A perennial conversation on a number of the major webmaster forums concerns the different types of writing; primarily copywriting and content writing. While some use the two terms interchangeably, several of my fellow writers consider the two as being separate types of writing which use two vastly different techniques.
Many of those writers define copywriting as sales letters and direct marketing pieces and define content writing as what appears on websites. Additionally, several of the writers see some sort of caste system with content writers at the low end of the spectrum. I see them as missing the point entirely.
The Function of Website Content
True website content, as opposed to essays and articles, is written to sell a product, service or even the website itself. While perhaps not as obvious as a traditional sales letter, every word and phrase on the core pages of a website are part of that site’s sales pitch.
I would go so far as to suggest the content writers have the greater challenge. While a copywriter is writing a sales piece directed towards potential customers; content writers also have to contend with writing for the search engines.
Core website content should always be just as sales oriented as direct sales letters. Why do I keep mentioning core content rather than simply website content?
Core Website Content
Core website content is those pages that are about the product or service being offered by the website owner. It would include such pages as the homepage (index.html), an about page, terms of service, FAQ, contact information, etc. Additionally, many websites also include various articles on the subject their website is about. This secondary content is presented to gain favor with Google and the other search engines as well as build their credibility as a professional in that field.
Secondary Website Content
This is where my concept of content writing greatly differs from some of my fellow writers. I see websites as having two distinct types of writing, true content writing and essay or article style writing.
It is the essay or article style of writing the most associate with the term content writing. Most website articles are like those essays and term papers we all had to write when we were in school. They cover a single topic, often in as few words as possible. Articles and essays are part of a website’s secondary content that is virtually required by the search engines.
Professional Content Writers
There are literally vast hordes of people offering article and essay writing services. The skills and abilities of these writers varies greatly as do their prices. Unfortunately, unlike most things we buy, price is not a reflection of quality and is more often than not simply related to the writer’s location and cost of living.
Hiring a skilled content writer and paying for content rather than an essay will usually cost more. But, unlike the traditional essay, secondary content should also contain a reference to the service or product being sold on the core of the website. All content written by Your Message Consultant, whether articles/essays or core page content, contains at least one embedded link to another part of the site to aid in both search engine optimization and to invite the site visitors to explore additional pages of the website.
Content Writing is Sales/Marketing Writing
So, while I agree with the other writers that content writing is for a website, I disagree that is it not sales/marketing writing. To muddy the waters a bit further, content writing is made up of those pieces written for the core of a website and the articles and essays that supplement the core. I further believe that anything appearing on a website should be part of the overall marketing of that site and even the secondary essays and articles should include a subtle marketing tone.