Copywriting vs Content Writing: A Comprehensive Guide

Copywriting and content writing are both beneficial aspects of a marketing strategy. In fact, the two are symbiotic – an effective marketing strategy must include both. Today’s consumer is perceptive and keen, open to learning about your product or service but not willing to be oversold. This is where the differences between copywriting vs content writing become important. Organisations must ensure that they do not present too much of one and not enough of the other.

A Content Writer and a Copywriter both have “writer” in their job titles, so do the tasks that each respective position takes up differ from each other that much to merit different titles? What’s the difference between copywriting vs content writing anyways?

Copywriting and content writing are similar in that both are written forms of media that are intended to be captivating and engaging to an audience. However, the ways in which they capture and engage, the forms of media that they are presented in and the ultimate goal of each differs.

This article will examine copywriting vs content writing, comparing and differentiating the two to help you find the right balance for your marketing strategy!

Here’s what we’ll cover:

What is Copywriting?

While both content writing and copywriting must be engaging and compelling enough to attract attention, copywriting has a job that goes one step further – it must induce action.

Good copy should be clear and concise and should elicit action from its audience. Copywriting is directly related to selling and is meant to pitch a product or service, to communicate a brand’s personality and what makes it unique and to get viewers to buy what is being sold.

What is Content Writing?

Much like copywriting, content writing is also designed to be captivating and engaging. However, content writing does not directly aim to sell. Rather, it is targeted at entertaining and educating an audience.

The goal of content writing is to generate interest and to help viewers understand and learn more about a brand.

With so much in common, it can be hard to differentiate between copywriting vs content writing. Let’s take a look at the main differences.

Copywriting vs Content Writing: The Differences

There are 5 important distinctions that can be made between copywriting vs content writing:

1. Purpose: Action vs entertainment

One of the chief responsibilities of a copywriter is to represent the brand that they’re writing for. This means having intimate knowledge of the brand’s personality, their values and their goals in order to “speak” on their behalf. 

The content that you see on landing pages, websites, product descriptions are written by copy editors who know how to best represent their brand and/or organization. On top of representing their brand and organization, copywriters also write to persuade. Advertisements, emails, print ads, brochures and landing pages are written with intent to convince their readership to purchase their products/services. 

When it comes to comparing copywriting vs content writing, copywriters write to influence their customers and make a sale while content writers write to entertain, inform and/or educate. Content writers write for blogs, social media and emails, but are less concerned with persuasion and more with creating great content. 

Copywriting is all about action. Its purpose is to influence and to elicit a response from an audience with a direct call to action.

Content writing, on the other hand, is meant to entertain and educate. Unlike copywriting, 

content writers are not so much concerned with persuasion and action but, rather, with creating interesting content that will keep customers engaged and coming back for more.

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As seen in this example, comedy is a great way to engage with a copywriter's readership. (https://www.moosejaw.com/)

This marketing material is a great example of copywriting. This ad was created by a copywriter 

for Moosejaw – the copy aims to engage the audience and persuade them to make an immediate purchase.

2. Marketing Mediums

Content writers live on blogs, in emails and on social media platforms. You’ll see their work most prominently in the form of impersonal articles and posts written to engage and delight their readership. 

Since content writing is designed to strengthen the relationship between the brand and the audience, content writing shines best in the form of impersonal articles and emails that let the personality of the writer shine. 

Comparing copywriting vs content writing, you definitely won’t see that same level of freedom given to a copywriter. Copywriters populate landing pages, product descriptions and advertisements.

Basically, any material that can be deemed as representative of a brand or organization is a copywriter’s domain. Copywriters write for ads, email marketing, landing pages, product descriptions and brochures. Content writers create content for blogs, articles, reviews, podcasts and infographics.

Copywriting is commonly found on website landing pages and in ads, email marketing and product descriptions.

In contrast, content writing is depicted in blog posts, articles, infographics and podcasts.

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Lego's witty punchline and captions are short, but accomplish their marketing objectives well. (https://www.lego.com/en-ca)

This ad from LEGO contains content that is an example of copywriting. Alternatively, Advesa’s very own explanatory and educational video on Keyword Research is a succinct example of copywriting. 

Keyword Research is essential both copywriting and content writing. Learn more at Keyword Research – The Complete Beginner’s Guide”

3. Length: Short and sweet vs long-form

Copywriters focused on succinct yet impactful content. Copywriters excel at translating ideas into words and words into ideas. Witty taglines, captivating headlines and enthralling snack-sized tidbits of content are all created by copywriters but they must adhere to a strict word count. 

When it comes to word counts, content writers take the cake by a wide margin. Publishing long-form content such as blog posts, e-books and guides aren’t short endeavors, especially considering the amount of research and care that content writers undertake in creating each piece. 

Content like blog posts and comprehensives guides can be very lengthy – ranging from hundreds to even thousands of words. The sky’s the limit for content writers. As long as their content is captivating, length is not a concern. 

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Concise and to the point - this short copy from Harry's is a great example of effective copy. (https://www.harrys.com/en/ca)

This copywriting example from Harry’s is short and sweet. It portrays a message in just a few words and entices the reader to take action.

4. Personality – Brand vs Writer

The largest difference between copywriting vs content writing is found in the different and “voices” that they have to write in. 

A copywriter writes primarily for different brands and industries, assuming a number of “voices” and personalities in their writing to best align themselves with the organisation that they’re writing for. While it’s still possible for copywriters to let their own, active writing voice shine through, it’s far more important to match the tone of the brand personality they’re assuming.

A content writer writes blogs, articles and guides, among other things. Most of the time, they’re still working within an organization’s requirements for tone and voice, but they have much more leeway. 

For the most part, a content writer can feel free to let their own writing skills shine through while they do their writing. Since they’re not assuming a brand’s personality, they can showcase their own and let their individuality shine through.

what-are-the-differences-between-copywriting-and-content-writing
One thing both copywriters and content writers can agree on is the creative use of language and puns. (https://www.oldspice.ca/en-ca)

For example, Old Spice has a strong and consistent brand persona that is captured in their copywriting. The words and expressions used in their ad copy reflect the voice of the brand and not that of the writer.

5. Relationship to Selling – Direct vs indirect

Copywriting is directly related to selling. Ads, landing pages and email marketing are often designed with one goal in mind – to secure a sale.

Content writing, in comparison, is not directly related to sales. Rather, it is indirectly related. It’s goal of engagement and education is meant to develop a trusting and lasting relationship with customers and to keep them interested in a product or service for sales down the road.

For example, this landing page (an example of copywriting) from Netflix entices its audience to immediately sign up.

what-are-the-differences-of-copywriting-vs-content-writing
With a maximum of 20 words on the screen, Netflix still manages to call its readership into action. (https://www.netflix.com/ca/)

The blog posts (content writing) found on Netflix’s website, however, don’t attempt to sell anything. Instead, they keep the audience engaged and promote their return to the site.

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Longform blogs redirect and advocate to customers and potential customers alike back to Netflix's streaming service. (https://media.netflix.com/en/company-blog

Key Takeaways on Copywriting vs Content Writing

Copywriting and content writing, although similar in some respects, are very different forms of content creation with different styles and purposes.

Both, however, are important pieces in an effective marketing campaign. Marketers must ensure that both forms of content are used in order to prevent their audience from becoming too overpowered by one or the other.

Here are the main differences between copywriting vs content writing:

  • Purpose – Copywriting is meant to elicit action from its audience while content writing is designed to engage and educate.
  • Medium – Copywriting can be found on landing pages and in ads while content writing is most commonly found in blog posts, articles and infographics.
  • Length – Copywriting is usually short and sweet unlike content writing which can take up pages and pages of space.
  • Personality – In copywriting, a brand’s personality must come through. Content writing, however, does not require the writer to use language that reflects the brand’s voice. Content writers have the flexibility to contribute their own personality and style to the content.
  • Relations to selling – Copywriting is directly related to sales, with copy often attempting to make an immediate sale to its audience. Content writing is indirectly related to sales, attempting to educate and engage an audience in hopes of sales in the future.
Vincent Lee

Written By Vincent Lee

An Editor at Advesa, Vincent is a mechanical keyboard enthusiast, a lover of cats and a purveyor of fine roasted matcha teas. When not writing, he enjoys exercising and biking around beautiful Vancouver. He is also a strong supporter of the oxford comma.