So, you want to write for brands, huh? Deciding between freelance copywriting and content writing can be tricky. There are benefits to both, so it’s only natural that you’re struggling. But don’t worry. I’ve put this article together to dive into the differences between copywriting and content writing. Plus, I’ll give you prompts and questions to ask yourself. That way, when you’re done reading, you’ll be in a far better place in terms of making a career choice between copywriting or content writing. So, with that in mind, let’s start – as most people do – at the very beginning.
What Exactly Is Copywriting?
There are a couple of definitions out there that make the concept of copywriting more complicated than it is. Don’t get me wrong, copywriting isn’t an easy thing to do right. Not in the slightest. But the meaning of copywriting doesn’t need to be a grey area. So, here is the definition of copywriting in the most simple terms I can manage:
Copywriting is written material that has the purpose of conversion.
Nothing more. Nothing less. But what does “conversion” mean? Well, conversion – in this case – is taking someone from one buyer phase to another. It could be turning an email subscriber into a buyer. Equally, it could be turning a website visitor into a social media follower. Whatever the purpose of conversion is, it then ties into the overall sales strategy. So, converting a website visitor into an email subscriber gets that person one step closer to making a sale, as the brand may be sending a promotional copy through email. While it’s not a direct sale in the example above, it’s focused on conversion.
So, What’s Content Writing?
To choose a career in freelance copywriting or content writing, you need to have a firm understanding of what each entails so you can see the difference. Copywriting, as mentioned above, is writing that converts. Content writing, on the other hand, doesn’t have a primary goal of conversion.
Its main aim is to educate, entertain, inspire, and/or motivate. So, what’s the point? Why would anyone invest in it if it doesn’t sell?
Ah, but it does sell. It just doesn’t do it there and then. A good content strategy feeds into a sales strategy. And it comes down to one crucial and simple component of business success. It’s not capital. Also not the beautiful branding. It’s trust.
Five little letters and limitless opportunities. Content writing focuses on establishing a brand as the expert within the industry. With that comes heaps of trust and loyalty. And that’s when it converts to sales. Content writing plays a long game. Copywriting converts there and then.
Difference Between Copywriting and Content Writing
You’ll likely have already guessed the main difference between copywriting and content writing. But, as I said, I’m here to make any “grey area” disappear. You must have utter clarity surrounding the two because it’s only then that you can make a proper, informed decision.
The main difference between copywriting and content writing is the purpose the writing is created for. Copywriting exists to convert. Direct response copywriting does it even quicker, converting to sales immediately. When done right, of course.
Content writing is a long-term strategy that, when implemented and leveraged properly, can be a lead-gen machine all by itself. Good content writing will either inspire, motivate, educate, or entertain the reader. After creating top-notch pieces of content, the brand becomes a go-to in the industry, forsaking competitors and achieving brand loyalty.
What’s More Important to a Business? Copywriting or Content Writing?
You may want to make your decision based on the supply and demand of either copywriting or content writing.
Here’s some bad news for ya.
- Both of them are equally important
- A successful business needs both copywriting and content in equal measure.
- But, there are contributing factors that will adjust the level of perceived importance to the brand owner. Some will believe their copy is more important, while others will favour their content.
- The truth is: You cannot put it wrong or right, both of them are equally important
Copywriter vs Content Writer: Who Makes More Money?
While it’s not all about the money, I understand why you’re asking this. Jumping head first into starting your own copywriting business or content writing business can feel like a risk. Especially if you’re coming from the stability of a 9-5. If income plays a big role in your decision, you may be wondering whether copywriters or content writers charge more. As a rule, copywriters can charge more for a single project. This is because they see a quicker return on investments than those content writers. Remember, content writing plays a long game.
However, it’s worth noting that it’s far easier to sign retainer clients with content writing, which gives you that extra layer of stability. This is because, as a rule of thumb, formats of content writing – think blog posts and social media captions – don’t have an end date.
With website copywriting, for example, there’s a start and end date to the project, because there will come a time when you finish writing the website copy. With blogging (a form of content writing), for example, consistent blog posts are needed regularly. There won’t come a time where you “finish” the blog, because it’s constantly evolving.
So, with content writing, you’re able to charge clients for a set amount of deliverables for a set number of months. You could, for example, charge a client $1000 for 3 blog articles for the next 6 months.
It’s much harder (but possible) to sign retainer clients for a copywriting project. So, while copywriters tend to charge more than content writers, it can even itself out, and there are other perks to both.
How to Choose Between a Career in Copywriting or Content Writing
Realistically, there are massive pros and cons to both avenues. If you’re considering a career in freelance copywriting or content writing, it’s more than likely that you already have an affinity for words. An excellent start. But that skill set lends itself to either type of writer.
So, how do you choose?
Assess Your Strengths
- First thing’s first: you need to know what you’re good at. If you’re super empathetic and find it easy to relate to a wide range of people, you’ll find it comes in handy in building your copywriting portfolio.
- If you pick up new skills quickly and you’re an SEO mastermind, content writing allows you to leverage that skill.
- Write a list of your strengths and determine whether those strengths best suit copywriting, content writing, or both.
Decide What You Want to Learn
If you’re just starting out, it’s worth listing the components of both copywriting and content writing that you want to learn about. Whatever excites you get your creativity flowing. Writing formulas, for example, are key elements of copywriting. They don’t feature quite as heavily in content writing. Decide what you want to learn about. This will surely help in making more informed decisions.
Look At Your Existing Portfolio
What have you already created? Do people associate you as more of a copywriter or a content writer? And, most importantly, what did you enjoy most?
Your existing portfolio represents the best work you’ve done to date. So, look at the results of what you’ve created. Does your content writing outperform your copywriting? Did you just love writing social media captions? Your portfolio has a whole host of answers. You just have to analyze your progress.
Copywriter or Content Writer, You’re Here to Grow
Whether you choose to work for an agency, jump into freelance copywriting, or become a content writer, you’re in for a fantastic ride. So long as you have bucket-loads of drive, ambition and determination – plus a wicked way with words – you’re in a position to make a serious impact.