Content writing and copywriting are not the same thing. Therefore, there are some differences in the salaries. This has led many people to wonder how big the gap is and why different fields require different pay levels.
In the US, full-time copywriters generally earn more than content writers with a $10k or more salary difference. Freelance copywriters have the opportunity to make even more and receive payments on a project basis. This is in contrast to the per word or hourly rate for freelance content writers.
Now that you know that copywriting is generally more lucrative, we can dive into the different factors that contribute to the wage gap that exists between the two professions. Copywriting and content writing can both be viable careers, but it’s important to understand why these differences exist and how you can maximize your salary.
Copywriters tend to earn more than content writers because of the greater level of expertise required for their work. In addition, their work directly drives sales for the business.
As such, businesses tend to invest more in copywriting rather than content writing, since they need an expert to increase their revenue.
Copywriters directly communicate with a business’s customers through the copy, which makes their job critical.
Even so, content writing is also fairly well-paid since every brand needs to produce engaging content to maintain a good relationship with its consumers.
But in comparison to copywriting, there’s a significant difference in the salaries.
Junior writers for copy and content may not be paid that differently, but the pay gap increases as they gain more and more experience.
Mid-level copywriters usually end up earning a lot more than content writers with the same amount of experience.
Similarly, senior copywriters usually make close to 6 figures while senior content writers must usually achieve promotions to other roles in order to transition into a higher salary bracket.
Hence, full-time content writers, regardless of their seniority, reach the ceiling for the salary range much earlier.
2. Salary Jumps
Though your pay increases with time and experience, the rate of progress is definitely not the same. For content writing, the slope is much steeper.
This means that it can take a lot of time before you start seeing salary increments. In addition, many freelance content writers get paid per word.
On the other hand, copywriters can set their rates based on the project. This is because of three factors:
- Sales-driven copy
Copywriters are supposed to craft targeted and valuable messages in just a few words. Every word they choose is deliberate and contributes to the bigger picture: getting the customer to take an action.
Therefore, not only are they paid more because of the difference in focus and effort, they can also move up the ladder more quickly than content writers.
If this doesn’t sound fair, try looking at it this way: copywriters rewrite the same copy multiple times before it gets approved.
For every piece of copy they produce, they must perfect it as much as possible. All of these rewrites help copywriters practice their skill and master the art.
Because of all this practice, they tend to improve at a faster rate. This then leads to greater revenue generation for their clients.
Once they have testimonials from several happy businesses, an experienced copywriter becomes a valuable asset. In turn, this makes companies more willing to pay better rates for the service.
I’ve covered a lot more on this in my article on payment different between copywriting and content writing.
3. Sales Value
Since copywriters have to deliver copy that converts readers into customers and subscribers, their professional value entirely depends on sales results.
Though copywriters will receive their payment even if their copy doesn’t generate revenue, they will lose credibility and clients might even terminate their contracts.
Content writers, on the other hand, do not need to bring in sales. Their role is only to convey the brand message through their storytelling.
Content writers are not responsible for traffic or conversion (unless their role includes SEO writing).
As such, content writers do not carry the burden of increasing sales for a company and only get paid for the work they deliver.
4. SEO Skills
According to data from Glassdoor, an SEO content writer in the US makes an average of $75k / year with a base pay of $50k.
Even though copywriters usually earn a bit more than content writers, SEO skills can help change the game. SEO methods also help businesses increase their sales because it brings in more traffic.
Content writers with SEO skills and experience are paid a lot more rather than those without.
If a brand is struggling with reach and awareness, the owners would pay an SEO content writer more than a writer without those skills and expertise.
So if you’re a content writer who enjoys their work but wants to be paid better, start acquiring SEO and marketing skills. Copywriters also use SEO tactics while producing web and ad copies for brands.
Hence, if you are experienced in your niche as a copywriter and also have SEO skills, you can expect to make even more money.
I have a helpful article on helping you land the perfect copywriting niche.
Since copywriters are seen as experts, most of them have specific niches that they work for. For instance, health & medicine, fitness, IT & gaming are popular fields that require a lot of copy and content.
Copywriters need to develop a niche so that they can research and understand that specific audience and market.
In this way, they are technical and sales-focused writers with specialized knowledge. This is exactly what businesses need for their copywriting projects.
Content writers, on the other hand, do not need extensive background information to deliver their writing projects. So it makes sense that they end up earning less than copywriters.
Even so, content writers who have also picked and developed a certain niche get paid better and are hired more easily.
This is because businesses would much rather hire a professional who already understands their market, instead of spending time on a writer who is just getting exposed to their industry.
Both copywriters and content writers are in great demand since more and more businesses pop up every day.
However, every company has its marketing strategies. Some businesses might not prioritize content creation, and instead rely on user-generated content to reach their audience.
On the other hand, all businesses require copywriting in order to sell their products and services. There’s an endless need for copywriting, so this service is always in demand.
Hence, these workers get more writing projects and also end up earning more money.
Depending on where you are in the world, your salary as a copywriter or content writer can vary quite a bit.
- In the US, content writers may make anywhere from $36k to $475k per year depending on their niche, expertise and experience. On average, content writers earn around $48k annually as their base salary. However, an average copywriter makes an estimate of $57k per year. (Glassdoor)
- In the UK, content writers are paid around $32k annually while copywriters earn $35k as their base salary.
- In Canada, the average content writer makes $34k and a copywriter earns $38k per year. (PayScale)
- In Australia, content writers are paid $36k per year on average and copywriters are paid $40k.
In all these countries, copywriters make more than content writers even if the average margin isn’t very significant.
Location doesn’t always factor in though, because remote positions are available to people all over the world.
Check out my article on the most paid copywriters to get a glimpse into the kind of money you can make.
8. Full-Time or Freelance
Whether you’re writing copy or content, your income is greatly influenced by your employment type.
As a freelance content writer you can earn more than a full-time copywriter depending on the clients you’re able to land, your quality of work, and how much material you can deliver.
However, as a full-time content writer you may still end up earning less than a part-time copywriter.
Freelancing can help break that ceiling and enable you to set a desirable service rate for your work.
Obviously the pay gap would still exist, but content writers have an opportunity to earn a significant amount with this approach.
However, it is important to note that freelancing is risky and challenging since you need to find consistent clients who would want to work with you on a long-term basis.
Even so, many experienced and successful freelance writers are able to earn much more than they would have at a full-time position.
9. Copywriting Royalties
Like musicians and artists, copywriters can also earn royalties for their work. In this case, they are usually paid based on the number of sales which were initiated thanks to their copy.
These perks are impossible in content writing because it is difficult for content writers to directly track the sales and revenue that are generated from their work.
This is why copywriters have an edge when it comes to earning royalties. The commission depends on the type of client and the number of copies sold.
However, it is reported that copywriters can easily earn a commission range of 3-10%. For example, if a copywriter generated $10k in sales, he/she could easily earn an extra bonus in the range of $300-$1,000.
To get to the level of negotiating royalties as a copywriter, one must have a solid reputation in the industry and years of experience.
The commission percentage can also vary based on the quality of work and reputation.
10. Source of Your Clients
Where do you get your clients from? Do you get them through direct marketing or referrals? The source of your clients can play a major role in determining your salary as a copywriter or content writer.
For example, if you can land more clients through word-of-mouth and referrals, it may be easier for you to charge higher fees and negotiate better deals.
And as a result, your earnings as a copywriter or content writer will increase.
Content writers who use cold pitching and other direct marketing strategies can also land premium clients and earn more money.
However, they need to have a very solid and stable portfolio in order to convince clients of their skills.
Content mills, such as Upwork and Fiverr, are not recommended for anyone looking to earn a decent income as a copywriter or content writer.
These platforms rely on low-paying clients who are after cheap content. It’s a good place to get experience, but it won’t help you make the big bucks.
Although it is possible to get one or two quality clients from these platforms, it would be difficult to sustain your income and career growth.
So, if you want to make it big in the content writing industry, avoid content mills and focus on finding high-paying clients through referrals or direct marketing.
11. Scope of Engagement
Content writing and copywriting usually go hand in hand with SEO, content strategy, and digital marketing.
If you have these skills, it would be easier for you to find high-paying content writing projects and earn a higher salary.
For example, if you have a strong understanding of the target audience and their needs, it would be easier for you to create high-quality content that resonates with them.
On the other hand, if you can write compelling sales copy or website copy, it would give you an edge as a copywriter.
The complementary skills required for copywriting and content writing can also determine your earnings. To earn more, you should focus on developing skills that are complementary to this field.
This could include digital marketing, SEO, email marketing, etc.
While copywriting is often a more lucrative career path than content writing, it is not necessarily the right choice for everyone.
If you are passionate about creative copywriting and enjoy working with brands to create compelling marketing messages, you might be well-suited for this career path.
But if you prefer to work on longer-form content that is focused on educating, informing, or entertaining your audience, content writing may be a better option.
Ultimately, the choice between copywriting and content writing comes down to your personal interests and preferences.
Both are viable career paths with plenty of opportunities for growth and success, so it is up to you to decide which one is the best fit for your skills, experience, and goals.
Doing Both Is Possible
Just the way you can switch from content to copywriting and vice versa, you can also opt to do both simultaneously. It is not only possible but many writers have done it and continue to do so.
If you’re passionate about both professions, it’s certainly possible to do both. Working as a freelancer gives you additional flexibility to hold both roles at once.
You can divide your time and clients between content and copy and follow the different goals for each role.
However, you will need to stay organized and create two different portfolios to keep things running smoothly.
This option is particularly useful for those who have a passion for content writing but want to earn more because of their financial needs and goals.
If you’re still confused, I have an article on helping you decide even more firmly when it comes to choosing between content writing and copywriting.
While copywriters earn more than content writers, both professions require different skills and offer a lot of diverse opportunities.
If you’re just starting your career as a writer, you should choose your path while considering other factors as well, not just the financial compensation.
Your skills, expertise and niche should align so you can keep making growth as a writer. Nothing is set in stone when it comes to writing rates.
Some content writers charge hourly, while others set a fixed price. You should know that the more specialized you are and the better your portfolio is, the more you can earn.
There are some content writers who earn more than copywriters. However, the difference in salary boils down to how specialized you are.
If you’re a specialist with years of work experience, there’s no doubt that you will earn more than those who just started out as content writers.