Over the last few months, I’ve seen a rise in people adjusting their job title to content strategist rather than being a humble writer. I get it, you want a sexy title! Yet, many seem to lack a deep understanding of the differences between a content writer vs strategist.
When trying to build a content team for an ecommerce website, it’s fundamental that you understand the different roles involved in producing copy and content that enables you to reach your revenue goals.
I wrote a summary of this post on LinkedIn before writing it. So, you might want to read that first. My goal is to explain the difference between copywriter vs content writer vs strategist and how they work together to form an instructable team!
Why do we need multiple roles when creating content?
Before we compare roles, it’s worth explaining why you need multiple people to create content for your business.
Many people wrongly believe that a writer and copywriter are the same roles with similar skill sets. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Even more people doubt the need for a strategist when a writer can handle all three roles. Again, they’re sadly mistaken.
At the top of the tree is the content strategist. They set the vision, direction, KPIs, and ensure every piece of content is on brand. Usually, they act as the editor, checking any words before they get published.
If you want something sold, you ask the copywriter! It’s their job to persuade someone to take action with as few words as possible.
A content writer creates long forms pieces that inform, educate, and entertain. They are great at storytelling and weaving a compelling narrative across longer pieces of content.
Each role has different skills, responsibilities, and outcomes.
You might also have other team members involved in publishing content, including the head of SEO and a graphic designer. But again, they work with the team to ensure everything is on brand and consistent.
What is a content strategist?
Let’s start at the top. A content strategist creates the vision and direction for every word the brand will publish. They’ll plan what content to produce and where best to distribute each piece.
Taking a holistic view, a content strategist understands the target market, their pains, and how to best serve them. They will build out clear paths to move visitors into customers. These content arcs move beyond having a simple keyword list matched with a “publish and pray” approach.
After publishing content, they will analyze performance and use this data to improve how they use content marketing to drive revenue. With a clear focus on return on investment, they know how to maximize the budget.
As the leader, it’s their job to build and manage the team, set KPIs, the publishing schedule, and maintain the company’s Brand Style Guide ensuring consistency and a single brand voice.
The best content strategist has a mix of skills. They are a writer, a copywriter, an editor, a digital marketer, and a leader. You could say, they are the perfect mix of left and right brain.
That said, they aren’t afraid to get stuck in and produce content when needed or if a project goes slightly off track.
What is a copywriter?
If you want someone to take action, you call a copywriter. Whether you’re trying to raise money, sell a car, or get someone to download a free report, a good copywriter will convince the reader to take action.
You might prefer to call their role sales writing, as what they create mainly ends up being used in advertisements, sales copy, emails, print ads, digital ads, brochures, and landing pages.
As the goal is to persuade someone to take action in the shortest possible time, copywriters are masters at making their point concisely yet conversationally.
Copywriters typically specialize in one area. Some only deal in direct response advertising, product copy, or long-form sales page. Some will also focus on writing copy for specific industries.
The best copywriters will take time to fully understand the target market and turn these insights into copy that compels them to take action as it hits the prospect’s pain points while offering them a solution.
They’ll know how to use your current brand’s voice to connect with readers while ensuring their copy is easy to read and remember. The finished piece of work might take a few attempts, but they’ll work closely with a client to tweak the copy until everyone’s happy.
Why do you need content writers?
We all love stories. A content writer’s job is to produce articles that inform, educate, or entertain the reader. Unlike a copywriter, who gets you to take action, a content writer is trying to explain an idea and strengthen the relationship between the brand and the reader.
A good content writer is happy to produce wording for websites, blogs, social media, and email. They have a strong grasp of English language and grammar rules, understand basic SEO principles, and write long-form, engaging content.
They’ll also have good research skills and understand where to use external sources and add internal links. A good writer knows how to format content to make it easy to read and scan while keeping the reader engaged.
As creatives, content writers are well-read, informed, and curious individuals that keep learning. They might not be the best at managing deadlines, but overall they deliver excellent work and plenty of ideas. Plus, they know how to use briefs to create excellent content.
Other team members
The content team is more than people who write words! You might have a graphic designer who finds and edits images or creates visual concepts. A graphic designer helps brings words to life with pictures.
You likely have a website designer who uploads articles and builds pages. They will ensure all words are there, subtitles are in place, the images look good, and add internal and external links.
You might have a team member who looks after the website’s SEO. They’ll want to check that pages/posts are SEO optimized before they get published.
Copywriter vs content writer vs strategist: the differences
Publishing content across multiple channels is a team effort. The copywriter’s goal is to persuade people to take action. A content writer produces words that engage the reader. And the content strategist is to develop a content strategy, manage the process, and maximize the results over time.
Rather than choosing between hiring a copywriter vs content writer vs strategist vs whoever, you need to understand each role and recruit the best person for the job. Even having the right freelancer will increase your team’s productivity and make reaching your marketing goals easier.
Don’t fall into the trap of believing a single person can do everything or that you can hire a writer and expect a content strategist. Instead, consider what roles, requirements, and skills you need, and hire for them.
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