Copywriting vs. Content Writing: Is There Really A Difference?



Looking from the outside-in, you may assume that copywriters and content writers do the same job. Understandably so: they both write stuff, don’t they? While you may consider copywriters and content writers to be one and the same, the reality is you’re often looking for one thing when you really need the other.

Whether your business needs help ensuring you have strong website content, wants to add someone savvy with social media, or a steady hand to manage your blogging needs, it’s important that you hire the right person for the job. By knowing the differences between copywriting vs. content writing, you’ll learn the skillsets each has, understand precisely how the line between them has blurred, and how to find the professional with the skillsets you need to succeed.

But first, a primer:

What is a copywriter?

When a company or brand needs someone to create copy that can grab a potential customer’s attention and convince them that a service or product is what they want, that company should search for a copywriter. By taking their ability to craft a message into a winning branding strategy, professionals in this field can use their copywriting skills to create some of the more potent advertising content out there.

One of the most important things to note when searching for a copywriter is how persuasive their work is without being too obvious about selling something. Today’s average consumer is particularly perceptive to advertising – they’re bombarded by it daily, after all. While a good portion of a copywriter’s responsibility covers sales-centric material such as taglines, advertising copy, and banner ads, they are just as capable to write other engaging content when called upon. Remember, though, that a snazzy one-liner is a special, finely-tuned skill that not every long-form content writer has.

Copywriter skills

To be effective, a copywriter draws on a range of skills. If you’re looking to hire a copywriter, you’re going to look for those skills, including:

  • Strong writing ability. It should go without saying that a good copywriter can string a sentence together. By honing a persuasive side to their writing capabilities, a copywriter can be creative in how they can get a company’s message across.
  • Accurate copy. Committing words to the page (or screen) requires a strong grasp of grammar rules, proper usage of punctuation, no typographical errors, and an overarching sense of style. Sure, editors exist to clean up copy, but a good copywriter worth their asking price will submit cleaner copy than most.
  • Excellent communication skills. Copywriters need to know what their clients or employers want out of them. The only way they can do that is if they ask the right questions about the purpose of their work and the company’s goals. Being able to properly communicate is also imperative when it comes to pitching ideas to an employer or prospective client.
  • Must be adaptable. There are countless reasons to hire a copywriter and a good one will acknowledge that fact. A copywriter not only has to be able to write well for a range of mediums, but they also must match a client’s carefully crafted voice.

What your business may need out of a copywriter depends on several things. If you need someone on staff that can consistently contribute new ideas or contribute more frequently to pitch meetings, you may want to hire one. However, if your company only needs some outside help for a specific project or idea, a freelance copywriter could serve as a force multiplier to your existing marketing team.

What is a content writer?

If your business needs specialized writing tailored to your preferred audience and aimed at maximizing engagement on your website and digital platforms, then a content writer could be what you need. Along with writing solid, interesting content for a company website or blog, a content writer can be involved in putting together e-books, white papers, articles for guest publications, writing newsletters, and much more.

Rather than focus solely on selling what your company may offer, a content writer does work that aims to inform readers instead. By hiring the right content writer, you can essentially add a human Swiss Army Knife of content creation that can provide valuable and informative insight into your company’s products, services, and differentiating selling points.

Content writing skills

Though a content writer can be considered a jack-of-all-trades, you’re going to want to make sure they have some of these specific skills. If you do, then a content writer could be exactly what your company or its marketing team could benefit from:

  • Quality writing – of course! Since their content needs to keep a reader’s attention, even the driest of subjects should come to life on the page and keep the reader enthralled. This is good for SEO, too: By managing to hold onto a web visitor’s attention, a content writer boosts a potential customer’s engagement with the company and educates them at the same time.
  • Consistent with deadlines. There are few adages more accurate to the business world than “time is money.” Deadlines are an important part of any content career, so a good content writer is cognizant of their deadlines and meets them on a consistent basis. Not only is it important from an employee/freelancer and employer/client standpoint, but if you set a regular schedule for content updates, it gives visitors a reason to keep coming back.
  • Excellent research skills. One way that people learn to trust a source is through its level of credibility and the value it adds to their lives. Good research can lead to thorough and in-depth content that immediately adds value to a company blog or website. The best content writers can sniff out great resources online, find the right people to interview, and present their findings.
  • Breaking down difficult concepts. Key to being engaging is being easy to understand. A good content writer can take a complex subject and break it down into digestible bites.

Copywriter vs. content writer – what’s the difference?

While there are differences between the two roles, the line between copywriters and content writers has begun to blur. They both have always needed excellent communication and writing skills, as well as a penchant for meeting deadlines, but the internet has made it so they both must stay on top of modern expectations.

The biggest difference between the two is their intended purpose. You could delineate the two from the specialized skills they have or other requirements you may want to set, but at the end of the day, it comes down to selling versus convincing.

As previously stated, a copywriter is there to get readers to directly engage emotionally with a brand. Their workload relies on explicit calls to action and to sell something – buy our product, sign up to our newsletter, follow us on social media. Content writers, on the other hand, are there to inform their readers. Their purpose is to educate and convince you that the product or service they’re representing is the right one for you.

How does SEO come into this?

These days, one of the most important aspects of internet engagement and how people find the content they’re looking for is through a search engine like Google. To the layman, that means just searching for a topic and their browser spits back a list of relevant articles. What really happens under the hood, however, is that digital “robots” called web crawlers comb the internet for keywords related to a person’s search. Savvy web developers and content creators boost how searchable a site is through the use of search engine optimization – or SEO.

If you’re looking for a larger focus on SEO, you’re going to want to hire a content writer. Their skill set gives them the tools necessary to work within the parameters of SEO to get you the results you’re looking for. Since their work relies heavily on obtaining good SEO rankings, regardless of whether they’re blogging or putting some other form of content together, a content writer generally stays on top of the latest SEO trends.

SCS Creative can deliver your content needs

Sure, the English language has plenty of synonyms in its lexicon, but copywriter and content writer aren’t synonymous to each other. While they both have an important place in marketing, they each serve different purposes but aim for the same result – more engagement, higher visibility and greater success.

We at SCS Creative have the skill set and experience needed get your message out to your audience. The world is a noisy place. Contact SCS Creative and we’ll be your company’s loudspeaker.

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