Copywriting vs. Ghostwriting: What’s Best for Achieving Your Goals?

How does she do it all?  She’s a wife and mother.  Business owner.  TV star.  Cook Book creator.  Author.  The achievements of people like Joanna Gaines can leave you flabbergasted. 

I struggle to button my shirt right and feel overwhelmed when two people talk to me simultaneously!  

How does she get all that done? 

Besides being absurdly talented and having a work ethic that would make an Olympic athlete jealous – she has help, which shouldn’t diminish how we view her achievements.  If anything, it should be encouraging. 

One of the people on “Team JoJo” is  Mark Dagostino.  He’s the ghostwriter the Gaines family has used for several books. 

No shade.  No shame.  Just reality.  It is a beautiful invitation to consider partnerships that let the world hear even more inspiring stories.

If you own and operate your own business, you get it.  You know you can’t do it all.  You don’t have the margin to burn on staring at a blinking cursor on your computer screen.  But without a solid online presence, your brand will have trouble achieving its goals. 

This is where high-quality writers can enter your story.  The question is, what kind of writer do you need on your team?

There’s a difference between copywriting and ghostwriting.  Let’s dig in and see what service best suits your goals.

Each overlaps with the other.  And there is no universally agreed-upon definition for each job.  However, most industry professionals generally see the difference between copywriting and ghostwriting like this. 

  • Copywriting: creating copy that requires no “author.”  These would be the words on a website, app, or social media profile.  It could also be the words on an ad, brochure, or menu.  After all, even if no author is credited, someone had to describe what you get to eat when you order the Elvis Presley Memorial Combo.  Copywriters generate consistent content to inform, persuade, entertain, or earn SEO points.  Blog writing falls under this category.
  • Ghostwriting: generating consistent content to inform, persuade, or entertain – in someone else’s name.  Read that last line again.  It’s essential when determining the writing assistance you need to take your brand to the next level. 

When securing the services you need, what direction should you choose?  It depends on your goals.  And budget.  Let’s consider a good fit for copywriting first.  

Do you need words to go on a page to describe services or products that are relatively stable?  Then, a copywriting service is what you’re looking for. 

Businesses revamping their website, launching an app, or running an ad campaign should search for copywriters.   

Pro tip: Seasoned copywriters stress clarity over cleverness.  Often, writers new to the game or with a strong desire to differentiate themselves will create overly complex copy.

Pete Z

Creative or crafty sentences may be fun to write.  But anything that confuses your clients will kill sales.  Donald Miller says it well:

“Cute and clever don’t make money. Clarity makes money.”

Writing helpful online articles can and should be considered when determining the support you need.  Copywriters can position your brand as a valuable guide that helps clients solve their problems.  AI tools exist to crank up the SEO benefits while keeping costs down. 

Companies can have their author(s) credited for the content, but it’s not essential.  A copywriter can ensure that the information posted is accurate, matches your brand’s desired tone, and clearly directs readers to the next step. 

What to Expect When Working with a Copywriter?

Get ready to do your homework!  The scope of work you need will dictate how much prep you must do. 

If you want someone to create a Google Ad that says, “Buy our stuff now!”  that won’t take too much time for anyone. 

But if you need content created for a new website, that’s a whole ‘nother ball game.  And it’s often a blast!  We get to know you.  We draw out your motivations and gain an understanding of your goals.  We also work to determine your audience’s pain points and how your solutions improve their lives. 

Brands usually gain new clarity and insight into what drives their business.  Our clients often acquire more than a product – their motivation is rejuvenated. 

Developing a content strategy is a robust process.  At least, it is for our digital marketing team.   If you hire a copywriter for a project, anticipate the following:

  • Homework to gain insight into your branding
  • 90-minute initial meeting to process the information you submitted
  • Two – three-week turnaround on the copy
  • Up to two revisions
  • 45 – 60-minute meeting to approve copy before it goes live for the World Wide Web to enjoy. 

If you need to dive deeper and create a content marketing strategy, you can also anticipate adding these steps to your plate:

  • Develop a content strategy: where, when, and how often do we need to post content for you to be seen by your desired audience? 
  • Work the SEO angle: What words are people typing into the search box to find what you offer?  Which words can we use to rank your brand in the SERPs? 
  • Review and publish: Once our team of writers, SEO experts, and technical editors have your article ready to publish, we send it to you for final approval.  With your “thumbs up,” we send it.

Do you want to establish yourself as an authority or thought leader in your space?  Then, you’ll need ghostwriting services. 

Take, for example, a leadership consulting firm.  In this market, you don’t need less than a solid SEO strategy.  You need far more.  You must carve out a niche as a trusted, respected influencer with a track record of success.   

For your brand to be an authority in your space, you must have quality, helpful content readily available – with your name on it. 

Many people also utilize ghostwriting services for purposes beyond branding, though.  Some people need support to write speeches or nomination letters.   

What to Expect When Working with a Ghostwriter?

Ghostwriting includes every step of copywriting.  But wait, there’s more!  Ghostwriting goes further.  It gets more personal.

Before ghostwriting an article or book, we interview the author.  We ask questions, listen for personal anecdotes, and pay attention to specific word choices.  Each interview typically lasts around 90 minutes.   

If you hire a ghostwriter, their task is to say what you would say, as you would say it, with the emotion you would use – if you had the time or skillset to type it for yourself. 

We may also request supplemental material.  At times, our clients have pointed us to a podcast they were featured on or notes they’ve used at a presentation.  Some also simply digitally word vomit so that we can clean it up and reformat it to be a digital delicacy. 

One key feature of our ghostwriting process is emotion.  Our ghostwriters labor to put themselves in your shoes, to feel what you would feel if you were writing the piece.  Consequently, we use very little, if any, AI support when ghostwriting articles. 

Be prepared to be heartily engaged in the editing process.  You need to ensure that the ghostwriter is clearly communicating in your voice.  

Copywriting vs. ghostwriting isn’t so much a binary, this or that proposition.  Each overlaps with the other.  Further, most brands requiring ghostwriting services, like the Magnolia story, will also need copywriting support. 

Mark Dagostino ghostwrote the book.  But the Gaines family hired someone else to write the copy on, where you can buy the book. 

The best ghostwriting and copywriting services are like interlocking gears – put in motion with the fuel of strategic SEO services.  That’s the key to ensuring your story will be heard. 

Here are a few questions you can process to help determine if you should consider hiring a copywriter:

  • Is the content stable/evergreen?
  • Does it require an author to be credited?
  • Is the purpose of the content primarily for SEO ranking?

If you answered “yes” to these questions, you should start your content creation process by considering copywriting services. 

Here are a few questions that may lead you to hire a ghostwriter:

  • Are you aiming to demonstrate authority in your space?
  • Do you need an author to be credited?
  • Are you providing unique, personalized, anecdotal direction?

If you answered yes to these questions, then consider looking into securing ghostwriting services for your project.

Many of our clients utilize both copywriting and ghostwriting services.  Often, multiple tools are required to complete a project.  When your ghostwriter can closely collaborate with your copywriter, you’ll be amazed at how your unique voice shines through each word.  

Every project has unique needs and constraints.  That’s okay.  Rome wasn’t built in a day, right?  You can take strategic, achievable steps to propel your brand in the desired direction. 

What’s right for you?  That’s up to you!  But we’d love to help you find the solutions you need.  With over 20 years of experience in the digital marketing space, we’ve helped countless clients obtain the services they need to achieve their goals. 

Reach out today for a free consultation!


Pete Ziolkowski

Pete aims to capture the hearts of organizations, supporters, and networks, and to cultivate relationships among all involved through effective writing and communication.

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