Should you hire a copywriter or a content writer?
What’s the difference between a copywriter and a content writer? If you need help with your web copy or your blogging, should you hire a copywriter or a content writer? Is one better than the other one? How do you know how to choose?
If you’re a business owner with a website and an online presence, you’ve probably asked yourself some of these questions before. I certainly know that people often ask me these questions when we first meet! So let me try and shed some light on all this and see if I can help you make a more informed decision.
What’s the difference between a copywriter and a content writer?
At a very basic level, copywriters write copy and content writers write content. But what does this mean? Having gone through many different definitions, it’s clear that there’s a lot of overlap between the two roles. Some professionals who call themselves copywriters also write content. And those (like myself) who call themselves content writers, often work on deliverables that would fall more naturally under the realm of copywriting.
If you’re a business owner with a website and an online presence, you’re going to need both – copy and content. So how do you get to choose someone to help you with your writing? If a lot of copywriters and content writers do some of the same things, how can you work out who you should hire?
So let’s take a step back and look at some of the ways copywriting and content writing are different.
Traditionally, copywriting is the art of writing text (or copy) for the purpose of selling and advertising. Copywriting is linked to the idea of selling something, whether it’s a product or a service, a company, an action, a person, an ideology – anything. It’s about getting the reader to buy into something and take some sort of action as a result.
Content writing is more about delivering content that has value. The purpose of writing and sharing content isn’t necessarily to sell, although if you’re a business owner, selling is the ultimate goal! Content writing is about promotion – it’s about marketing.
So while the direct aim of a piece of copy might be to sell, the aim of a piece of content could be to inform, educate, inspire, or entertain. This helps the business owner to create a rapport or a connection with their audience based on trust, which may, in time, result in sales.
And while the difference so far appears quite clear, things get a bit muddled up because, in the digital and online space, copywriting can be used for the purpose of marketing too, and not just for direct selling.
So while a blog post is a piece of content (rather than a piece of copy), in order for it to be effective for your brand and your business, it needs to include at least one clear call to action that tells the reader what you want them to do next. That action might not be to buy your product or service. But it’s still something you are asking your audience to do. And as you make this request, you are asking someone to take an action, whatever that might be.
So can you see why you can’t really have one without the other?
But stay with me here, as I have more examples down the line for you. Let’s look at some of the other differences first.
The word count
When looking through various definitions, I noticed that a few of them put the emphasis on the length of the text – or word count. A copywriter is deemed to be the perfect choice for short-form content that uses direct, to-the-point language that encourages the reader to take some sort of action.
So a copywriter should be the go-to person if you need someone to help with, for example:
- Adverts (including physical or online press or social media advertising).
- Press releases.
- Headlines (for eBooks, lead magnets, web pages, and even blog posts).
- Calls to action.
- Landing pages to collect email addresses.
A content writer, on the other hand, typically produces longer pieces of content, including blog posts, articles, or white papers. The word count for such pieces is often around 800-2,500 words or more.
But again, does this mean that a copywriter won’t write long-form content for you? Not necessarily. Some might specialise in advertising or short-form copy, while others might also write longer types of content. Equally, content writers who do specialise in long-form content (just like me), don’t shy away from writing headlines or calls to action (for example) just because these traditionally fall under the realms of copywriting!
Do you still feel like you’re none the wiser?
Ok, let’s keep going then.
Writing copy for your website
If you’re still with me, you’re now probably asking yourself:
“But when it comes to website copy, who writes that?”
Well, it’s called ‘copy’, so by definition, it should be written by a copywriter! But it’s also long-form, so shouldn’t a content writer write it?
While your web copy (think Home page, About page, service pages, etc.) needs to sell you, your business, and your products or services, it also needs to help you build that rapport and trust with your readers to ultimately convert them into buyers.
So whose job is it to write your web copy?
Now, that’s for you to decide. And regardless of whether someone calls themselves a copywriter or a content writer, it needs to be someone who can help you achieve these purposes:
- Help you sell yourself as an authority and as a credible and trustworthy business.
- Help you create a rapport and a connection with your audience.
When you’re hiring someone to create any sort of copy or content for your business, it’s also important that they spend time to understand your business. They need to be able to grasp your values, your vision, and your mission and translate all of that into words, by using your tone of voice (not theirs).
Speaking of tone of voice, if you want to find out more about that, head over to my blog post: How can a Content Writer replicate your writing voice?
So your job as a business owner is to find a copywriter or a content writer who can help you achieve your objectives.
And if you’d like t0 read about my process for writing your web copy, head over to: What happens when you hire me to write your website copy?
And what about SEO?
Ha. Search Engine Optimisation. Of course, that needs to go into the mix too. If you’re publishing content on the internet and ignoring SEO you’re committing the number one cardinal sin of online entrepreneurship!
When you write both copy and content with SEO in mind, you’re giving yourself more chances of being found on the internet. So writing search-engine-friendly content is a must. And in order for your writing to work harder for you (and for you to get a return on your investment), you’ll probably want whoever does your writing – be it a copywriter or a content writer, to optimise your content too.
How do you decide if a copywriter or content writer is right for you?
Whether you hire a copywriter or a content writer depends on:
- The type of copy or content you want help with (i.e. the what).
- The aim of that piece of copy or content (i.e. the why).
- Whether the professional you have in mind (or are looking for) has experience with writing the type of copy or content you need writing (i.e. the how).
Here’s how it works.
Deciding on the aim of your writing
If you’re looking to hire a copywriter or a content writer to help with some of your writing tasks, it’s important you first stop and think about this strategically. You may have started from the what, i.e. “I need help with my business blog”. But it’s important that you also take a step back and look at your why.
Why do you want to write and publish a specific type of copy or content?
- Is it to directly sell a product or service? For example, do you want to write a sales page or a social media advert for your next launch?
- Is it to encourage your website readers to sign up for your newsletter? So, do you need a landing page?
- Or is it to inform, educate, inspire, or entertain? For example, with a series of blog posts?
- Is it to build rapport and trust, through your web pages, your blog, or your social media content?
- To show you’re a credible expert and authority in your niche? Maybe through a newsletter, your website copy, or your blog?
Once you’re clear on your goals (the why) and on the deliverables you need (the what), it becomes much easier for you to identify whether an experienced copywriter or a content writer might be better suited for the job.
But what really matters is that whoever you pick can help you achieve your why and is the right person for the job!
Choosing the right person for the job
Once you have clarity on the type of help you want and need, choosing the right person for the job is more about making sure that they have the ability and the experience to help you achieve your objectives. It doesn’t matter whether they call themselves a copywriter or a content writer. What matters is that they can prove they can help you with your requirements.
So to decide whether a copywriter or a content writer is right for you, you can:
- Ask for recommendations. If you have like-minded business friends in a similar niche who are raving about the service they received from their copywriter or content writer, ask them to share their contact details with you.
- Search for copywriters or content writers in your niche. If you work in a specialist niche or if you’re looking for a writer with experience in your field, then narrow your search down to someone who does have experience in your industry.
- Check their LinkedIn headline and profile – who do they help and what do they help these people do? Does it sound like they fit the bill?
- Head over to their website – check their Home page, their About page, the services they provide, their blog, and, if they have one, their portfolio.
- Find or ask for reviews, testimonials, and recommendations. What do other clients say about this writer? What kind of work did this person help them with?
Would you like my help with your website or your business blog?
As you may have gathered from my website, I call myself a content writer. I specialise in writing long-form search-engine-friendly copy and content for your website and your blog to help you:
- Showcase your brand values and who you are as a business – in other words, what makes you, you!
- Build rapport and trust and connect with your readers through blog content that you’re passionate about but also interests your audience.
- Establish yourself as an expert and an authority in your field.
- Save you time!
- And be found in Google.
Want to know more? Have a look here: What you get from hiring me as your Content Writer.
I also work closely with successful podcasters and help them write show notes or re-purpose their audio content into standalone blog posts. If that’s you, you might be interested in these posts too:
- 7 reasons why you should re-purpose your podcast episodes into blog posts.
- How to turn your podcast episodes into blog posts.
And if you have any questions or would like my help, get in touch! You can send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or use my contact form.