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  • Writer's pictureErin Ratliff

Content Writing vs Copy Writing - Which is Right for you?

In the world of digital communications and modern marketing, two terms are often interchangeably used yet are distinctly different

These are"content writing" and "copywriting."

While both involve crafting compelling stories and narratives, they possess their own distinct methodologies and serve different purposes.

"You can make anything by writing."

C.S. Lewis

The Basics

As a beginner, it is pretty tough to understand the differences in VALUE between copy and content. Understanding when to use Copy and when to leverage Content can make all the difference in your biz' marketing planning, execution and results.

Content Writing: Your Mentor

  • Purpose: To EDUCATE by providing insight, creating connection, building trust and loyalty

  • Focuses on the HOW (Ex: "5 Steps to Lose Weight With [Biz])

  • Format: Long-form descriptive, informative, tells a story or paints a picture. Strategy: Long-term approach using advanced SEO techniques to increase visibility, rankings and sustained growth over time

Copywriting: Your Salesperson

  • Purpose: To SELL by capturing attention, making an impression, building intrigue or driving action

  • Focuses on the WHAT (Ex: "[Biz] Makes It Easy to Lose Weight)

  • Format: short and sweet- brief, compelling snippets or persuasive and concise messaging.

  • Strategy: A sprint-like approach using basic SEO to ensure message is easily discoverable

As you can see, the fundamental difference lies in the intent and approach of these writing styles. While content writing prioritizes providing value and building relationships through informative and engaging narratives, copywriting is laser-focused on driving conversions and eliciting specific actions from the audience.

However, there exist overlaps between the two domains. For instance, both content writing and copywriting require a deep understanding of the audience, effective storytelling techniques, and the ability to communicate messages clearly. Both benefit from compelling headlines, impeccable grammar, and a strong grasp of language.

"You don't write because you want to say something; you write because you have something to say."

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Understanding Content Writing

Content writing is a diverse landscape. The primary aim of content writing is to educate, inform, entertain, or engage readers. It focuses on storytelling, depth, and building a connection with the audience in order to boost brand awareness and build community. 

Content writers incorporate research and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) practices to enhance visibility and ranking on search engines. They prioritize readability, coherence, and delivering solutions and VALUE in the form of comprehensive information on the subject matter. A content writer aims to establish authority in a particular niche, fostering brand loyalty through consistent, informative content.

Popular content formats:

  • social media captions

  • blog posts or articles

  • long-form content such as eBooks, guides, whitepapers, case studies

  • email newsletters

  • product reviews

  • audio or video scripts

  • FAQs

"Content builds relationships. Relationships are built on trust. Trust drives revenue."

Andrew Davis

Understanding Copywriting

In contrast, copywriting is a strategic craft centered around promotion, persuasion and conversion. It involves the creation of concise, compelling content designed to prompt a specific response from the reader. The core objective of copywriting is to drive a specific ACTION—be it a purchase, subscription, sign-up, or any other desired response

Copywriters craft messages that resonate with the target audience, employing persuasive language, emotional triggers, enticing headlines, compelling CTAs (Calls to Action), and even SEO optimization in highlighting the unique selling propositions (USPs) of a product or service.

Popular copywriting formats:

  • social media posts

  • advertisements

  • product descriptions

  • web landing and sales pages

  • email marketing campaigns/sequences

  • video scripts

  • product descriptions

  • press releases

Marketers will joke about the REAL difference between content and copy:

COPY = 5 words that takes 2 hours to write.

CONTENT = 500 words that takes 2 hours to write.

Of course this is slightly exaggerating, but you get my point. Writing LESS actually takes MORE effort.

To effectively get your message across with a few words requires creativity, innovation, editing, experimentation.

Keep this in mind when outsourcing or budgeting for web copy. These projects are FAR more labor intensive than content.

"Copy is a direct conversation with the consumer."

Shirley Polykoff

Great Writing, In a Nutshell

When it comes to marketing, great writing is not about perfect spelling, grammar or an impressive vocabulary.

It's about PSYCHOLOGY, eliciting an emotion and delivering value - entertainment, education or solving a problem.

The 8 C's

  • Clear - keep it simple

  • Concise - cut the fluff

  • Compelling - tell stories

  • Credible - show proof

  • Connecting - relatable

  • Conversational - personable

  • Cohesive - flows naturally

  • Customer-focused

Make your content or copy writing all of these, and watch your results explode.

"A word after a word after a word is POWER."

Margaret Atwood

A Final Word

Remember, copywriting is not just about the quantity of words produced but the QUALITY, meaning and depth (thought, research) behind them and the person (skill, experience) who writes them. It's time to get away from hiring and paying professionals "by the word." Pay for the longterm value of getting effective content that resonates with the audience and drives action. Recognize and respect the expertise of copywriters rather than reducing their work to a mere tally of words.

Wrapping It Up

The truth is, anyone can write content or copy. But not everyone can write HIGH QUALITY, compelling content or copy. 

A well-rounded marketing strategy often integrates both forms of writing—leveraging content writing to build trust, authority, engagement and relationships, while employing copywriting to drive sales, converting audiences into customers or subscribers.

Both are crucial communications strategies that empwower marketers and businesses to tailor their messaging based on goals and audiences to create a lasting, more effective impact.

Overall, understanding the distinctions between copywriting and content writing helps in effectively influencing and connecting with the audience based on the specific goals of the writing task: Use copywriting for SELLING and content writing for EDUCATING.

Ready to infuse your heart-led business with captivating content, stories, and messaging that truly resonates and connects with potential clients and customers?

I am proud to offer boutique, bespoke copywriting and content marketing services that can breathe life into your digital channels. Reach out today to learn more!

"Let me live, love and say it well in good sentences."

Sylvia Plath


Erin Ratliff is a holistic business coach and organic growth & visibility marketer serving energy-sensitive, earth-loving, heart-led soul-preneurs, self-starters, and founders with the mission of personal and planetary healing.

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