Creative Writer vs. Content Creator
There’s a distinct difference. So why do so many creative writers use that title?
I’ve been noticing a trend lately where writers have begun calling themselves ‘content creators’. At first I thought maybe they were content creators — that is, writers who write specified content in a marketing format— then I realized many of them were simply using it interchangeably with ‘writer’.
Do they just like the sound of it without knowing the actual meaning? Maybe. I asked a few writer friends if they considered themselves ‘content creators’, and the conversation turned, instead, to what exactly ‘content creator’ means. Because some of us didn’t know what it meant. At all.
So, okay…what is the actual meaning of ‘content creator’? I went looking for the description, and found what I was looking for on a website called Digital Marketing.
I skimmed the page and glommed onto words like ‘brand’ and ‘entrepreneur’ and ‘marketing strategies’. Not words that most of us writers would use to describe our work, but dead-on as descriptors for ‘content creators’.
While one line might apply to writers in general:
A content creator is someone who creates appealing and awe-inspiring content for the viewers.
The very next line leaves most of us out:
The content they create can be educational, or can simply be catchy enough to entertain and grab the attention of any visitor or passerby who wasn’t previously interested in your brand. But after looking at the content, they developed a certain interest and visited your webpage or your social media handles.
Content creators are writers, of course, and more power to them when they get those gigs. Chances are, they’ll make more money being content creators than any of us will make being that other kind of writer, but we’re not the same, and the distinctions are as necessary as making the distinction between nonfiction and fiction writers, as between fiction writers and poets.
Using an old maxim, all content creators are writers, but not all writers are content creators.
So why do so many writers call themselves content creators when what they write doesn’t come close to fitting the term? Do they think that because they’re essentially freelancers anything they publish is part of their business, and thus ‘content’?
Maybe. But here’s a thought: how many artists and musicians — even the most successful — would call themselves ‘content creators’? I doubt if it ever comes up.
So here’s the truth about why I came to write this: calling all writing ‘content’ just feels wrong. It’s a turn-off. It’s like calling actors or musicians ‘the talent’. It diminishes their efforts and their artistry and turns them into a commodity.
I’ll never say content creators aren’t creative. Of course they are. Some copywriters do what they do brilliantly and are well paid for it. I know writers who can do both. It’s a gift.
You know who else could do both? Elmore Leonard. He was an adman by day and a superb writer of fiction on weekends and at the crack of dawn. He wrote religiously in his basement ‘office’ from 5 AM to 7 AM, when he had to get ready for work.
I have nothing but admiration for those writers who can take on both roles, but, while writing for publication is often a business decision — of course we want to make money at it — writing for business is different. There’s a definite need for it, but it requires a separate and distinct classification, and it has one: content creator.
So what do you think? Am I making too much of this? How do you feel about it, if you feel anything at all? Let’s talk. Nicely. Okay?
Other essays on writing by Ramona:
Read It and Weep
I’m blubbering. You don’t see what the fuss is all about. We’re both right.
Ramona Grigg is a former columnist and feature writer who now sticks to opinions on writing, politics, and life in general. Sometimes she has to laugh and hopes she has company. She’s the owner/editor at Indelible Ink, a Medium publication focusing on writing that resonates.