Explained: the Difference Between Content Marketing and Content Writing

Content marketing has been hot for a few years now and when you browse through online job boards, you’ll notice how many SaaS, edtech, and other companies are looking for a content writer, a content marketer, a copywriter, or a content strategist but then when you open the job descriptions, it’s hard to spot the difference between them.

While content marketing has become an increasingly important part of digital marketing over the last decade, there is still some confusion when it comes to the terminology being used. This can cause problems when you’re trying to hire the right people for your team or dividing tasks among team members. 

If your job ad doesn’t contain the right job title, you’ll miss out on great candidates, and if you assign someone a task that’s not a part of their job role, they might not be able to perform at the best of their capabilities.

In this post, we’ll discuss the difference between content marketing and content writing as well as how exactly the tasks of content marketers differ from those of content writers. 

What is Content Marketing?

Content Marketing is the creation, publication, and promotion of any type of content for the purpose of attracting new qualified leads. It is done by content marketers and includes but is not limited to:

  • publishing blog posts.
  • tracking social media engagement.
  • posting YouTube videos.
  • running a weekly newsletter.
  • writing Linkedin articles.

Content marketing comprises everything from creating a content strategy to making sure the published content gets seen and read. It’s the A-to-Z of anything a brand can do when using content for marketing purposes.

Content marketing can also have multiple positive outcomes. It can build brand recognition, grow brand authority, and improve a brand’s backlink profile and organic traffic, but the ultimate goal of the content marketer is always the same: to attract potential customers.

What is Content Writing?

Content writing entails the act of writing engaging content as well as all the actions required to deliver a ready-to-publish text, like doing research, sourcing images, and interviewing experts for quotes.

It is done by content writers and can also include optimizing the content for whichever channel it will be published on. This mostly relates to optimizing blog articles to rank well in the search engines, but can also be writing a whitepaper in the right format, or an ebook in an easily digestible way.

The goal of a content writer is to deliver a great article or another piece of high-quality content that educates, entertains, or otherwise engages the reader.

Typical examples of content writing include:

  • blog posts.
  • whitepapers.
  • ebooks.

What about Copywriting?

Copywriting is any kind of writing that aims to persuade the reader to take immediate action and enter the sales process. The terms “content writing” and “copywriting” are often used interchangeably but there’s a subtle difference.

A good content writer will often use copywriting techniques to, for example, persuade people to click the call-to-action at the bottom of an article, but not always. Content writing can be purely informational or entertaining. Copywriting, on the other hand, always aims to make people take a certain action.

Typical examples of copywriting include:

  • sales pages.
  • PPC ads.
  • direct mail.

As for the difference between copywriting and content marketing, they’re really two different things and you could see copywriting as a persuasion tool content marketers can (and should) make use of.

The Difference between Content Marketing and Content Writing

Keeping in mind the definitions above, the difference between content writing and content marketing is that content writing can be part of content marketing but not the other way around. Content writing is purely the creation of written content whereas content marketing includes:

  • strategically deciding which type of written content needs to be created and how.
  • creating that written content.
  • publishing that written content.
  • promoting that written content.
  • tracking the performance of that written content.

Whenever marketers use content to generate awareness around and promote a brand, they’re performing content marketing. If they’re also creating written content as part of that marketing strategy, they’re using content writing as part of their content marketing.

Note that you can write a piece of content without ever putting it into the world. That is still content writing. And you can market your brand without writing any type of content. For example, by using purely videos and podcast appearances.

Content marketer vs content writer vs content strategist

A content marketer is someone who oversees the entire content marketing process. Depending on the size of their team, content marketers can be responsible solely for creating and delegating the executing of the content marketing strategy, or they can take on the execution of (some parts of) that strategy.

A content strategist is someone who performs market, competitor, and keyword analysis to determine which types of content should be created. The term “content strategist” is mostly used for experts in search engine optimization who set the strategy for a company’s blog.

A content writer creates content based on the instructions provided by either the content marketer or, ideally, the content strategist. They’re experts at creating content such as blog articles and often, but not always, specialize in a specific topic or industry.

Depending on the size of a company, these roles can be performed by one and the same person. This is, however, not an ideal situation because of how time-intensive it is to create content as well as to promote it.

No Great Content Marketing Without Great Content Writing

As we saw, content marketing and content writing often go hand-in-hand. With Google being such a massive possible source of organic leads and social media channels such a great way to spread the word about your brand, many brands create one or more forms of written content as part of their content strategy.

This is a time-consuming process, though. For content marketing to perform well, you need a content strategist with search engine optimization knowledge who can figure out exactly what type of content to create, a content writer who can write blog posts following your briefings, and a solid way to track and improve results on an ongoing basis.

If your team isn’t big enough yet to take this on, or you’re not sure how to get the best possible results, get in touch. At Flow SEO, we create custom content strategies that help brands rank in Google, and we can do the same for you.

Author: Sofie Couwenbergh

Sofie is an SEO-savvy content strategist, consultant, and writer. She helps brands generate more leads and keep customers engaged through clear, no-fluff website copy and in-depth articles like the one you’ve just read.