The advent of digital platforms has provided a gateway for creators to demonstrate their work. YouTube, Instagram, and Udemy are a few examples that creators use to display their craft.
Texts do not share the same glamour as images and videos. Nonetheless, there is a growing need for well-written words, especially in the digital world.
Before digital platforms, writers had fewer options to display their work. Writing books was laborious and required access to publishers. Newspapers hired journalists in a competitive market. Promotional direct-to-consumer (DTC) copy required skilled copywriters.
Digital platforms have taken these pen-savvy people and multiplied their demand. The necessary skillset has evolved, too.
It is beneficial to understand the various roles writers have. If you are an aspiring writer, you can distinguish your strengths to focus your efforts. If you hire someone to write content, know who to look for to achieve your business goals.
The different types of writers
Below is a “small” list of writing-related jobs.
- Content writer
- Copy editor
- Communications specialist
- Technical writer
- Content creator
- Content marketer
- Content strategist
- Marketing specialist
- UX content writer
- Content designer
It is difficult to determine where one line ends and the other begins. There could be many overlaps with the roles and responsibilities of the writer. The sheer amount of different titles could be an unnecessary complication.
So who is who? Are all writers the same?
The copywriter typically creates shorter texts (i.e., copy) that center around promotion. (I must emphasize typically because I will probably offend half the copywriters out there.) The primary intent is some form of persuasion. Generally, copywriters will write slogans, taglines, and other advertising messages.
Content writers typically write longer forms of texts. They center around information or education. Content writers create blog posts, article pages, or product pages.
However, the lines are blurring. Copywriters could write longer forms of text. Content writers can craft short slogans. The digital ecosystem forces its players to learn its rules of marketing. A blog post does not merely serve its purpose for providing information but provides increased search engine optimization (SEO). Social media posts can be short, witty lines or medium-length articles.
Bottom line: Copywriting centers around promotion and marketing. Content writing centers around informing, educating, entertaining, or convincing. As the core expands, there are much more overlaps between the two.
Content Designer/UX Writer/Content Strategist
If the lines were already blurry and definitions not precise, this next group of writers will be even more confusing. It is relatively new compared to copywriting.
Content designer is a term that is more popular in the UK. I have seen UX writers used more frequently in North America. A core foundation of these writers is design thinking or user-experience (UX) design. If you are unfamiliar with these terms, you are probably not in this category. If your business is not asking questions related to design thinking, this may not be the type of content person you need. These writers employ this particular way of thinking to craft the final written form.
Content strategists could be classified into this category if they have this particular skill. Content strategists plan, create, and distribute content, incorporating a long-term approach to their work. Thus, an editorial calendar is a common tool of the content strategist.
What if you utilize an editorial calendar for the design-thinking content you created? And the final piece is a new tagline for a website? Would you then be a UX Designer Content Strategist Copywriter?
Bottom line: Depending on your specialty, you can define what type of writer or content person you are. There can be many overlaps with specialized skills. As a business, it is efficient to boil down what is needed to achieve the business goals.
Communications Specialist/PR Specialist
I previously held the title of Clinical Communications Specialist. I did not question it because it sounded a lot better than just an editor—no offense to those who are editors. You are valuable and highly needed in this field.
Communications Specialists typically have some correlation with the media and press. They maintain the face of the organization. Marketing Communications Specialists create content that aligns with an organization’s goals. This description is closer to what I did. So my title should have been Clinical Marketing Communications Specialist.
Communications is “the use of messaging conveyed across any written, visual, or spoken medium to convey information and meaning.” As a Communications Specialist, it involves utilizing this skill to communicate the necessary message internally or externally.
I believe two differences between Communications Specialists and the different types of writers already discussed are the form of the writing and the relational aspect. However, a Communications Specialist can benefit from understanding the fundamentals of copywriting or employing strategic planning.
Bottom line: Communications Specialists may have a relational aspect when creating content that may not exist in content or copywriting. Content marketers would say otherwise because you ought to write for a specific user rather than the masses. Yes, but the fictional user persona is still fictional.
Not that these other writing-related professions were not worthy to deserve their own section, but they were more unique to be grouped.
Proofreaders focus on spelling, grammar and eliminate errors.
Copy editors focus on quality assurance.
Ghostwriters will write and not take credit for the work.
Content creators may have the ability to craft non-written forms of content like video or images.
So are all writers the same? No.
But writers can overlap in many areas.
Titles are elusive. If you are looking for a writer, ask what unique skillset the writer has and some samples. If you want to become a writer, think about what you like to write about and how you like to write it.
Doing so will make it clear what type of writer you are.