Copywriter vs. Content Writer: The Difference Explained in 10 Examples

A content writer tells compelling stories that entertain and educate. While a copywriter persuades the audience to take action, mostly in the form of sales.

While most writers know these definitions, the line between the two can get blurry. Here is the breakdown of each.

What is the difference between copywriting and content writing?

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

How is Content writing different than Copywriting? 5 Examples:

1. Content Writing is designed to create engagement

2. Content Writing features a multi-directional approach that uses internal links and outbound links to direct readers off page

3. Content Writing is measured by traffic flow to your content or website

4. Content Writers build brand loyalty

5. Content Writing 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:

Content writing example - TypeForm using customers to tell a story
You should probably check out Mailchimp’s content too.

Copywriting persuades your audience to say yes to your offer

How is Copywriting different than content writing in 5 examples:

1. Copywriting is designed to convert (e.g. make sales, get leads)

2. Uses a linear approach and follows proven frameworks

3. Copywriters guide the prospect through the buyer journey

4. Copywriting is measured by conversions and increase in revenue

5. Copywriting includes ads, product descriptions, websites and emails

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.

Copywriting in action, as opposed to content writing. Using humour to tap into what their customers need.

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.