Business Writing Copywriting 7 min2023-05-15 00:00

Copywriting vs Content Writing: What's the Difference?

copywriting vs content writing

Both copywriters and content writers are important for businesses to grow their audiences. But these two roles aren’t interchangeable—in fact, they require very different skills.

So, what exactly is the difference between these two types of writing?

The short answer is that copywriters create text that convinces people to take a specific action, such as advertisements and sales emails. Content writers, on the other hand, create longer-form content that informs or entertains readers, such as blog posts and e-books.

Read on to learn more about the difference between copywriting and content writing.

What’s the Difference Between Copywriting vs Content Writing?

There are several differences you can use to distinguish copywriting from content writing. A few key distinctions include:

  • The format of the text

  • The purpose of the text

  • The length of the text

  • The life span of the text

  • The skills required for copywriting vs content writing

Let’s take a closer look at each of these differences and the role they play in an organization’s marketing strategy.

The Format of the Text

Copywriters and content writers generally write in different formats. Looking at the format of the text you’re reading is one of the quickest ways to figure out if it was written by a copywriter or a content writer.

Here are some common formats of copywriting:

  • Text ads

  • Digital ads

  • Slogans

  • Social media captions

  • Sales emails

  • Landing pages

  • Catchy headlines

  • Pop-up messages

  • Video scripts

And here are some common formats of content writing:

  • Blog posts

  • How-to guides

  • Reviews

  • E-books

  • Case studies

  • Op-eds

  • Newspaper articles

  • Magazine features

  • Email newsletters

So, if you’re reading an advertisement, it was probably written by a copywriter. And if you’re reading a blog article, it was probably written by a content writer.

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The Purpose of the Text

Copywriting is designed to persuade, while content writing is designed to inform or engage.

A successful piece of copy will convince readers to take a specific action, such as signing up for an email list, clicking on a link, or purchasing a product. Its main goal is to persuade the readers to do something specific.

A successful piece of content, on the other hand, might explain a complex topic, walk you through a how-to guide, or provide a new perspective on a question. It likely seeks to inform, entertain, or otherwise engage the audience, even if that doesn’t lead to an immediate sale.

Both purposes are crucial for businesses to grow. Copywriters can help businesses grow their sales numbers and encourage immediate action. Content writers can help businesses increase brand awareness and generate more leads in the long run.

Essentially, you can think of copywriters as people who help businesses convert traffic to sales, and content writers as people who help businesses generate more traffic overall.

The Length of the Text

Another key difference between copywriting and content writing is that copy is usually short-form, while content is usually long-form.

For example, pop-up advertisements, billboards, and social media captions are all common forms of copy. Each of these might only include one or two sentences of text.

Content writing is usually longer than one or two sentences. Most blog articles, for example, are around 2,000 words long. And then there are e-books, which can run up to tens or even hundreds of thousands of words long.

Some types of copywriting can be as long as a blog post, such as an advertisement with a lot of fine print, but more often than not, copy is short-form. So, the longer a piece of text is, the more likely it is to be considered content writing rather than copywriting.

The Life Span of the Text

A more subtle difference between these two forms of writing is how long they’re intended to last. The average piece of copy is only used for a few months at most, while a piece of copy might last for years or even decades.

That’s because a lot of copywriting is done for a specific marketing campaign. It’s common for companies to use one set of advertisements for Black Friday, and an entirely different set of advertisements for Christmas.

Even web copy, such as landing pages, often gets refreshed when a company’s product line changes.

Content writing, on the other hand, tends to have a longer life span than copywriting.

Once a blog post is published, it might reside permanently on the company’s website. After all, a blog post or e-book might be relevant for many years, depending on the topic.

As a result, it’s important for copywriters to create text that’s timely and generates immediate results, while content writers often need to focus on creating evergreen content that will provide lasting value.

The Skills Required for Copywriting vs Content Writing

Copywriting and content writing require different skill sets.

Great copywriters need to excel at:

  • Understanding the needs, desires, and pain points of their target audience

  • Utilizing a blend of digital marketing skills and traditional advertising techniques

  • Making sure every word they use packs a punch

  • Selling a product or service in a persuasive way, typically as part of larger advertising campaigns

Content writers need to excel at:

  • Writing in an engaging, readable way that makes it easy for readers to finish long articles

  • Organizing paragraphs with clear, logical transitions

  • Understanding search engine optimization (SEO) well enough to drive organic search traffic to the website

  • Pitching interesting topics that engage readers and contribute to the brand's overall content marketing strategy

Of course, there are some skills that both copywriting and content writing require. Here are a few important ones:

  • Using exceptional writing skills to consistently create clear, professional, and compelling prose

  • Generating creative ideas for creating content that feels new and unique

  • Researching all relevant topics to understand what they’re writing about

  • Collaborating closely with editors, co-writers, marketing teams, and clients

  • Understanding how their work fits into the overall brand strategy

How ProWritingAid Can Help Copywriters and Content Writers

Whether you’re a content writer or a copywriter, you need to make sure your writing is powerful and error-free.

That’s where a great grammar checker like ProWritingAid comes in. Using ProWritingAid for all your writing needs can help you make sure your prose is as clear and convincing as possible.

You can even tell ProWritingAid what document type you’re using to see targeted suggestions. For example, you can select an option like “Short Web Article” or “General Web Copy.”

If you’re writing copy, you need to make sure you’re using the right words to engage with your target audience. Try using the Word Explorer to see the connotations of each word you use, as well as potential synonyms to try instead.

Other useful features for copywriters include:

  • The Alliteration Report, which helps you find ways to use rhythm and sound to keep your writing engaging and memorable

  • The Clichés and Redundancies Report, which highlights overused sentences and phrases so you can replace them with more original expressions

  • The Diction Report, which looks for overly wordy phrases so you can make your writing crisper and more concise

If you’re a content writer, you want to make sure each paragraph flows well. The Writing Style Report can help you look for weaknesses like passive voice, repetitive words, and more.

Other useful features for content writers include:

  • The Readability Report, which uses readability tools like the Flesch Reading Ease score to help you keep your writing clear and understandable

  • The Plagiarism Report, which checks your work against existing web pages to make sure your content doesn’t run the risk of plagiarism

  • The Transition Report, which looks for transition words like “similarly” and “therefore” to make sure you’re guiding your reader through your articles

You can try out ProWritingAid for free to see how it works.

Conclusion on Copywriting vs Content Writing

There you have it—a complete guide to the difference between copywriting and content writing! Now you know the difference between these two forms of writing, as well as the key skills needed for each.

Here’s a quick recap:

  • Both copywriting and content writing are crucial for brand strategy, but they’re useful in different ways.

  • Copywriting is usually used in formats like ads and sales emails, while content writing is usually used in formats like blog posts and e-books.

  • Copywriting focuses on persuading the reader to take a specific action, while content writing focuses on informing or engaging the reader.

  • Copywriting is usually shorter in length than content writing.

  • Copywriting also usually has a shorter life span than content writing.

Good luck, and happy writing!

ProWritingAid makes great writing easy

Easily improve your emails, reports, content, cover letters, and more.