When investing in written content, one of the first decisions you’ll make is whether you need a content writer vs. copywriter.
Both are crucial to a company’s success. But what sets them apart? Why is it important to know? And how do you know which one to hire?
Let’s take a closer look at how copywriting and content writing work. By understanding the differences between the two, you can leverage their unique approaches to achieve your business goals.
Content writer vs. copywriter: What’s the difference?
The biggest distinction between a copywriter and a content writer is their roles. A content writer encourages visitors to learn more, while a copywriter aims to get people to buy now.
Expert marketer Fabio Schmuki breaks it down succinctly in a nutshell:
Content writers inform
A content writer specializes in creating educational content. Their goal is to build your credibility and establish your brand as a thought leader.
Content writers research and produce long-form content such as:
- Blog articles
- Case studies
- How-to guides
This long-form content aims to attract and engage potential customers. It provides value, builds trust, and positions your brand as an authority in the industry.
The focus is on providing information to prospects before they’re ready to buy. Content writers take an informative approach to move leads down the sales funnel.
Having a blog on your website is a smart way to establish yourself as an expert in your field. Let’s say that you offer AI-powered web accessibility solutions for businesses…
Problem: You have many competitors and need to stand out from them. People may be on the fence about your products.
Solution: Provide a space where they can learn more about your offerings before buying.
For example, in-depth articles about what ADA compliance is, steps to become compliant, and helpful tools to achieve compliance can be insightful. We’re more likely to buy something when we understand how it can improve our lives — and it’s no different for businesses.
Consistent, valuable content keeps visitors coming back for more. It builds credibility and makes people’s needs clear — leading to conversions over time.
In contrast, a copywriter specializes in persuasive writing aimed at driving conversions and sales.
Copywriters focus on writing shorter-form content and copy such as:
- Landing pages
- Catchy slogans
- Email sequences
- Social media posts
- Product descriptions
The goal of copy is to influence customers and compel them to take action, usually to make a purchase. Copywriters use psychology and persuasive techniques to create urgency and convince readers, as seen in the below ad:
When should you use a content writer vs. copywriter?
Now that you understand the core differences between the two roles, let’s explore some best practices for when to use content writers vs. copywriters.
When to hire a content writer
Hire a content writer for the following:
Regular educational articles are a great way to build organic traffic and establish expertise. Content writers can research and produce creative blog content that engages readers.
eBooks, whitepapers, and other long-form content are ideal for educating prospects during the consideration phase. Content writers can turn your insights into guides that prospects love.
Search engine optimization (SEO)
With keyword research and SEO expertise, content writers create optimized content that ranks well and attracts search traffic.
Position yourself as an industry leader by having content writers develop authoritative content like case studies and product demos.
Develop your brand identity and storytelling by having content writers create engaging About Us pages, brand guidelines, and more.
When to hire a copywriter
Hire a copywriter for the following:
Copywriters can create persuasive website copy that speaks to your ideal customers and drives conversions.
Strong, benefit-focused copy on landing pages can significantly improve conversion rates. Copywriters know how to write copy that sells.
Facebook/Google ads, billboards, commercials, and other advertisements need short persuasive copy that drives action.
Email sequences, newsletters, promotions, and other emails need compelling copy. Copywriters can craft effective calls-to-action and subject lines.
Copywriters excel at crafting effective taglines, post captions, video hooks, etc.
Content writer vs copywriter: Key skill differences
Beyond their core focuses, content writers and copywriters also differ in some writing and technical skills.
Content writers have:
- Topical expertise
- Creative writing skills to engage readers
- In-depth research and SME interview skills
- A search engine optimization (SEO) background
- Experience writing and organizing long-form content
- Brand messaging skills
- Conversion optimization skills to boost conversion rates
- The ability to condense messages into short powerful snippets that sell
- A knack for drafting effective calls to action that incentivize clicks and buys
- Experience using psychology and techniques like urgency to persuade action
Should I hire a generalist writer or a specialist?
A generalist has basic skills in both long-form, informative content and short-form persuasive copy. They have the flexibility to write different types of content.
The benefit here is having a one-stop shop for all your content needs. But a generalist may not have the specialized expertise of a dedicated content or copywriter who focuses only on one type of writing.
Consider the following when deciding to hire a generalist and/or a specialist:
Need smaller volumes of both long-form and short-form content? A versatile writer may suffice.
Need extensive amounts of long-form content? It makes more sense to hire a specialized content writer.
Focused on optimizing conversion-driven copy? A dedicated copywriter is ideal.
Got a large budget? Hire both a content writer and a copywriter to get deep expertise in both areas.
TL;DR: For smaller needs, a generalist provides flexibility. For specialized projects, writers who focus on content or copy may provide greater skill (and better results).
How to find the best writer for your business goals
Taking the time to find the right writers with relevant skills and experience will pay off tremendously in getting results. Spending more for quality is usually worth it.
Here are 6 steps for finding the best content writer or copywriter for your business:
- Identify your goals and the types of content you need.
- Connect with and source talented freelance writers on LinkedIn.
- Ask candidates for industry-specific writing samples.
- Look for subject matter expertise and experience in creating content around your products/services/audience.
- Test their skills by having them produce a paid sample piece of content or copy for your review.
- Hire talent with excellent communication skills and turnaround times that work with your schedule.
The bottom line: Both are critical for marketing success
At the end of the day, content writers and copywriters both provide immense value.
Quality written content — both informative and persuasive — is indispensable for business success online. Be strategic in how you leverage it.
Deciding whether to hire a content writer vs. copywriter boils down to aligning the writer with your specific business objectives.
Are you focused on generating traffic and leads through valuable, informative content? A content writer is likely the best fit.
Or do you need copy that maximizes conversions and sales for your online ads and website pages? A copywriter makes more sense here.
For versatility in smaller amounts of mixed content, a generalist can handle both long-form and short-form.
Getting content that delivers real business results distills into a simple formula:
Know your goals + Understand both roles + Connect with skilled writers matched to your needs = Effective content
If your budget allows, the most effective strategy is often hiring both content writers and copywriters. This provides a complete approach to attracting, engaging, educating, and converting website visitors.
Need a skilled content writer for your brand?
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Are content writers and copywriters the same?
They can be related, but aren’t the same. Content writers take an informative approach focused on educating and building trust with buyers. Copywriters use persuasive writing techniques to compel readers to take action — usually to make a purchase.
Should I invest in a content writer or a copywriter?
The best approach is to use both. Hire a content writer to produce long-form pages and blog articles that attract and engage visitors early in the buying journey. Then, use a copywriter for key landing pages and other website copy where you want to drive conversions.
How much does a skilled writer cost?
Costs vary based on various factors like experience level, project complexity, and the industry. Quality is well worth the investment — pay writers their rates and don’t go by “market rates” online. They are experts at their crafts and have their reasons for charging what they charge!
What does a content writer do?
A content writer researches and creates long-form, informative content like blog articles, ebooks, and whitepapers. They focus on providing value to attract and educate prospective customers early in the buyer’s journey.
What does a copywriter do?
A copywriter writes persuasive short-form copy like ads, landing pages, and website copy. They drive conversions by using psychology to compel readers to take action.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn, but was updated on 10/17/2023.