Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Why Companies Need to Know the Difference Between Content Writing Vs. Copywriting

I read an article this morning on SiteProNews about creating the "perfect content marketing strategy." As a copywriter, I wish that content marketing sites would spend more time researching the difference between content vs. copy. Some may call it semantics, but copywriting is a different beast unto itself. Some copywriters also write content/articles (I write both), but most copywriters usually stick with what they know best: marketing and sales-focused copy.

The information presented gives erroneous information to business professionals who require writing services. Yes, she presented good information about getting what you pay for and  that content writing is an investment. I definitely agree, but she threw "website writing" into the general content category and that is not correct.

So what's the big deal and what's the difference? There is a BIG difference that companies need to understand before hiring a professional writer:


Here is a typical scenario that companies face: 

Mr. Smith, CEO of ABC Company, is not happy with his company's website. He takes one look at it and cringes:"Our website reads like a first grader wrote it. Our sales are slacking, and our web site traffic is non-existent. When I talk to prospects at networking functions, they have never heard of our company, let alone understand how our products work!"

My recommendation to Mr. Smith: Hire a copywriter! A copywriter will sit down with Mr. Smith and his team, and figure out what's not working. He/she will review the company's marketing strategies, branding, and messaging -  from the top down. 

Some questions a copywriter might ask: 

  •  Why don't their target markets relate to their website? 
  • What's wrong or what's missing on the site? 
  • Is the website design lackluster and needs a design overhaul? 
  • Does the site have calls to action and testimonials on their website? 
  • What does the company want to achieve with their website? etc. 

These are just a few areas that a copywriter will address BEFORE they even sit down to write the copy. Hire copywriters who work well with designers. If the copywriter  is worth his/her weight in gold, they will have an "eye" for design. Most copywriters don't actually design sites, but they need to understand how a website intuitively works, and how to create a strategic site map, etc.

You could hire a content writer to write "text" for your site, but that's exactly what you will get - words that won't do anything for your sales, lead generation, etc. Copywriting is a persuasive writing style that achieves a marketing purpose, and content writing does not always do that.

Content Writing 

So when should you  hire a content writer? If you need a well-researched blog article/post or need help with your content marketing (placement of articles on syndicated sites to showcase your expertise in your industry/niche), then a content writer would be a good idea. But do NOT hire hack writers who churn out $2 articles. You get what you pay for and many of these companies hire non-native English speakers/writers. Sometimes these cheap articles may be plagiarized, and you could get in a lot of trouble for publishing plagiarized content. It also helps if the content writer understands SEO (search engine optimization) keyword placement. 

If you need a slick, well-researched article, white paper, or report, hire a writer with a journalism or strong writing background who knows how to research. Because someone has an English degree, that does mean they understand how to write an article. If you need a twenty page academic research paper, an English major may work in that case.

If your company requires technical writing, hire a professional technical writer - there's a reason they are called "technical" writers. And they are well worth their money!

By understanding the difference between copywriting vs. content writing, you will save your company a lot of time, money, and headaches!


  1. I love that you mention talking to the customer/client. I am not a copywriter, but I imagine that you would need to know the client and their business focus before you write the copy, yes? Just to get it clear in my head ... Copywriting (for a website) is static. Content is for stuff that changes, like blogs? And I can attest, Therese - after you re-wrote my bio - wowsa! :)

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Thanks for the kind compliment, Karen. Website copywriting is static to an extent. A website should be updated on a regular basis because the search engines like to see fresh content. You don't have to update your copy every week, but it's important to review and refresh on a regular basis (especially if products or services change, etc.)Yes, blogs would fall under content writing. Content tends to be more interactive - people can leave comments on blogs and article sites.


Therese Pope, Copywriter/Content Developer & Digital Buzz-icist

Content Writing & Marketing Tips ** Online Buzz Branding

** Digital & Social Media Strategies