Is a Ghost Blogger “Write” for You?

Guest Post by Sara Korn

You know the benefits of blogging, but if you have a blog you also know that it requires consistent, focused effort. The more often you can post, the better exposure and resources you can create for your business. But this critical activity can be a huge drain on your time, pulling you away from other important work… work that you’d much rather be doing.

If you don’t have the time to blog as regularly or as often as you need to, or you simply don’t like/want to write, there’s a solution for that – hiring a ghost blogger.

A ghost blogger is a professional writer who writes blogs on behalf of another person or company. Not only does a ghost blogger save you the time and trouble of writing your blog, a talented writer can also take the quality of your blog to a whole new level.

Here are some tips on how to go about finding and hiring the right ghost blogger for your business.

Where to look

Referrals. Ask around in your network for referrals to professional bloggers and writers. Especially get in touch with people who offer complimentary services such as website development, graphic design, marketing consulting, and business coaching. Their clients often require content and may have a list of contacts they can refer you to.

Other blogs. When you read a blog post you like, look at the bio (usually at the end of the post) to see who wrote it. Often these writers will have a link back to their website where you can find out if their services are for hire.

Local networking groups. When you attend networking events in your area, look for members who are writers and also ask the people you talk with if they know of writers in their network.

Social media. Post a status update asking for referrals. On LinkedIn, you can also post your request on the message board of groups you are in, post a job listing, or simply run a search for “ghost blogger” and see who comes up.

Web search. Let Google help you find some candidates to consider. To narrow the results, add your city or region to your search request.

The three most important factors to consider when hiring a ghost blogger

  1. Professional attitude and work habits. You can teach someone your tone, style, and niche eccentricities, but you can’t teach attitude or the organizational skills required to meet deadlines. Even if they’re a freelance contractor, they’re still a part of your team – hire someone you can have a comfortable working relationship with.
  2. High-quality writing samples. Every writer should have a portfolio demonstrating their ability, and it should meet or exceed your expectations. If you’re not impressed, keep looking.
  3. Up-to-date expertise on content marketing industry best practices. Blogging and content marketing have tried-and-true methods as well as new trends as the industry evolves. Ask questions to find out what they know – and what they don’t.

Warning signs to watch out for

Slow to follow up, doesn’t make good on promises. Do days go by before you get a response to your email? Does the writer say they’ll get back to you by end-of-day Tuesday, but you don’t hear back until Friday?

Doesn’t ask how your blog fits into your overall marketing strategy. To write effectively for your business, a blogger must know key pieces of information such as your target audience, what kind of content is popular with that audience, and how the blog supports your other efforts. Failure to ask these kinds of business questions indicates that the content you get will not necessarily be the best content for your needs.

No presence on social media. Personal preferences aside, every professional blogger should have a consistent presence on at least one social media platform. If they don’t, this is a sign that you’re dealing with a writer who hasn’t embraced the reality of online networking.

Diva attitude. If your writer is good at their job, it is reasonable that they ask for professional pay and treatment. But you should expect professional treatment by them. If they consider your deadlines and your reasonable requests as more of a suggestion than a requirement, beware.

What to expect from the relationship

Meets deadlines, delivers as promised. This one’s pretty self-explanatory.

Interested in how their role contributes to the success of your business. A writer who cares about your business will be in the right mindset to craft the best possible content for your unique needs.

Taps your expertise and structures it. Great ghost bloggers don’t go off to their proverbial cave and write in a vacuum. They’ll interview you to get the gems of expertise out of your head and onto the page, and structure it in a way that is easy for your prospects and customers to understand and relate to.

Doesn’t take writing for you for granted. A top-notch writer doesn’t rest on their laurels, they constantly try to make this next post the best one yet.

Charges professional rates. This might seem counter-intuitive – after all, you want to pay as little as possible, right? No, because this is an area where you get what you pay for. Someone who can actually make a living doing this work is someone who has the luxury of taking their work very seriously and giving each post the time and attention it deserves.

Which leads us to…

What you should expect to pay

Rates vary greatly from one writer to the next, especially due to regional differences in cost of living and market rates.

An important thing to remember is that a professional writer is also running a business, and has overhead costs such as paying for their own insurance, sick days, social security contributions, marketing costs, operating overhead, etc. For this reason, a fair professional hourly rate is about three times what a full-time employee’s hourly rate would be for the same work.

For a ballpark estimate, expect to pay somewhere in the neighborhood of $100-$200 per post, depending on length and additional services. Blog posts exceeding 700 words and/or requiring research will cost more than your standard 500-word post.

As part of your planning and negotiations, decide whether you, the writer, or someone on your staff, will:

  • Post the blog copy on your website (via WordPress, Drupal, etc.)
  • Find an appropriate photo (every blog post needs at least 1 image)
  • Promote the blog post via your social media channels (some writers do this, some don’t)
  • Send the blog to your subscriber list via your mailing list software (MailChimp, Constant Contact, Infusionsoft, etc.)

These additional tasks involve about an extra hour of work per post. It can be more convenient to have the writer take care of this stuff too, though it may be more economical to have an admin perform this work.

How to get the most for your money

Right now you’re investing your own time to write your blog. When you hire a ghost blogger to write for you, that investment changes to one of money. Here are some ways to get the biggest bang for your buck.

  • Repurpose content. Turn that post content into ebooks, webinars, white papers, success stories, interviews, etc. Thankfully, you’ll now have a writer to help with that!
  • FAQ pages. Write individual blog posts about the common questions people have about your product or service and link to them from your FAQ page.
  • Long-tail keyword pages. Get some SEO love by creating posts that address the questions people search for when they’re ready to buy.
  • Pull key content that can be used in marketing and sales materials. If your posts address how your company is unique, why people buy from you, etc., then borrow those gems to use elsewhere to promote your business.
  • Link internally to related posts. Keep each post focused on one main idea, then link to other posts that cover related topics.

Common concerns

We’ve addressed many of the benefits and practical aspects of hiring a ghost blogger. There are other, less tangible, yet still important, things to consider. Here are the questions I get the most often:

“I want my blog to sound like I wrote it, not someone else.”

It’s important that a ghost blogger be a chameleon writer who can adapt to your tone and style. Since not everyone writes like they sound, but everyone sounds like they sound, I interview my clients on the phone and take note of their unique voice and style.

“How will the ghost blogger know what to write if they’re not an expert in my niche?”

This is the second reason I interview my clients – to discover topic ideas. Clients who don’t like to write often have no problem talking about their area of expertise, so this is the easiest way to access the goldmine of information locked away in their heads.

Other clients find it convenient to “brain dump” – they write for five or ten minutes on a topic without censoring the flow of information. Then I take that raw information and craft it into easy-to-read posts.

“Can I let the writer handle everything or do I still need to be involved?”

Aside from the content itself, a blog also needs an image, needs to be posted to your site, and needs to be distributed to your subscribers and on your social networks.

Whether or not this is included depends on the arrangement you negotiate with your writer. Realize that these additional services can add 1-3 hours to the time it takes to execute each post. You may find it more cost-effective to hire an assistant to take care of these routine tasks for you.

“Will I still have a say in what goes on my blog?”

Absolutely. The ghost blogger may be the expert at writing, but you’re still the expert on your niche and your business.

“What if the writer and I disagree on what to say on a topic?”

You are the ultimate decision-maker of what content represents your brand. Your writer should share their opinion, but the ultimate decision is yours.

“What if I don’t like the ghost blogger’s work?”

Give the writer a chance to correct the situation to your satisfaction. But if it becomes clear that this isn’t possible, then look for another writer. You should be highly satisfied with the work you get, especially since you are paying professional rates.

“How much experience does a ghost blogger need to have?”

Experience is secondary to skill. Take a look at the writer’s portfolio and use that as a judge of ability, rather than years of experience. Anyone can have a mediocre job for a long time. Others have a natural knack for compelling writing. True talent comes through in the work.

What questions do you still have?

Ask in the comments.

Sara Korn is a freelance ghost blogger with a passion for writing content that helps businesses expand their influence and attract customers. Find out how to hire her here, or sign up to receive her weekly blog on how to use content marketing to grow you business.

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12 Comments

  1. I know there are numerous aspirant bloggers but they’re not good and amazing in their writing. So I think its a great idea to hire ghost blogger. New blogger don’t want to invest much initially so finding good writer at lower price would be a great challenge.

  2. Hi Sara,

    As a fellow ghost writer I must say, you nailed this one. Awesome points all around.

    Asking questions of your ghost writer and of course, ghost writers asking questions of prospective clients is key. Open up communication channels to see if you’re both matches. Neither party should move forward unless expectations are set, and the type, length and depth of content is discussed.

    I like getting as much information as possible about the blog and the audience, as well as the niche that I am covering, and of course, the topics to be discussed.

    Some bloggers don’t mind that ghost written posts mirror their voice; in more than a few cases, the ghostie is a more skilled writer due to some serious time spent practicing.

    I’d stress the need to move forward with both parties being fully clear on the word count, rate, and any other negotiable.

    Oh and another thing….bloggers, the experienced ghost writers aren’t going to budge much on price ;) Sure they will work with you but as you noted, going with the bargain basement writer is generally a recipe for disaster. A few ghost writers don’t know their value but people with year’s worth of experience do, and they will charge their rates independent of any cajoling.

    Super helpful post here Sara. Thanks for the share, and thanks for the guest post Michelle. Your blog is looking AMAZING, BTW ;)

    Tweeting in a bit.

    Ryan
    Ryan Biddulph recently posted… From Employee to Entrepreneur: 12 Rock Solid Tips for Retiring to a Spectacular Life of Island Hopping through BloggingMy Profile

    1. Thanks Ryan, glad to see that this jives with your experience as well. Excellent point about the price issue. I know it can be SO tempting to try and get the rock-bottom price, but you pay for it in lower quality.
      Sara Korn recently posted… Do you really need a newsletter for your business?My Profile

  3. Sara is an amazing writer. This blog is no exception! Thank you Sara for providing so many great insights and to Michelle for posting it.

  4. Some people also have multiple ghost writers, so they can have different options, or play on certain strengths of writers. Great piece!

  5. Thanks for a great article…it’s funny how many companies overlook this issue! A blog is an important extension of a company’s brand, which can easily get off track if not managed correctly. To your point, look for a writer who understands SEO and is concerned about incorporating the blog into overall marketing strategy for best ROI.

    Having been on both sides of the corporate coin, I think it’s well worth it to outsource to professional bloggers for the most professional results. After all, I don’t do my own taxes, because I don’t have the kind of expertise and knowledge of tax laws that a CPA would. As a fellow ghost blogger, I have been surprised by how many of my peers do not respond in a timely manner, and consider that a red flag. Look for someone who illustrates a sense of urgency and meets deadline commitments.

    Re: payment, it seems to be customary to expect partial payment up front, typically 50% in my area.

    I enjoy your blog and will be sharing.

    @susangranick

  6. Some bloggers do need to hire ‘Ghost Bloggers’ to produce effective content .

  7. I sure could use a ghost blogger right about now,
    Kathryn Dilligard recently posted… thesiteowl.comMy Profile

  8. Ghost writer can be a pretty delicate issue, depending on whom you ask. Generally just hiring someone to write and post on a consistent basis can do wonders for your bottom line!

    However, The major problem cited with ghost writer is the inauthenticity that comes with it. Because the blog posts are technically not written by the person who claims to write it, many perceive this practice as nothing but pretension.
    Worli recently posted… I Love You More Than AnythingMy Profile

  9. I’ve seen both sides of the “ghost writer” argument presented effectively, and it all comes down to what works for the company or blogger in question. My company provides ghost writing blog content services, but I author nearly every post (aside from guest contributions) that go live on our own blog.

    In my case, the company was established based on years of personal branding I invested in up front. I present, do trainings, and write content on other sites similar to how Neil Patel does on Quicksprout.

    For other companies though, especially those without a leadership team that likes to (or has the necessary skills to) write blog content, outsourcing it is a smart decision. Great summary of how to get the relationship off on the right foot. We’ve found that the clients who invest in the “on ramp” process the most get the highest value out of the partnership.
    Tommy Landry recently posted… 7 Reasons It’s Getting Harder to Pick Blog TopicsMy Profile

  10. Great article, Sara! I appreciate that you covered many details not often thought about when considering a blogger. One thing I’d like to add in regards to pricing: Research. Some articles require extensive research and a smart business will be willing to pay extra for that. One big problem with the internet today is its ever-decreasing amount of credibility. We can blame the writers for not researching, but we should also blame whoever hires them for not being willing to pay for their time.

  11. Ghostwrites can lend a different tone to your blog as well, which hits readers from different angles. It can be very beneficial, especially when you get tired.

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