Mariana Carmo

Copy or content writing: do you even know which one you are doing?

In the marketing and communication fields, there are lots of shared spaces and activities that end up crossing themselves. Marketing and Communication are clear examples of that, and content writing and copywriting are another one. But these two are very different in the format they take, their purpose, and even the skills needed to put them to work.

Copywriting is the creation of text content with the main objective to persuade readers to take some action, usually related to a business’s sales process. You can be attracting someone to buy a product, to make a call, or simply to subscribe to a newsletter. Some examples of copywriting are the texts on product pages, sales e-mails, and social media ads.

On the other hand, content writing is the creation of text content to entertain or somehow educate readers. It sure may drive sales as well, but that’s not its main goal. Some examples of content writing are blog posts (yes, like the one you’re reading right now — this is content!), newsletters content, e-books, and white papers.

So, while copywriting is a matter of persuasion, content writing wants to give some developed quality content with the means to educate and entertain the readers.

Besides the purpose, some other differences that might help you distinguish these two types of writing are the length of the text and the emotions associated with it.

Regarding length, since content writing is focused on educating and entertaining you will probably need a more developed idea — which results in a bigger text — to achieve your goal. You might need to use something as 1.000 to 4.000 characters to do so. Shorter pieces of content can still be entertaining and/or educational, but as content is mostly focused on a non-commercial approach if a piece it’s too short it probably won’t fulfill the needs of the reader.

However, in copywriting you can sometimes persuade your audience to act with just a line or two, so the text you write probably won’t need to be that long, and you might not want to do it also so that you don’t distract the person from the action you want them to take.

Do you know how emotional you are when buying?

Besides that, there are emotions. For the past years, studies have been showing that purchases are mostly driven by emotions so, while copywriting must work on the invocation of an emotional response, content production does not — usually — do it.

We have a clear example of the fear of missing out (FOMO) as a commonly used approach to influence and persuade people to buy, and there’s no way you’re feeling it while you are reading this blog post. Do you see the difference? This is content, the sales e-mail on your inbox is copywriting. But FOMO is just of the many invoked sentiments — comfort, sense of belonging, instant gratification and pure happiness, beauty and luxury are others that may lead readers into action.

So, what does it take to do content writing? And copywriting?

There is a common ground here: you need to know your grammar for both, and you need to be creative and know what your audience is looking for and think besides the obvious.

However, to do content writing you must need to be willing to search a lot, cross information, and have the capacity to share the information you’ve been gathering clearly. On the other hand, to do copywriting, you need to have tremendous synthesis skills, be persuasive, and probably know a lot more about SEO than the content writer… But we’ll get there next time.

So, which one are you: a copywriter or a content writer?

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