Copywriter, Ghostwriter, Content Writer… What’s It All Mean?

ghost-writer2With Halloween just around the corner, it might seem like the perfect time to hire a ghostwriter, but depending on your project you might rather have a copywriter or a content writer or someone else entirely.  Just like there are lots of flavors of delicious donuts in the world, there are lots of types of delicious writers out there.  You might want one with pink frosting or that one over there with the sprinkles… you know they’re all donuts, but they’re also not the same — not by a donut mile.

So, let’s get right into it.  A writer by any other name is something wretched, I’m sure.  You’re probably familiar with novelists, they write novels, and journalists, they write news stories.  Although many writers wear multiple hats, here’s the break down of other really common types you’ll find:

Ghostwriter.  A ghostwriter is a special kind of writer, treat them gently.  It’s hard to find a good ghost — but if you do, throw money at them to keep them happy.  Ghostwriters do your work for you, in a voice that your audience would believe is yours.  Basically, they’re doing your homework and your teacher won’t even notice.  It’s quite a skill to be able to write in another person’s voice or bend to a voice of a writer who came before but is now gone.

Copywriter.  Like ghostwriters, copywriters have a special sort of skill that other writers lack.  They know how to sell your product and they’ll help your site turn clicks into sales.  Unlike other writers, copywriters have at least a rudimentary understanding of Search Engine Optimization, can help you with your keywords and metadata and know how to write a Call to Action that gets noticed.

Content Writer.  These dirt-encrusted writers dwell in small, dimly lit rooms banging out copy for less than they’d make flipping burgers.  If your site is in need of content that doesn’t necessarily require a sales message behind it, you may choose to employ one of these skittish creatures, but whatever you do, don’t feed them after midnight.  As far as writing skill goes, most people who market themselves as content writers are very low on the totem pole, so expect extremely mixed results.

No matter what type of writer you’re looking for, from sublime to unwashed and heathenly, understanding the difference between types of writers is a must before you start your search.  Beware cheap substitutions and always ask for samples.