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:
- Content Writers
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!
A Note on Blurred Lines
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.
What are Copywriters, and What Do They 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.
What are Content Writers, and What Do They Do?
“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.
What are Bloggers, and What Do They Do?
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:
- Write more advertorial content, for example, for promoting affiliate links.
- Write for a newsletter to promote their blog.
- Write product descriptions for their blog’s store.
- Write social media posts for their blog’s social accounts.
At the same time, bloggers may also:
- Create images for use in blog posts, and write their alt text and descriptions.
- Study SEO and marketing techniques to better promote their blog.
- Research their target audience to better understand buyer intent and audience personas.
- Research their subject in SEO terms to develop keyword ideas and target content.
- Maintain and engage with older blog posts by monitoring and responding to comments and updating old content.
- Create “alternate” versions of content, such as turning a blog post into an expanded eBook or condensing it into a slide deck or script for a podcast or video.
- Perform competitive research to see what others in the space are doing and how to combat their efforts.
- Learn the mechanics of various platforms and how to use them, such as hashtags, linking restrictions, and guest posting agreements.
- Perform outreach to other bloggers for guest posting, marketing, and other purposes.
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.
Which Writer Should You Hire?
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:
- If you’re looking to have advertising content produced, you want a copywriter. Advertising content, in this case, refers to anything meant to promote or sell your product or service directly. Landing pages are about the longest form of content you want to be covered here, but most of the copywriter’s work will be in short-form content like emails, PPC ads, social media, and other forms of promotion.
- If you’re looking to have many sales-focused content writing pieces written, you need a content writer. They will generally not be as good at writing sales content but will be better at writing long-form informative content. This statement is most true if you need blog posts, but a content writer may be able to branch out into white papers, press releases, landing pages, and other mid-to-long form content.
- A blogger will be best if you need someone to write blog posts and do many of the associated work of running a blog, like managing images, metadata, and some advertising. However, many bloggers are perfectly content to run their blogs and may not want to run yours, so you may be paying more for a blogger than you would for 2-3 other freelancers to do the work for you as a team.
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.
Shaun Connell has spent his entire career either working as a freelance writer or hiring freelance writers for his many successful publications. Shaun has learned the exact tricks of the trade to hire the perfect writer for almost any niche.