WHAT’S IN A NAME: CONTENT WRITING vs WRITING, THE DIFFERENCES AND WHY THEY MATTER

-Raaghavi Senthil

“Oh, so you’re a copywriter? That’s just a fancy term for a content writer, no?” The number of times we, as creatives, have had to hear this phrase contorted into multiple ways has been truly unimaginable.

So we decided to put the dispute to rest once and for all. Is content writing the same as copywriting?

Well, if you’re looking for a quick answer, then no.

Content Writing ≠ Copywriting.

But if you’d like to find out in what ways they’re different, then read on. Heads up, knowing the differences is absolutely imperative to anyone looking to avail these services or even adopt them as a career choice!

What is content writing?

Content writing is the development of content for varied purposes. Content can be written for blogs, articles, listicles, websites, web pages, scripts, webinars, newsletters, reports, books, FAQs, and the like! Why, even writing for videos and films can be called content writing, albeit a different kind.

You may have gauged from the list that the purpose of such writing is to inform, educate or even entertain (IEE) the target audience. In the sense of B2C and B2B marketing, content writing performs the function of creating awareness of a product, service, issue, or solution while performing one of the IEE functions. Keep in mind that it does not attempt to promote or sell, it simply presents itself and steps back.

Think of content as a helpful and non-intrusive old pal who always knows what to say. Good content, like a good friend, offers true value to the reader or observer in the form of solutions, advice, newfound awareness, or hearty entertainment.

What is copywriting?

Copywriting, on the other hand, is a highly targeted marketing effort that attempts to directly improve sales and brand awareness. It is often an integral and indispensable part of marketing campaigns. When someone talks of copy, they are referring to the text or words that appear in a print ad, television ad or radio jingle, social media ad campaigns, website landing pages, and so on. Think of it as the entrepreneurial aunty on your block that always laces her products into every single conversation you have.

Like that enthusiastic aunty, the intent of copywriting is to persuade the reader, viewer, or listener to perform a desired action, which is usually to make a purchase or subscribe to a service

Note: Please, please do not ask someone if copywriting means having to ‘copy’ something from somewhere and have it written, even as a joke. It’s only fair that you do not hold poor copywriters accountable for the eccentricities of the English language.

The most important importance difference between content writing and copywriting

Apart from the fact that the verticals used for both are starkly different, there is one core difference that distinguishes the two.

Copywriting creates a sense of immediacy and prompts the reader to take action at the moment. Its very essence is of timeliness and naturally, it answers the questions of ‘Why must I do this now?’ in addition to ‘Why must I do this?’ to assuage any doubts that the audience might be holding. In stark contrast, content writing does not prompt any immediate responses and instead attempts to leave a long-lasting impression on the consumer.

If you ever find yourself confused over the two terms again, here’s an infographic to quickly remind you! )

Why are these differences important?

At this point, we’ve given you enough differences that we’re willing to go out on a limb and say you’ll probably never mix up the two terms ever again. But you might still be wondering how this difference matters. Let’s dive right into it.

If you are someone who is looking to avail these services, you’ll need to know that these jobs require two different skill sets. It’s a natural assumption that writers must be able to write all sorts of content, but it is not the right assumption when you expect the same person to excel at both. Would you expect a bookkeeper to also perform the role of an analyst? Possibly not. Likewise, ascribing the full-time responsibilities of a content writer to a copywriter and vice versa might be detrimental to the output and also to the writer in the long run.

Can a content writer also be a copywriter?

Can they be? Yes.

Do they have to be? No.

If you are considering a career in writing, knowing these key distinctions will help you understand which role is more to like and build your portfolio accordingly. This is not to say that one must not attempt to learn both. As a writer, it will certainly benefit you to learn and excel at both wings of your trade. In the event that you decide to pursue both, knowing how to write content and copy differently will go a long way in ensuring that your creations are true to their purpose and garner the attention and results they deserve.

Was this blog copy or content? Let us know in the comments!

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