What Is the Difference Between Freelance Writing and Ghostwriting?
What Is the Difference Between Freelance Writing and Ghostwriting?

What Is the Difference Between Freelance Writing and Ghostwriting?

You know you want to hire a writer for your business, so you turn to Google and start searching. You’ll quickly realize that there are a ton of terms for writers that you can hire. To make things more confusing, people throw around these terms like they are interchangeable. So, how do you know which type of writer best fits your needs? Don’t worry; with this easy-to-follow guide, you will understand the difference between freelance writing and ghostwriting.

What is Freelance Writing? 

A freelance writer is someone who writes for a living. Unlike an employee who works for one business, a freelancer is an independent contractor. They work for themselves and have multiple clients that they provide writing services for. Typically, an individual or company would pay a freelance writer for the project. This could be a one-off transaction or an ongoing relationship where the writer prepares multiple pieces. 

What is Ghostwriting? 

When someone is a ghostwriter, they do not get named credit for their work. They get hired by a client to write; then the client puts their name on the finished piece as the copy owner. Sometimes, the writing is left without a named author. Traditionally ghostwriters were hired for autobiographies, speeches, and articles. However, they have become more prevalent thanks to the internet and the rise of content marketing. Today, ghostwriters can get hired to prepare virtually any type of written content, from social media posts to email campaigns, eBooks, and blog posts. 

freelance writing and ghostwriting

How Is a Freelance Writer Different From a Ghostwriter? 

A freelance content writer gets named credit for their work. This is called a byline. You typically see it at the top or bottom of the written piece. Sometimes, there is a picture of the writer, or an avatar represents them. 

Because the freelancer is the named author, they don’t have to pretend to be anyone else. While they need to stick to some style guidelines for the platform they are writing for, they have much more freedom in what and how they write about. The finished written piece still needs to attract and engage the platform’s target audience. Ghostwriters do not get this broad amount of freedom. They need to adopt the client’s voice, tone, and style. The client dictates the topic and subject matter that they want written about. 

Why Do People Use Ghostwriters? 

There are two main reasons people hire a ghostwriter. 

  1. They don’t have the ability or skill to write the content 
  2. They don’t have the time to write the content 

Ghostwriters understand that they are providing a service, writing. Successful ghostwriters can adapt to another’s writing style, essentially stepping into their shoes while writing. The result should be a seamless transition between the ghostwriter’s work product and the client’s voice. 

Can a Freelancer be a Ghostwriter or Vice Versa? 

Yes! A freelance content writer can choose to ghostwrite professionally as an independent contractor. They would get hired by a client to provide writing services and not get named author credit on the final publishing. Most freelance writers that have established themselves in their career have done a combination of credited freelance writing and ghostwriting. While some freelance writers specifically look for credited work, this isn’t a priority for the majority of writers. It’s more important for them to find clients offering meaningful work that they enjoy writing about. In addition, most independent contractors won’t turn down a well-paying job simply because their name won’t be on it. 

Pros of Ghostwriting 

More project topic options 
Potential for high-paying projects
Freedom to pursue other projects
No special credentials required

Cons of Ghostwriting

No named credit
Can’t use work in a public portfolio
Confined to client’s style and voice
More heavily reliant on client referrals

Do I Need a Freelance Writer or Ghostwriter? 

The answer to this question will depend on why you are hiring a writer. A ghostwriter is probably a better choice if you’re hiring a writer to produce content for a business. They will write in your brand voice, and the content made will be under the company name. If you have a website where you want to have named contributors, then a freelance writer is the better choice. They will submit work, and you will publish it under their byline. 

freelance writing and ghostwriting

Where Do I Find a Ghostwriter? 

You know you want to hire a ghostwriter, but how do you find one? The whole point of a ghostwriter is that they go unnamed. This makes it challenging to track down someone whose writing quality is what you are looking for. The best place to start is on freelancing job boards. You can post a need and have potential writers apply. This can leave you sorting through multiple applications. However, you can request writing samples to help determine if a writer would be a good fit. 

Another option is to search freelancing websites like Fiverr or Upwork. These websites allow freelance writers to create portfolios. You can then search through writers until you find one that you like. The downside of this approach is that it can be hit and miss until you find someone with high-quality writing and who is also reliable. 

A third option is to ask around. Get a referral from another business owner who works with a freelance ghostwriter. This helps you find a writer who has already established a proven track record of reliability and quality with someone you know and trust. The potential downfall here is that the writer may not be familiar with the subject matter. Some writers specialize in a set of niche topics. 

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