Copywriting Vs. Content Writing: What’s the Difference?

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creative commons licensed ( BY-ND ) flickr photo shared by Vince Kusters

Ever been confused about the difference between copywriting and content writing?

For freelance writers, marketing specialists and even small businesses, the new language and labels surrounding writing in the new digital age can be confusing.  Marketing is a new game in the internet age where potential customers are engaging in new ways with brands and companies.  Thus, understanding what copywriting and content writing are can be tricky.  Yet, it’s important to have a clear understanding of these terms.

Imagine this:

A new suggested post shows up in your Facebook feed telling the wonders of a company that sends clothes to your doorstep for purchase.  Then you look online to decide what gift to buy for your nephew who’s graduating this year. You’d like to get him a useful study lamp for college, so you look at a number of different options online.  Then, you sift through a number of emails from websites you’re subscribed to.  One of them is offering a sale on a professional development course you’re interested in taking.  Before going to bed, your phone beeps and it’s your friend who’s sending you suggestions for the vacation you’ll be taking together this summer.  There are a few website links to some hotels in Hawaii.

The question is, which of the above examples show content writing and which show copywriting?

The first two examples from the Facebook feed and when shopping for a desk lamp are most likely to show copywriting.

That’s because these two are closer to advertisements, intending to make a sale.  Content that

is written to make a sale is copywriting.

The second two examples of the professional development course and hotel websites may show content and copywriting.  Content writing has a different focus of being informative and helpful while copywriting drives to make the sale. Thus on any product or service’s website, you’re likely to encounter some of each.  The professional development course and hotel website examples probably include some informative and helpful information such as what’s included in the course or attractions in the area on the hotel pages.

Characteristics of Content Writing and Copywriting

Each type of writing serves a slightly different purpose as explored in the examples above, yet each one also tends to meet certain characteristics.

Copywriting tends to be shorter and crisper.  Formatting may be very important in copywriting to be sure that it is displayed in an attractive way.  Copywriting should be engaging and interesting.  It grabs the audience’s attention, keeps it and calls them to action.  After reading, potential clients should be inspired and drawn to continue engaging with the brand.

Content writing often plays a supporting role to copywriting.  Content writing is useful especially for blogs, emails and newsletter type writing.  It provides useful information about the brand or industry that the company is involved in.  Readers can use the information found in the content to help them make a decision about whether or not to use the company’s service or product.  This content may also simply be helpful information that helps build a brand’s trust and value.

Both content writing and copywriting are important elements for marketing.  No company, large or small could survive without some of both.  Familiarity with both can ensure that companies, writers and marketing specialists are able to meet their companies needs and provide high quality content and copywriting.

The trend now is mix copywriting and content writing, which can be difficult. But, this is not the only problem, because if you want to write for the Internet you will need to take SEO into consideration.

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