The Difference Between Copywriting and Content Writing

You need both to bolster your brand.  

by Janie Gianotsos

Snuggled like two peas in a pod.

Copy and content work together but they have some distinctions that make them unique. When you're thinking about your marketing communications strategy and building your brand, it's helpful to understand the difference between copywriting and content writing, how they're connected, and when it makes sense to create copy vs content.


Copywriting builds excitement. Content builds trust. Together, they frame your story.

Imagine going out on a first date. You're so excited to learn more about this new person. They pick you up at the door, plant a big, wet kiss on your lips, and ask you to move in with them. Bad dating strategy, right? If you start selling without a bit of courtship, you'll scare people away. Your customers need to know you understand them, and you're here to help them, not just sell them something.

Now imagine a different first date. You share your dreams with each other and learn you have so many things in common. There's a connection. You understand them, and they understand you. This understanding leads to a second date and, soon, a third. And that leads to more trust and eventually a commitment. Like dating, some customers may love your brand at first sight, but most will take a little nurturing to fall in love with your products and services.

Successful brands understand their customers, what causes them pain or frustration, and where they are on their buying journey. When you tell the right story, you reach the right clients. When your story matches their journey, you help them trust you. They envision how they can transform. Their vision leads to hope, and they believe you will help them change something in their life.

Both writing styles can get you to the first date.

Before you agree to meet someone, you either need to know something about them, or they need to know something about you.

Let's say you're sitting at the park and an attractive person sits next to you. You exchange smiles, and after a short, charming conversation, your heart is beating a little faster. They ask you on a date, and you say yes. That's copywriting. It's short, sweet, appeals to your emotions, and inspires action. It's convincing and persuasive. It gets you interested. Headlines, ad copy, sales pages, landing pages, sales emails, and sales letters require great copywriting for big results.

Now imagine that same attractive person volunteers with you at your favorite charity. They teach you how to do your volunteer job better. The next time they see you, they ask you how you're doing and remember details from your last encounter. They make you laugh. They're always helpful. Slowly you get to know each other and eventually go out on a date. This is content strategy. Great brands understand their customers. They take the time to show their customer they know them, care about them, and want the best for them. Content informs, entertains, and educates. When you read a blog article, watch a video, see social media posts that answer your question, give you information, and entertain you, you start to build a relationship that grows over time.

Here are four ways copywriting and content writing differ.

  1. Copywriting sells. Content writing informs.
  2. Copywriting creates a sense of urgency. Content writing builds a sense of trust.
  3. Copywriting is short-form writing. Advertisements, email campaigns, landing pages, sales letters, slogans, jingles, and taglines are examples of projects requiring strong copywriting. Copywriting inspires customers to take your call to action – buy, join, sign-up, donate, etc. 
    Content writing is long-form writing. Articles, blog posts, white papers, newsletters, books, podcasts, and videos are examples of communications that need a good content writer. These pieces may have a call-to-action at the end, but their main purpose is to share information and build trust. Customers may discover your brand at different stages in their buyer's journey. Content keeps them coming back, so they think of you when they're ready to invest in what you're selling.
  4. Copywriting can be evaluated for success quickly. It's easy to see how many sales or leads a landing page generates or how many donations an email campaign brings in.
    Content writing takes more time to nurture and builds opportunities for future sales. It can be measured by views, visits, shares, and likes. Content writing can drive inbound traffic, but it's difficult to measure content writing's direct effect on sales.

Build your brand with the right blend.

You can start to see how, even though copywriting and content writing are different, both are needed to nurture your customers and encourage them to purchase your products and services. If you only sell, sell, sell, you're like the crazy date who plants a kiss way too soon, without any sense of trust or understanding who they're trying to smooch. You need a content strategy. Strong content has a long shelf life. It's great for SEO. When you create it right, even though it might take some time to build trust, it lasts for a long time. But if you never ask for the sale, it might not ever happen. Powerful copywriting combined with carefully curated content writing is the secret sauce to better customer relationships, more sales, and a stronger brand.

If you're ready to discuss your project and how I can help you with copyrighting and content creation, I'd love to learn more.

Reach out for your free 30-minute discovery session, and let's explore how to make your customers fall in love with your brand.

Not quite ready for a discovery session?

Learn more about Gianotsos Communications here.