In theory, we all know that content marketing is an instrumental component of a brand’s marketing strategy. As business owners or company executives, we understand that there’s great potential in leveraging thought leadership through content. In reality, we’re often strapped for time, and writing articles and other content falls to the very bottom of a very long list of tasks.
So, what’s to be done? Should you give up on using content because you don’t have time or skills to develop it? Nay, my friend. There’s a better solution — hire a ghostwriter.
A ghostwriter is experienced in writing in other people’s voices so that they get the benefit of having content published under their name, without the hassle of actually writing it. You’d be surprised how many best-selling books were ghostwritten. I myself have written hundreds of articles and books for business leaders. The system works. Read on to learn more about when it’s right to hire a ghostwriter.
Why You Absolutely Need a Ghostwriter
You have knowledge about your industry, and you know that people would benefit from that information. The fastest way to share that knowledge is by publishing and distributing content. But, if that knowledge is trapped in your brain, the best way to get it out is to work with someone who knows how to craft it into engaging content.
People are searching for answers to their questions. You have them, and through content, you can connect them to your brand to find the answers. The ghostwriter is the key. Content, in general, is a siren song that attracts people to you. Lock them in with great content, and they’ll stay to see what else you have to offer. A ghostwriter can help them find you.
Now that you’re sold on needing a ghostwriter, let’s walk through the steps of finding the right one. It’s important that the fit is right, because this is your brand we’re talking about! You shouldn’t put it in the hands of just anyone!
1. Know What Your Writing Goals Are
Before you start your search for a ghostwriter, it’s important that you sit down to consider what you want to achieve. What types of content do you want produced? Where would you like to be in terms of your goals in three, six, or nine months? (Note: be realistic; publishing blog posts isn’t going to get you 10 million followers overnight. It will take time, but it’s something you should continually work toward.)
2. Look for Writers Whose Style You Like
I always say the best way to find a great ghostwriter is to read what’s being published online. You can get a good sense for a writer’s ability by what she’s writing under her own name. Granted, that’s probably not the only voice she’s capable of writing in, but if you like what you see, it’s worth a conversation to see if she can help you.
3. Look Where the Writers Are
If you don’t find anyone by perusing blogs, there are other ways to find ghostwriters. One is to post a project on a freelance site like UpWork, Guru, or even Craigslist. State exactly what you’re looking for, how many pieces of content a month you need, and your budget (more on that next).
You should also tap your social network for recommendations. You never know who might be able to refer you to a ghostwriter, so just ask!
4. Expect to Pay a Fair Wage
Once you start the dialogue about working together (or when you’re posting a gig to find a writer), find out what the going rate is before you lowball and attract all the wrong people for the project.
A good writer will charge upwards of $100-300 for a blog post, and bigger projects will cost more. If you want someone who is skilled at taking on your own voice in her writing, you will need to pay for the privilege. Trying to get cheap labor will get cheap results. Is that what you want to represent your brand?
5. Ask for Samples
You may want to interview several writers before choosing the one that’s most aligned with what you want to achieve. Ask to see samples they’ve written for clients so you can get a sense of each writer’s range of voice and tone. Often they won’t publicly share the work they’ve done (after all, it’s ghostwritten under someone else’s name), but will share upon request privately.
6. Discuss Strategy Together
A lot of people have concerns that a ghostwriter won’t be able to accurately portray them through writing. I’ve never found that to be the case, but it does require some participation on your part to get it right. You should be involved in the process early so that the writer knows exactly what your expectations are. If you’ve written content in the past, give that to her so that she can mimic the voice. Give her guidance: are you looking for a conservative voice? Casual? Conversational? Are there certain styles of writing you like, or templates for content she should adhere to?
In my experience, the only times a client isn’t happy with my work is when he doesn’t tell me what he wants up front. When we dialogue about his expectations, it’s much easier for me to meet them.
7. Provide Feedback on the Process
You may be busy, but make time to review what your writer produces, especially early on. She needs your feedback to ensure that she’s on the right track. Make suggestions, tell her what you don’t like and help her improve her writing. After a few projects together, you may be comfortable without reviewing everything, but you want to ensure that you trust her enough to accomplish your objectives first.
When NOT to Hire a Ghostwriter
I’ll admit: there are some people who are better off not working with a ghostwriter. They tend to be Type A perfectionists who set such high standards that no writer will ever meet them. If you have difficulty giving up control to others (especially as it pertains to your personal brand), you may be uncomfortable having someone else represent you through content.
It’s better that you admit that you will never be comfortable in this situation than to start down the path, pay for ghostwriting services, and then never use the content because it’s not up to your standards.
But, if you are able to loosen the reins of control a bit, working with a ghostwriter can instantly give you street cred in your field, and you barely have to lift a finger to get it! Having content published under your name, both on your company blog as well as on other sites can introduce you and your brand to other potential customers.