Copywriting vs Content Writing – How To Choose The One That’s Right For You

Whether you’re looking for a side hustle to bring in some extra income or you’ve got your eye on leaving that soul-sucking job, becoming a freelance writer could be the answer to both.

Content writers and copywriters are both in high demand and are skills that can give freedom to create your schedule, take on projects you enjoy and make some money at something you enjoy.

Sounds great, right?

But where do you start? And what’s the difference between copywriting and content writing?

Copy vs. Content: Key Differences

Let’s dive into the biggest differentiators between copywriting and content writing.

What is Copywriting?

Copywriting is most often associated with direct response marketing. The goal of copy is to persuade the reader to take a particular action immediately, often to make a purchase or op-in to download a lead magnet.

This type of writing is geared towards short-term marketing strategies that generate results with urgency. Copywriting is best for converting leads to customers. 

Examples of direct response copywriting include ads, sales pages, opt-in forms, or product descriptions.

Beyond direct response, other forms of copywriting include slogans and taglines, brochures, landing pages, and brand copy. 

What is Content Writing?

Content writing is used to help position the brand as an expert or authority in their industry, ultimately trying to build trust with the reader. 

The goal of content writing is to inform, educate or entertain the audience and is part of a long-term strategy, and is key to driving traffic and nurturing potential buyers.

With content writing, the goal is for the audience to engage with the content (think calls to action such as: comment below, hit reply, share this article, send a DM). There is no urgency in this type of writing as the focus is on establishing trust and keeping the brand at the forefront of their customer’s mind when they’re ready to buy. 

Examples of content writing include articles, blogs, email newsletters, white papers, e-books, and social media captions.

Now you have a good idea of the difference between copywriting and content writing. But can you do both? 

Can You Be Both a Copywriter and a Content Writer? 

Yes – it is possible to offer both content writing and copywriting services!

While there are specific skill sets for each type of writing, honing your skills in both copywriting and content writing opens up the doors for a variety of opportunities.

Many content writers who write blog posts, long-form articles, and social media captions develop ongoing relationships with their clients and learn their brand voice and tone, their audience, and what keywords their client likes to incorporate. 

And then what happened?

Their client has been so happy with the results of their content writing and the working relationship that they have that when they decide to launch a new offer, they ask that writer if they can write their marketing copy.

Now, if they hadn’t upgraded their skill set to include copywriting skills, they would’ve missed out on this opportunity.

But here’s the thing, just because someone asks you to write something outside of your chosen niche doesn’t mean you have to take it. There are many content writers who write content only and many copywriters who focus on marketing materials. 

The best part about being a freelancer is that you get to choose what you want to write! 

Excited about the possibilities ?

What does it take to get started as a copywriter or content writer? 

Now that you know this is definitely the direction you want to go, where do you start? What do you need? Where do you find clients?

Here’s a quick overview of the four things you need to get started. 

Develop your Skills

Whether you like to consume your content by reading, listening, or watching, there is a lot of information out there to help you learn the skills you need to be a freelance writer. 

If copywriting is the direction you’re headed, be sure to hone your skills in the art of persuasion and how to use voice of customer research.

If you’re leaning towards content writing, then developing skills around SEO research will be extremely valuable. 

And guess what? You can get a lot of it online for free! There’s no need to register for a course at your local college or any certification programs, just grab your laptop and start searching for everything you can find about freelance writing.

Pick a Niche

I know, I know, no one wants to hear that, but you need to know what industry you want to write for so that you can develop a targeted portfolio and pitch and start creating connections in that industry.

One of the best parts of freelancing is that you get to choose who you work with and what topics you want to write about. And you get to choose how far to niche down. You can niche by industry, by type of copy, by business type, or a combination of the above.

How do you niche down?

Ask yourself what types of topics interest you. Do you want to work with small businesses, start-ups, or larger Fortune 500 companies? Do you want to niche down to just blog posts, or do you want to go broader and write all sorts of content? 

Once you have this dialed in, you can start creating your copywriting portfolio

Create Your Portfolio

When starting a freelancing career, one of the biggest concerns is that “I don’t have experience.” But, as a writer, you’re at an advantage here because you can easily create some pieces to demonstrate your skill.

Now that you know your niche, you can create samples that show off your skill set.

For example, writing a blog post for your favorite lifestyle brand, a sales page for an online course you’ve made up, or a set of emails for your favorite clothing store. 

But remember to create pieces that are aligned with the industry you want to work in and the types of writing you want to specialize in. If you don’t ever plan on writing ad copy, then don’t worry about creating an ad for your portfolio.

See, niching down will save you time as you set up your copywriting business

Connect in Your Industry

Ok, now you know who you want to work with, and you have some samples to show them. Now it’s time to start getting connected in your industry. 

Who is the person who does the hiring for your industry? Is it the business owner? A marketing manager? An executive assistant? Do a bit of research to find out who to start connecting with.

Start perusing places like LinkedIn to see who you can connect with to a) pitch your services or b) create a relationship with others in the industry, so people start to know who you are and how you support businesses.

Don’t be afraid to make relationships and start pitching your services. 

Are you ready to become a freelancer? 

If you love writing and are ready to take the leap to try something new, then copywriting or content writing could be a great choice for you.

Each business needs both content writing and copywriting. In the marketing cycle, there needs to be both nurturing and selling. So no matter what you choose, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to work with amazing clients!

About the author :

Over the past decade, Liz Slyman has worked as a copywriter and digital marketing executive for a multitude of companies from startups to mid-sized businesses to working as the VP of marketing for award-winning, platinum-selling artists and is now teaching copywriting courses.

Leveraging an understanding of the nuance of language in marketing, Liz founded Amplihigher, a content marketing and copywriting agency. Now Liz turns over a decade of copywriting experience into copywriting courses, coaching, tools, and resources for new and established copywriters.

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