Copywriting vs. Content Writing – What's the Difference?

Copywriting and Content Writing – it’s all the same right? 


Once upon a time in marketing it was all about the copywriter. Old-school advertising days, when everything consisted of whole-page newspaper ads and television commercials. 

Copywriters would conjure all their most clever ideas – the copy – and funnel it through the media outlets. 

Think Peggy Olsen from Mad Men – chipping away at her typewriter and dreaming up a fresh spin on an age-old product. She’d craft the compelling dialogue that drove the sales.

Then along came digital, bringing with it the dawn of content writing.

Nowadays business marketing looks at ways to explore communications beyond only selling. 

And yes, conversions are always part of the game, but content aims to extend that brand voice and maximise connection with customers. If they like you, they will return. 

Think of your content as the brand conversation you want to have directly with your target audience – things like blogs, articles, social media posts – all the engaging stuff that shows you off and gets them responding. 

Now more than ever is the need for this ‘two-way street’ in content marketing. You give so you get. When content is done right it doesn’t even feel like marketing, and that’s the whole point. 

So, which one do you need? Well that all depends on one big thing – purpose. 

What do you want your words to do – drive sales or build trust? 

You’re probably looking for the right combination of both. And yes, they work well hand-in-hand. That’s the surefire way to ensure you’ve got your communications fully-covered. 

The pros at Copyblogger famously quote: “Copywriting without content is a waste of good copy,” and “content without copywriting is a waste of good content.”

What is Copywriting?

It’s all those scintillating words that get tails-wagging and mouths-watering. 

It dangles the bait, hooks you in and leaves you wanting just that little bit more. See?

Strong copywriting is always action-driven and geared for persuasion – the crafted language of sales. It’s writing that is focussed on achieving an outcome, tapping into an emotion to lead the consumer to do something. 

You like the sound of that? Click here.

It can be lean but pack a punch. Other times deliberately drawn out and story-based to paint a picture. Either way – it marks the difference between the same two products or services getting noticed, or left behind.

When copywriting is done right, everything is a touchstone for brands to capture attention and leave their mark.  Whether that be via a business card or billboard – the goal is the same. 

Think like this:

  • A great headline sparks intrigue and gets a reader to continue.
  • A well-written product description lures a customer to trial. 
  • A clever social-media caption turns a viewer into a follower. 

Advertising space and marketing campaigns are a necessary expense, so you want to ensure you’re getting bang for your buck with the right words to make it all worthwhile. 

David Oglivy, the father of modern advertising, said it best, long before he could have ever predicted marketing in the digital age: “When I write an advertisement, I don’t want you to tell me that you find it ‘creative.’ I want you to find it so interesting that you buy the product.”

What is Content Writing?

Content writing is the living and breathing extension of your brand voice. It’s purpose is to further the conversation with your audience – with something more than just an advertisement. 

It focuses on creating active engagement with your audience so, over time, they’ll come to trust your brand and be interested in your products and services. 

With content – you get the chance to entertain, educate, or  inform your audience about any given topic that’s related to your individual offering:

  • Say you have a leather shoe business – you might create an insightful blog post for your customers:

    ‘How to keep your boots walking longer than one winter’ 

The smoothest content can sometimes be so stealth with storytelling power, that it doesn’t even feel like marketing material. 

‘7 Expert Tips to Turn Content into Customers.’

So, is that Content or Clickbait?

Well, you’re offering your audience something they can learn and retain – it’s content. 

In our digital age, consumers never go straight to stores or websites to shop. They’ll tend to look to social media channels first, even follow brands for a while to get a feel for the business before making the decision to purchase. This is why fresh content is so important. 

And yes, whilst it does require more upfront skill and time to create, content plays the longer game. Unlike regular social media posts or pop-up ads that have a tiny shelf-life, content is a digital imprint built to last. 

When you invest in quality content, it continues to work for you – long after you’ve forgotten all about it.  

Which one do you need? Copy or Content?

In short... you need both. Any effective marketing strategy requires a kickass dose of each.

Where content writing can be more creative and is meant to be shared – copywriting is direct and focused on your sales-generating end-game. 

A great piece of content might lure a prospect back to your website, but poor copy on the landing page might not convert into sales. And vice versa.

Don’t take the chance in letting that conversation fall flat with your audience – at any stage. Every word counts.  

Can someone be both Copywriter & Content Writer?

Yes. Talk to me. 

I’d be happy to discuss your content and copywriting needs and brainstorm a path forward.

Let’s uncover your brand voice and get your communications firing! Get in touch today.

A creative copywriter saying a big hello to you.