Just like you wouldn’t hire a plumber to fix a leaky roof, you wouldn’t hire a copywriter to write instruction manuals.
Despite its popularity, there is a lot of confusion about what copywriting is and what it is not. I've seen many companies looking to hire a copywriter when in fact they needed a completely different specialist.
Writer, copywriter, content writer, technical writer, UX writer – writers come in all shapes and sizes. And then there are also bloggers, content creators, content strategists, copy editors, creative directors – if you're new to the world of writing and marketing, it's easy to get confused between different professions.
Let's go over how copywriters compare to other types of specialists involved in writing and marketing so you could better understand whom you need to hire. And – if you want to break into copywriting – define whether it's the right job for you.
Copywriters and content writers work in marketing. Marketers need them both to spread a message across different channels. Copywriters communicate this message using copy and content writers do the same thing using content.
The goal of copywriters is to write copy that sells.
They will use words that persuade people to take immediate action. Copywriters are needed to create copy for sales pages, emails, ads, and other marketing materials designed to sell products or services.
The goal of content writers is to develop leads.
They will write content that inspires, educates, entertains, or informs to create relationships with their audience, so that over time those relationships can lead to sales. Content writers are usually hired to create long-form content such as blog articles, ebooks, white papers, case studies.
You should hire a content writer if you have a content strategy and need somebody to implement it. You should hire a copywriter if your copy doesn't convert.
Read also: 7 Vital Skills a Content Writer Needs
Writers don't work in marketing (unless by "writer" you mean a content writer). Copywriters do. Writers write books, magazine columns, literary or journalistic works, and speeches under their own name or as ghostwriters. Copywriters write copy for businesses for the purpose of marketing and advertising.
What do they have in common? One thing – they both love writing.
You can't be a successful copywriter if you don't enjoy the act of writing. In fact, many copywriters dream about becoming authors. And some do (I've published a book that teaches how to write content that turns readers into leads).
Copywriting isn't only a job for writers. Anyone can learn it. But if you decide to pursue a career in copywriting, you must really love putting your writing skills to work.
If you're a business owner looking to hire a copywriter or content writer, you should be looking for someone with clear motivation. Ideally, this should be a person who has turned their passion for writing into their profession.
As their name suggests, technical writers create content for technical documents: reference guides, user manuals, software specifications.
Copywriters create copy for marketing communications: advertising, direct marketing, branding, sales presentations, and more.
Copywriters write to sell. Technical writers write to explain.
Can a copywriter be a technical writer too? Sure, they can! Technical writing requires the ability to present information clearly, leaving no room for misunderstanding. This is what any copywriter should be good at. To write with clarity, however, a copywriter needs to be deeply familiar with the technology. And this isn't something that makes technical writing appealing to most copywriters.
Very often when a technology company is looking for a technical writer, what they really want is to find a person who can help them sell their technical products and services. And that person is a copywriter – not a technical writer – but with a technical background or a desire to learn about a new field.
A blogger is a person who writes blogs. Unlike copywriters, bloggers are not writing for clients. They are writing for their readers and see themselves as entrepreneurs. They have their own blog where they share their expertise, opinions, and experience.
Quite often, bloggers need a blog because they want to sell something: fitness programs, nutritional supplements, online courses, photos, and books.
When I started my blog, I wanted to share my expertise in copywriting and marketing (two things I'm passionate about) and get more people to learn about my book – From Reads To Leads.
If you're a copywriter, your own blog can help you improve your writing skills, showcase your portfolio to your potential clients, and even support your copywriting business.
If you need to hire a professional writer to blog for you, you should be looking for a content writer, not a blogger.
Content creators create content, and content means "any and all forms of media." In other words, if you write blogs, make videos, post on social media, send emails to your subscribers, or do podcasts, you are a content creator.
Copywriters, on the other hand, are more specialized. They write copy with a specific purpose – to persuade people to buy a product or service.
Like bloggers, content creators are mostly business people. They need to produce content in various formats for various platforms to reach a large audience and build a loyal following. They need to have a diverse skillset.
Copywriters’ skills are more specific – they need to be good at writing and have a grasp of marketing, business, and psychology. Check out my blog post to learn more about what skills a copywriter needs.
UX writing is a brand new trend in the world of user experience design. I've seen many writers making a switch from copywriting to UX writing. The reason why UX writing has exploded is that UX designers finally understood that words matter. But writing clear, concise, creative, and meaningful copy takes practice – and should be done by copywriters.
UX writers are former copywriters. But how do UX writers differ from copywriters?
The biggest difference between these two jobs is that UX writers don’t have anything to do with marketing. They are part of a product design team. While UX writers create copy as well as copywriters, their copy is meant to improve the user experience with a product, not to sell a product. UX copy (also known as microcopy) gives voices to digital products and helps them interact with users. Microcopy must guide a user through the product. To put it simply,
UX writing helps the customer. Copywriting helps the business.
If you consider becoming a UX writer, I recommend you check out the book Microcopy: The Complete Guide by Kinneret Yifrah.
Copywriters and copy editors work in the same team. Copywriters write. Copy editors check what copywriters write.
The copy editor's goal is to ensure that there are no grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors in the text and that it flows smoothly and is consistent in tone and message.
The goal of copywriters is to communicate a message to the audience in a persuasive way.
There is often confusion between the terms copy editing and content editing and the roles of a copy editor and a content editor.
Content editors are concerned with a bigger picture. They look at the flow and structure of your content, check out the accuracy of the subject matter and brand voice, correct SEO mistakes, and also do fact-checking.
If you want to produce high-quality content for your business consistently, you need to hire both: a content editor and a copy editor. Plus, you definitely need a copywriter and a content writer, or a copywriter who can handle both copywriting and content writing.
Content strategists must have something to do with a content strategy, right? The content strategy is what comes become copywriting.
A content strategist is a marketing specialist who makes a decision on what content to publish and why to publish it. They craft marketing plans to achieve a certain result: organic traffic growth, improved audience engagement, qualified leads, etc.
The content strategist must understand the business niche they are working in and know the audience their business is targeting. After figuring out what content they need to create and where this content needs to go, a content strategist works with a copywriter to write the copy.
If you want to start attracting leads using content, but don't even know where to start, hire a content strategist first. They will help you figure out what to write and where to publish content to achieve your business goals.
If you want to sell your products or services, but your current copy doesn't bring any results, hire a copywriter.
If you've watched Mad Men, you can imagine what a creative director looks like: a handsome man who spends most of his time on an office couch sipping Scotch, watching a Lucky Strike burn in a crowded ashtray. But the first time we meet Don Draper, he's crafting copy for a potential cigarette ad. In fact, Don Draper is a creative director who started out as a copywriter.
Many creative directors are former copywriters. Their job is to define a communication strategy which includes copywriting. But it also includes art direction, messaging, design, and media distribution.
Creative directors work in advertising agencies and manage copywriters and art directors.
Both art directors and copywriters are ideators and executors. Art directors use visuals to express ideas, and copywriters use words. They often collaborate with each other to brainstorm ideas for creative campaigns. When it comes to executing these campaigns, it's usually an art director who manages graphic designers, illustrators, photographers, and video makers to bring the idea to life.
Peggy Olson and Sal Romano from Man Men are great examples of a copywriter and an art director in the world of advertising.
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As you can see, there is a big difference between copywriters, content writers, writers, technical writers, bloggers, content creators, UX writers, copy editors, content strategists, and other professionals. I hope this comparison helped you clear up any confusion you may have about hiring a copywriter.
Next, check out my blog post Why copywriting is a great career.
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