What is the difference between a content writer and a copy writer?

Job titles are something I have always struggled with and as I’ve become freelance, the situation hasn’t improved much.

Way back when I was working at a record label, I was hired as the assistant to the MD. After a few months my job became one of knowing how the whole label ran so that should anyone go on holiday or to a festival and never return, (yep one staff member did that,) then there was me to do their job.

I’d kind of outgrown my initial job title. I looked after so much stuff and had a boss who saw the potential in me that it was a struggle to find the right title for the job. In the end I declared myself as Helper Monkey on the website. I cared more about doing my job well than I did about what my job was called.

This goes some way to explain why I feel a little constrained by job titles. It means doing one thing and not another. I’ve always worked for small companies where everyone pitched in to get the job done. So I’ve never really understood the boundaries that people put in place through their job titles.

Content Writer or Copywriter?

We put a lot of stock in what we call ourselves at work. It can anchor us to our experience if we are called senior or junior. It can position us within the market place for our skillset. But mostly, it lets people know what we do.

The only problem is that there are a lot of job titles out there for very similar roles. One person’s social media manager could be another person’s VA. When you are looking for a copywriter, you could in fact really be wanting a content writer. But what is the difference?

Copywriters

Some writers don’t actually think there is a difference between copywriting and content writing. For a start, you are writing words for a purpose and audience. You go through the same process and work to a brief. The fact that the words can end up online or in print is neither here nor there.

But I don’t think this is actually true. I think being a content writer is different enough from a copywriter to need a different job title with different expectations.

As I consider myself to be a content writer, I checked out my theory with a copywriter to see if they felt the same.

Definition of a content writer

This is how we both saw the definition of a content writer:

“A content writer is someone who writes the copy, primarily for web, and also considers the placement of that copy in the larger context of the page. They will consider all the media, accessibility, branding, back end set up, and any other related content such as images and video. Not just the words.”

Copywriter v content writer.jpg

Think about it this way: if you create copy for a pamphlet would you also be expected to do the design, layout, and branding of that document as a copywriter? Or is that the job and skillset of the graphic designer?

If you are a content writer, you will be thinking about all of the content on the webpage or PDF, plus any SEO requirements, and how the content will be re-used on other marketing platforms.

You are doing more than just writing.

Right title for the right job

As a content writer, I like to think of myself as a copywriter with bells on. Bells that are the skills and training I’ve received on content management platforms and email marketing systems. I’m great with words and following a brief but I’m also great with WordPress, too.

For me, being a content writer is more than just writing great copy. It is about understanding how those words work on page and beyond.

What do you think? Is there a difference between copywriter and content writer? Let me know.