t use a clear sales pitch or a marketing method. Our method is much more subtle and much sneakier. You might even say that our marketing method isn’t even a method.

Content writers handle things ranging from newsletters to blog posts and social media updates.  Our job is to inform the readers about things that are related to or relevant to the company. As a content writer, I do often times find myself using SEO but only because it means that my writings will appear closer to the beginning of the search results, not because it is a requirement of my job. In fact, for companies that hire both content writers and copywriters, they would generally prefer that SEO keywords be reserved strictly to the copywriters.

A summary of a content writer’s job would basically read “Makes the company look smart by providing useful information on a wide-range of topics that are relevant to the company and also by informing the reader on changes going on within the company.” The fact of the matter is that we find a way to tie our articles into the company in order to help put them and their brand in the spotlight.  We find ways to help make them a household name and in doing so, we help them sell all of their products and services rather than just one or two specific items.

There is a problem with most small businesses that should be acknowledged as well.  Corporate America has caught on, and large businesses and corporations use this as one of their marketing strategies all the time.  Most of the time they have a freelancer do it or they might have a couple people in their public relations department working on it.  Many small businesses are uninformed regarding this strategy, or believe that it is too expensive to hire someone to do it for them.

The fact of the matter is that these small businesses need to do a cost-benefit analysis.  They need to weigh the expense of what the freelancer is going to charge them versus the benefit of appearing on blogs and social media as little as 2 to 3 times a week to as much as 5 to 7 times a week.  They need to weigh the expense of what the freelancer is going to charge them versus the benefit of keeping their customers informed in newsletters and social media about new products and sales that they are running.

In the end, a company can end up in the spotlight and thrive along with all the other superstars that are in similar spotlights out there, or they can shrivel, shrink away from the light, and end up becoming a small local establishment that eventually goes under because they can’t keep enough business coming in to pay their bills. ■

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