There are many different ways you can hire someone to write words for you. There are still quite a few variations when we narrow our scope to talking about just online writing. The trouble is, what role you hire depends on what you want.
The three main kinds of writers you can hire are:
They're all different, in sometimes subtle ways. What are those differences, and which one should you hire to do the work you need to be done?
Let's get started!
Before we dig into specific definitions, one thing we need to make mention is that definitions vary. One organization might label someone a content writer when what they do is more of a hybrid between content and copywriting.
Sometimes, people refer to any professional, non-fiction writing as copywriting, no matter what.
What we've done for this post is come up with the most consistently useful definitions for you. If you're looking for a specific kind of writing, you can figure out which type of writer will most likely be able to fulfill your needs. Many writers can and do write in different styles and with different purposes, so hiring a writer for one task and expanding into others can be just as effective.
So, if you dispute part of our definitions below, that's your prerogative. Feel free to leave a comment, and we can discuss the differences in greater detail. First, though, let's set a baseline for what these three kinds of writers do.
Copywriters write "copy," which generally means the text that goes into advertising in marketing speak. Copywriters are the people who write the text on magazine ads, billboards, PPC ads, brochures, and any other marketing vessels you use.
Copywriters may also write other forms of advertising copy; this can include the scripts for video and radio advertising, website copy for landing pages, product descriptions, and sales copy.
The key here is specialization.
To do this, copywriters need to be familiar with many aspects of their audience. They must know the venue where their content is being posted, the quirks of display (such as whether or not the content will be truncated behind a "read more" link), and even the target audience's demographics that will be reading the content.
Moreover, copywriters typically focus solely on sales. They learn about the unique selling points and the value proposition of the products or services they're promoting, and they learn how to promote the virtues and minimize the drawbacks of a product in their copy. They may even need to know the common issues that users have, to refute them or guide users away from common mistakes they may make.
Most copywriters focus on short-form content. They write anything from taglines and slogans to product descriptions and, at the longest, landing pages. They need to understand SEO, but since their content isn't usually top-of-funnel, they need to know user and buyer psychology more than mechanical SEO.
Copywriting is also usually a short-term, immediate-results kind of strategy. When a copywriter writes copy for a PPC ad, the advertisement runs, and there is immediate feedback on how well it performs. The copywriter can then adjust their writing to better target and convert the people who see the advertisement.
Copywriters are also part of a larger marketing team. They will typically work closely with marketers, graphic designers, and data analysts to produce content that targets specific audiences in specific ways to sell particular products. It is a narrow, specialized, and highly reactive field.
"Content" can apply to virtually anything with the written word. Content writers may seem like generalists, and in a way, they are. However, in marketing and writing career terms, a content writer is a specific kind of writer.
Content writing is usually a broader, generalist version of copywriting and can be defined as more of the top-of-funnel content. Where a copywriter writes the content for Facebook Ads, a content writer writes the organic posts, even if those posts are converted into ads.
Many different forms of content fall into the heading of content writing. Most of them are medium and long-form in style. A content writer is more focused on white papers, blog posts, eBooks, reports, newsletters, and other such content.
With content writing, the stakes are lower, the results are generally not immediate, and the strategy focuses on long-term growth. A content writer creates content as part of an ongoing content marketing plan to build thought leadership and authority and to inform users and convince them to stick around.
This description does not mean that a content writer does not consider sales part of their ecosystem. Sometimes, content writers can write sales copy, like landing pages, marketing emails, and the previously-mentioned social media ads.
A content writer will generally not be writing PPC ad copy, slogans, taglines, and other such content.
Whether or not a content writer produces scripts for video and audio content depends on their specialty. Some content writers are happy to do it. Others find that their skills don't facilitate scriptwriting (a specific style and skillset in its own right), so they avoid it.
There's a lot of overlap between content writing and copywriting, particularly in certain advertorial content. Both kinds of writers may write landing pages, emails, white papers, press releases, brochures, and other "soft" advertising content. Copywriters will specialize in "hard" advertising, and content writers focus more on informative content.
On the modern internet, content is an entire ecosystem. Copywriters focus on advertising, and content writers can write just about everything.
Where do bloggers come in?
It all depends on whether your "blogger" is approaching it from the standpoint of a marketer or business owner or if they're approaching it as a writer.
A blogger who is a writer will usually be a very narrow, specialized form of writer. They write blog posts, and that's it. They have a keen understanding of SEO, keywords, and organic marketing techniques. They will also know how to write the tertiary content part of a blog, like meta titles and descriptions, image alt text, and possibly even the social media posts that promote the blog posts.
However, a blogger generally won't write PPC ads, slogans, and other marketing copy. They may write landing pages, but those landing pages will tend to be more informative and less promotional. They tend to avoid short-form content because blog ranking works best for longer content.
Bloggers who approach blogging as business owners wear many hats other than a writer's hat. The duties of a blogger might include:
At the same time, bloggers may also:
If this sounds like a lot, know that it's barely scratching the surface. A true blogger is a one-person powerhouse of an expert, capable of doing everything necessary to build a blog into a successful business.
At the same time, as a company looking to hire someone, a blogger may be overkill, depending on their skill set. If all you need is someone to write blog posts for you, a content writer may be more appropriate because many of the blogger's skills and experiences will be wasted.
When you need someone to create written words for you, you need to hire a writer. The only question is, who do you look for?
We discuss this topic in greater detail in our recent post, so take a look at that. The first choice you need to make is whether you want to hire a content writing generalist or a specialist. To boil it down: a generalist can write just about everything but may not be exceptionally good at some more nuanced or tricky writing. A specialist will be very good at certain kinds of writing but may not want to do other types of writing, and it may be more expensive.
If you've decided on a specialist, you need to understand what it is you want to be written:
And, of course, it all comes down to finding the best writer for the job. The classifications and categorizations only tell part of the story. It would be best to discuss what you need with your writers during the interview process.
Did I shed some light on the differences between copywriters, bloggers, and content writers? Do you have any confusion about the differences or overlap between them? If you're not sure what kind of writer you need for your project, please let me know in the comments section! I'd love to hear from you and get a conversation started.
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