writing types

Content Writing vs. Copywriting vs. Technical Writing: Learn The Difference

Published on | February 23, 2023


The writing industry never ceases to amaze us with the new fields of writing that keep on surfacing to meet the world's needs and have people capable of writing words and placing ideas professionally. An undeniable fact that everyone has come to realize now is the need to take care of content as it’s becoming the solid foundation based on which everything is being built on. Therefore, businesses have come to consider having writers as part of their valuable assets to help shape the brands’ image, tone, and voice strongly without forgetting about the target audience on the receiving end. To be honest covering all fields of writing in one article is somewhat hard, as we prefer to enlighten you with information piece by piece, to clarify, we are here to explain today the main differences between Content Writing, Copywriting, and Technical Writing. Let’s get started!

What is Content Writing?

Perhaps it’s the most common type you hear about, and part of the reason is that a large group of people still can’t tell the fine line between it and other writing professions so, instead, they refer to any writer as “Content Writer” which isn’t accurate but it’s okay we’re here to fix that. Content Writing is largely mixed up with Copywriting - we’ll get into it shortly – but it does indeed differ with the purpose of writing it serves. Here’s an interesting fact to help you grasp it easily, in Content Writing the main goal is to educate the users and entertain them. While it’s true that it may serve other purposes simultaneously but educating them remains the primary goal. Businesses use it to build trust and connection with users and they do it by offering them valuable content that solves a problem, adds a new piece of information, explains a statement, or simply entertains them. It’s the way businesses say “Hi” to users every day, so users don’t forget about them and eventually say “Hi” back, and in better scenarios “what’s up for today!”. Content Writing is highly used in digital marketing now that the world has shifted to digitally based platforms and perhaps that’s the reason why it’s confused with Copywriting. Many companies use content writers to write materials that help users and in an indirect way drive sales or sign-ups. Of course, you’ll have to offer something worthy of enticing the users to take that action, not just any plain content.

Some common uses of Content Writing include but are not limited to:

  • Blog Posts
  • Articles
  • E-News Letters
  • E-books
  • Video Content
In short, it’s the way businesses convince you to choose them without asking you to actually buy or convert explicitly. Thus, you won’t find salesy words evoking you to do so like “buy now”, “sign up” or “get a discount”, nope, what you’ll find is valuable content that tackles your pain points and pushes you to take these actions based on the trust they have managed to earn with you. There you go, now you know a thing two! Let’s move on to Copywriting.

What is Copywriting?

Copywriting is a primary tool digital marketing agencies rely on to run campaigns. The main purpose of it is to persuade and convince users to take an action and do that in a direct way and with a few words that are smartly crafted to attract the end user’s attention. Copywriting, unlike Content Writing, is a salesy language which means you have to write words that will drive readers to buy or sign up or register. It’s widely used, and we see it on a daily basis, but we’re just not aware of it. The language used in Copywriting tends to be catchy, fun, short, and sometimes oversteps grammar rules to make that happen, but of course to a limit that does not make the text hard to read. This can be a very noticeable feature as the text language used for Content Writing material tends to be elaborative, more lengthy, straightforward, and free of grammatical mistakes so the readers aren’t overwhelmed or confused.

Some of the Main uses for Copywriting include:

  • Ads
  • Campaigns
  • Landing Pages
  • Product Pages
  • Social Media
  • Pay Per Click Ads
  • Message Ads on Mobile Phones
  • Email Promotions
  • SEO

How to Learn Which One Works Best for You

Okay, now it’s clear what each one of them is used for but the question is which one should you choose? The answer really depends on what your current business goal is. In other words, if you aim to build a deep connection with your potential customers, then it’s really essential that you employ Content Writing as part of your digital marketing plan. This will give your users trust when they search for your business on the web and will give you better customers for your niche which can be considered an essential factor when studying your persona and audience demographics. Copywriting, on the other hand, is your perfect choice if your goal is really just to sell or convert a customer to take a certain action using words that consider moving the customers’ emotions through catchy phrases and accurate CTAs (Calls to Action). In Copywriting, it’s important to understand how psychology and marketing go hand in hand so you’re able to touch customers’ pain points with real solutions. In a nutshell, if Content Writing is to inform then Copywriting is to convince, and if your business is big you might consider doing both without favoring one over another. But just so you’re not lost, start with the one you’re most comfortable with then combine it with the other one.

Cool, but how come both are used in SEO?

SEO also known as Search Engine Optimization is more intricate than you think. In order to have a powerful presence on search engines like Google, you have to work on so many aspects; some of which are technical while others relate to marketing strategies. And marketing strategies as we have explained previously consider both fields of writing depending on the goals. In other words, things like blog posts, articles, and how-to videos are considered informative content that helps add recognition and authority to the business domain based on the number of visits, clicks, backlinks…etc. But this can’t be without great content that users like and interact with to get your blog post about X topic to the top five results on the first page but not another website’s post about the same topic. Thus, having an SEO Content Writing strategy is beneficial to your marketing plan if you’re considering more organic reach that doesn’t rely on paid ads. And speaking of paid ads, this is where Copywriting steps in. You know when you search for a topic or a product and then get a few links at the top results with the word “ad” next to it? This means that the ad you’re seeing is a paid one as part of a campaign that has been created. The ad copy used in these campaigns that you see on the web while scrolling down your Facebook news feed, or swiping through Instagram stories to be surprised with a sponsored one is the most common type of Copywriting you see and interact with; known as ad copy. You see all these catchy words in big fonts and bright colors or perhaps short video ads you listen to? All of the content written for them aims to sell therefore it’s Copywriting, however, it’s paid. And if not paid, say like posts, you’ll still need Copywriters who know about keywords and hashtags to make that post pop up on users’ newsfeeds. Therefore, both are part of the SEO marketing plan but with different behaviors of use.

Technical Writing

Technical Writing is often surrounded by misunderstandings about what types of material it covers with the majority thinking that a technical writer is someone who writes content related to technology only. Well, let’s get things straight for you because that’s not the full truth. The term Technical Writing has originated in 1949 by Joseph Chapline who wrote a user manual for a computer he developed, later on, the term expanded to be known as a writing profession that aims to ease the complex regardless of what the complex is. It could be complexity found in the fields of technology, engineering, medicine, science, finance, business, and more. Technical Writing surfaced due to the urgent need for Technical Communication to be understood by everyone, not just experts on the matter. Based on that, we can consider its goal to deliver professional ideas into simpler words that can be comprehended by the end user, without having to search technical jargon because they’re reading a language they don’t understand. That’s why, it’s important to bear in mind that the language used should be simple, focused, direct, free of grammatical errors, follows proper punctuation rules, and uses a proper tone based on who the end-user you’re talking to is. While the rules and styles vary among organizations, the main concept remains the same. Technical Writing may aim to inform just like Content Writing, however, it does so without the entertainment element and with a focus on handling complex ideas and translating them into shorter easier ones.

Some common uses for technical writing include:

  • Technical Documentation
  • End-User Instructions
  • Reports
  • Company’s Policies and Procedures
  • Proposals
  • White Papers
  • Case Studies
  • User Manuals
  • Textbooks

Key Points to Consider About Technical Writing:

  1. Technical Writing considers different approaches, that’s why you won’t find a one-approach-fits-all kind of thing, even at Tahaluf we consider different approaches based on the project and product’s represented goals.
  2. Before technical writers start writing the material, they have to be fully aware of the audience they’re addressing as it makes all the difference in the style of writing used.
  3.  The end user isn’t always on the same level of knowledge even if you’re writing a user manual. The end user might be employees inside the enterprise with some knowledge about the subject matter, or simple users who have no clue how to put a table together.
  4. We know you’re an expert, but don’t write in a language only experts can understand. As we said, the style and level you work with depend on your audience of readers, but sticking to short, direct, and clear messages should be standard in all of your writing.
  5.  The diversity of this field is huge so don’t expect to follow the same methodologies with all clients if you’re a freelancer, or the same instructions if you work for enterprises; “To each his own” or so they say.
  6. Technical Writing is part of Technical Communication, hence, proper communication of ideas with readers is the key.

Wrap Up

Technical Writing, Content Writing, and Copywriting all serve specifically defined goals and contribute highly to the value of a business. Technical writing is concerned with delivering clear and concise information about complex subjects, such as user manuals or technical reports. Content Writing, on the other hand, pays more attention to creating engaging and informative content- at the same time - for websites, blogs, and online platforms in general. Copywriting focuses on using persuasive language to promote a product or a service and convince readers to take an action. What they all have in common is the goal of clearly communicating some type of information to an audience of readers. No matter what type of writer you are, or even if you combine various roles thanks to your wide skillset, always bear in mind that an effective message starts with a clear understanding of who you're writing to, what you're writing for, and why you're writing it.