Content Versus Copy Matters: Explaining How Content and Copy are Different and Alike
Every industry has its jargon. Words meant to show professionalism. To the rest of us, it may as well be a foreign language.
However, to fulfill a need, say you need a writer to write blog posts. Or you have a need to refresh your online ads. What’s the first thing you do?
Google: “writing for the web” or “writing blog posts” or “writing online ads.”
Search results populate the screen. In the blurry vision of having stared at your computer screen for too long, you see various sites advertising “content writers” or “copywriters.”
What’s the difference, you wonder. Both words have “writer” in them. Isn’t content writing and copywriting the same thing?
No and yes. Knowing the difference between content and copy will be key to knowing what kind of writer you want for your web project.
This post will investigate the difference and similarities between content and copy. At the end, I’ll share why it’s important to understand these two terms.
The Differences Between Content and Copy
For writers in the field of copywriting, they find themselves in a Wild West of different ways to write for a living.
“Content” and “copy” are like the ABCs to a writer. And like the ABCs, each one has a unique role to play.
Here are the two main differences between content and copy.
Difference #1 Between Content and Copy: Length
Content writing projects are projects that are longer in length. Examples of content projects are blog posts, newsletters/e-newsletters, and white papers.
Copy projects are projects that are short. Examples of copy projects are ads, social media, and web pages.
Huh? Wait. Don’t web pages serve as content? And also, can’t blog posts be short?
To keep it brief, web pages fall in a gray area between content and copy. Yes, web pages are meant to be informative, but the main drive is to nudge the reader to take an action.
Blog posts can be short, falling to a word count that can be less than 500 words.
That’s okay if there are sections up for debate. For the purposes of getting the basics of content versus copy, we’ll place web pages as copy and group blog posts beneath content. Diving deeper would be a whole conversation in itself.
So, length is the key that separates copy from content. What’s next?
Difference #2 Between Content and Copy: Purpose
One of the common goals of words is to communicate an idea. What separates content from copy is purpose.
What's Content's Purpose?
As content writing falls beneath lengthier writing projects, one of the main goals is to educate and inform the audience.
It takes a big idea like “how to write a landing page” and breaks it down into action steps.
The assumption of content writing is the audience is curious about a topic. Let’s say you’re curious about why you should invest in a writer. Content focuses on answering the question and can go in-depth on the benefits to have a writer help you in your business.
The main purpose is to inform the audience to help them make their next decision informed. There could be the slightest touch of persuasion, but the main focus is to educate.
What's Copy's Purpose?
Copy is writing that is meant to convert. Copywriters know they have seconds to capture a reader’s attention. Each word counts. Each second counts. If they don’t catch the reader in that time, they click away or search for something better.
Copy has been an extensive focus for the web. It’s understandable. Most of the population browse on their phones with the ability to shop, learn, and call on the go.
The screens can only convey a small amount of text and message. Therefore, copy is the art of capturing attention with the fewest words.
The immediate action is to take the next step. Some is simple: click to read the full blog post. Tap and go to the e-shop to buy that notebook to host your greatest story idea.
While content takes its time to build gradually towards its call for action, copy wants the readers to take it immediately.
How Content and Copy are Alike: Goals
In a nutshell, the difference of content and copy are length and purpose. Yet there are times when content and copy blur into each other. The way that content and copy are similar is they are written with a goal.
Similar with how a fiction writer can take the reader on an adventure through words, content writers and copywriters take prospects on a journey with a few goals in sight.
Content takes prospects towards discovery, helpful advice, and insights into a problem. Copy takes prospects towards an action that can be accomplished immediately. They both rely on the message’s clarity to evoke their prospects’ confidence. Without clarity and confidence, prospects are left high and dry.
Why Knowing Matters for Content and Copy
So now the similarities and differences between copy and content are on the table.
What does it mean for you? How does it help you with your business that can have a mountainous load of content writing and copywriting needs?
Knowing these facts can help you narrow down what kind of writer you need to help your business grow.
If you’re offering a new service or product that needs explaining, a content writer can weave in the directions to help your clients feel confident in your service/product.
If you’re offering a special discount on a product or service for a limited time, a copywriter aims to capture attention and convert with short but powerful persuasion with the right words.
But I imagine you could have needs that fall in both categories. Copy leads to content. Or content leads to copy.
If I were to describe myself in where I fall with content and copy, I’m someone whose happy to dive into the content.
Once I know the service and product, I can tailor the content into copy. I tend to be detailed-oriented and focused on delivering information. This information can help inform me how I craft copy.
If I’m the kind of writer you’re looking for, let’s have a coffee chat.
If I’m not the writer, but I helped you learn something new, I would love a coffee chat to see what other questions you have. I could answer your questions then or I find the answers and share them as I’m sharing my personal insights on content versus copy here.
Thank you, and have a wonderful life. <3