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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.