“Hello, what do you do?”

“I’m a web designer, what do you do?”

“I’m a copywriter.”

“Great! We always need more content writers.”

Copywriter thinks: Hmm, a content writer is not the same as a copywriter. Note to self. Treat this web designer with care.


Copywriter checks web designer’s website, and sees a fee of £30 quoted for 500 words of content.

Copywriter wonders: Hmm, how much does he pay his content writers if he’s only charging the client £30 for 500 words? Let’s assume it’s £20 to the content writer and £10 to the web designer. I don’t think I can afford to work for this web designer.


That actually happened to me last week.

And now I’m worried – How many people out there think copywriting is the same as content writing?

Dear web designers (and clients),

Please note that copywriting is NOT the same as content writing.

Copywriting is writing to change behaviour. Writing to persuade. Writing to influence. Writing for human beings.

Content writing is churning out keyword-rich verbiage for search engines – it doesn’t have to be compelling, concise, or even particularly clear. Content writing fills up the web with pixels. Copywriting actually makes a difference to the performance of your business. Content writing is quantity. Copywriting is quality. Content writing may be cheap, but copywriting is a skill that should be rewarded accordingly.

Remember, you get what you pay for. Copywriting – when it’s done properly – gets results.

Yours faithfully,

A Copywriter xxx


Chuck Kent · July 31, 2012 at 12:14 pm

I believe we are – we (the marketing industry) have to be – at a turning point, where “content” contains more of the qualities usually associated with copywriting (a strategic orientation; a distinct and consistent brand voice;.the ability to concisely persuade, etcetera). The new search algorithms demand it. Increased reliance on the Internet for brand building requires it. Unfortunately, we’re coming out of an era in which SEO copywriting – mindless keyword stuffing – ruled online marketing, and during which marketers became used to paying next to nothing for “word stringing” (let’s not call it writing). I think we’ll see a transition period during which online writing finally shifts into the realm of high-quality human communication – the kind requiring great writers (and a great deal more in fees than those you note above).

    jackiebarrie · July 31, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    I used to be confident that copywriting would always be valued, but with the rise of CMS websites and content mills, I begin to wonder!

Gavin · August 15, 2012 at 3:45 pm

Great article Jackie. It reminds me of the challenges coaches face where the word “coach” means different things to different people. We need to educate people to tell the difference between poor copy and great copy and to appreciate the value that a well written, persuasive “copy” or “content” brings to a website and its associated business.

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