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Am I a copywriter or a content writer? Yes!

Let’s run this one up the flagpole

I’m in an industry that loves jargon and acronyms. They make us sound a bit mysterious and clever.

The buzz that’s been around for a while now is CONTENT. More specifically, there’s a swathe of twaddle on the web concerning the difference between the job of a copywriter and that of a content writer.

Same but different or different in a samey kind of way?

The Internet will tell you that there is a massive difference between the two. I have even read that the difference is almost as great as apples and bananas.

I am, and have been, a copywriter for my entire career. Many of my peers would tell you that that means I couldn’t possibly do anything else (or at least, not be particularly good at anything else).

Well, the fact is, I am also an Art Director, Concept Creator, Illustrator, Photo-Retoucher, Creative Director, Workshop Facilitator and Blogger. I’m also pretty good in the kitchen and behind a drum kit, and I got my map reading badge, but as I don’t get paid for any of these skills I won’t bang on about them.

Although clients come to me for all of the above creative disciplines, I seem to be spending more and more of my time writing for a living. But does that make me a copywriter or a content writer (or some kind of loveable mongrel)?

Open the box

We love to put people in convenient boxes, so what shape boxes does the almighty Internet tell us we need to put content and copy into?

Here is the sort of thing that you’ll find repeatedly if you Google ‘What is the difference between a copywriter and a content writer?’

“Copywriting is the art of selling people an idea, brand or ideology. Content writing is the art of creating content.”

“Copywriting means writing for the sake of promotional advertising or marketing. The purpose of content writing is to entertain and entice the online audiences so they stay longer on websites and engage with the brand.” Whoever originally wrote that one must be well miffed, because the exact same words come up time after time (and sorry, but here they are again).

Here’s my favourite: “A copywriter is a professional whose job is dedicated to producing copy, which is usually, but not always, shortform… a content writer can be anyone… not necessarily a professional writer, but someone who produces content.”

Most articles I’ve read, talk about shortform v longform copy, storytelling v optimising copy for search engines and ideas generation v journalism. Many start off by telling you that you’re deluded if you think the two disciplines are the same, go on to point out the differences and then grudgingly admit that a copywriter can also be a content writer (rarely, if ever, the other way around it seems).

Copywriter or copycat?

If you can be bothered to do that Google search, you’ll find that the vast majority of blog posts on this subject aren’t written, they are ‘curated’. I keep coming across the same sentences, paragraphs and even complete posts on different websites, the ‘authors’ can’t even be bothered to re-work them to put their own spin on things. To me that’s not content creation or copywriting, at school this was called copy-ing. By the way, I reckon if you want to be a curator, you should get a job in a museum; it would be so much more fun.

It’s all bananas

Not everyone reading this will agree with what to me is an indisputable fact – a good copywriter can also be a good content writer, because guess what, it’s not a case of apples or bananas, it’s more like selling the idea of a banana or selling an actual banana – they’re both ultimately extremely banana-y.

Shortform or longform, online or offline, if you aren’t able to entice, entertain or inform you’re not really any kind of writer, in a professional sense.

I’m probably risking a public lynching here, but I think ‘Content Writer’ may well be Emperor’s new clothes. “Ooh, look at me in my ermine-trimmed cloak and silk britches, I’m a content writer dontcha know.” (Mummy, why is that man at the cheese counter showing his bottom off?)

Argue all you like, but you can’t argue the facts

Fact: Clients pay me to come up with creative ideas. They also get their chequebooks out for headlines, strap lines, web copy, brochure copy, advertising copy, blog posts, video scripts, twitter campaigns and emails.

Fact: I’ve worked for Advertising Agencies, Design Agencies, PR Agencies and Integrated-Creative-Digital-Experiential-User-centric-Marcomms Agencies  – I can feel another blog post coming on.

So am I copywriter, content writer or contentoppitywriter (there you go, stick that in your marketing jargon pipe)? Well you can call me whatever you want, just call me! 07703 563241

Read more about Freelance copywriting, content creation and wordsmithery here

Jonathan Wilcock (that’s me) is a Senior Freelance Copywriter.
You can drop me a line here, or email jonathan@sowhatif.co.uk