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Even if you already know roughly what a copywriter does you may still find it confusing hearing the different terms copywriter and content writer. Can the words be used interchangeably? And does it even matter?

If we start with the answer ‘yes and no’ we can go from there.

What are copy and content?

Copy refers to written information whereas content can be written but doesn’t have to be. Written content can also be referred to as copy. Still confused?

Marketers and advertisers refer to copy to mean written words that are designed to provoke a response in people. The desired response is usually to buy a product or service, but copy can also be used to raise brand awareness.

Most people will immediately understand content in relation to a book. There’s even usually a page at the beginning of a book that describes what the contents are. Generally speaking, books include writing and/or pictures. Digital books can include videos, advertisements, audio files, and so on. It’s all content.

What does a copywriter do?

A copywriter’s main job is to persuade people to buy a product or service or to raise awareness of a brand. They are responsible for slogans and other wording in adverts, for example. They will be looking at the value a product or service offers and how they can tap into their target market’s pain points, desires, and aspirations.

Copy will often be used in combination with graphics, video, photography, and so on, and it all needs to be co-ordinated. Copywriters often work directly with designers and marketers to make sure everything fits together perfectly.

There are only so many words people want to read – and that will fit – on a pop-up advert or a billboard, for example. A copywriter’s job is to convey the message and create the desired response in a persuasive, succinct, appropriate, and memorable way. Less is usually more.

If we go back to the book analogy, the ‘blurb’ on the back cover is written by a copywriter. It’s designed to make you want to read it.

What does a content writer do?

Content writing is often described as longer-form writing as it tends to be longer than a lot of advertising copy. It is used to inform, educate, and engage. It helps build social proof and should provide something of value to a potential or current customer. Blog posts can share advice, insights, and news, as can newsletters and e-books. Case studies explain to people how a company has solved a problem and provide evidence that it can do something similar for you.

Content writers tend to have more space in which to get their point across but however long a piece is, it still needs to be accessible, interesting, and engaging or no one will read it. To return to the book analogy, the content is the story. And the story is for the reader and their entertainment: it’s not for the author’s benefit. All content should be there for a reason, not just to fill up space.

How can you gauge success?

It’s sometimes difficult to both put a price on and gauge the success of copy. For advertising copy it can be easier to measure the success than it is for ‘content’. Email marketing campaigns can be evaluated according to engagement, for example. How successful an advertising campaign is and the resulting sales will depend on many things. One of those things is the strength of the copy. It takes a huge amount of work to come up with a few compelling words that encapsulate everything you want to say and have the desired effect.

Which is one of the reasons copy shouldn’t be priced on a per-word basis.

Blog posts and other longer-form content might not make an easily quantifiable return, but well-written, engaging, and relevant content will only improve a brand’s visibility and trustworthiness – and therefore their sales too. Blog posts do tend to be priced with more of a view to the number of words. A blog post of 1,500 words would cost more than one of 500 words, for example, as it would require a lot more time and work.

Do I need a copywriter or a content writer?

Many writers who specialise more in content than copy will still call themselves copywriters and some will be equally comfortable with both copy and content as defined here: going by job title alone may not always help. What they are best at will depend on their training, experience, and interests.

Good copy and content writing is a two-way process and the more information the writer has about what you are trying to achieve the better the result. And a good copywriter will tell you if they think they’re not the right person for the job and direct you towards someone more suitable.

The HubSpot State of Inbound Marketing Trends 2022 found that “83% of marketers believe it’s more effective to create higher quality content less often”: so make sure you are investing in quality content.

If you would like any more information about how a copy or content writer can help you and your business please get in touch!