syw-sellContent marketing and copywriting sound like very similar things.

Confusing them, however, can be quite detrimental. If you’re only doing one or the other instead of both, you’re going to be frustrated (maybe that’s you right now?).

Here is the simple difference:

  • Content marketing is providing value.
  • Copywriting is selling.

Confusing the two is problematic and neglecting either one will destroy your sales.

Did you catch that? Neglecting either one will destroy your sales.

Are you neglecting content marketing or copywriting?

Make Something, Sell Something

You must not confuse content marketing with content. Marketing is the promotion of products or services. If you do not have a product or service to sell, you’re not doing content marketing, you’re just doing content!

Your efforts need to be spent working on a product.

  1. Make something.
  2. Sell something.

Really simple, but a lot of people get it backwards. They start on Step 2 and start doing content marketing with nothing to sell. Content marketing with nothing to sell is just content!

This isn’t just something people with a product mess up on. I’m hoping if you’ve made it this far, it’s because you do have a product or service. Well, you’re not immune to making this mistake either.

Write With Purpose

You have a product or service to sell—great! But the most common mistake I see is purposeless writing. Are you writing about things that move the needle? Are you writing to educate prospects so they become buyers? Are you advancing people from one stage to the next on the buyer’s journey?

Or are you just writing to fill the page? Are you just writing to fill your queue?

Writing to fill the page is great for practice. It’s not great for business.

If you have something to sell, make your writing about the thing you’re selling! Stop writing about things that are not related to what you’re selling. It’s really simple, but a lot of people forget.

I will say it again because it is crucial: stop writing about things that are not related to what you’re selling.

If you don’t generate cash, you don’t get to have a business. If you don’t sell things, you don’t generate cash. If what you’re writing isn’t related to your product or service, it won’t result in sales!

Every single thing you write should move someone closer to making a purchase.

When you have more money than you know what to do with, then you can break these rules and write about whatever you want. Until then, choose to be purposeful with your writing.

Now, let’s look at the two types of content you should be writing.

Content Marketing Builds Trust

What does content marketing look like?

It comes in many forms:

  • Blog posts
  • Emails
  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • Social media posts

Content marketing is all about providing value. You are giving away value.

Why in the world would you give away value? You do it to build trust.

People buy from those they know, like, and trust.

How can they know, like, and trust you if they haven’t ever consumed anything you’ve made? How can they trust you more if you’ve never shared anything that’s worth sharing?

A common misconception is thinking that if you’re selling something, you shouldn’t give any of it away because it’s valuable.

Yes, it’s valuable, but:

  1. No one knows your product is valuable unless they buy.
  2. They’re not going to buy unless they trust you.
  3. You can’t build trust without giving value.

If you are only selling without providing value, your sales will be low because you haven’t built trust (you certainly won’t be tripling annual revenue that way).

But in the same way, if you’re only doing “content marketing” and not copywriting, that means you’re not selling. If you’re not selling anything, then it’s not content marketing—it’s just content!

Copywriting Generates Revenue

Copywriting is what closes the deal. It bridges the gap. It’s the last little nudge your prospect needs.

They already know your product or service is the solution. They already know they want to go with you. They just need some guidance.

syw-sellCopywriting is different from content marketing in that its purpose is not to provide value, but rather to bridge the gap.

What many people get wrong is trying to make copywriting do more than what it’s intended to do.

Don’t try to make copywriting do too much of the work.

When you try to make copywriting do the job of content marketing, things get awkward really quick.

You know those landing pages that feel really sales-y? The ones that are super aggressive and make you feel pushed?

That’s copywriting trying to do too much of the work. You need content marketing and copywriting working in tandem.

Now here’s the real interesting part. While content marketing and copywriting are different things, they don’t have to be completely exclusive.

In fact, much of your content should be both!

POP QUIZ: what has this series been? Has it been content marketing or copywriting?

If you answered content marketing, you are correct!


Because I’ve been providing value. At this point, you’ve received education on the important difference between two writing methods. That’s value!

Knowing the difference is crucial. Otherwise, you’re just throwing words at the wall.

But knowing the difference between a drill and a jackhammer doesn’t mean you know how to use either effectively. Knowing the difference is the what. Being able to use them is the how.

For instance, you might know that headlines are important. That’s the what. Learning to write a compelling headline is the how.

The One Thing That Matters When Writing Your Headlines

Writing compelling headlines can be tough.

Headlines often end up being an afterthought. We spend so much time on the actual content, by the time we get to titling it we’re ready to just slap a name on it and finish.

But without a title that grabs people, your content may never be seen by anyone!

This is a shame because you just put in a ton of effort and you want it to have as much reach as possible.

Spend half as much time on your headline as you do creating the content.

This may seem like a lot of time, but think about all the places a headline ends up getting utilized. Any place your post is shared will contain the headline.

Your headline is going to be the determining reason in whether or not someone clicks to view your content. It’s not just for when someone lands on your page.

The email subject example is HUGE. You can’t just count on your reputation and assume that every subscriber will click on every email of yours.

Yes, you will have die-hard fans who will read every email no matter what, but the other 80% of people will judge a book by its cover (or in this case, an email by its subject).

If the subject does not cater to the desires of your reader, it will get archived, deleted, or ignored.

Smartly Packaged Solutions

You know what’s best for your audience. You’re the expert in your field and you’re here to teach. But the Curse of Knowledge is forgetting what it’s like to be a beginner and speak the language of a novice.

You know what people need, but headlines with what people need will not connect with an audience very well.

It’s like telling you to eat more green vegetables.

Here’s the key: you must deliver what they need in a package of what they want.

  • Literal Solution Headline:
    • Keep Your Eyes Open and Make Lists
  • Appeal to Desire Headline:
    • Mind Blank? Here’s How I Get Ideas

You see how the second headline is more appealing? The first headline has actual solutions to the problem, but the problem itself is more relatable!

People recognize and respond to relatable struggles in headlines more than they do to proposed solutions. If they knew the solution, they’d have fixed it by now. Don’t expect them to recognize the solution in a headline and click on it. You’re setting yourself up to be ignored!

It sounds counterintuitive, but giving away the solution in the headline results in fewer people benefitting from it.

  • The job of a headline is to get people’s attention.
  • The job of your content is to deliver the solution.

Don’t mix these two up!

Always Deliver On the Promise

I used to struggle with headline writing because I was so wary of creating “click-bait” titles.

Maybe you can relate.

We assume people hate “click-bait” because there’s something inherently wrong with the titles. But what people hate is feeling duped.

The problem isn’t with eye-catching headlines, it’s with the lack of substance on the other side of that click.

The headline promised something but the article didn’t deliver.

The biggest problem with “click-bait” articles is not their title but the lack of substance after people click.

There is nothing wrong with list articles! “5 Tips for Completing Side Projects” is perfectly acceptable as long as the content is valuable.

The next time you write a headline, ask yourself: are you appealing to what people want or trying to push what you think they need?

People are looking for what they want. They won’t recognize what they need. This is why you have to give them what they need in a package of what they want.

The key is delivering on the promise. Over-deliver on that promise. Go above and beyond and “wow” them.

Give away your very best.

“But if I give away my very best, how will I make money?”

Great question. There are two parts to what you make. You want to give away one and sell the other.

On the next page, you’ll learn which thing to sell and which thing to give away.


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