‘Content writing’ vs ‘copywriting’ - what's the difference?

‘Content writing’ vs ‘copywriting’ - what's the difference?

These two disciplines not only sound very similar, but often create a lot of confusion.

Here, I aim to help clear up the differences and explain when you should hire one or the other. And, if you’re a writer, what skills you need - and what questions you should be asking if you’re hired to write for one of these two purposes.

What does a copywriter do?

A copywriter writes content to persuade their users of something.

Copywriting is the skill of using content to convince users to click a button or take an action. This action could be buying your products - or signing up to a newsletter.

A copywriter needs to use the right language and words. Here’s a list of content types that could be crafted by a copywriter:

  • Sales copy

  • Digital ads

  • Landing pages

  • Brochures

  • Printed advertisements

  • Emails

But, unlike other types of content writing, copywriting is written in a more conversational and interactive style.

Its primary aim is to persuade the reader to take action. Some copywriters will specialise, for example, in direct response advertising. Others will concentrate on a particular sector.

So what makes a good copywriter?

An excellent copywriter will research and learn what a particular target market requires. A copywriter will use that information with persuasive, engaging language to compel readers to take a specific action.

To be a great copywriter, you will need to understand the needs and wants of your target audience. It’s also essential to use precise language to inspire confidence in the brand you are representing.

You will need to research a business and understand its marketing objectives, but also write copy that goes straight to the point and doesn’t use complicated jargon.

The content needs to be exciting and simplify complex ideas. You need to stir emotions in your reader and prompt a response.

What is a content writer?

Unlike a copywriter, a content writer aims to write content that educates, informs and entertains readers. Content writing is much more critical for building a relationship with users, so a content writer should be well-versed in marketing strategies.

This kind of discipline demands the ability to create content for many different channels, such as blogs, websites, social media, and email. The material content writers create is usually written to help build or nurture a strong relationship between a reader and a brand.

So what makes a good content writer?

An effective content writer will know how to use appropriate keywords to maximise results in SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). Content writers will also be experienced in producing long-form, engaging content like…

  • White papers

  • Reports

  • ‘Toolkits’

  • Research studies

  • Newsletter mailers

Content writers know how to structure content so that it’s easy to read and digest - even if it’s just being ‘skim-read’. Studies have shown that 80% of readers online are ‘scanners’ or ‘skim-readers’, so it’s becoming more essential to cater to this type of reader.

It goes without saying that, if you want to be a good content writer, you should have a firm grasp of the English language and grammar. You will need to be an obsessive proofreader and editor.

You’ll need to know how to use the language that will keep your reader engaged and interested. It’s crucial to research any topic fully before and during the content creation process too, so you end up crafting something which really helps and builds credibility with your intended audience.


The main goal of a copywriter is to convince the reader to take action.

A content writer’s job is to engage with the reader.

E.g. A content writer builds trust, and a copywriter drives sales.

So whether you are a writer yourself - or looking to hire one - keep your end objective in mind.

I hope this blog helps you concentrate your content to the specific goals you have set out…!

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