Should You Hire a Ghostwriter?
“I don’t know how you do it,” my client said. “I can’t stand writing — and I’m not very good at it.”
It wasn’t the first time I’d heard this sentiment.
We’d just finished one of our monthly interviews — an hour-long call where we chatted about a topic in which he has tremendous expertise and a wealth of information to share.
Sometimes, during these calls, I’d use my journalism training to foster the conversation or dig deeper on key concepts. But over time, we’d achieved a comfortable cadence and, mostly, the information flowed naturally. As always, I’d record the calls (with consent, of course), and jot down a few notes. Later, I’d use the recording to craft a couple of articles, which we’d publish under his name
“It’s my thing,” I responded. “Writing has always come easily to me.”
And it’s true. I enjoy sifting through interviews and research for powerful quotes and nuggets of information I know my clients’ audience will find valuable. I like distilling complex concepts down to useful, actionable assets. It’s like solving a puzzle with creativity, and I love that kind of work.
But I know most people don’t have the time or passion for writing, and that’s why I offer ghostwriting as one of my services.
Of course, entering into a ghostwriting engagement can be unfamiliar territory for many business leaders. If you’re trying to decide whether it’s time to add ghostwriting to your marketing budget, here’s what you need to know.
Why Would You Need to Hire a Ghostwriter?
Many of my clients are senior executives for small to mid-size organizations. They have no qualms stepping on stage in front of 10,000 people and eloquently discussing complicated ideas. They can work the room of an industry event with ease, gliding from group to group, making connections, and laying the groundwork for high-stakes sales.
These people are brilliant in all sorts of ways, but they’re not writers
Some of them loathe writing, and others simply don’t have time to sit down and tackle an article — even on topics they’re passionate about.
But they do have industry expertise and thousands of innovative ideas they’d love to share. And I can gather that information, transform their knowledge into written word, and help them serve those ideas to their audience.
Publishing articles on your organization’s blog, your personal LinkedIn, or trade publications and other relevant sites not only helps drive traffic to your website, but also gives you an opportunity to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry. In my experience, publishing well-written, well-edited pieces is an exposure domino effect — one great article can lead to several more guest-writing opportunities.
The result? More credibility, traffic, and revenue.
Is Ghostwriting Unethical?
For some, the idea of publishing work under someone else’s name can seem shady — like plagiarism. But ghostwriting, as long as it happens within a fair agreement between the writer and published author, is completely ethical and legal.
And if it wasn’t, I wouldn’t be doing it.
Also, unlike plagiarism, there’s no theft or attribution without permission. Instead, professional writers willingly lend their services to help other professionals compose and publish their ideas. In fact, many novels and academic volumes are partially or entirely ghostwritten. And all sorts of political and business leaders work with speechwriters (which can be a form of ghostwriting, too).
In short, everyone has their strengths, and many of us outsource work outside our wheelhouse or area of interest. For example, I’m not great at math, nor do I enjoy it, so I outsource my taxes to my amazing CPA. She does them for me, and I sign off and pay her per our agreement. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship.
What Should You Look For in a Ghostwriter?
Not all ghostwriters are equal. Here are a few things to consider as you evaluate ghostwriting candidates:
Area of expertise
It’s important you hire a ghostwriter who has at least some experience in your industry or vertical. While great writers can usually tackle a wide variety of topics, a ghostwriter who understands your work and audience is more likely to comprehend the nuances of industry terms and frame topics in a way that’s familiar to your audience.
Look for ghostwriters who have education and/or experience in journalism, academia, marketing, or business communication. These writers will likely know how to simplify complicated subjects, consider information objectively, and ask the right questions. And if you’re planning to publish ghostwritten articles on your website, you’ll want to make sure your ghostwriter is skilled in SEO, too.
When evaluating a writer, be sure to review their background experience, examples of their work, and client testimonials. If this information can’t be easily found on LinkedIn or through the writer’s website, don’t be afraid to ask for it directly.
Every ghostwriter has their own methods and practices. For example, if possible, I prefer to interview my clients because this allows me to gather a significant amount of information at once. An hour-long phone call or face-to-face conversation can provide enough material for two to three blog posts, and also helps me understand the client’s voice.
It’s also helpful to choose a ghostwriter with whom you can develop a natural rapport. The better they get to know you, the more accurately they’ll be able to “channel” you and mimic your voice. After all, any content published under your name shouldn’t just reflect your knowledge — it should sound like you, too.
How Much Do Ghostwriters Charge?
Ghostwriting rates vary significantly based on several factors, including industry, subject matter, the writer’s level of experience, and more.
In general, when working with a professional writer, you can expect to pay somewhere in the ballpark of $0.25 — $1.00 per word, or $200 — $800 per 800-word article. Some writers may charge a lower per-word rate, but charge an additional hourly rate for interviews and research.
As you evaluate writers, keep in mind that you’ll get what you pay for.
For example, you may see advertisements offering ghostwriting services for $10 — $20 per blog post. It’s cheap, and that’s appealing. But the content you’ll receive from those engagements won’t be written by experienced professionals — and I can almost guarantee it won’t be good enough to publish under your name.
Remember: the quality of the thought leadership content you publish has a significant impact on your reputation. 49 percent of B2B buyers said poor quality content negatively impacted their opinion of a company, according to a study by Edelman and LinkedIn. On the flip side, 88 percent of business decision-makers gained respect and admiration for an organization after engaging with high-quality thought leadership content.
(I once worked with a client who’d used a content mill to produce several blog posts. Most of the content was such poor quality, we had to start from scratch. In the end, the client paid significantly more than if they’d hired a professional ghostwriter from the start. Don’t put yourself in that position!)
If you know you should be authoring more content, but you can’t carve out time to write — or, like many of my clients, you simply hate doing it — hiring a ghostwriter is an efficient and effective solution.
By partnering with a reliable, credible professional writer, you can begin publishing more content to increase traffic to your company’s website and grow your personal brand.
Interested in hiring a ghostwriter? I’m currently accepting new clients! Let’s talk about how I can help you get your message in front of your audience.
Originally published at http://carriedagenhard.com on September 10, 2019.