Updated: May 18
When I started my journey as a creative professional, 10 years back, I was not very sure about what copywriting was. But I did have some idea about what content writing was. My very first writing assignments were mostly ghostwriting for the C-Suite in the financial sector.
Given my knowledge of the sector and my flair for writing, this seemed like a good idea. But I wanted to explore other industries, too. After all, good research could help you whip up a great article if you truly have a flair for writing.
Since then, I started writing about everything under the sun. Right from academic content (psychology and business being my favorites), fashion, law, medicine, tabloid, alternative healing & treatments, and my all-time favorite IT and design.
While writing long-form content for all these sectors, I realized the content I was creating was already out there. I was researching and rewriting it by adding some insights from my client, but these were not client-specific. They were information-specific.
So, what is content writing?
These pieces of content, mostly long-form, such as blogs, Q&A, ebooks, etc., were educational in nature and helped the end audience gather insights about the industry. They helped the audience understand the relevance and importance of the industry and how their offerings could help them, more specifically.
Awareness-driven, research content is what content writing is all about.
What is copywriting?
Copywriting is similar to content writing. It is writing content for your client in a way that not only creates awareness around their brand's offerings but also entices the audience to take some form of favorable action, such as:
Clicking on a link to learn more about the brand and its offerings,
Buying the product, or
Submitting their mailing details to sign up for a newsletter.
Copywriting, unlike content writing, always looks to elicit a response from the audience through some action. It's also used a lot to boost recall.
The thing about copywriting is that it is not as wordy as content writing. Copywriting is more salesy in nature. It has more of a marketing and sales twist on it, and as such, copywriters should have experience and understanding of this field to churn out quality copies.
Yet, another reason why copywriting is considered a more skill-based function as compared to content writing is because of its requirement to squeeze in an entire message in just a few words.
Although copywriting might seem like an easy task with fewer words to write as compared to content writing, it is indeed a difficult job to write something that you could have expounded in 100-500 words in just 6-10 words. That, too, in a way to spark curiosity in the reader’s mind that'll lead them to take action or at least remember the words/brand for a while.
This is what makes copywriting more skill and experience-based rather than content writing, which, too, requires a fair share of expertise and skill to master.
Check out my vlog on the topic and learn more about the two in this blog...
What are the skills you need to be a good content writer/ copywriter?
Content writing has become a popular career option for a lot of people, especially those who are looking for some flexibility in their work life. While a good chunk of being a good content writer does depend on your writing skills, there are some more skills you need to have to ensure you are acing the content writing game.
Here's a peek into some skills and qualities that will help boost your career as a content writer:
Good language skills
This goes without saying. When you are working on becoming an established content writer/copywriter, you cannot afford to make grammatical or spelling errors in your content or copy. Ensuring sentence structure, correct spelling, right punctuation, and good grammar, are the four cornerstones of good writing.
Following instructions and adaptability
Unless you are working full-time for a single client, chances are that you will be receiving multiple assignments from diverse industries and clients. Client briefs from the same industry, too, might vary a lot. The trick to delivering quality articles is to pay attention to what the client has asked for and stick to it. Adapt your writing style and flow to what the client has requested. If you have a better idea, feel free to pitch it and leave it to the client to take the call.
Ask the right questions (esp. for copywriters)
To create stellar content, you need to envision the end product as your client sees it. This would seem practically impossible since the client lives and breathes the brand while it is considerably new for you. It's here where thorough research steps in. Find out more about the industry and its offerings. You will find a million questions mushrooming in your head. List them down and ask your client for clarification. The better idea you have about their offering, the better you will be able to craft the idea into words.
Good writing is important, but so is being searchable on search engines. Even though Google does keep changing its algorithm regularly, researching keywords, and using them reasonably throughout the article can help boost the article and website's SEO score. Write relevant meta descriptions and make sure you don't overdo those keywords.
Nothing makes the client happier than receiving the completed work on time. So, when you start writing, stay focused, with minimum deviations and distractions, and get the work done. If you are unable to meet the deadline, let the client know beforehand instead of at the time when you were supposed to deliver the final product.
Revise your work
Being a writer, the last thing you would want to deliver to your client is an error-ridden piece. Once you have completed writing the article, read it through a couple of times to check for grammar errors. Also, check to see if the flow is making sense. Try and read it after a couple of hours, so that you can render your piece a fresh set of eyes to identify errors of any kind.
Be empathetic (esp. for copywriters)
When writing copy, you need to craft the content from the end consumer/prospective customer's point of view. Write in a manner that makes them want to read more and learn further about your client, and in the process, create a favorable attitude towards the brand. An understanding of how marketing works and an understanding of marketing and sales funnel are added plus when it comes to writing quality copies.
Both content and copywriting are skills that can be acquired. Like every other skill, these need to be practiced and harnessed. Focus on learning and delivering quality content on time. Know that every new thing you learn will stay with you for a lifetime.
Get the complete guide to how to start and improve your writing skills right from ideation to client delivery.