Online copywriter versus content creator: What is the difference?

ONLINE COPYWRITERIf I got a dollar for every time someone said “what’s the difference between an online copywriter and a content creator?” I’d probably own a seaside mansion by now.


My definition of why the two are different comes down to one very simple thing:


Content creators plan and are in it for the long haul, online copywriters write to satiate an immediate need.


There’s a lot of guff and bluster about web copywriters having skill and content creators being just anybody who can write, too. Or you’ll hear about content being a flash in the pan while SEO is here to stay. Or that one is more vital without the other.


As far as I am concerned, it’s like arguing Sydney is better than Melbourne, blondes are better than brunettes or the only true cake is fruit cake. They both serve a purpose, they both benefit from each other, but at the end of the day, it comes down to what you want to achieve.


See if you agree with me.


An online copywriter in profile

An online copywriter is looking at the now version of SEO. They are using their considerable skill to look at keywords and developing a strategy that lifts you in Google to the first page. They want you to rank on a search engine well and they throw their muscle behind making that happen.


When people are at Google, looking for something they know specifically by name or can use terms that articulate their problem, an SEO copywriter is what you need. They know how to technically work with both web and search engine to build a profile that improves your rank in Google based on a combination of wordsmith, geek and up to date skills.


However…the downside is:

  • An online copywriter can’t predict what will be SEO worthy in 12 to 24 months because that is beyond their control. Similarly, if you commission one, it doesn’t mean you will always rank really well simply because an SEO copywriter worked on your site.
  • As it’s based on matching a need or query that is entered into a search engine, online copywriting won’t catch people who are simply grazing or consuming who don’t even know they are looking for something.
  • Consumers want more from an experience than simply finding a web page quickly. We want to connect. SEO copywriting alone can’t always offer the level of connection needed.


The personality of an online copywriter:

Beyond that, most online copywriters don’t want to spend 3 months working on the same project. They like getting a brief, getting on with it and saying goodbye.


They are happy to see the latest website launch with their web copy proudly blazing. But if you were to summarise the sentiment, you’d be looking at a lovely holiday fling as opposed to a deep and meaningful relationship.


What an online copywriter will write for you will be geared towards meeting the requirements to support search engine rankings and because of it, it’s naturally skewed towards new customer acquisition.


Once you’ve discovered the website, you know where it is. Then what?


That’s where a content creator comes in.


A content creator in profile

A decent content creator knows how to use writing, visual, video, audio and community assets to create an entire marketing experience for a customer.


They layer the information based on the differences in your audiences on each channel. A content creator will consider what level of engagement a potential or existing customer may have with your business and translate that into story.


And they work on a principle of creating a relationship with a customer based on bringing them to your product at all times.


Not just when they are in sales mode.


They aim to tell a product story and build a community.


In short, they don’t aim for first encounters. When you work in content, you aim for connection, retention and loyalty.


However…the downside is:

  • Content takes time to work. Most decent content campaigns take 12 months or more to start showing measurable results.
  • Unlike someone who writes web copy, you won’t see a first page on Google that you can crow about. The metrics are softer and centre on engagement and things that are harder to measure.
  • Content without planning is pointless. You need to understand your customers and your aims, and generate content that tells your business story.


The personality of a content creator:

Content creators aren’t looking at the now, they have their eyes fixed on the future. A good content creator is looking at things like Buying Cycles to attract customers at all stages of interest. They are reaching out to customers who prefer to gain recommendations through social media. And bringing any customer (potential, new, existing, lapsed, curious, furious, about to become a champion etc) to a hub of information they can use.


A minimum 3 months is required to even know if you are close to getting content creation right, and it’s usually not for 6 to 12 months that you really start seeing the amazing results.


As a result, a content creator will usually shy away from short WIWO jobs and look for something that has longevity. They’ll be the one coming to you with a plan to tie social media, blogging, podcasts, whitepapers, and visual content and so on into something that resembles marketing plan as opposed to a copy deck.


Who do you choose?

Both are important and both have their uses. You can also use them together. But if you have to choose between an online copywriting and a content creation budget, you need to think about the following:


  • Your potential customer. If they want to self research, you need content. If they want an immediate need scratched, go SEO copy.
  • Your budget. Content gives you the option to pay for someone’s services over time whereas website copy is a more upfront. However content can cost you more over time, depending on the level of support you require. Both are quite reasonable though and can be taught, too, so are well worth the investment.
  • Your time. SEO copy can happen within a matter of weeks or months, depending on how easy the process is for your chosen writer. Content takes a good 12 months to see results.
  • Your skill set. You can learn both SEO and content creation. It just depends on what excites you more. Most businesses end up doing their own blogging and content however because telling a business story is much more exciting than getting freaky with a Google bot.
  • Your aims. If you know you have to spend time explaining your product and winning customers over, content is far better an option. If you know being on that first page of Google will make or break your sales, go SEO copy.
  • Your overall marketing strategy. Ask yourself how your web presence fits in to your overall strategy.


And remember, a great strategy doesn’t need to choose between these elements. Combining content creation and great online copywriting can put you leagues ahead.


If you need a hand working out what is right for your business, GET IN TOUCH



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