Content Writing vs Copywriting: What’s The Difference?

Content and Copy are two types of writing that get thrown around a lot. Not many people realize that the two are entirely different things. 

Where content deals with informative and educational material, copy deals in persuasion and converting leads to actual paying clients. Ads, commercials, and landing pages, for example, all fall under copywriting while guides, books, and info products are all different forms of content that are a result of content writing. 

But that’s not all there is to content writing and copywriting so in this comparison, I’m going to make sure that you have everything you need to know to make an informed decision on which type of writing to employ in your marketing. 

What is Content Writing?

Content writing is the process of creating content to educate and inform your audience on the processes and products that your company employs. 

More specifically, it’s the process of writing and editing content specifically for digital marketing. This can include writing blog posts, infographics, Twitter threads, and scripts for youtube videos.

This is a key process to raise brand awareness, build a positive reputation, and gain consumer trust. 

What is Copywriting?

After you’ve built trust and a loyal following, it’s time to convert leads to paying customers.

That’s when you need copywriting. 

A copywriter needs to produce engaging text that persuades a lead to perform a certain action. Whether this is to sign up for a newsletter or purchase an item, that decision is up to the business. 

Regardless of the objective, however, a copywriter needs to produce interesting content that not only matches searcher intent but also appeals to a user in a psychological and emotional manner. 

How is content writing and copywriting different?

Now that you understand the definitions of content writing and copywriting, it becomes quite obvious that there’s a major difference between the two. 

In my 5 years of doing both, I found that I need to do a “mental switch” to get ready to do tasks for the two. 

Here are 5 big differences between content writing and copywriting to help you differentiate between the two:

1.) Use of SEO

First, we have the use of SEO or search engine optimization. For those of you that don’t know, SEO is the process of taking steps to help a website or a piece of content rank higher on Google. 

It sounds simple but it’s much harder than that, it involves understanding what people searching for, why they’re searching for it and how you can satisfy that need.

Anyway, as a content writer, you will need to understand SEO and internalize best practices to optimize content for search engines like Google. In that sense, content writers write for the search engine. 

Copywriters, on the other hand, don’t need the same level of understanding and expertise in SEO. They might be able to understand the concepts at a surface level but it’s definitely not required to be a great copywriter. Copywriters write strictly for human beings. 

2.) Purpose

Now, we’ve covered this before but I cannot stress to you enough that the main divisive factor between content and copy is purpose.

Copy aims to convince and persuade. Content aims to inform and educate.

Copy is what’s used to make the sale, it’s the tipping factor that pushes leads to become paying customers. On the other hand, content is what’s used for everything before that. Content attracts an audience, engages with them, and demonstrates your product’s capability of fulfilling that need.

They’re both incredibly important tools that go hand-in-hand. 

3.) Tone and Emotions

Next, we have tone and emotions. While tone will definitely be pretty similar between your content and copy (after all, it should sound like it’s coming from the same person), you’ll notice minute differences in your writing style once you factor in the emotions and reactions that you’re supposed to get out of your readers. 

Copywriters are masters at evoking emotions. They create a sense of emergency and trigger emotional responses through psychological triggers. After reading a piece of copy, you’ll want to download something, signup for a newsletter, or buy a product.

The best copywriters don’t make you feel like you’re being sold to. They simply elicit emotions out of you and trigger a response. 

I’ve been writing copy for quite some time now and sometimes, I still fall into a copywriter’s trap – their copy’s just that good.

4.) Length

Another huge differentiating factor between copy and content is its length. Where content is long-form (around 2000 words each post), copy is much shorter. 

The secret between the difference in length is that the content already set up the copy for the sales pitch. 

Copywriters lay the groundwork for future sales, remember?

They’re in charge of writing comparison posts or updating your audience on the latest new feature of your app/product/service.

That means that they already know about the product. 

Now, it’s up to the copywriter to convert them into leads and sales. 

You don’t need a lot of words to do that. In fact, the fewer words in your copy, the better. It’s all about evoking emotion and the sense of urgency required to get. that. item. right. now.

5.) Results

That said, content writing and search engine optimization is a long-term task whose results don’t show themselves until the 8th month, based on Google’s statistics. 

When it comes to results: content is a marathon and copy is a race.

You’ll be able to pretty quickly tell if a copywriter writes an awesome ad because metrics like click-through rates and sales are a good indication of that. 

But that doesn’t really hold true for content and SEO.  Good content strategies take time to pay off and you’ll really have to stick to a strategy for 6 months to a year. 

Despite the long wait time to see results, just remember that the value gained from content, like blogs and articles, has a longer shelf life that quickly outlasts that of an ad. Unlike a commercial, blogs can stay on your website for years, continuously bringing you traffic without needing refinement. 

Commercials, on the other hand, need to be replaced every 3-4 months otherwise they’ll stop working. 

Why should I use content and copy for my business?

Effective copy is needed by all kinds of businesses in order to sell, it doesn’t matter if you’re in construction or if you’re a restaurant.

It’s what motivates your customers to make a decision and buy from you. On the other hand, it can’t work alone. 

Think of a car salesman: they walk up to you and tell you all about how you’re missing out on the best new deal that everyone’s getting. You’re on the fence but ultimately, wave them off because, well, they’re car salesmen and you don’t trust them.

Now, imagine if that was a friend who walked up to you and told you about this awesome new car that his cousin’s sister’s husband bought for their family. It sounds amazing and next thing you know, you’re in the dealership signing away half your month’s salary for the next 2 years. 

Alright, maybe it’s not going to be that bad.

But you get the picture.

The difference between the two is the trust factor you have with your friend. That’s exactly what content does for your business and that’s how it helps copy convert. 

Don’t think of them as opposing forces, with one rocking the boat and the other trying to keep it steady. Think of the two as the rhythmic rowing of two oars that your boat needs to stay afloat and keep moving forward

How can I use content and copy for my business?

So, you’re now ready to implement both content and copy, what you need is a strategy, and here’s my favorite one:

Spend the first 6-8 months putting out content on every platform.

Once the 8th month hits, start putting out copy. 

Like I said before, SEO content writing is a long-term game. It takes 6 to 8 months for your content to mature and achieve maximum traffic potential. Until then, I’d suggest that you’d put off from placing any ads or commercials on your site until your site is bringing in meaningful traffic.

Why? Because then you’d just be wasting money trying to convert leads when you could be building a larger fanbase and audience. 

I’ve seen and helped companies grow up to 6 figure-sales using this strategy and honestly, it’s a pretty simple strategy.

But simple doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work. 

How can I get started?

To get started, I suggest you take one of two paths:

Hiring an SEO agency

Hiring an SEO agency is perhaps the easier of the two options. While it might be scary to outsource one of your key business processes to a third party, it should free up your time to focus on building your brand and product.

When hiring an SEO agency, I’d recommend you do these 3 things:

  • Set a strategy: the first thing you should ask them is their strategy for your business. If they don’t have a clear and defined strategy, run the other way. 
  • Meet regularly: have them update you with thei objectives and goals. Make sure you know where you’re at and stay on top of the analytics that you’re content is pushing out. 
  • Build a genuine relationship with them: make sure that they’re not treating you like any other client and just pumping out content for the sake of pumping out content. Build a relationship and let them know about your values and ideals for your business so that it’d reflect on their work.

Doing it yourself

On the other hand, you could also set about doing it yourself. While this is definitely the more difficult option, it also gives you great insight into the marketing operations of your business. 

Doing it yourself will require an additional 20 hours of work a week. Maybe even more because, let’s face it, you’re basically doing another person’s job. 

But that doesn’t mean all hope is lost. 

What you could do is hire freelancers to help take the workload off of your shoulders.

Plus, as you’ll be working with them closely, you’ll be confident knowing that they’re doing things right, especially if they’re experienced in the field. 

I’ve been strategizing, writing content, and copy for half a decade now and let me tell you firsthand that my experience in a wide array of industries has drastically impacted the positive output of my work. 

Hiring a freelancer is not a step down from an SEO agency. In most cases, the time you spend with them could actually be a huge bonus because you know they’re giving the same amount of effort for your company as you do, there’s a genuine human relationship being created as opposed to the mysterious entity that an SEO agency represents.

If you’re looking to get started scaling your business by creating both content and copy, feel free to leave an email below. 

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