What You Need to Know About Hiring And Being a Ghostwriter

what is a ghost writer

If you heard about ghostwriting as a freelance gig and/or are a website owner and want to hire a ghostwriter to help you build your site, let me give you the pros and cons of doing that by explaining everything you need to know about this subject

What is a ghostwriter?

It’s a person who writes a blog post or article on a website but their name doesn’t appear public.

In fact, the owner of the website has sole ownership of the article the ghostwriter produces for them and can use any name they wish, even their own. I’ll explain what the benefits of this are shortly.

An example of how ghostwriting works:

Let’s say you are person A and you own a blog. You pay a ghost writer (person B) money to write blogs on your site.

After they finished and the content is published, instead of them getting the credit, the articles they produced are listed with you being the author, not person B (the actual ghostwriter). 

The financial benefits of being a ghostwriter:

  1. You can make good money if you find a good client to pay you to write on their site.
  2. You can get recommendations from one website owner and write on other sites.
  3. You can actually build a nice freelance gig out of this if you can produce good content.

The financial benefits of hiring a ghostwriter:

  1. If your business is too big to run on your own, a ghostwriter can help you manage your blogs.
  2. You do pay the ghostwriter, but in exchange for them producing good content, your site gets more traffic and makes more money.
  3. You can scale your business better this way, have one writer build your site for you, while you focus on other sites.

My personal experiences with ghostwriting:

A few years ago, if someone asked me about outsourcing my blogging efforts, that I would be completely against it and to this day, the arguments I had for paying people to write your content are still relevant (you have to be very careful).

However, I opened up to this option when I had no other choice. I was in a position where I was running a few different websites, all blogs, which required content curation on a semi weekly basis and it wasn’t something I could maintain on my own.

Fortunately because I knew what to look for in a ghostwriter, I found one person who gave me a good deal for writing 1,000 word blog posts and still use his services to this day. His name is Shawn but for the articles published by him, my name appears for him, so Shawn is the ghostwriter. 

Thanks to Shawn, I had been able to let go a bit more of my other sites, and worry less about them getting content up and can now focus on more important sites and grow those.

Ghostwriting has a lot of cons, for both the writer and the website owner too:

Despite me putting up nothing but pros and positive experiences about ghostwriting, the unfortunate truth about this business is that it’s a tough one and let me give you a few reasons why:

If you’re looking to hire a ghostwriter (website owner), here are a number of cons to consider:

  1. Most writers are terrible (stay away from the ones who charge cheap prices for their services).
  2. Many ghostwriters have no clue how to actually write high quality content.
  3. Most ghostwriters have no clue what SEO is and how to write blog content to bring in traffic.

And if you’re looking to become a ghostwriter, here are the most common cons to consider for that:

  1. A website owner may be a cheapskate and pay you very little to write a lot of content.
  2. You have a lot of competition to deal with as many other ghostwriters and freelance writers compete to get the same gig you want.
  3. Most times, gigs don’t last long term and you may not see a stable income from this (it takes time to be a recognized and trusted ghostwriter).

These are just realities when it comes to the ghostwriting business and in order to combat them, let me show you ways you can do that, from 2 perspectives:

  1. From the perspective of the website owner.
  2. And from the perspective of the ghostwriter looking to get the gigs.

For website owners seeking to hire ghostwriters. Here are 10 things to look for:

1) Find ghostwriters based on recommendations of other blog owners who are happy. 

This is the one of the best ways to find legitimate ghostwriters quickly. It saves you time from filtering out who is legit and who isn’t. I usually contact one or more of my blogging buddies and ask if they can recommend anyone. Because they understand the business, I know that their recommendation will be a safe one.

2) One you have an option, get in touch with them.

Just introduce yourself and mention you were told by your mutual acquaintance that you know they do ghostwriting.

3) Then I will ask them how long they’ve been writing and if they can show me some of their work.

If they do, I’ll make sure to read it. I’ve had periods before where I’ve been VERY close to hiring a “team” from a person I do trust, but after reading their sample articles, it was so difficult to understand that I felt my reader would also be confused, thus it didn’t benefit me to get them.

4) I will also ask this person if they use duplicate content (write the same articles).

This is VERY, VERY important. A lot of writers do not understand the responsibility they have when they are hired and often sell their services, recycling the same content to different clients.

If they say they do, kick them to the curb. Never hire a ghostwriter who reproduces the same, duplicate content, because everyone they do it for, they will be hurting their business due to content penalties the website owner will get for that action.

5) If I have doubts, I’ll have them work on a “plan B” site to see if they’re legit.

If I have multiple niche websites, I prioritize my main one to only being written by me no matter what and any other site which is new that I’m experimenting with to be considered a plan B.

It is also on those sites that I can test the writer I’ve hired.

The basic test there is if they write good things that get ranked well on search engines and there’s no penalty, it’ll show to me that the person is legitimate and I can then upgrade them to handling the more important sites I have.

This kind of trust period takes time, but if the writer is legit, then the payoff can be tremendous for me, so I am willing to put in the time to grow trust.

6) I will always give them a keyword to write about and if necessary a brief summary of what I want.

If the ghostwriter you are using has no clue what SEO is but writes well, I’ll give them a hand and provide them with a profitable list of keywords to use when writing the articles. This helps them with ideas on what to blog about and helps my site intelligently target keywords to get more visitors and sales to my site.

7) I will initially proof read the articles the ghostwriter sends me.

The goal isn’t just to see if they understand basic grammar and so forth, but if the style they write in is acceptable to my taste of how things should be.

Going back to my example of the ghostwriter I hired (Shawn), while he wrote well, he wrote in his own style initially that didn’t fit my criteria and so I mentioned to him what I wanted to see and showed him some of the changes he needed to make. He did and eventually figured out how to write well for me so that I wouldn’t have to consistently check on him in the future. Now I just publish his articles without having a second look because I know I can trust him.

8) Never accept a “final” work that doesn’t fit you requirements.

If you are paying someone to work for you and there is an expected result, it has to meet your criteria. There have been many times I’ve had to ask my guy to redo their work and they are fine with it.

If there are minor corrections that need to be done, I’ll usually do it myself if it doesn’t require a lot of time. But a writer who is willing to make necessary changes as often as possible is a sign of someone who is dedicated and can absolutely be an asset to you.

9) The bigger your site/s grow, the more ghostwriter/freelance writers you’ll be offered. 

Because ghostwriting is a saturated business and many people are scrapping to find website owners to hire them, they’ll often reach out to blogs that are big and getting traffic. Don’t be surprised if you get daily emails from these people (I do), and if you decide to give one or more of them a shot, follow these same guidelines.

10) Start with just 1 ghostwriter and then hire a second one based on the same parameters.

Don’t be in a rush to hire a team of writers if you don’t know if they’re legit. One good ghostwriter is a RARE thing to find as it is and if can find this kind of person, they’ll be an asset to your blog. Only consider hiring a second person if your business grows to a point where the first ghostwriter is doing well, but you require more content production that the single person can’t meet.

What about if you want to become a successful ghost writer? 5 tips for that:

The tips for being a good ghost writer that gets gigs is to basically look at the above tips I gave you from a website owner’s perspective and give them the trust, and comfort to hire you. That’s the big picture, but for specifics:

1) Learn about blogging, ranking and SEO.

Few writers understand these basic skills that make websites do well in the first place and if you posses basic knowledge on these subjects, you can become a valuable ghostwriter to hire. Here is an explanation of these 3 processes.

2) Use common sites like this to reach out to website owners:

Freelancer.com and iWriter.com are good places to place your resume on. Don’t wait on the gig though, move on with getting your resume out there.

Also you can get paid an OK amount from sites like Textbroker.com as an entry into the freelance writing world.

3) Reach out to blog owners for subjects you know a lot about.

If you know about skiing and run across a ski blog that’s popular, reach out to the owner and connect with these experiences. It makes it easier for them to trust you when they know you know about the subject. Consider these 50 different niche subjects for an example.

4) When speaking to the potential employer, ensure you mention your skills.

Blogging isn’t the only skill that can get you hired. Telling the website owner you understand SEO, blogging and ranking helps them see you are unlike the other ghostwriters spamming them for gigs. Your goal is to make the website owner see your value and this is one way to do it.

5) Give the website owner a good deal for the first article to get their trust, but don’t let them play you.

If you’re a valuable ghostwriter, you deserve to be paid a lot and if you’re seeking to get gigs, you can do a entry price for one article for the website owner and charge them a little bit, and if they wish to continue working with you, give them a price you’ll be happy with that matches your hours for how much you can write for them. Negotiate, but don’t let them cheapen you out.

So if you want to get paid $50 for writing 1,000 words, but the website owner wants to pay $20, don’t take it. Tell them you have other clients and get paid the $50 an article and this is your rate. Give yourself value, otherwise the website owner won’t value you.

And don’t be shy either, but don’t be rude at the same time when you negotiate (stand your ground).

My final thoughts about ghostwriting:

While some people enjoy the process of ghostwriting and can get paid a lot for it, my preference is to be in the position of the website owner who hires them. In my experience, if you have the skills to blog, then using it for your own business, rather than getting paid to build up someone else’s is the way to go, but if this isn’t your thing, then of course, making extra money on the side from writing articles for others can be profitable.

Programs like My Freelance Paycheck are also worth checking out as they provide good tips on getting hired for this. And if you seek to become a profitable website owner who has the option to hire ghostwriters, a program like Wealthy Affiliate would teach you to do this.

34 thoughts on “What You Need to Know About Hiring And Being a Ghostwriter”

  1. Hello Vitaliy:

    I am relatively new to the affiliate marketing business. I have my first website up and running. However, with the continual learning and updating my website, I have found it difficult time wise to be able to consistently write new content. I have considered the possibility of hiring ghost writers to help me. I appreciate your website in that it helped to answer all of my questions and now it is up to me to do the due diligence and decide whether or not it is something I want to pursue. Thanks and best to you.

    Mike

    Reply
    • Hi Mike, as long as you still feel new to the business and are getting your first site up and running, I would not consider any ghost writers as of yet, become more experienced first and then pass on that knowledge and expectation on the ghost writer you’ll look to hire.

      Reply
  2. I think for those who are working in different niches, hiring ghostwriters is fine as we might not be having time to update new posts regularly. So with the volume of work that is being demanded (2-3 posts a week), ghostwriters do come in handy. However, like you said, we should be careful of content duplication when the same ghostwriter is hired elsewhere too. If I had to hire one, I would be doing so to get a framework of the post, and I’m sure I’ll rewrite most of the content to suit me. In the end, it’s up to the one who’s hiring to do the cost-benefit analysis of the whole exercise.

    Reply
    • Absolutely true. Check the work of the ghost writer the first few times and be the one to make the final approval as well as the publication of the work. If they check out and produce good work, slowly give them more and more leniency, meaning spend less and less time checking up on their work (since they’ve proven to be good).

      It’s a growth process as well as a trust period, but it needs to be done, especially at first to ensure the safety of your business and website.

      Reply
  3. Vitaliy,

    Thanks for the tips on hiring ghost writers. I was worried about duplicate content and being scewed by the search engines but you really did clarified that point very well.I have a busy schedule with my job, so ghost a ghost write will go a long way to help me free my time. I will implement your 7 steps.

    Reply
    • No problem Patrick, I would also recommend you read this should you inquire on ghost writers as it’ll better help you isolate and pick one or more out that will truly be helpful writers for your site.

      Reply
  4. I’ve hired ghostwriters in the past for my Kindle Publishing business but I’ve never thought about leveraging ghostwriters to help me out with my blogging! This post really opened my eyes a lot and one of the main things I tell myself is to outsource as much as possible to free up as much time as possible. Great stuff.

    Reply
    • Honestly, it’s the opposite for me, I never though about hiring them for writing Kindle books, we both learned a new thing Corey 🙂

      Reply
  5. Thank you for your tips on ghost writers. I especially found a point on asking them if they duplicate their work helpful. You provided some great resources for questions and expectations when looking for a ghost writer. The information you provided was very helpful for me as I am just beginning, and I am analyzing what I will need to outsource.

    Reply
    • Definitely ask them if they duplicate their writing, but even if they say no, always cross check the work they give you by going to Google and quoting some of their writing to see if it’s been used anywhere else. Do this for the beginning stages to see if the writer is trustworthy. Also here are even better tips on all of that.

      Reply
  6. I’ve been working on developing my website to make it better and more profitable for me. I actually considered hiring an outside writer like one of the ghost writers to write my content for me. However, I only have the one site. Would you recommend that I just keep writing for my one site until I have multiple sites?

    Reply
    • Here is my advice: Write for current one site on your own, get that site to make you a good income, then invest a portion of the profit/s to open up a second site, find a writer and train them to do good valued work for you on it.

      If the next site does well and you make a profit even after having your writer do the work, invest in a third site and hire another writer and/or ask the existing one on your second site to take on an extra site for more money.

      Reply
  7. Hi there Vitaliy

    Thanks for explaining what we can expect from ghost writers. Although I do consider them freelance writers, I think in the end, the ghost writer/freelance writer, we have to be able to trust them.

    You mentioned having a plan B website for the articles they produce, I think this is a brilliant idea, you like the work, you can hire them to produce content for your valued site, if the quality is not as good, you can see if it`s worth tweaking to publish.

    Now concerning duplicates, I don’t think a freelancer/ghost writer will say “yes I use duplicates”. I’ve come across this once, when I ordered an article in one site, within 40 minutes, I had 2 articles, 1,500-words from the same writer and thought, this can’t be possible.

    The quality was very high but I was convinced the article had to be a duplicated. When I ordered a 2,000 word article from the same, it was ready in less than 1 hour, I just knew something could not be right so I dropped the writer. Since then I’ve made a point to ask first if everything is written from scratch.

    Another problem with writers is when they decide they no longer want to work with you or life gets in the way for them, some will just drop off without saying a word and you’re left waiting without a plan B. This has happened to me more than once and it is FRUSTRATING.

    Enjoyed your post, learned more on how to outsource better and I really appreciate your sharing, thanks so much.

    Reply
    • Hi Roamy, obviously trust is the big issue, and with all the stories you’ve explained, it’s no wonder I personally as well as many have a hard time giving away that much power to someone else to handle our content writing.

      Still, it’s worth looking to get one you can trust, but it’s going to be important to take them through the trust points I mentioned.

      Reply
  8. Good day Vitaliy

    I am just starting on my journey in blogging and I am not planning on hiring a ghost writer anytime soon. Nevertheless I still appreciate your very detailed and informative post.

    I would would like to know though if you found a way to ensure the ghost writer does not use duplicates apart from using his/her work to ruin a website.

    Reply
    • That is probably my biggest worry besides low quality work Everton, and my usual thing is to read it and see where the following things are:

      1) Are there sentences that sound like definitions?

      2) Are there phrases that seem alien to the writer and that they made it up?

      If these things are possibly there, I take that block of text and put it into quotes on Google and if something does pop up, I know that info is copied and do not use it.

      I also recommend CopyScape.com to check for duplicate work other sites may take off you.

      Reply
  9. Hi Vitaliy

    Thank you for this informative article on ghost writing.

    As someone who is new to the online world, my first inclination was to register myself as a freelance writer on some of the bigger sites, because writing is something I enjoy and am good at doing.

    Personally, the idea of ghostwriting is not all that appealing to me. I think the artist in me is not too keen to relinquish the credit for hard work done by me. I have struggled with that, and also I realize that if I’m writing for others, it cuts down on my time to write for my own new website. I think that is what I need to focus on for now, and feed my love of writing into creative writing submissions…

    As a site owner, as you say, it is difficult to find writers you trust and you often ask for referrals from others. Only thing here, these referrals are often over-busy, and as you saw, may try to outsource your work. Also, writers who are new freelancers are never going to get the opportunity to prove their worth, as it is difficult to get hired. You can still put requirements in place such as the writer must be a native English speaker with great vocabulary, spelling and grammar to prove it. That way you cut out the barely-literate individuals who may apply to your jobs.

    A last thing I want to mention – sometimes people who want to hire content writers offer paltry pay to someone who slogs away for hours to produce quality, original content after vigorous research. This is not ethical. You get what you pay for after all. If the pay is poor, one will attract second rate writers. One should not expect anything more.

    Interesting topic.

    Reply
    • Hi Natalie, you brought up several wise points, one about the working for someone vs yourself and the other about quality work being brought up for quality pay. I am not sure if you are still interested in being a freelance writer or are interested in finding one, but either way, I feel this article will be of great help to you.

      Reply
  10. HI Vitaliy,

    Good writers are not just an investment but an asset to your business. Those filters or rules are very good and I’m taking note on that.

    When It comes to hiring writers I do think that few things are key, especially when you do well and get good writers.

    1) multiple supplier relationship – hire more than one! You have cover should one be too busy or get sick. Competition keeps the standard up of the others.

    2) Be encouraging, positive, outgoing and understanding. No matter how urgent I am for articles to be written I insist they don’t work on my articles at weekend as weekend is family time.

    3) Give a bonus if and when due (excellent article, reaching top spot in google, new year)

    The points particularly the last two keep them motivated and inspired, which is what we want! Simple just be the boss you always dreamed of having/being!

    Reply
    • Hi Derek, I agree with all your points except the first one because in a recent conversation I had with another internet marketing friend, he showed me that just 1 writer can be enough, and 1 is hard enough to find as it is. Focus on getting at least 1 quality writer through the tips I mentioned and these recent ones I added, then if they aren’t enough, use the same filter to find a second one.

      Reply
  11. Dear Vitaliy,

    You are very correct on mentioning how you would want your first main website to be written and produced by you. On the other hand if you have additional websites going, then it is a work in progress if you would want help from someone to write the content for you.

    However, I guess in order to train them would be is to understand SEO and Keyword Research, then everything else should fall into space eventually. Of course you can’t persuade anyone to simply write the content for you if they don’t share a passionate attitude to help you out though. Another aspect you mentioned is that each person has a different mindset built in on how to write a blog post also based on being opinionated too.

    Finally, I would like to say that it is hard to build up trust with the other person to not wreck your website also. I started at the very bottom trying to create my website thinking I had to learn coding and almost was frustrated at a time to think I can manage my own first website by myself also without asking someone else to help me out.

    And another thing is that everything is Trial-By-Error, what seems to work for one person might not work for another when trying to get your ghost writers to work together as a team versus not knowing the correct steps to write quality content that can make Google happy also.

    Wishing you all the best with your online success above and beyond the horizon.

    ~Angel

    Reply
  12. Recently, I have been exploring freelancing, Having started 3 websites, I feel I am not giving any of them the content they need, and, could use some cash. I love your suggestion to continue the site one enjoys the most and freelance with the other.! What a great Idea. I have a site on dogs, and a lot of competition, do you have any more thoughts on freelancers locating specific niches/clients to write for? Such great information and reference here.

    Reply
    • Hi Shelley, first off, I love the avatar picture you have. I own 2 turtles so this resonates with me immediately! Now onto your questions…

      The problem is in fact the 3 sites. And I do recommend you take my advice about focusing on one. This tutorial on multiple sites will greatly help you as well.

      As for the last question, you are better of finding the freelance writer yourself vs the writer finding you. If however, YOU wish to be the writer for the company/site, you can simply find the site you feel you would be good for and contact them for possible services. In other words, I’d go directly to the site owner for whom you’d feel most suited for.

      Reply
  13. That is really good stuff, I really appreciate you taking the time to provide a roadmap for what I believe will be absolutely necessary as my sites continue to grow. I have a lot of ideas, but not enough time. In the end, if we can’t trust others to work for us, we are limited in what we can earn based on our individual efforts. Once again, awesome stuff. this article is bookmarked in my browser!

    Reply
    • It’s great that you have a lot of ideas. What I would do is write them all down on a paper or your computer, find keywords for them, then see how well you can manage writing about those topics on your own.

      I honestly think that if you are on your first site for now, that you shouldn’t outsource and I’ll also bet that you probably won’t have enough ideas to cover a whole years worth of content. And I measure that through the idea that if you write a blog post once a day, you’ll hit 365 posts at the end of the year.

      Unless your ideas span WAY beyond that number, I would not outsource, I would instead dedicate the time to write them all myself, make money of the free content YOU created, then outsource for future sites/content creation.

      Reply
  14. Hey Vitaliy

    It can be a difficult task entrusting someone you don’t hardly know to help you write content for your site. You used to have complete control and now you are giving the reigns to someone else. Your 7 steps are pretty sound for making a smart choice in who you pick to do it.

    I am not quite at this stage, yet as I only have one website. I will come back to this article if I ever feel work overload happening. I agree with someone else who commented that when you find someone you really like make a note of it. Keep them as a extra writer. Nice article

    Reply
  15. Hi Vitaliy. It looks like a ghost writer can be a very good resource, if following the 7 steps you have laid out here. I’m also currently having two blogs myself and a helping hand wouldn’t hurt to churn out those contents.

    I just wanna know how your writers submit your work to you? Do they send a word file or you give them access to your website? How about pictures for the post? Do they find it for you or you have to get those yourselves?

    Reply
    • Hi Isaac, the one I work with emails me the text and I copy it over, but sometimes I do spot mistakes so if you had it sent in a Word document and your writer made mistakes, you could correct it quicker through there.

      As for pictures, I just stick to the text for the site my writer helps me with. If there was a need to have them, either the person I hire would have to know how to make them or get them from royatly free places.

      Reply
  16. It can be hard to relinquish 100% control of the content being written for your website. But as your reach grows, it’s pretty much inevitable that you’ll have to start ‘hiring out’ some of the content writing required to keep your momentum going strong.
    The 7 requirements you’ve listed here will work as a great step-by-step checklist to use when hiring writers – whether they’re credited or ghost writers – for the first time.
    The only thing I’d add is to keep a circle of strong writers on your payroll. Writers that you know deliver strong content & who are able deliver the promised work on time.

    Reply
    • Agreed Kevin, I was hinting at it, but I guess you can add that last piece as #8 then. I know once you find a good writer or two, then you can continue to have them help you (and vice versa).

      Reply
  17. I recently paid someone to write an article for my website. This was my first attempt at hiring someone to write for me. I love writing and prefer to do my own, but as you mentioned, as my online business expands, it’s a challenge to keep producing content.

    To make a long story short, the article I paid for was awful. Fortunately, the writer refunded my money, but I’m hesitant to try another writer.

    Reply
    • I have had that problem several times as well Gary, but you should experiment with different types of writer’s and really try to find someone that you can actually communicate with physically vs someone that you found on a third party site (if that’s where you hired them from). Be prepared to may a lot more for a quality article. It’s definitely worth finding just 1 authentic writer as it will definitely serve your business better.

      Reply
  18. Great post vitaliy. I have hired a few ghost writers in the past, and have had good experiences. I am always worried about duplicate content though because like you said that can kill your websites rankings. What do you think of copyscape for checking duplicate content have you used it?

    Reply
    • Hi Will, I have never used Copyscape, but I do know what it does. Typically when I check for duplicate content, it’s by taking a little or a lot of text from say the article I get from a writer or if in any other scenario (maybe someone is trying to comment spam me) and I put that text in quotes on Google. If there is another copy of it there, Google will find it. Usually if there is a message that no results were found, it’s a clear signal that it’s original.

      Reply

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