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Copywriting vs Content Writing: A Guide On Hiring the Perfect Writer

If you’re in digital marketing, you will have likely heard of the terms “copywriting” and “content writing”. While the definitions of these two words share similarities, they differ in terms of goals, techniques, and desired outcomes. This guide will help you understand the differences between copywriting and content writing and give you the knowledge to create a clear brief that will help you hire the right type of writer for your specific marketing needs.

What is copywriting?

“Copywriting” involves writing to persuade and sell products or services for a particular company through various forms of advertising or promotional content. The main objective of copywriting is to cause the reader to take action, such as making a purchase, signing up for a service, or filling out a form. Effective copywriting requires a thorough understanding of the target audience, the product or service offered, and the desired action the company wants its audience to take. A study conducted by Unbounce showed copywriting can have up to TWICE the impact on the landing page conversions compared to the design. 

Some common examples of copywriting can be found on: 

  • Brochures 
  • Web pages 
  • Email campaigns 
  • Product feature lists
  • Headlines 
  • Popups 
  • Website menus 
  • Social media ads 
  • PPC ads 

Do you notice a trend among the above forms of writing? Typically, they are short and precise; an enduring skill of a good copywriter. 

What is content writing?

“Content writing” involves writing to inform, educate, and engage a specific audience. Unlike copywriting, which focuses on selling a product or service, content writing aims to offer valuable information that helps readers solve a problem or fulfil a need.

Some common examples of “content writing” can be found on:

  • Blog posts
  • eBooks
  • Social media updates
  • Whitepapers
  • FAQs

Do you notice a trend among the above examples? Typically, they are long-form and educational.

As with copywriting, an effective content writer needs to have a deep understanding of the target audience, the topic being covered, and how to present the information in an engaging and accessible manner. Ultimately, the goal of content writing is to establish the brand as a trusted authority and build a lasting relationship with the audience. Content writing hinges on the premise that customers who trust information from specific companies will most probably buy their products or services at some point in the future. Generally speaking, content writers are also much more concerned with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

Copywriting vs Content Writing: What is the difference?

Hopefully, the differences between copywriting and content writing were apparent above, but to clarify there are 3 key differences between them.

1. “Copywriters” sell whilst “content writers” inform and educate

For the avoidance of doubt, copywriters are wordsmith salespersons in print. They write short and sharp text with the sole aim of bringing in leads or sales. On the other hand, content writers inform, educate and help the target audience to solve their problems. Through trustworthy, captivating, and engaging content, the content writers hope to eventually convert the readers. 

2. Content writing aims to generate organic traffic to a website or provide thought leadership whilst copywriting aims to convert

Content writing aims to provide valuable information to a specific audience, with the intention of generating organic traffic to a website or establishing thought leadership within an industry. By providing relevant and helpful content, a brand can attract readers who are interested in the topic being covered, leading them to visit the brand’s website and potentially become customers. For this reason, content writers often (and should) have at least some SEO knowledge.

In contrast, copywriting is focused on creating persuasive text that aims to convert readers into customers. Copywriting techniques are used to create compelling advertisements, landing pages, product descriptions, and other forms of promotional content with the goal of driving a specific action, such as making a purchase or filling out a form.

3. Copywriters incite urgency and elicit emotions through their writing to drive action.

Copywriters have the ability to create messaging that drives action through the use of emotive language and calls to action. By carefully crafting their words, copywriters can incite a sense of urgency and inspire emotional reactions that motivate readers to take specific actions. For example, a copywriter might use powerful adjectives to describe a product or service or create a sense of scarcity by emphasizing limited-time offers or limited availability.

Hiring a Copywriter vs Hiring a Content Writer

By now, you should have a clear idea of which type of writer your business needs to achieve its marketing objectives. To help you create an effective job description and identify the right candidate, we will now outline the key skills that each role requires. This will enable you to ask the right questions and assess the suitability of each candidate, ensuring that you hire the best type of writer for the job.

Content Writing Skills

Indeed provides the following job description sample for content writing jobs:

Content WriterjJob description from Indeed Jobs

Based on the above, content writers need the following skills:

Research skills

Content writers need great research skills to produce accurate and informative content that meets the needs of their target audience. By conducting thorough research, content writers can ensure that their content is based on reliable information and offers value to the reader. This research can involve studying industry trends, analysing customer data, reviewing relevant studies and reports, and conducting interviews with experts or customers.

By conducting in-depth research, content writers can also identify knowledge gaps and areas of opportunity, helping them create content that meets the needs of their target audience and offers unique insights and perspectives. In addition, strong research skills enable content writers to write with authority and credibility, helping to build trust and establish the brand as an expert in their field.

To assess a potential candidate’s research skills, you can ask questions about their research process and the tools and techniques they use to gather and analyse information. For example, you could ask them to:

  • Describe their research process
  • What sources do they typically use when conducting research
  • How they evaluate the credibility of the sources they use
  • How they ensure that their content is based on accurate and up-to-date information

SEO knowledge

SEO knowledge is important for content writers because it helps them create content that is optimised for search engines, making it more visible to potential readers and driving traffic to the website. By understanding the principles of SEO, content writers can create high-quality, relevant content that incorporates targeted keywords and phrases that align with the business’s goals and objectives. This helps to improve the website’s ranking on search engine results pages, increasing the visibility and reach of the content and driving traffic to the site.

To check if a content writing candidate has SEO knowledge, you can ask them a variety of questions to evaluate their understanding of SEO concepts and their ability to apply them to their writing. Some questions you could ask include:

  • What is your process for conducting keyword research, and what tools do you use? This is an optional question as you may have an actual SEO expert conduct the keyword research for the content writer. They may even have put together the content brief for the content writer to ensure key headings and topics are covered.
  • Can you provide examples of how you’ve incorporated keywords into your content in the past?
  • What is your understanding of on-page optimisation, and how do you ensure that your content is optimised for search engines?
  • How do you approach content creation with an SEO focus, while still ensuring that the content is engaging and informative to readers?
  • How do you evaluate the success of your content from an SEO standpoint, and what metrics do you look at to measure your effectiveness? Again this may be an optional question as many content writers simply write the content and then the measurement of success is the responsibility of the company.

We’d strongly suggest asking the content writer for examples of their work, especially if it is ranking well on search engines already. We then recommend looking for focus keywords in their writing samples. A focus keyword is the main search term a page is optimized for, and should be included in the page title, first header (H1), and throughout the body copy, including subheadings. By reviewing writing samples for evidence of keyword optimization, businesses can identify content writers with the SEO skills necessary to drive traffic and meet their business goals.

An engaging style of writing

In order to attract readers, content writers must use words creatively, starting with headlines, to captivate and engage the right audience. Even valuable information when offered in a boring manner will most likely not be discovered.

To ensure that a candidate applying for a position as a content writer has an informative and engaging writing style, there are a few things you can do:

  1. Review their writing samples: Ask the candidate to provide writing samples, and review them to assess the quality of their writing. Look for evidence of clear and concise writing, an engaging tone, and effective use of storytelling, examples, and other elements that help to bring the content to life.
  2. Ask for references: Contact the candidate’s previous employers or clients to get a sense of their writing style and their ability to create content that is informative and engaging. Ask for specific examples of their work and for feedback on their writing style.
  3. Conduct a writing test: Provide the candidate with a writing test that is specific to the type of content they would be creating in the role. This can be a good way to evaluate their writing skills and their ability to create content that is both informative and engaging.
  4. Ask behavioural interview questions: Ask the candidate behavioural interview questions that assess their ability to create engaging content. For example, you could ask them to describe a time when they had to create content on a topic they weren’t familiar with and how they made it engaging and informative for the reader.

A good grasp of grammar

This one is pretty obvious. A good content writer needs to be able to send work that is free of punctuation, spelling and grammar mistakes otherwise you’ll lose trust if the content is published or time if you’re having to spend time QAing it.

Be a subject expert (BONUS)

Google’s latest E-E-A-T update requires content to attain the helpful and relevant threshold in order to stand the best chances of ranking.

Google’s E-E-A-T stands for Expertise, Experience, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. It is a set of guidelines that Google uses to evaluate the quality of content on a website. In summary, E-E-A-T requires that content is created by experts in their field, demonstrates authoritativeness and experience by being well-researched and well-cited, and is trustworthy by being accurate, objective, and transparent.

Of course, it’s not always necessary (or possible) to get an expert on every given niche so use your best judgement on whether you need a content writer who is an expert in their field. As an example, if you’re writing a post on traffic cones it’s unlikely that it’ll matter as to whether the writer is an expert on traffic cones; that’s if you can find that person at all. Conversely, if you’re writing about something medical it’s highly recommended you have a writer who’s an expert in this field. Failing that, at the very least, you should consider a professional to review the content.

Copywriting Skills

Interestingly, when I tried to find a templated job description for a copywriter, a lot of the big sites (Linkedin, Indeed etc) used the word synonymously with “content writers” potentially highlighting knowledge gaps within the industry jargon. I found perhaps the best “job description” on targetjobs.co.uk:

Based on the above, we can deduce some of the necessary skills for copywriters. The following skills stand out:

Experience working across diverse mediums 

Copywriters write copy designed to be seen on different mediums and platforms. A call to action on a website may be significantly different to a social media headline or car bumper sticker.

Ensure your candidate has written copy for various mediums and ask to see examples of these if possible.

Emotional Intelligence

Copywriters need to have good emotional intelligence because they need to create content that resonates with their target audience on an emotional level. Emotional intelligence allows copywriters to understand the needs, wants, fears, and motivations of their audience and to use this understanding to craft messaging that speaks to their emotions and engages them on a deeper level.

By understanding the emotional drivers of their audience, copywriters can create messaging that inspires action, whether that’s making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, or sharing content on social media. Emotional intelligence also helps copywriters tailor their messaging to the specific needs and preferences of their target audience, making it more likely that the content will lead to conversions.

Testing a candidate’s emotional intelligence can be challenging, but there are a few strategies you can use to get a sense of their emotional intelligence during the hiring process:

  1. Ask behavioural interview questions. Behavioural interview questions are designed to elicit examples of past behaviour in order to predict future behaviour. By asking questions that assess a candidate’s ability to read emotions, communicate effectively, and build relationships, you can get a sense of their emotional intelligence. For example, you could ask questions such as “Can you describe a time when you had to navigate a difficult interpersonal situation with a client or team member?” or “How do you manage your emotions in high-pressure situations?”
  2. Use situational testing. Situational testing involves presenting the candidate with hypothetical scenarios and asking them to describe how they would respond. These scenarios can be designed to test a candidate’s emotional intelligence by presenting them with situations that require empathy, communication skills, and relationship-building abilities.

Concise writing skills

A copywriter must be able to write clear, concise, and engaging content that speaks to their target audience. They should be skilled in grammar, spelling, and punctuation, and have a good command of language and vocabulary.

Writing Skills In General

Of course, there are also a number of similarities and it is possible to hire/be someone who is both a talented copywriter and content writer. Successful copywriters and content writers require the following shared skillset:


Generating original, captivating, and engaging content for a company requires both sets of writers to creatively craft words that resonate with the target audience.

For copywriters, creativity is crucial in crafting persuasive and memorable messaging that stands out in a crowded advertising landscape. Whether writing ad copy, product descriptions, or social media posts, a copywriter must find ways to capture the reader’s attention and motivate them to take a specific action. The ability to think creatively and come up with new and innovative ideas is essential for creating effective copy that resonates with the audience.

For content writers, creativity is equally important in order to produce engaging and informative content that captures the reader’s attention and keeps them coming back for more. By developing creative concepts and presenting them in a visually appealing and accessible way, a content writer can build trust with their audience, establish the brand as an authority, and create a loyal following. Creative content that stands out from the crowd can also help a brand increase its visibility and attract new readers and customers.

Superb storytelling 

Both roles want to leave a lasting impression on the readers and apply storytelling to tap into the emotions and relate to their needs. 

For copywriters, storytelling is a powerful way to make their messaging more memorable and impactful. By using narrative techniques and emotional appeals, a copywriter can help a brand connect with its audience in a more meaningful way. By crafting compelling stories that evoke an emotional response, a copywriter can motivate the reader to take action and make a purchase.

For content writers, storytelling is equally important in order to make their material more engaging and memorable. By using stories to illustrate complex concepts or to provide real-world examples of the topic being covered, content writers can make their material more accessible and easier to understand. By using narrative techniques to weave together different ideas and concepts, a content writer can create a cohesive and compelling piece of content that captures the reader’s attention and keeps them engaged.

Understanding the target audience 

Copywriters and content writers need to understand their target audience in order to create content that is relevant and meaningful to them. By understanding their audience’s needs, interests, and pain points, writers can create messaging that resonates with their readers, captures their attention, and motivates them to take action.

Time management 

Managing client deadlines and managing multiple projects require prudent time management, and this necessitates meticulous planning from the writers. 

Where to Hire Content Writers and Copywriters

If you’re looking to hire a content writer or copywriter for your business there are plenty of options to choose from. Ultimately the final decision will come down to your budget and requirements.

Hiring a permanent writer(s)

Of course, hiring for a permanent writer is no different to hiring for any other permanent position. Assuming you’ve already made the decision that it makes economical sense for your business to hire a full-time writer, you’d go down the normal avenue of advertising the role on job sites like Indeed Jobs (UK) or Career Builder (US). Feel free to use the example job description below and remember to use any/all of the candidate screening recommendations in the sections above.

One thing to bear in mind when you’re hiring for a writer post-COVID is that they’ve become accustomed to being able to work remotely and many will likely still want to. A writer doesn’t need to be in the office and they know this. For this reason, you may find high-quality writers on less well-known job boards such as:

Remoters.net – a job board specifically aimed at remote workers and digital nomads. You can post jobs for free or pay for a premium listing which is also then included in a popular email newsletter.

We Work Remotely – A job board for remote workers, but with less of an angle on purely digital nomads. Bigger audience but costs $299 to post a job.

Working Nomads – Also a big audience but a little more difficult to navigate. The cost is $199 to post a job.

A big advantage to hiring someone full-time is that they get to know and understand your audience and product/service intimately. If you’ve taken anything from this guide, I hope it’s that knowing this makes a good writer an excellent writer.

Hiring a freelance writer(s)

Hiring freelance writers will give far more flexibility than hiring a full-time employee. Naturally, however, freelance writers are unlikely to ever understand your product, service or audience in as much detail as a full-time employee. You can take steps to mitigate this by finding a writer who’s worked in a similar niche or by simply ensuring you build a relationship and use the same freelancer writer(s) as much as possible.

You have three main options for finding freelance copywriters or content writers. These are:

  1. Recommendations. Writing can be so subjective that finding a writer that understands your tone of voice and writes in a way which consistently hits the mark is actually pretty difficult to find. A good recommendation from someone can save you hours of trial and error.
  2. Freelance websites such as Upwork, Fivver, or even Linkedin by searching for “freelance writers”.
  3. Specialist content creation agencies such as Verblio and Crowd Content.

Specialist content agencies are a great way to hand off the complete process and have a pretty “hands-off” approach. They will find the writers, QA the work and can even include imagery within their fee. The only potential issue is you’re more likely to have a different writer for each post/copywriting task meaning the degree of variance will be higher and product, service and audience knowledge likely to be lower. When enrolling on the services of these agencies, you should ask how they may alleviate that. Of course, if the work is related to content writing (rather than copywriting), you could help this process by providing detailed content briefs. We have a guide on how to make a detailed content brief here. Or, jump straight in and use our content brief generator here.

Again, make sure to use the candidate screening examples given at the beginning of this guide and ask for examples of their work. This applies to both content writers and copywriters.

You’ll also need to make a judgement call as to whether you hire a copywriter AND a content writer or someone who is capable of covering both.

Feel free to copy and paste from the two job description templates below. Delete and add as necessary.

Example Copywriter Job Description

Company Y achieved an XYZ% revenue increase over the last six months despite being relatively new in the industry. Disruption of the status quo through a creative approach to satisfying clients’ needs. To maintain this momentum, we’re seeking to add an enthusiastic, remarkable, and creative copywriter to direct and define some of our diverse projects. The person will collaborate with other team members to research, and brainstorm to creatively market our products and services. 


  • Produce compelling content for both print and digital platforms
  • Leverage best SEO practices to write brief, but highly-converting content 
  • Generate clear and error-free content that captures client’s needs and wants 
  • Proofread and edit content while suggesting modifications where applicable 
  • Making proposals for copy concepts to help clients choose the most suitable to their business vision 
  • Drive projects from conception to delivery to ensure adherence to set KPIs
  • Adjust accordingly to align with diverse brand guidelines 
  • Stay updated on trends in the relevant niches, and help creative teams build content to tap into these opportunities. 


  • Demonstrable experience in copywriting 
  • Bachelor’s in English, marketing, or any other related field 
  • Understanding of best SEO strategies to apply when producing content to boost chances for search visibility
  • Ability to use Microsoft Office applications 
  • A creative and curious mind 
  • Collaboration and working within teams 
  • Prudent time management and organizational skills 
  • Capacity to work in a cutthroat work environment with minimal supervision 
  • Interpretation of content briefs and churning original content that satisfies clients’ needs 

If you think you’ve got what we’re looking for, write to our careers team at xyz@careers.com and we will get back to you within 10 business days.

Example Content Writer Job Description

As a leading company in X niche, Y company takes immense pride in its existing workforce for their immeasurable role in pushing our mission forward.  Currently, we are looking to add a new content writer to further push our brand. The core responsibilities include producing content as required, making edits to existing content, and proofreading clients’ work to ensure the style, tone, and delivery align. 

Awareness of the latest SEO techniques brings an added advantage. The goal is to produce quality, engaging, and relevant content that attracts and engages the target audience. 


  • Writing well-researched content to publish both online and offline 
  • Proofread and edit content for any grammar, tone, and formatting issues before publishing 
  • Suggesting the most appropriate content writing styles to ensure consistency and clarity 
  • Monitoring and evaluating content performance against the KPIs and offering suggestions for improvements
  • Apply best SEO strategies to maximize content visibility and performance on the search engines 
  • Coordinate and cooperate with other team members within the writing and editorial department 
  • Helping marketing teams with their advertising campaigns
  • Identifying content gaps and emerging trends relevant to the target audience and recommending the best approaches to leverage such opportunities
  • Apply Content Management Systems to draft content for all forms of media applicable to the company


  • A proven excellent record and experience in content writing 
  • Bachelor’s degree in communication, journalism, English and marketing, or any other relevant field
  • Proficiency in Content Management Systems 
  • Proofreading and editing skills 
  • Ability to break down complex concepts into simple, understandable, and engaging content
  • Capacity to work in a fast-paced environment 
  • Ability to adapt to multiple tones and writing styles depending on clients’ preferences 
  • Robust interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence to work within team dynamics 
  • Creative thinking and storytelling to build engaging content 
  • Excellent time management skills even when working on multiple projects 

Are you the person we’re looking for? Email your application to xyz@careers.com and await our response. 

Other FAQs

How much should you pay content writers and copywriters?

The amount you should pay content writers and copywriters depends on several factors including their level of experience, the complexity of the project, the type of content you need, and your location.

In general, freelance content writers and copywriters may charge anywhere from $0.03 to $2 per word, with the average rate falling between $0.10 and $0.50 per word. For hourly rates, the range is typically $25 to $200 per hour, with an average of around $75 to $100 per hour.

According to Indeed, Full-time copywriters in the UK make an average of $35,000 annually. 

However, keep in mind that these rates are just estimates and can vary based on the specific project requirements, the writer’s expertise, and the industry norms in your location. Some niches require extensive research, and to get quality content, you’ve got to pay more bucks.

Will AI replace copywriters and content writers?

ChatGPT continues to cause ripples but to answer this question, let’s quote the Harvard Gazette which stated “We’re dealing with an alien intelligence that’s capable of astonishing feats, but not in the manner of the human mind” which summarises my views on the same.

Fears of AI replacing writers in content creation are naturally prevalent, but machines lack the creativity and emotional depth that human experience provides, limiting their effectiveness. Instead, AI can (and should) be used to enhance and complement human writers’ work, leading to even more powerful content


Andy Chadwick

Andy Chadwick

Andy Chadwick is a digital marketing consultant, specializing in SEO. He has been in the industry since 2013 and worked with start-up companies (he grew his own start-up to a turnover of £2.5 million in 3 years) as well as international organizations. He’s also worked in-house as well as agency side. Andy runs a successful SEO consulting business in the UK as well as Snippet Digital SEO consultancy with Suganthan.

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