What’s content, and what’s copy?

Bonnie Harrington

Copywriter | Content Writer | @WordsByBonnie

Excellent questions! Allow me to explain.

I’m a copywriter, but I also write content. There are also content writers, but they only write content. Wait, I made it confusing, didn’t I?

It’s not your fault if you’re confused by these terms. Even professional writers use writing jargon interchangeably, and there are many words which mean the same, or similar things. But, I can make it simple for you, with a little help.

Allow me to use the words of another copywriter, Natalia, who writes under the business name, Storylign. She explains it as “copy sells; content tells”.

So, copy sells?

When you are writing something for your business and your intention is to drive customers to buy from you, that’s copy. Copy persuades people. Examples of copy are:

  • adverts
  • writing which appears on websites (website copy)
  • landing pages
  • brochures
  • press releases
  • emails (Eg. with the aim of the reader buying something/ a sale/ offering a discount)
  • product descriptions

Copy doesn’t have to be “salesy” or in your face. It can be subtle, empathetic, conversational, and still get sales. The best copywriters don’t make it sound like they’re selling anything. They’ll use the way you speak (your tone of voice) and make your products or services sound irresistible.

There are tons of effective copywriting strategies. One of the most effective is to highlight the benefits of, rather than the qualities of, the product or service. For example the benefit of:

  • The benefit of hiring a copywriter is that your writing is done for you. You can tick it off your to do list and focus on your customers.
  • The benefit of buying from your ethical clothing store is that they’re not contributing to fast fashion, they’re supporting local businesses and their friends will be desperate to know where they got such a gorgeous jumper.
  • The benefit of buying this particular sofa is the soothing relaxation at the end of the day, and all your friends feeling jealous of it at parties.
    When it comes to copy, every word needs to be perfect. Each sentence needs to have impact.

So, how’s content different?

Well, remember, content tells. This is where you tell your customer all about you, your business, your values. It inspires trust and confidence from your customers, it demonstrates your expertise, and it shows the consistency of your brand.

Here are some examples of content writing:

  • blogs
  • newsletters
  • emails (Eg, nurturing customers, reminding them of your services, etc)
  • social media captions
  • podcast or video scripts

Content isn’t just writing. It’s also images (think about your Instagram grid) and videos (from ‘how to’ YouTube clips to reels). Crucially, the most effective content centres the audience/ customer. By that I mean, the content needs to be useful or interesting to the people who will buy from you. This is easily overlooked, and could explain low engagement.

Think about it this way: you’re at a party. You see someone wearing some amazing earrings. You ask the person about the earrings, you get chatting about where they bought them from, how they’re made, how much they were. It’s a mutually interesting conversation, everyone’s happy. You’ve formed the start of a positive relationship.

Your content is the earrings. It needs to be eye catching, attractive, but there has to be a relevant story behind it to get that conversation going.

You could catch the attention of your audience with a cracking headline, or a beautiful image, but it needs to be saying something about your business, while also being useful to your potential customer.

(Bad content, by the way, does the opposite. Writing for yourself, about yourself, writing in detail about what you know to show off your knowledge… none of this is going to start that conversation. You aren’t going to get that lovely positive relationship started. You’re going to put people off. Make sure you’re putting your customers right at the centre of what you do.)

You’re going to need a mixture of both copy and content when marketing your business. Of course, it’s totally possible to write it yourself, but if you find yourself getting overwhelmed, just remember these tips:

1) Copy sells, content tells.

2) Centre the customer/ client/ audience

3) Look at your competitors and see if you can spot what is copy and what is content.

Remember, it’s ok to be inspired by someone or something but it’s NOT ok to directly replicate what someone else has done. That’s icky.

Still stuck? Well, of course, you could pay someone else to do it for you.

That’s what copywriters and content writers are for. You’d get peace of mind that it was done well, and you can take it off your to-do list – win-win.

If you’re not ready to do that, just getting advice might help. Booking a Support Session with me to help you get on the right track might be all you need! Let’s chat.

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