So You Need a Writer: Copywriter vs. Technical Writer

!!I am a copywriter. But it didn’t come across my mind to draw that line between copywriting and technical writing until recently, when some of my friends began to speak “technical” with me.

Although, most clients don’t usually mind if you were a copywriter, copyrighter, or copiedwriter… as long as you get the job done. Nonetheless, if you are looking to get the most bang of your bucks, you should decide whether your needs would be best served by a copywriter or a technical writer.

A copywriter helps you to sell.

That’s what I do, for a living. Most marketing professionals can easily tell the differences between the two, but if you aren’t in marketing, this name game could be quite challenging. A copywriter develops content for not just marketing and publicity, but also corporate/business communication materials. Copywriters understand the structures of effective copy and possess the ninja skills to appeal to specific audience using copy.

A copywriter should have an eye for creativity. A lot of us can provide basic layout services, including newsletters, poster, billboard, direct mails, and web designing, on top of the good ol’ press releases, TV and radio scripts, blogs, and even Tweets. It comes back to using copy to persuade your potential customers to purchase or employ your services.

So if you are looking to present your product and/or service in an attractive way, we are who you need.

A technical writer helps you to describe stuff.

Look around you. See that little user manual that comes in your new laptop? That’s the work of a technical writer. They are boring. They are important people who make your life much easier. Unless you’re a computer engineer or a mechanic, it is unlikely that you’ll understand how the latest tabloid works without a demonstrative manual.

Though most of the demos can be found on YouTube these days, user manual remains the first thing that people look for when their computer shut down unexpectedly. Instructional manuals, assembly or industry documents, legal forms, leases – these are the main responsibilities of a technical writer. They munch on incredibly difficult stuff and make it digestible for laypeople like you and me.

However, more and more copywriters today are getting quite “technical” as they also produce copy for products descriptions, corporate identity profiles, art magazines, annual reports, company newsletters, etc. The line is blurred when the work of a copywriter involves descriptive writing. What makes copywriters different is that they have a clear sense of the marketing objectives when they write. Yet at this point, I don’t really mind being called a technical copywriter (you can tell I’m overused).

So, I’ll throw the ball back at you. When you’re looking for someone to develop copy for your project, decide if you need an emcee or a deejay. That should help you to make up your mind.

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About Jason Tham

Jason Tham is an assistant professor of technical communication and rhetoric at Texas Tech University.
This entry was posted in Advertising, Branding, copywriting, Design, Graphic design, Infographic, Marketing, Media, Online, Public Relations and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to So You Need a Writer: Copywriter vs. Technical Writer

  1. “A technical writer helps you to describe stuff”. That’s not quite right, in my opinion. It should be “A technical writer helps you to explain stuff”. There’s more to technical writing than describing how something works…there’s also the conceptual information and risk/damage prevention information to consider. We explain how to use something, and also when and why it should be used too.

    Technical writer – explains how things work. Most don’t think of marketing perspective, but it is possible to promote brand and create positive associations in user guides, online help etc.

    Technical copywriter – promotes benefits of technical products and services, often to a more tech-savvy audience. All about selling.

    Copywriter – promotes benefits of products and services. Again, all about selling.

    I do all three (tech writer primarily, but trained copywriter too) and that’s my take on the differences.

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