The copywriter vs. copyrighter confusion is real, as not everyone is familiar with the term “copywriter.” A copywriter is also different from a content strategist.
Confusion Over My Profession
I started my career as a copywriter, so I’ve had lots of practice answering questions about how I got into the intellectual property space (I don’t work in that space), if most of my clients are attorneys (they’re not), and how much I charge to secure a copyright for a book, play, idea, system, process, or discovery. The answer to that last one is zero dollars — a veritable bargain, right?
In response to copywriter vs copyrighter confusion, I usually explain that copywriting involves writing copy — business plans, contract proposals, web copy, technical manuals, blogs, and the like. This explanation often results in one of the following responses:
- So how does writing copy relate to copyrighting books?
- I don’t get it — why would anyone pay someone else to write things?
- You’re a writer? That sounds cool.
If you’re not familiar with the copywriting profession, then #2 is spot on. It’s also spot on if you don’t care about the quality of writing or can’t tell the difference between good writing and bad.
(To be fair, I’m confused about a lot of things that fall outside my profession as well. As just one example, for the longest time I thought WikiLeaks was part of Wikipedia. Yes, I’m admitting this in writing, and, yes, I wish I were kidding.)
Copywriter vs Copyrighter
Copywriters write copy, or words, to promote goods and services. They often take content direction from someone else and aim to persuade. Technical writers are often called copywriters. Technical writers communicate technically difficult information for different audiences. For example, technical writers might write how to guides and user manuals.
A copyright, on the other hand, is a type of intellectual property that protects original works of authorship as soon as an author fixes the work in a tangible form of expression. Original works can include paintings, photographs, illustrations, musical compositions, sound recordings, computer programs, books, poems, blog posts, movies, architectural works, and plays.
Presumably, then, a copyrighter is someone who secures a copyright. Or it’s a made-up word.
Copywriter vs Content Strategist
Just as anyone with an iPhone 12 Pro is a photographer, so, too, anyone who owns a laptop is a copywriter. Don’t believe me? Spend five minutes skimming Indeed.com and Fiverr. Five minutes is all it’ll take. If I’m somehow way off base, please feel free to let me know.
In the simplest possible terms, a copywriter takes direction and writes what she’s told to write — a proposal, a user guide, website copy, etc. A content strategist, on the other hand, draws upon leadership experience and marketing expertise to determine what needs to be written and direct the writing task.
Essentially, a content strategist defines website or marketing campaign goals, determines the best way to achieve those goals, pinpoints the audience in question, and designs the site or campaign in an intentional way to speak clearly and effectively to that audience. A copywriter, in turn, is responsible for crafting the actual words to persuade and engage the audience.
Can a Content Strategist Also Be a Copywriter?
Absolutely. A content strategist may also write copy. In most cases, however, a content strategist charges far more than a copywriter, as a strategist offers senior-level, high-value expertise and oversight. Remember how most everyone claims to be a copywriter? Well, far too many people also claim to be content strategists.
In short, if you’re tasking someone to write something, chances are that someone is a copywriter. If you’re drawing upon the strategy someone builds for you (independently or collaboratively), chances are that someone is a content strategist.