Once upon a time, way back in the dim distant past before the internet really got going (all of about ten or twelve years ago) and when the word ‘blog’ was just a misprint, anything written of a commercial nature was called copy.
But in the last decade, the sheer volume of what’s written online has exploded. Most of it is dire. And mostly it’s called ‘content’, with the word ‘copy’ increasingly getting shunted aside by the dead weight of third rate articles and recycled opinion masquerading as original fact.
Is there a difference between copy and content? You bet. In essence, content looks to inform, while copy seeks to persuade (although there are many “content writers” out there who may beg to differ). I’ll certainly continue to describe myself as a copywriter rather than content writer, thank you very much. (Sad but true, I know if I’m asked to write ‘content’ as opposed to ‘copy’ for a project of any size, what they’re generally wanting is filler, and what they’re usually offering in return is peanuts.)
Fortunately, there still seem to be a lot of people out there who appreciate the difference between content and copy. The heartening evidence comes courtesy of the good old Google Analytics Tool – or the Google AdWords Keyword Planner as they’ve tiresomely re-purposed it.
Last month there were 5,400 searches on Google in the UK for “copywriter” and just 390 for “content writer”. There were 480 for “copywriting services” and just 170 for “content writing services” and so on. In each likely keyword combination, copy beat content by a large margin. Now that’s what you call persuasive.