What’s the difference between content writing and copywriting? It’s a good question. In many cases, the two go hand-in-hand. Because they do have some similarities, they are often confused.
When you’re hiring for a writer, it’s important to know what type of writer you’re looking for. There are writers who excel at creating content, while others focus on creating copy that converts.
Let’s take a look at some of the differences between content writing and copywriting.
The difference between content writing and copywriting is in the intent.
Content writing and copywriting both have purpose and place in the world, but they serve different needs for businesses. They both are are written to get someone to take action, and both have their place in marketing. but think of content writing as long-term relationships that lead to sales.
Content writing builds brands
Content writing creates long-term relationships that lead to sales. Content is written with the intent of entertaining or educating, not necessarily sell. It’s more about creating content that helps your audience trust you.
Content writing is written to build your brand. It’s written to help people find your business and get to know your company. The content is written to entertain or educate. For example, think about the American Council on Exercise (ACE). They write blog posts to inform anyone about exercise science and personal training. This content is written to establish their credibility and help answer their audience’s questions.
Content writing often does not come without copywriting. At the end of the ACE blog posts, they have a CTA to buy a course of theirs. That’s called a “hard sell.” They’re explicitly telling us to buy their products. This is copywriting, because the purpose is to be persuasive, convince you to take action, and buy.
Copywriting is written to sell. It’s called a “hard sell” in the marketing industry. It’s written explicitly persuade someone to buy a product or service from you.
Content writing can come without copywriting
However, not all content writing has to come with a CTA or selling moment. A lot of content is written purely to inform, inspire, and build a brand. These blogs that are purely for building a brand don’t come with a “hard sell,” or any CTA.
Content writing and copywriting are often interconnected
Some of these blogs do come with a “soft sell.” For example, a company blog might say, “Interested in our content? Sign up to receive our newsletter.” That’s a soft sell because they’re not asking you to buy anything, but they are asking you to allow them to build a relationship with you via e-mail. This is still considered copywriting, but it can come off as a similar tone to content writing because you’re still just trying to be a good resource for them (and get them thinking of your brand).
If you’re hiring a content writer, always make sure they know what type of CTA you want. Chances are, they can easily write copy, if they know what action you want your readers to take.
Incorporating copywriting in soft ways
Companies have to make these decisions by identifying their top priorities. Do you want to grow your email list, or get demo sign-ups? Let your content creators know what your goal is with each piece of content.
Personally, I believe that copywriting has to make sense in context with where you put it. It has to make perfect sense. When a piece of content doesn’t relate to its CTA, it feels off to consumers. Plus, copywriting should come off gently (in my opinion). For example, “Try our free demo,” rather than “Buy our product.”
People are so used to getting sold to all the time. I think the beauty is when marketers are able to market in such a subtle way that people don’t even know they’re being marketed to.
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