What is Copywriting vs Content & Other Writing?
Updated: Oct 4, 2022
As a small business owner, I'm sure you've heard of copywriting and content writing. You've likely had freelancers pitch their services to you... but what exactly is copywriting, and why should you care?
What is Copywriting?
In simplest terms, copywriting is copying the words of your ideal audience and writing them in your marketing materials.
Because your ideal clients know the best way to describe their problems, they're living them! It sounds very simple, but taking their words and turning them into marketing material is the not so simple key to copywriting.
Copywriting is persuasive writing — or writing for a specific outcome. It's writing that inspires the reader to take action (purchase, book, click a link, or make a donation.)
"Copy" is simply industry jargon referring to the words on your website, email, advertisements, and other marketing mediums.
Copywriting is the process of writing words that will prompt, motivate, and persuade the reader to take action. Copywriting is both an art and a science — weaving together principles of psychology and creative storytelling.
What Isn't Copywriting?
Writing to simply inform the audience would not be considered copywriting.
A list of classes, sharing statistics, or a blog describing your recent family vacation are typically not copywriting examples. Anything that’s written without the intention to inspire action is content writing.
Content Writing Is Not Copywriting — And Content Writing Is Less Valuable For Your Business
Content writing and copywriting overlap to some degree and are often confused.
Content writing is just as it sounds... writing content for the sake of sharing that information.
The difference between copywriting and content writing is the core objective to share information (content) or to inspire action (copy.)
This doesn't mean content writing is useless. If your goal is to inform rather than inspire action, then content writing is what you need.
However... I'd recommend you really think about why you're sharing information online from your business.
If you're providing valuable information, then what do you want the reader to do next?
Should they read another article?
Consider one of your offers?
Share the information with a friend?
Join your email list?
Even if you write blogs with the intent of creating content... I challenge you to add a recommended action for your readers. Give your content a job so it can better work for you.
What is SEO Copywriting?
Not all copywriting is SEO copywriting — which is also a frequent point of confusion.
SEO stands for search engine optimization.
SEO copywriting is a form of copywriting that involves the strategic use of keywords and key phrases that people type into search engines. SEO is one way copywriting stands out from content writing — it's all about the strategy!
If you are writing a website that aims to attract traffic from Google, you need keywords in your headlines and text. Using these keywords optimizes your web page for the search engines. (Which means you've incorporated "search engine optimization" or SEO.)
Not all copywriters use SEO, because not all copywriting includes SEO.
Magazines, email marketing, product labels, and even some hidden sales pages and funnels don't require SEO because the traffic doesn't come from Google searches.
But if you need the information to show up in a Google, Bing, or YouTube search — then SEO is your [not-so-secret] weapon.
A Simple Framework for Copywriting - AIDA
The best way to explain copywriting may be to provide an example of a copywriting framework. Copywriting is all about moving people into action, and this framework does it beautifully.
The AIDA Framework
This framework can be traced back to 1898 when an American advertising advocate, E. St. Elmo Lewis created a basic version!
This framework has changed a bit over time, but overall continues to prove it’s worth.
AIDA stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action.
It's how you move a reader from not knowing anything about your company to taking action to work with you.
Let's dive into each piece of the framework:
Capture the Reader's Attention
We are bombarded with marketing messages, news, and information.
Your headline must capture a reader's attention or they will scroll past and never have the opportunity to learn about your product.
To catch a reader's attention, consider what their desires and needs are. Make it interesting and relevant, but not spammy — it's a fine line sometimes.
Provoke the Reader's Interest
If you catch a reader's attention, the next job is to keep and increase their interest.
You have only a few seconds let them know why they need to keep reading. Connect on a deeper level so they know you understand their problem — and have the solution.
You don't just tell them a problem, you relate to them and find common ground, or challenge a belief they might hold about the problem.
Increase the Desire of the Reader
Now that you caught their attention and increased interest, it's time to create a sense of desire. Not in a sleazy way though... what solution do you actually have that your reader needs?
You take the connection from above, and provide a little hope that things can be different -- things can be better! Paint a picture of the way their life could be when they grab your solution.
This is where you explain the benefits of your offer/service and how it can help them survive and thrive.
If your offer isn't a good fit for the reader, this section won't resonate with them — and that's OK!
The goal is to connect with readers who truly want and need your offer.
Inspire Your Reader to Take Action
The last aspect you MUST have in every copywritten piece is a very clear "Call to Action."
Tell the reader what they need to do next after they read your copy. Don't forget to tell them why they should take this action (aka what they get out of it.)
That's what copywriting is in a nutshell - writing to increase awareness, interest, desire, and lead a reader to take action.
Keep this framework in your mind to give your writing purpose and a flow.
This framework generates revenue.
Where Should You Use Copywriting In Your Business?
Ok, not exactly, but once you learn copywriting techniques you'll use them in everything you do.
Here are a few places to incorporate copywriting:
Website pages (don't forget the SEO here!)
Posters or fliers
Any other promotional or public-facing materials/documents
In all reality, copywriting is useful for almost everything
Potluck sign-up (inspire participation)
Selling stuff on Craigslist or other online platforms
Posting to your own social media accounts
Texting your spouse or friends (make it clear and easy to read)
The family Christmas letter
Ok, I digress, but I think you understand how versatile copywriting is now - our little camper sold in record time with a copywritten ad!
Is Copywriting the Missing Piece In Your Marketing?
Do you use copywriting to connect with your customers?
If not… you may be leaving money on the table.
Here’s another way to think of copywriting:
Imagine your customers are on one side of a giant wall — searching for answers to their very real problems.
Your company and the solutions you offer are on the other side of this giant wall. The customer can't see the solution — they have no idea it's there.
The only way to find the solution to their problems is a bridge that will not only get them over the wall, but tell them why they should look over the wall in the first place.
The bridge my friend — is copywriting.
That's why my mission is to connect companies who have life-improving products/services with the clients who are searching for answers to their problems.
I provide the clarity and the path — helping your customers see that you are the answer they've been hoping for.
Curious about copywriting for your business but don’t have the time to do it all yourself?
Book a free Discovery Call today.
Together we’ll dig into your marketing needs and how copywriting can boost your business!