Choosing a freelancer can be a bit of a headache when you’re entirely sure what you’re looking for. How do you know you’re getting a person with the right skills for you or your project? One of the biggest challenges is determining – from what we call ourselves – precisely what it is we do. Two of the most common titles you’ll likely come across are copywriter and content writer.
There are several key differences between content writers and copywriters; which you choose depends on your business’ needs. Here is a brief summary to help you make the right choice.
Information Vs Persuasion
This is the most obvious difference and it may be the most important difference for you. Content writers create written material designed to inform and educate. There may or may not be a sales pitch or a call to action. Chances are there will not be, and where present this will not be the point of the piece. Content writers create material that has a value that goes beyond monetary and beyond that which can be quantified.
Copywriters have a specific goal in mind. Usually that is to persuade somebody to buy something, invest in something or to consider changing their current provider, to find out more. What copywriters do or aim to do is more quantitative than the services of content writers. Copywriters reach out directly to a target audience.
Writing vs Marketing
Content writers are more likely to consider themselves writers, professional bloggers and journalists. If you want story value in your business writing, organic engagement and to pass your website off as an authoritative and trustworthy resource, then it is a content writer you need. Content writers are more likely to write magazine articles, how to articles and opinion pieces.
Copywriters are more likely to consider themselves marketers primarily. They are less concerned about the content’s value in terms of information provided, and more concerned about its ability to reach achievable and reasonable targets. Their work’s value is in something that can be measured in real terms – sales, clicks, advertising outreach.
Organic Traffic vs Pursuit of Traffic
Content writers will have an understanding of keywords, how to use them, keyword density, metadata and so on. They look to build organic traffic with content, using basic SEO tactics to drive and promote it, primarily expecting that the article’s quality will build the audience. Put simply, this is encouraging the mountain to go to Mohammed, because Mohammed has proven himself a reliable sort that people trust.
Copywriters actively pursue traffic with strap lines, banner wording, sales emails, article headlines, pay per click advertising and so on – targeted, and targeted well to a clearly defined audience. This is about persuading Mohammed to go to the mountain using the right trigger words that Mohammed will find the prospect irresistible.
Longevity vs Fast Change Over
The final key difference is that content writers create material with longevity in mind. For example, if I write a piece of about how to fill out a UK passport application form, that information is not likely to change often. A new procedure might come in two years from now and the article will need a tweak or two, but otherwise its value is in its longevity. Content writers will often write long-form material that has a long shelf life.
Copywriters will specifically write material for short-term campaigns. If you’re looking for a professional to deliver a marketing campaign for a product launch in two months (such as an early bird discount) as soon as that time period expires, the copy is no longer necessary. You may then go back to that copywriter to create more content for a different campaign. Copywriting is much more sales oriented and so requires regular updating to keep it fresh and relevant.
You should hire a content writer if you require any of the following:
- Professional blog posts
- Long form articles (anything over 2,000 words) and white papers
- Author / artist bio for your website
- Landing pages, sales pages
- You have existing content that needs an update in terms of language, style and proofreading
- Anything else creative
You should hire a copywriter if you require any of the following:
- Short form articles, typical no more than 200 words with a specific message and a call to action
- A killer headline
- A website’s strap line
- Marketing emails
- Advertisement wording
- A focus on branding
That’s not to say that never the twain shall meet. Content writers understand the need for brevity (and need to do so) and copywriters understand that sometimes, content needs re-share value for a marketing strategy to take off.