Content Writing vs Copywriting: here’s the actual difference

by Copywriting

Here’s the Differences between a Content Writer and a Copywriter

Let me give you a quick scenario. 

Your website is failing to bring in leads to your business.

Your organic traffic is tanking and visitors flee your website like it’s the last days of Rome. 

You know you need some professional help with not only getting more people to your website, but keeping them there long enough to want to do business with you. 

So, do you hire a content writer or a copywriter? 

By the end of this article, you’ll know who you gonna call. 

Ghostbusters dancing to “Who you gonna call?”

What is copywriting?

Copywriting is understanding your customers and their struggles so well, that what you communicate in writing helps them understand exactly how your product or service will improve their lives.

That’s the real meat and potatoes of copywriting.

Copywriting is understanding your customers and their struggles so well, that what you communicate in writing helps them understand exactly how your product or service will improve their lives.

Many people will tell you that copywriters only write for the explicit purposes of selling something, however I disagree. 

While copywriting’s main focus is to sell, there are many examples of copywriting that aren’t directly involved in selling. For instance, brand identity copywriting such as slogans and taglines. 

These types of copy are just as important because they help build a brand’s identity.

Imagine McDonald’s without “I’m lovin’ it.

Imagine Apple without Think Different. 

So while copywriting’s main focus is on selling, that’s not the only purpose it has.

💾 Related Post: Is SEO Copywriting Conversion Copywriting?

 Examples of different types of copywriting

  • Ads (Facebook, Pay-per-click, print ads, TV ads [scripts], radio ads [scripts], magazine ads)
  • Product descriptions 
  • Email campaigns (also known as email sequences & drip campaigns) 
  • Website copy 
  • Sales letters 
  • Sales pages 
  • Landing pages 
  • Brand identity copy like slogans 
  • Brand names 
  • Case studies 
  • Billboard copy 
  • Brand voice guidelines

What is content writing?

Content writing, on the other hand, is very much involved in educating, entertaining or inspiring a company’s ideal audience. 

Content writing has exploded in recent years with the onset of content marketing. SEMrush found a 22% increase in people searching the term “what is content marketing” in 2022, suggesting that more businesses are generating interest in pursuing content marketing. Blogging is no longer a weird little hipster hobby like back in the day. 

A content writer isn’t usually tasked with selling anything directly as their job is to build trust and relationships between a brand and its customers/ customers-to-be. 

However, as with all things, it’s not a very black-and-white matter. 

Take social media posts, which are considered an area within content writing. Not all of them are intended to sell (and rightfully so), but some posts might be asking for some type of direct action from the reader (including to buy something). 

Does this not count as copywriting?

One blog post I wrote for my client generated a ton of leads for her coaching program and drove a lot of sign-ups for the waitlist – is that not a conversion?

But, generally speaking, content isn’t all about selling which is where we find the main difference between copywriting and content writing.

The way I like to see it is content writers build relationships and trust with your prospects and copywriters help them make the transition from prospect to customer.

Without that foundation of trust achieved through great content, that sale is going to be harder for your copywriters to make.

Examples of content writing

  • Blogs (content writers are usually good SEOs also to help drive traffic to clients’ websites) 
  • Storyboarding & scripting for documentaries (yes companies are beginning to leverage documentaries as a great content format)
  • Social media content 
  • Newsletters 
  • Editorials 
  • Press Releases 
  • YouTube scripts 
  • Podcast Scripts 
  • Whitepapers 
  • Lead magnets (those freebies you sign up to get in exchange for your email address)

Skills needed to be a copywriter or content writer

There are a lot of overlaps between the two skill sets, but also some key differences. This list is totally non-exhaustive by the way, it’s just to give you an idea.

Skills both content and copywriters need

  • Great storytelling skills 
  • Writing great hooks/headlines 
  • Empathy
  • Research: both are great at understanding the audience they’re writing for 
  • Motivating the reader to take an action 
  • Simplifying complex information 
  • Understanding human behaviour and buyer psychology
  • Competitive Research

Skills a Content Writer Needs

  • Understanding what motivates people to share articles/social posts (viral content) 
  • How to educate 
  • Keeping up with ongoing trends and industry news 
  • SEO 
  • How to make information “newsworthy” 
  • Topical research skills

Skills a Copywriter needs

  • Persuasive writing
  • Great research skills
  • Market research  
  • Overcoming buyer objections 
  • Turning product/service features into benefits for the reader 
  • How to leverage social proof (testimonials and other forms of endorsement for a product)

💾 Related content: The Skills you Need to Become an SEO Copywriter

Another key difference between the two types of writing is how their results are measured.

A content writer’s work will be measured against things like: email sign-ups, keyword rankings, organic traffic, social shares, and other engagement-based metrics like comments on social posts etc.

A copywriters’ work will usually be measured against sales: how many conversions are happening on a sales page, how many sign-ups did a landing page generate, and how well did their sales emails send people to a sales page etc.

So, now you Know the Difference, who you Gonna Call?

Many copywriters also write content and many content writers also write sales copy so your hire might not be mutually exclusive.

But let’s say you’re looking for new website copy (I provide that service by the way) then you’ll get more relevant results if you’re searching for a website copywriter not a website “content writer”. But if you’re looking more for blog content, newsletters, and social media copy you’re in the market for a content writer, and will find good results searching for an SEO content writer/SEO copywriter.

Enjoyed this article? We *really* appreciate you sharing our stuff on the socials if you’d be so kind. 


Kerry Campion SEO Copywriter & Content Marketer

Kerry Campion

Kerry is the founder of God Save the SERP - an SEO copywriting agency for B2B SaaS brands. Her gig is to help B2B companies boost their lead gen from organic search without conforming to drab norms in the name of ranking on Google.


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