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


Getting content marketing done and getting it done right involves at least 20 different things: crafting a content strategy, ideation, producing the content, cross-linking, search engine optimization, etc. You can’t just point to a lump of sugar and say, “Hey look, I made cookies.” Content marketing for your business is the sum of many different production efforts.

That being said, a common confusion we encounter with clients is understanding the difference between content writing and copywriting.

“Aren’t you just copywriting?” they ask when we discuss creating content for them. Well, yes. But not just. Copywriting is a necessary marketing task, but there is a difference between the two.

Quietly sums up the distinctions between content writing and copywriting well:

Content writing passes information along to your audience while copywriting reveals what your brand is about.

Let’s dig in.

What is Copywriting?

The key difference between copywriting and content writing is its purpose.

Copywriting is more advertorial in nature. It uses the ideology of a brand and its products/services to create a distinct voice with written messaging. Its purpose is to identify the desires of the consumer and sell them on an idea.

Copywriting is just one of the services you’re getting when you hire an agency (or some other 3rd party service provider) to produce marketing messages for your business. A copywriter writes the actual messaging for any of the following:

  • taglines
  • calls-to-action
  • website service pages
  • social media posts
  • promotions
  • email marketing
  • ads
  • direct mail (i.e. postcards)

Copywriting is more precise and has its roots in the psychology of desire and purchasing behavior. Your intentions are apparent: You want to convince someone to act a certain way, whether it’s to buy your new product, to visit your website, to call for a free quote, or to sign up for your email newsletter.

What is Content Writing?

Content writing’s purpose is to provide value to your audience while raising awareness for your brand. This is the whole goal of content marketing in general: to promote your brand by providing valuable content to your audience…without being overtly sales-y. Examples of content writing include:

  • blog posts
  • video scripts
  • eBooks
  • social media
  • guest posting on other blogs
  • magazine editorials

There might be some overlap between these two forms of writing, but generally the difference in how you write it lies within its overall goal and intent.

How Copywriting Fits into Your Content Strategy

When setting up your content strategy, you should prioritize like so:

Branding ➡️ content marketing ➡️ content strategy ➡️ content writing ➡️ copywriting

In other words…

1. Figure out your brand and your voice. All marketing efforts must flow from your established identity.

2. Pinpoint your marketing goals. Is it to increase traffic on your website? To sell more products? To gain more likes on Facebook? All of the above and more?

3. Develop a content strategy. Identify your audience, pick keywords, create a schedule for blog posts, video, social media content, etc.

4. Identify what pieces of content need to be created. Start creating/writing or hire someone to do it for you. Hit “publish” and promote/share the hell out of it.

5. Develop your sales messages accordingly. In today’s world, you can’t expect to push your product or service on an audience and have them make a purchase. Experiences trump everything. Content is a more dynamic means of engaging with an audience in order to make a lasting connection. By our estimation, content should always be your priority. Why? Because it is this lasting connection, this unforgettable experience that you’ve provided for your audience, that will have them returning to you time and time again.

Content writing and copywriting go hand-in-hand in a lot of respects. Your copywriting efforts should coincide with your brand and influence your audience to answer your call to action. Your content writing should remind your audience of who you are, but ultimately its aim is to educate or entertain while generating long-term interest in your business. While the two will coincide from time to time, it’s important that you understand the functions of each and how they fit in to your marketing strategy.

Want Some Help?

That’s what we’re here for! Whether you need some guidance on moving in the right direction or a whole lot of marketing muscle—the experts at RSM Marketing can make it happen.

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