The Internet loves catchphrases. At one time, as this Meaford marketing writer well knows, the term “copywriter” sufficed to describe someone who wrote ads, brochures, case studies, company profiles, advertorials, newsletters, and other informative verbal (i.e. written) communications. I provided marketing writing services in Meaford, Owen Sound, Thornbury, Collingwood, Toronto, and in dozens of other locations in Canada and the United States – and I called myself a copywriter. Then someone came up with the term content writer.

Today, as any number of online “authorities” have it, a distinction should be made between “content writer” and “copywriter”. Even Google sees it this way, as I recently realized. I noticed that while my services rank well for the term copywriter, Googling “content writer Owen Sound ” or “content writer Collingwood” failed to turn me up. What??? I’d venture that the term “content writer” didn’t even exist until some time in the last decade. So what were marketing writers like myself doing before that?

As a lifelong writer, with a degree in journalism, and 30-plus years of writing all kinds of print and online marketing materials for B-B and B-consumer clients (including business case studies content marketing for TD’s first website), I can assure you I apply the same skills to crafting a killer direct marketing piece for Thomson Reuters as I do to writing captivating content for Blundstone’s “Life is a Boot” blog. (Fun fact: Blundstone’s Canadian office is tucked away in little old Collingwood, Ontario.)

You need to know your audience. You need to attract their attention with headlines and content that immediately arouse their interest. You need to maintain that interest by providing compelling, informative, valuable information in a easy-to-read voice and style. You need to deliver.

You say content writer. I say copywriter. Is there a difference?

Many of the pundits trying to distinguish between content writers and copywriters say that content writers are writing to entertain and inform. For years, before the term content writer was coined, this ability was often the purview of the copywriter. Education, entertainment, and helpful information have long been tried-and-true methods of marketing products and services. These include newsletters that build a feeling of community with your prospects; value-added how-to articles to demonstrate expertise; and, of course, regular, entertaining and informative blog posts . Content writing, in this sense, is just one weapon in an arsenal of skills that copywriters have always used to build interest, trust, and, ultimately, business.

The writers trying to distinguish between the terms also suggest that somehow copywriting is a niche skill based solely around persuasion and closing the sale. These are important proficiencies. They’re essential in direct marketing or in advertising designed to generate action. But they’re just as important in content designed to maintain interest and then prompt an inquiry or a sign-up.

It occurred to me that the notion of content itself is being devalued. As much as it’s seen as essential for SEO, people also think it can simply be churned out to satisfy Google. Content creation can even be automated. This is why I’ve seen ads on Indeed looking for freelance content writers expected to write 45,000 words a month (that’s 3/4 of a novel’s worth) in return for $1125.

And this is where it clicked, with a little help from a fellow copywriter, that in today’s content-heavy world, there just might be a difference.

All copywriters write content. Not all content writers write copy

The writer draws an analogy using short-order cooks and chefs. In this case the short-order cook is the content writer, slapping down quick, cheap words to fill a need. The chef (the copywriter) brings additional skill and special insight to the table – creating an experience that’s welcomed, enjoyed, and even remembered.

The work and expense you put into bringing qualified prospects to your website, whether through organic SEO or amplified (advertised) content, is only worth it if someone wants to read your content, engages with it, and comes away with more than a passing need filled.

A business looking to communicate effectively, attract customers, and grow business needs a skilled marketing copywriter with an understanding of all the powerful ways there are to tell stories and motivate customers. (If that’s you, I’d love to hear from you.)

In closing, I’d like to say, “Thanks, Google. You’ve forced me to examine the issue – and add to the glut of information on the Internet to bump up my ranking for the term content writer Owen Sound and content writer Collingwood.” 😉