I have a terrible confession to make. One that could – and almost did – destroy my entire freelance writing business. Really.
I was found out just as i was delivering a set of marketing writing lectures to a crowd of paying students, whens suddenly one of them asked me –
“Felicity, what’s the difference between content writing and copywriting?”
And I wasn’t really sure.
I came up with some lameo explanation – that copywriting is super short, while content writing is long and flowing (which is technically right), but then I realised I was a total fraud.
Content writing vs copywriting: a Mad Men Obsession
I was deeply ashamed, and went home and decided to dedicate myself.
I poured over loads of content online, and came up with the answer that had been somewhere in my brain all of this time, but that i didn’t really know to explain:
- Copywriting is short, to the point and used for sales. It’s the art of saying a lot in a little and is the relasm of paid campaigns and top of the funnel marketing.
- Content writing is long-form writing. It;smore informative, and is traditionally used for SEOpurposes, and middle-bottom funnel marketing.
And after that, my mad Men obsession gbenga.
What started as a way to wind down actually got me revved up – and it’s all thanks to this lady:
Yep, Peggy Olson is my copywriting spirit animal. The next week, after I’d binge-watched all 7 seasons of Mad Men, I delivered my crystallized knowledge to my students, somewhat regaining my prior standing.
You see, i’d been ‘doing’ copywriting for quite some time by the point that i was asked to teach a marketing writing course – i just hadn’t realized I’d been doing it.
Are you a content writer, or a copywriter?
And herein lies the rub.
Most freelance writers have no idea whether they’re a content writer, a copywriter, or both!
And, when it comes to content writing vs copywriting, there are a whole range of skills, processes and rate differences, depending on which you specialise in, or which service you offer your clients.
(Luckily – I have a whole free course dedicated to just this – and I’ll even share my top secret ways to increase your earnings form using both…without even needing to get new clients!)
Content Writing vs Copywriting: The Identity Crisis
In A nutshell: you can usually tell which type of freelance writer you are by the type of writing you prefer:
You Might just a be a content writer if you –
- Love writing blogs and other long-form content (whiteppaers, SEO content, ebooks) so you can really express yourself
- Get super tied up in really researching a topic and writing everything and anything to do with it
- Love a good old structured outline with a minimum of 100 words to fill
- Want to educate your readers about the topic you’re writing about
You might just be a copywriter if you –
- Love motivating or teasing readers to take the next step – to click, to sign up, to buy
- Love writing social media posts, emails, site copy – and anything short form
- If you like really saying a lot of stuff in very few words (the fewer, the merrier)
- Like mixing up and rejigging your stuff to see if it has more of an impact
Of course – you might just be both, depending on the services you offer your clients, or want to, at least – but all of us (including me!0 have a clear preference.
So What Goes where?
Ideally, you need to be skilled in both content writing and copywriting, so you can offer more services to your clients – but it’s also totally ok to niche down into just one or two types of writing too. In fact,that approach will help you to become even more expert in a shorter amount of time!
When it comes to working with clients, there’sno such thing as ‘just’ being a content writer or copywriter, because there are so many other types of writing to produce besides the one thing you’ve been contracted for – such as:
- Website copy (copywriting) – blog posts (content writing), social media copy (copywriting), emails 9cpywriting)
- Blog posts (content writing) – social media posts 9coywriting) and landing page copy (copywriting)
- Emails – blog posts (content writing), whiteppaers (content writing), social media posts (copywriting) etc
Hc is why it pays to be specialized in one type of writing, while being able to produce the other too.
Content writings vs Copywriting: Which is More Profitable?
The short answer is: both!
The longer answer is – anything you put your mind to, and put the work into, can be profitable. The question is knowing how to do it.
There’s a HUGE demand for both content writers and copywriters – because think about it: every business in the world needs good content writers and copywriters:
- Facebook is the primary content distribution channel for markets, and Instagram has the second-highest Return on investment for marketers…both of these platforms require awesome copy, to persuade users to click through and buy.
- Blogs are one of the top-three ways businesses attract users. That’s a solid win for content writers right there.
…and there’s so much more data, all you need is a quick google search to see that both content writing and copywriting can be a very profitable business indeed!
The Bottom Line: Content Writing vs Copywriting and Your Service List
Most of us will have a natural preference for writing one or the other but there’s absolutely no reason that you can’t do both, or specialize in just one!
By knowing what type of writing you’re better at, you’ll be able to forge ahead and continue on your own path towards becoming a profitable freelance writer.
Want a shortcut? Here’s a free course about just that (with some free tips on how to profit more from both content writing and copywriting services!)