Copywriting vs. Content Writing: Different Process, Different Person - Fluxe Digital Marketing

Copywriting vs. Content Writing: Different Process, Different Person

By Joel Widmer | Content Marketing

Oct 06
Copywriting vs Content writing

Content is such an ill-defined word. “Writer" is even more vague. It’s no wonder finding someone to blog about your company or craft an email sequence is so darn hard.

But like crafting good copy, when hiring a writer, it's best to be specific. 

While there may be many multi-talented writers out there, the outstanding ones got that way because they play in one arena. Academic writers don't pen graphic novels. Poets don't write technical journals. Blog writers focus on storytelling while copywriters concentrate on sales. 

So when you’re hunting for a writer, it's best to crystallize your goals, then concentrate your search on specialists in that category. 

Writers, be they copywriters or bloggers, are not necessarily strategists. In fact, it's a rarity. A Content Strategist lays out the plan of action systematically and tailored to your brand and your goals. A writer executes that plan through either content writing or copywriting. 

Here's a quick rundown of the differences between copywriting and content writing and the goals each of them is trying to achieve. 

Content Writing 

Content writing is storytelling that solidifies abstract ideas to:

  • Entertain
  • Educate
  • Motivate

Generally speaking, content writing is helpful, regardless if someone ever uses your product or service. 

Content writers specialize in blog posts, articles, ebooks, email content, white papers, social media blurbs, and magazines and news articles. When done correctly, the final result gives your prospects so much value they're halfway sold before you meet them.

All good stories, whether they’re in email sequence or ebook form, must have three critical elements:

  • Characters
  • Conflict
  • Resolution

Think of the Pixar story spine, rule #4 of their 22 Rules of Storytelling:

Pixar Rules of Storytelling Story Spine

Now, a blog post on wealth management or dental implants is not going to be as thrilling as Monsters, Inc. Still, it should closely mimic this spine, even though it intends to inform rather than entertain. 

Here's an example of a piece of copy that follows this arc: 

I pride myself on helping founders share what's inside their heads in a way they never thought possible. True confession: I've been terrible at doing it for myself. It's hard to admit that as the CEO of a content marketing company, I've had my fair share of trouble producing my own content to a standard of my liking (i.e. Perfection).  Creating your content? Piece of cake. Mine? Torture. But I didn't get READ MORE

Metacognition and the Entrepreneur (Or, Why I Can’t Seem to Get Any Writing Done)

A good content writer not only crafts compelling stories but executes a host of tasks: 

  • Create brand voice guidelines for the blog and social media channels
  • Generate new blog topics based on the company's goals and content strategy
  • Create and manage an editorial calendar for agreed publishing frequency, and keep updated (at least a few weeks ahead)
  • Research and write all blog content
  • Edit and proofread all content or send the content to an editor
  • Optimize all uploaded blog content for SEO
  • Find, upload, and optimize images and graphics for all blog posts
  • Promote blog content through social media and other agreed channels upon publishing
  • Create additional content like emails, white papers, infographics, ebooks and case studies as lead magnets, and add resources for other pages on the site
  • Create and add email opt-ins to all posts if building an email list
  • Generate monthly metrics reports based on company goals and KPIs (usually created from Google Analytics, email list metrics, and SEO tools)
  • Make suggestions and changes to the content strategy based on insights from the monthly reports
  • If using WordPress, keep website and plugins fast, secure and up-to-date

It's an intentionally robust list. The last thing you want is to outsource a writing project with a vague job description that doesn't set expectations. 


David Ogilvy said the secret to good copywriting is simple, "Tell the truth, but make the truth fascinating."

Copywriters with serious truth-telling chops are adept at weaving intent into everything they write. When done well, good copy gets the reader to take action, whether it's clicking on a link, making a purchase, requesting more information, or picking up the phone. 

Good copy has rules. It should:

  • Shift the reader's perspective
  • Make a connection
  • Start with a stunning lede
  • Show you are listening to the customer
  • Avoid cliches and hyperbole
  • Be concise

Solid sales copy needs a directional flow, and it begins with knowing your audience. Once the specific persona develops, the story unfolds organically. 

Mary is concerned about her dog's inability to calm down during thunderstorms.

Next, explain the benefits of your product or service. Start big, go small. 

Our canine CBD oil relaxes your dog naturally without harsh chemicals or addictive properties — and it tastes like bacon.

Then prove it. 

Murray was at his wit's end with Scruffy. Every storm, the poor thing would wind up under the bed, whimpering. There were more than a few accidents on the carpet. It was getting so Murray was thinking of moving to Arizona where it didn't rain so much. But he refused to give Scruffy doggie Xanax. Then his pal at the dog park told him about CBD for dogs. Here's a before and after picture. Incredible, right? Yes, Murray already posted it on Dogs of Instagram.

Add what will happen if the customer doesn't act and sum it up.

There are all sorts of "remedies" out there, like calming blankets and soothing music, but it's not going to solve the core problem.

Your dog needs his wiring reset.

Finally, add a call to action.

Canine CBD and you can help. After all, Scruffy can do a lot, but he can't add to cart.

Here are just a few projects a copywriter can execute: 

  • Landing page copy
  • Content for web pages (home page, service pages, etc.)
  • Email automation campaigns
  • Short and long-form sales pages
  • Direct mail content

Remember, successful content marketing starts with you and your vision. The support you seek out will determine whether that vision becomes a wildly successful reality or wind up in someone’s spam folder. Pick your creative help wisely and purposefully. 

Content Strategists will show you which lane is best for your brand. Content writers can prime the pump when it comes to wooing customers, and copywriters should walk your customers over the finish line.  


About the Author

Joel Widmer is the Founder & CEO of Fluxe Digital Marketing—a content marketing shop that helps smart businesses create, produce and promote their content through a unique one-on-one interview process. When he’s not working, Joel can be found trying new restaurants with his wife, son, and daughter.

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