Whether you are interested in writing for the web yourself or if you are looking to hire a writer for your website or blog, it is important to understand the difference between copywriting and content writing.
Many people make the mistake of assuming that the two are the same, but they are actually vastly different styles of writing, and one will not be effective in the place of another in certain scenarios.
What is copywriting?
The first thing that you need to know about copywriting is that the title is actually an advertising term. This should give you a basic idea of what copywriting is — promotional advertising copy.
Many people associate copywriting with online writing, but copywriting actually refers to any literature that is designed to promote something. Whether it is a brochure, pamphlet or other type of advertising copy, and it can be used to promote a business, product or service.
However, in the online world, copywriting typically refers to sales pages.
A copywriter’s primary focus is to persuade readers to purchase a certain product or service. Copywriters use a lot of action words to encourage readers to act quickly and to purchase their product.
If you are reading a webpage and notice lots of words or phrases like “act now”, “hire us”, “buy” and “purchase” you are probably looking at the work of a copywriter.
Copywriters also tend to attempt to evoke a lot of emotion from a reader. This emotion is intended to make you feel as if you need to purchase a product in order to improve the quality of your life, whether it is:
- a weight loss program,
- a moneymaking opportunity,
- a beauty aid or
- some other item
Good copywriting requires a lot of research because these writers must learn more about their target audience in order to understand how to persuade these readers to make a move. This style of writing can be seen as very pushy, but good copywriters can make this pushiness seem a bit more subtle.
What is content writing?
Content writing is vastly different from copywriting for several reasons. First of all, content writing is primarily used to inform or entertain readers.
Although a content writer may mention purchasing something in passing, this style of writing typically does not strongly encourage readers to buy anything.
Instead of attempting to persuade you to make a move, content writing should encourage you to ponder a specific topic, or it should teach you more about the topic.
Content writing should also make readers feel a bit of a connection with the author’s viewpoint, and it should encourage these readers to use their own mind to form an opinion about the content that they are reading.
Examples of copywriting and content writing
If you have ever seen sales pages that are attempting to sell eBooks or other products, you have an idea of what copywriting looks like. You may have also received promotional emails that were written by a copywriter.
Blog posts, however, are typically the work of a content writer. Articles and other informative things that you read are typically written by content writers as well.
What smart marketers do?
They combine strategic copywriting with great content to get the best of both worlds. This is exactly what Copyblogger’s been teaching readers for the past seven years:
- Content without copywriting is a waste of good content
- Copywriting without content is a waste of good copy
So writers, how about you? How are you using content and copywriting on your site to build more traffic, and to convert that traffic into fans and customers?
Let us know in the comments.