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Should I write Content or Copy?

Updated: Feb 13

  1. The transformation

While the country was in lockdown, I was in my garage. A lot.

2020 was the year we converted our double garage into a home gym. We painted the walls a moody black, covered the dusty floor with rubber squares and invested in equipment good enough to last for years to come.

That garage is very special to me. Now our family has grown and we are blessed with two toddlers, it is our place of quiet. Of release. We take it in turns each workout day to give each other one hour of free time; one hour for Mummy, one hour for Daddy. Sometimes I’ll just train. Sometimes I’ll play some guitar in there. Sometimes both.

The garage is special to me for a different reason though. It was the place I did my initial research…the place I took my notepad to draft ideas…

It was the place I decided I was going to be writer…and make money from it.

2020 was the year I learned what a Copywriter was.

  1. Content with Copy?

I remember the first time I sat down to process these definitions properly. I’d watched somewhere in the region of 143 Youtube videos and read what must have been double the number of Blogs and articles. Research the definitions for Content writer and Copywriter and you will find a fairly repetitive explanation of what each of them is.

It’ll go a bit like this:

A Copywriter sells.

A Content writer informs.

Disclaimer: I dislike these statements.

I’m a fairly simplistic kind of guy. I wake at the same time each day, eat pretty much the same meals each week and structure my days with care so I can be at my best. I like to think I’m pretty good at knowing what my body is telling me and what my heart wants me to do. As a Writer. As a Dad. As a human.

I just like things to be…simple. Predictable.

In searching for a simple answer when deciding if my focus was going to be Copy or Content, I struggled. After all the watching, the reading, the note-taking and the procrastination, the consensus seemed to be:

Copy = knowledge of email sequences, funnels and the occasional mention of website copy. You need to persuade. Some understanding of SEO.

Content = blogs. You need to inform. Sometimes entertain. SEO everywhere.

But the thing was, as simplistically as I looked at it, it didn’t help me land on one. This troubled me.

Niche…niche down. That’s what they all said. You need a niche to make money. You need to specialise in one area and showcase your devotion and skill in writing about it. How could I niche down to one area if I couldn’t even decide if I was going to write Copy or Content?

I knew I liked the idea of persuading people in short, snappy paragraphs. I have always loved the structure of language and its power on the page. The power of persuasion. Minor sentences. Simple sentences. Rhetorical questions. Emotive language. Telling stories. I knew I could write Copy and do a decent job of it, whether that was for a website landing page, email sequence or series of social media captions.

But I also knew I would love the research long-form writing would bring. Getting stuck into a topic and learning, before turning my knowledge into words for others to consume. Doing this in 1000-2000 words was something I was confident I would find enjoyable. Throw into the mix a newfound love for appreciating the art of blending keywords with creativity and I found myself quite quickly drawn to the world of SEO Blog writing for small businesses.

  1. My own personal CTA

In the end, my first job settled the decision for me.

I was tasked with writing a series of Blogs for a Pilates business that were advertising their Autumnal retreat.

My brand voice would mirror that of the business, maintaining a casual and relatable tone, whilst at the same time adding a hint of persuasion powerful enough to get those readers clicking through to the booking page. My research on the location, facilities and opportunities that the retreat would present was supplemented with language rich with sun-soaked imagery and calm reflection. Storytelling of the highest, carefully intertwined with SEO keywords that would ensure my targets were met.

The experience proved to me that I could do, and more importantly would enjoy, both the world of persuasive Copy and colourful Content.

And so, I wrote down both. On my website. On my socials Bio. I was a Copy and Content writer for businesses.

  1. Six successful months later…

I still do both. I am currently working on 12 month’s worth of 2024 Blog Content for two clients and writing social media captions (which is universally considered Copy) for another. I now understand and appreciate the full power of repurposing Content and enjoy showing clients all the amazing recycling we can do from a single Blog post. This repurposing inevitably spans both the worlds of Copy and Content. For anyone reading this that might feel that adding both to their Bio creates an ambiguity a client may fear, I can tell you from my experience that it has been nothing but a selling point.

  1. One skill to bind them all

Whether you write Copy or Content, you are, by default, a storyteller. You are crafting your words, your paragraphs, your message to evoke an emotion, a response from the reader. This power qualifies you to delve into both worlds. Permission granted.

Truth is, some Copywriters I have spoken to in recent months are put off by the keyword research they associate with long form writing. I get it. SEO and keyword research are two phrases we now encounter on a daily basis. Rarely in a fun way, either. It’s all learnable though. And it’s not everything. Good old fashioned creative writing can get forgotten about. But an SEO Blog post is nothing if it’s not engaging.

Imagine being able to say to a client that you will write their landing page...and the email sequences to get the customer there…and 6 months worth of Blogs…to be repurposed into social media captions…

All of a sudden you are presenting a very attractive package to your prospective clients, showcasing an impressive range of writing forms and styles.

To finish up here, I genuinely hope that when you Googled, ‘Should I write Copy or Content?’ this Blog popped up in your results. If I’ve done my job properly, you won’t have even acknowledged the keywords (Seed, Long-tail, Low-competition, Primary and Secondary) that have carefully been sprinkled throughout the piece, and you’ll have been captivated by my casual and relatable tone.

I would have liked to have read a piece like this in my garage in the summer of 2020. It would have helped. The relaxed voice, the balanced response, the actual examples of projects and clients that accompany each world.

So that is who this piece is for. Anyone considering monetising their words but isn’t quite sure where to settle.

Whether I’m writing about the intricacies of SEO, compelling Copy or captivating Content, there are always two constants for me. Personality and Storytelling.

Whatever my purpose as a freelance writer, it all starts there.

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