“Is content writing the same as ghostwriting?”
Several writers wanted definitions for those terms, so let’s look at them.
An aside: be aware that in freelance writing, unless clients are experienced in hiring writers, they may use terms which mean one thing to you, and something entirely different to them. So, always ask questions so that you know exactly what they want. (More on that below.)
Ghostwriting and content writing: a quick summary
In brief, think of it like this:
- Ghostwriting: a name is attached. (NOT your name.)
- Content creation: no name.
In ghostwriting, someone wants you to write for them, in their name. For example, a company might ask you to write blog posts under the CEO’s name.
The name is what’s important. If you’re hired to write as the CEO, you might spend time interviewing him, reading what he’s written (or material that someone wrote for him), so you can get an idea of his “voice.”
The company’s marketing manager might ask you to rewrite a paragraph or two, to align with the CEO’s vision, or the company’s mission statement.
When you’re hired to create content on the other hand, the content is the focus. Usually there aren’t any names attached. If you’re writing blog posts, the “author” of the posts is the company, or someone in the company… Or a fictional name.
What does this mean for you, the hard-working freelancer?
Basically, as a ghostwriter, you’ll charge more, because there’s more skill and work involved.
A ghostwriter charges more, because there’s more involved
If you’re ghostwriting nonfiction, you might need to conduct interviews, or spend time researching.
Several years ago, I wrote a monthly newsletter for a global company. They were a pain, because I needed to interview people inside and outside the company.
People inside the company wouldn’t respond to my requests for a chat, because they were nervous. Why would they want to attract their uber-boss’s attention? I spent countless useless hours on the phone, trying to track people down.
Those outside the company were no better. They avoided going on the record too. It was a nightmare. I got the gig when the company’s agency resigned from it; within a short time, I knew exactly why they’d given up.
When you’re writing fiction as a ghostwriter, you’re writing under someone else’s name too, but it tends to be an easier gig. Either the client knows what he wants, or he’ll ask you to do some competitor and sales research. Much easier.
When considering a gig, ensure that you and your client are on the same page
If writers aren’t certain about the difference between a ghostwriter and a content writer, you can imagine that clients are confused too. So, as we said, ask lots of questions before you offer a quote, or accept the gig.
When you create your proposal, itemize everything. In nonfiction ghostwriting, you’d itemize your research and interview time, as well as writing time, for example.
You might add a rider, too: “any additional time spent on research and/ or interviews, will be invoiced immediately, to be paid on invoice.” Such a rider cuts down on a lot of faffing around.
If you have questions about ghostwriting or content creation, ask me here, or DM me on Twitter.
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Copywriter and marketing pro Angela Booth maintains a busy copywriting and ghostwriting practice. Fascinated by online marketing, she wrote one of the first business books for internet marketing, published by Allen & Unwin. She’s been an enthusiastic blogger since the late 1990s.