Content writing tells a compelling story that both entertains and educates your audience. Whereas copywriting persuades that audience to take action, mostly in the form of sales.

While most writers know these definitions, the line between the two can get blurry. Especially when you find yourself writing for both.

Content writing. Copywriting. Same diff right?

Not quite.

The difference between content writing and copywriting comes down to how they’re written. The end goal of the writing affects how the writer creates the piece and the skills needed to do so successfully.

So… if you’re a content writer are you automatically a copywriter? And vice versa?

Short answer: No.
Long answer: You can develop the skills to write both effectively.

Joel Klettke says the dividing lines between copy and content are murky, but they matter.

“They matter for hiring, training, compensation, and clarity of roles for writers and their clients alike.

They matter for the expectations put on the person doing the writing: is it reasonable for us to expect your work to (primarily) directly drive leads/sales?

They matter because being a ‘copywriter’ implies a certain set of skills that, without training, not every content writer will naturally develop.”

Joel Klettke, Case Study Buddy

It’s not off the table to be a content writer and copywriter, you just need to have the education to back it up.

Let’s look at the skills each requires to sort out some differences.

Content writing primes your audience

Content writing:

  • Is designed to create engagement
  • Features a multi-directional approach that uses internal and external links to direct readers off page
  • Is measured by traffic flow to your content or website
  • Builds brand loyalty
  • Includes blog posts, articles, e-books and newsletters

In this video, Joanna walks you through the three simple ways Copyhackers writes consistently awesome blog posts.

Content writing is all about developing a relationship with your audience.

It lays the foundation for future sales by engaging potential leads in a conversation and establishing trust in your brand.

A good content marketing strategy plays a huge part in your business growth as informative, high-value content drives inbound traffic and increases visitors to your website.

Typeform is a great example of content writing using real customers to tell a story.

You should probably check out Mailchimp’s content too.

Copywriting persuades your audience to say yes to your offer

Unlike content writing, copywriting:

If you’re new to copywriting don’t fret. This tutorial will outline the three steps to writing effective conversion copy.

In order to call yourself a copywriter, you need to understand the psychological and emotional triggers, sales and persuasion techniques – and the best formulas to lay it all out.

And don’t forget all the research that goes into getting to know your one reader.

A brand consistently on-point with its copy is Frida. Their product descriptions are hilariously accurate for any parent.

They dig into ‘a day in the life’ of their one reader and explain how the features of the underwear will help them deal with common problems that arise when you’re wrangling little ones.

Plus they’ve got a clear (and clever) call-to-action in their brand voice that directs the customer to an easy way to buy.

Can you be a content writer and a copywriter?

To quote Joel again,

“You can be a content writer applying copywriting principles. You can be a copywriter taking lessons from the content world. You can be both – but the two are not the same.”

Joel Klettke, Case Study Buddy

The importance then lies in determining which type of writing you’re doing.

While content and copy are not interchangeable, learning the techniques of copywriting can help you create more successful content – just ask Joanna.