While those within the writing/editing field may see this and think, “Duh, dude, I know this one,” many people out there don’t know the answer and use the terms more or less interchangeably.
What is content & what is copy?
In the world of words, “content” covers a multitude of things, including scripts, ebooks, journals, blog posts, white papers, technical guides, newsletters, guides, infographics, and more. The intent is more to educate, inform, or entertain, and the length depends on the needs of the piece.
“Copy” is used to refer specifically to writing with the intent to persuade. Sales ads, social media ads, commercials, slogans, landing pages, product pages, sales emails — copy is written to sell you something. It is persuasive writing, and typically the result is shorter.
While they have different purposes and intent, it is easy to remember it this way: Content is basically an umbrella term that covers all writing and word-related things. It can include copy as well, but in the writing world, most of us use the two distinctively — after all, words matter!
Think about “content creators” on social media. They are primarily using stories/scripts, videos, and images to share their lives. They are using the content from their lives to create physical content on the internet to both entertain their audience but ALSO to draw them in and get more followers.
In the writing industry, the two terms have specific meanings.
To put it simply, let’s say your company has a blog on its website and sends out weekly email newsletters to customers.
The content writer is coming up with topics, researching, finding credible sources and images, and writing blog posts for the blog portion of the site.
The copywriter writes the words on the website landing pages and creates an effective email newsletter to persuade subscribers to come to the website, read more, and spend money.
They are both words, but the purpose and intent differ — which requires a different set of skills.
Another example is a stand-up comedian. Their set is content, and the ads for the show are copy.
As a note, since copywriting is more specialized, it tends to be higher paid. So, if you are thinking about becoming a copywriter — do it! Take some courses and learn in the ins and outs of copywriting and jump in with both feet!
Hope this helps!