Whether you work in online marketing, advertising of any other field related to virtual promotion, it is essential to know one or two things about the people in charge of writing texts, as well as the art and science behind the most popular types of online writing. Why?
Well, for starters, if you like to write, you’ll be able to find your footing easier and figure out your professional fit, depending on your style and abilities. If you’re in a whole different category and you don’t like writing but you need certain types of texts for your business, you’ll know who to turn to and what services best match your requirements.
When making this choice, it’s important to keep your objectives in mind (you want to sell more, you want more people to be made aware of your niche/products/services, you want to stand out from the competition etc.).
So, I’m gonna try to explain, as best I can, the main similarities and differences between copywriting and content writing and what each specialist does in online marketing and advertising, respectively. Let’s begin....
Copywriter vs. content writer vs. freelance writer
I’ll start with a definition that I like a lot, which I think will clarify the topic significantly. The quote belongs to Iain Broome – „Being a copywriter is above definition but it is fair to say that one thing binds us all: we all work with words everyday.”
In fact, that is the main similarity between the copywriter, the content writer and the freelance writer.
They all work with words everyday. What differentiates them is how they do it and the end-goal of the writing.
Not to be mixed with copyright (or the copyright law).
Copywriting is the art and science of selling via words. When we say copywriting, we think of a particular type of writing whose end-goal is sales. On a smaller scale, that end-goal can also be to determine the consumer to take a certain action (what we call a „conversion” in marketing). That action can be signing up for a newsletter, a magazine, sharing a post etc.
Some classic copywriting examples that we all know are: 1+1 for free, quick and easy, buy now or satisfaction guaranteed. We find examples of copywriting mainly in advertising but the internet is also abundant in them.
Copywriting is used to structure short website texts, on banners, in newsletters, promotional brochures or other written materials that usually come with a fixed space or a space limit. It is also what differentiates this type of writing. Basically, you have to persuade in as few words as possible and produce tangible, measurable results (boosting sales is the most common objective).
For example, you have been hired by your boss to sell donuts and illusions (literally and figuratively). You decide to make a website about donuts. But...lo and behold – 10 other competitors also have websites about donuts (those greedy, hungry..insert insult here). You get the bright idea to offer a symbolic benefit to your customers to make them buy donuts from you and not the others.
You come up with a campaign idea – „A donut in every corporation.” to promote the recently launched delivery service of your company geared at young professionals who work in corporations and forget to eat (target audience). You come up with different campaign texts around the idea that you add to banners, on your website, in newsletters etc.
You identified the need and offered the solution. Congrats, you came up with a finger lickin’ good copywriting! (no pun intended).
This is what copywriting does, in short. It comes up with a good idea, delivered in as few words as possible, it offers the audience a tangible or symbolic benefit. To add to that, it answers a real or manufactured need of the target audience. Done right, copywriting can boost sales, as well as the company/service/product’s prestige in the long run.
#2 Content writing or content editing
On the other hand, the end-goal of content writing is to inform people about a topic. Just like copywriting, content writing also aims to persuade, but not on that same level and not in the same timeframe. What do I mean by that?
If you want to sell NOW, you’re gonna go for copywriting, if you have a marketing strategy with long-term objectives, you’ll choose content writing.
Some classic content writing examples are blog posts, informative pieces, product descriptions etc. Through all of the above we aim to build a long-term relationship with customers or even a community.
Do you like cooking? If you have a cooking blog and you post weekly recipes, you’re always up to speed with the latest in the field and you’ve gathered a community of like-minded individuals who share your passion for cooking, congratulations! You’re a blogger, but also a content writer who has the ability to create valuable and targeted content. 😊
I’m also gonna come up with another clarification that might help you, especially if you know some online marketing basics. You can think of paid advertising (those short and persuasive Google Ads/Facebook Ads texts) as a form of online copywriting.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, organic promotion – titles, metatitles and the „body” of the article are all examples of content editing.
#3 Freelance writing
The freelance writer, this modern day magician can do both content writing and copywriting (cause he’s that savy). He’s a freelance professional who writes different materials depending on the demand for clients from various niches (financial, journalistic etc.).
Freelance writers are most often present on dedicated platforms (freelancer.com, elance.com, upwork.com). Each of them sets his own rate, either an hourly one or a rate based on word count.
Copywriter vs. content writer – it’s not really a battle...
As a closing remark, it’s important to note that copywriting and content writing should not be seen as opposite activities, as they are two instruments that complete each other.
The best examples here are those classic website texts that we all know. In some areas, we persuade via the use of very few words (we do copywriting – headlines, subheadlines, call-to-action buttons) and in others we do content writing (the „services” page, the „About Us” page etc.).
I hope this article helped you learn one or two things about the online writing and advertising wizards, respectively. If you like to write various texts, I hope now it’s a little bit clearer which professional path you should take.
If you got up to here with your reading, congratulations! Leave me a comment anytime if you have any other questions.
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