10 things to consider when hiring a ghostwriter
You can’t hand off the entire content development process to a ghostwriting team, but it can scale your content and be somewhat affordable.
Victoria Shepherd on July 6, 2022 at 9:00 am | Reading time: 8 minutes
In marketing, content creation is mandatory. But what if you’re a lean team and can’t afford to spend time developing tons of content?
B2B content Marketers Spend 82% of their time creating content, according to a Casted study.
In addition, 72% of marketers say content marketing increases engagement and the number of leads.
Ghostwriting services are probably your quickest way to get content developed.
I had the opportunity to speak to various experts about certain insights a person or department needs to consider when hiring a ghostwriter or service.
1. Focus on finding individuals who are subject matter experts in your field
Writers you hire need to be proficient in the subject you’re asking them to write about. Finding individuals or a service that can write about your topic, while also know the intricacies is something you seriously consider.
Marty Weintraub, Marketing Lead and Founder of integrated brand and performance marketing organization, Aimclear states that “The writer(s) you hire must be strong enough to lead thinking and your brand. Work either with true subject matter experts or be prepared to hand over research, outlines, images, data, etc. to someone who borders on a subject matter expert.
No matter how large the firm you hire for ghost writing is, from solo to enterprise, hire a specific person/people, not a company who might assign anybody at any level.”
Andy Betts, Consultant & Advisor Focusing on Content and Media with 15 years’ experience writing and ghostwriting for publications, CEOs and CMOs as a consultant says that “experience with your core audience is one of the keys to ghost-writing and choosing a service is ensuring writers have relevant experience in your industry.”
2. Interview them and ask for writing samples
While experience in a specific industry or industries is important, getting insight into their writing style, ahead of time is equally or more important. Not only interview them but also get samples of the articles they have written.
“Remember, it’s not just about search engine results. If your content looks like everybody else (especially the ghost’s last seven and three current clients) you may rank but readers will not be impressed. Readers are smart and often spot ghosts a mile away. Evaluate their sample work for signs of freshness, heart, voice, technical chops, innovation, and style you would be proud to associate with. Pull out two to three sentences in a row from example posts and search for them.”
You don’t want to hire a ghostwriter who just repurposes or rewrites the same topic or idea over and over.
3. Pick a solution that has time-saving features
If you decide to go the route of picking a professional content writing solution, then it is important that that tool is powerful and scalable.
When working with the right service when it comes to outsourcing, can help boost your bottom line and expand on how often you publish content.
“Depending on your project having a ghostwriting service that has robust tools can be very important to produce high-quality content at scale,” said Robin Howard, from Crowd Content. “Tools like layouts, batch uploaders or keyword highlighting can be very helpful when producing a lot of content.”
This is especially where there are nuances and semantics – where one word or phrase can mean different things.
Hire specialists if you need them, as generalist ghostwriters tend to demand too much attention and editing.
4. It’s not a magic pill
Whether it’s an expert or a solution, one thing you need to come to terms with is that you most likely will have to tweak the content you receive.
Duane Forrester, VP, Industry Insights at Yext states that “they don’t know what you know. While many will say they have an expertise in your space, but the truth is, they aren’t you, so there will be a gap, which can lead to frustration. Knowing the gap will exist can help mitigate that frustration, though, as it’ll help you communicate better on both sides. Think of ghostwriting as a 75% – 95% solution.”
The good news is that majority of the work is done. Forrester says “You still need to do the work, but it’s vastly different that thinking, planning, writing, editing, rewriting. You do get to skip a bunch of the in-the-middle work.”
Forrester also mentions that what ghostwriters can do is make is in making your material much more readable. They’ll instinctively know how to write for a specific level of audience (101, 201, etc.), and can thread your thoughts into those levels
5. You must act like a project manager
If you’re thinking that you’ll simply hand off some keywords and a few links to inspire the writer and expect to get a great result, think again.
You need to project manage them or make sure the service or solution you’re working with has a PM that works with you.
Forrester states that you should “never just give a list of topics or keywords and expect 500 words on the subject that’ll satisfy you.”
Here’s some ideas Forrester suggests around developing a writing template:
- Create a framework for the final product
- What the length will be
- Reading level (101 or expert)
- Determine pronoun focus (she v. he in examples, etc.)
- Give insight into style, flow and whether this stands alone, or fits a broader narrative across the site/company
6. Ensure that they can adapt/know your tone, voice, and style
Speaking of style and flow, Betts suggests you need to ensure they can adapt to different writing styles. Forrester mentions that they need to know they can speak to your product, service, or POV subtly and succinctly.
It also helps to onboard them, as a direction helps. Nothing is worse than a ghostwriter who does not take advice and goes in their own direction.
You know when you have a successful service when your feedback cycles and editing time goes down
7. Check the writers’ reputation
If you’re seeking writers, then make sure they have the experience you’re looking for.
“If you’re using a ghostwriter, make sure to check his or her reputation as a writer,” said Ron Lieback from ContentMender. “Many should already be publishing across various channels, so a simple online search should show some results.
“Speaking of results, make sure the writer also understands SEO. Even if you’re publishing on Forbes, you can do much better with a bit of SEO thinking versus just writing. “
8. Passion and experience for your vertical
If your ghostwriter is creating a piece about motorcycles, he or she better know the difference between a clutch and a brake lever.
Or if they’re doing a piece about technical SEO, they should know the obvious like indexing and site speed.
A simple call will answer these questions.
If you’re using a company, make sure the person leading that department is a trusted writer.
Also, we make sure they have passion for their subject matter, which makes writing much easier for them.
“Understand that expertise costs more, but the product is worth it for serious brand building,” Lieback said. “Remember, this writer is representing you, so make sure they have passion and much experience writing in your vertical.
9. Hire an expert
If you’re unsure about utilizing a web content solution, look within your network.
You may be surprised at the expert individuals you will find who would be glad to develop content for you.
“Consider finding a mature thought leader who recently sold their company and would do it for fun and extra cash,” Weintraub said. “Another option is a highly regarded retiree or near retiree, with nothing to prove. Pay them a lot. It will be worth it.
Another great option is to find professional writers who write for major publications on the topic.
“Sometimes they’re willing to ghost for the money. Mainly, we don’t believe in content farm ghostwriting. If we don’t have bandwidth or a subject matter expert, we advise clients to go top shelf. You get what you pay for,” Weintraub said.
10. Sign an NDA
Having writers sign a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) should be mandatory.
“This a must! I make all my clients sign NDAs, and I also make all my ghostwriters sign NDAs,” Lieback said. “I dealt with a few that tried using their ghostwriting as a resume builder – this can ruin a reputation or trust quickly, so make sure to have the client and ghostwriter sign an NDA.”
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.