Should You Hire A Freelance Writer, A Ghostwriter, Or An Agency For Your Next Content Marketing Project?
If you’re thinking about engaging in a thought leadership or content marketing campaign, then you might be wondering what kind of professional you need in order to execute upon your project and help you achieve your objectives.
If you’ve worked in a large organization in a traditional marketing role, then whenever you hear the word “outsourcing,” “agency” might be the very next word that jumps to mind. But that’s not necessarily your only option.
What if you’re a solopreneur without a large budget to throw around? Or what if you need somebody to write under your byline? To help demystify the service provider alphabet soup, here’s a quick guide as to who’s who in the world of content marketing outsourcing.
Freelance writers are typically solo businesses run by an individual who makes a living by providing writing services for contract to clients.
Their clients might be tiny startups or global tech monoliths. They might write copy, white papers, or ebooks.
There is therefore enormous variability in terms of what freelance writers do and who they work for. Some may present themselves as agencies and if they have referral networks to farm work out to they might indeed provide a quasi-agency type service.
- Freelance writers, being miniature business units, tend to be lean and efficient organizations to deal with. There are no layers of salespeople to deal with in order to get to a quote.
- Freelance writers, by and large, tend to be cheaper than hiring agencies. Many freelance writers will take on ad hoc projects and not force their clients to commit to a monthly retainer. If they do work through retainers, then they might be a good deal cheaper than those which agencies charge.
- Freelance writers have to plan their workflow carefully or risk getting overloaded. After all, unless they have partners to delegate to, they’re only one person. This could impact upon continuity of service.
- If you need a wide variety of skills for your content marketing or thought leadership project then an agency, with a team behind it, could be more effective at helping you reach your objectives. Again, a freelance writer is one person. And nobody, however talented, can do it all.
Traditionally, the word ghostwriter denotes a freelance writer who works primarily on book projects for their clients. Under this arrangement, the writer is said to “ghost” books on behalf of the “author” (who is actually not the person who writes the book, but rather the person to whom the text is attributed or bylined).
Thanks to the explosion of content marketing and thought leadership, demand for ghostwriters extends far beyond books. Ghostwriters nowadays can be found hemming out speeches, articles, blogs, and ebooks on their clients’ behalf.
Truthfully a ghostwriter is a type of freelance writer. Many freelance writers exclusively ghostwrite while others mix ghostwriting with bylined output for clients or freelance journalism.
- Ghostwriters should be particularly familiar with how to navigate the ghostwriting process from start to finish including ascertaining the client’s voice, onboarding material, and working with them to produce a finished work.
- Ghostwriters likely have procedures in place to ensure the anonymity of their clients (assuming that that is a requirement).
- Ghostwriters may only focus on ghostwriting. Some may explicitly refuse to take a byline even if that is what you want them to do!
- Ghostwriters are typically simply freelance writers who specialize in ghostwriting. The same negatives apply to them as do to freelance writers in general, including the fact that they are only one person.
If you’re looking to entrust your content marketing or thought leadership to an organization, then agencies are the doors that you should go knocking at.
The good news is that there is no shortage of agencies out there handling everything from reputation management to PR and content marketing.
Clutch is a good directory. Although you can also find a suitable agency for your requirements and budget through word of mouth or simply by Googling for providers in your area (although in the remote era that’s increasingly a negotiable requirement).
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- Agencies consist of teams of creatives, account managers, and administrative staff. The work of managing your project is likely to be distributed among several providers rather than focused on one individual. Often times more brains are better than one.
- As a cooperative unit, your average agency will have providers with a variety of different skillsets ranging from copywriters to graphic designers and SEO specialists. Agencies’ outsourcing pools may be wider than those of individual freelancers.
- The size of agencies comes at a cost. They tend, by and large, to be more expensive than individual freelance writers.
- Working with an agency might be more bureaucratic than working with a solo freelancer. If you’re working with an agency, communication with the person actually doing the writing might need to be funneled through an account manager. Worse, you may have no control of who that person is.
Different Business For Different Clients
Whether you wish to work with a freelance writer, an agency, or a ghostwriter will depend upon several factors including your budget, scope, and personal preferences.
All these service providers could be used to help you or your in-house marketing team to execute a content marketing project or a thought leadership campaign.