Content Writer or Copywriter: What’s the Difference?

Many content writers can write copy. Many copywriters can turn out great content. Both content writers and copywriters write words for clients. But although the job titles are often substituted for one another, the two terms are not interchangeable.

Content Writer

In its purest definition, a content writer writes content. But there’s more to the job than that.

These writers create specific content seamlessly crafted to contain appropriate keywords, metadata, links, tags, descriptions, web-friendly viewing format…and it’s all while writing an online article optimized so that search engines (SEO) can find the darn thing.

Content writers are frequently called upon to create ‘evergreen content’ (articles that remain relevant and are not time sensitive, just like this post). Content writers create blog posts, articles, newspaper pieces, white papers, magazine features, long-form content, website landing page content, bios, and much more.

By nature, content writers are very similar to their reporter cousins, and many, like myself, were journalists in a previous life. Your friendly neighborhood content writer will:

Often work to very strict deadlines creating pieces that carry a more detailed message than copywriting projects
Write longer (800 words or more) posts

  • Create articles that are share-worthy across multiple social media platforms
  • Work for multiple clients or on multiple projects for a single client
  • Will have specialized, niche knowledge, such as technology or finance, as well as broad, general knowledge
  • Will create content with or without a byline (ghostwriting)

Content, by its very nature, is designed to help businesses build relationships, create client authority, and develop trust. Much content work relies on fact-checking, interviews, and, in the case of ghostwriting, studying the client tone to ensure a consistent voice is upheld. Content writing also requires a successful conversion gameplan. The majority of content I create, for example, will end with a strong call to action that needs to be written in such a way as to encourage readers to connect with the client while providing them very real benefits for doing so.

Copywriter

Similar to content writers, copywriters create ‘copy’ for clients. But where content writers often work on client blogs or website, copywriters are typically used on the advertising side of things. Copywriters tend to specialize in short-form content that includes:

  • Headlines
  • Banners
  • Taglines and slogans
  • Blurbs
  • Social media posts
  • Direct mail
  • Press releases
  • Brochures, leaflets, or catalogs

But that doesn’t mean that copywriters don’t use long-form to help their clients. In fact, it’s an area where both content and copywriters often converge. Many copywriters are now working in both advertising and content, creating strong digital promotional material for clients across a variety of industries.

And while content writers often convey a company’s message, copywriters are often the creative mind behind the campaign itself. Copywriters are there to develop marketing materials that will bring a target audience around to a certain way of thinking; to purchase your product.

Make no mistake, because of the tight space limitations put upon copywriters – they are the gurus of short-form!

Better Business Options

As more and more businesses begin to recognize the benefit of working with writers who possess skills in both spheres, the distance between content and copywriter seems to be shrinking. A writer who can generate quality content that will not only increase readership but will also help businesses convert readers from potential to paying customers is a win-win situation for everyone involved.

Which is Better?

That’s a bit of a trick question. Because, at the end of the day, the ‘better’ one is the writer who understands your project and can deliver the product you need, when you need it.

Are you a copywriter or content writer who works in both areas? What are your comments on how the two seem to be merging? Let me know in the comments below!