From Copywriter to Content Marketer…It’s a Matter of Semantics

On page 7 of the popular content marketing book “Content Rules” by Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman, a sidebar attempts to clarify the difference between copywriting and content marketing. It essentially says copywriting is ads and the like and content marketing is everything else.

What’s funny about that to me, as someone who has spent the last 11 years as a freelance copywriter, is that most of those 11 years have been spent writing the very things the people now say are content marketing. But I thought I was a copywriter…

As much as I love the book “Content Rules,” and as much as I admire Ann Handley as the chief content queen at MarketingProfs (and have for years), I confess to being a little confused by the statement. I can count on two hands (and maybe the toes of one foot) the number of ads We Know Words has written for clients in the past decade. And we’ve been the brochure copywriter for some printed projects and done some direct mail, yes.

But really since the year 2000–11 years now–our bread and better has been content marketing services, it turns out: case studies, whitepapers, ghost blogging, website writing, SEO work, articles, video scripts, newsletters, press releases written as part of what was meant to be a content strategy.

I didn’t know it was called anything but copywriting.

And I do see a huge difference between what people call content marketing today and what We Know Words has been doing for the past decade: strategy. That was not part of the content marketing services we offered. The clients would come to us with a content or copywriting need and we would fill it.

I’m delighted to know that copywriting as I know it has now come of age, it’s now considered something much more honorable and it’s more strategic! Let’s face it. Walk into a crowded room and start introducing yourself as a freelance copywriter and you’re not going to impress anyone. (Never mind the confusion some people have with the word “copyright” and the trying lunch-time conversation I had with a former state governor trying to explain copywriting vs. copyrighting.)

But now I get to walk into a room and say I offer content marketing services…and that’s a lot more important sounding! And a whole lot more important.

Now there’s really a strategy, or should be. I have long wanted clients to make better use–and re-use–of the content we’ve created. I’ve long talked about repurposing and re-using. And now that can happen. I can turn to the experts and authors like Ann and C.C. and Joe Pulizzi of Junta42 or Russell Sparkman of Fusion Sparkmedia and I can cite them…and get heard.

I think it will enable us to create the kinds of engaging, real, authentic copy I’ve been trying to talk clients into for a very long time, as well. Now we are backed up by the experts! No more generic copy!

From copywriter to content marketing? I’m all in. I just never realized I was out. And I’m not quite sure I ever was. :-)

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