What is content writing and how does it differ from copywriting?

What is a content writer? Well, it’s obvious, isn’t it?

A content writer is someone who writes content. Duh!owl image to stand for person who knows about what is content writing

Yes. Thank you, Wise Owl. You won’t mind if we seek a second opinion? And, while we’re at it, see if we can get a handle on how content writing differs from copywriting?

The Internet is growing. And growing. And growing…

Internet World Stats has some very interesting figures. Just take a look at this:

Content Writing Chart 1

The curve is rising and there’s no indication it’s going to slow down any time soon. It hasn’t reached half the world’s population yet!

Chart showing changes in numbers of internet users

Commerce is what fuels that growth

Okay, there are lots of lovely blogs out there that are purely for the entertainment of the people who write them and the people who read them. I’m particularly fond of this one and this one. But the reality is that most blogs and almost all websites exist to sell things.
To sell things,Image of marketing as a title you need to get people to visit your website (for which you either have to know lots of people or you need SEO, so they can find you using search engines) and then get them to stay long enough to be convinced by your message. And that – getting them to stay – is where the content comes in. In October 2014, Netcraft said that, out of the billion or so registered hostnames, well over 100 million were active. In the last week of May 2016 alone, the number of domains worldwide increased by 46,324.
That’s a huge amount of competition, and it isn’t getting any easier to make yourself heard above the cacophony of internet voices. If people are going to stay long enough to hear your message, you need to be telling them something well worth listening to.

So there wasn’t any “Content” before the Web?

That’s just silly. There was lots of content. Most of it was called copy, though. Which is where we come to the heart of the matter. If you Google the difference between “copy” and “content,” you’ll find plenty of sites that say – in effect – that when it’s designed to sell things, it’s copy; everything else is content. And the people who say that believe it and mean it. But it’s an idea that no longer stands up.
The Oxford English Dictionary says that Copia in medieval Latin meant “transcript”. According to the Chambers Dictionary of Etymology, by the 16th century it had come to mean any kind of writing as well as any form of reproduction. By 1905, advertising had taken ownership of the word; it’s used for the first time in that sense in The Art of Modern Advertising. But the word existed with pretty much its current meaning long before the birth of the popular press and the growth of advertising.

Copy is content and content is copy

So: what is a content writer? A content writer is the person who writes the material on your website, your blog or your eCommerce site. She or he is no different from a copy writer. They are one and the same.
If you’d like content for your website, written by someone who time and again has shown the ability to hold people’s attention, slash bounce rate and convert visitors to customers, fill in this form and let’s talk:

Return to John Lynch, Freelance Writer and Copywriter