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:
- You can make good money if you find a good client to pay you to write on their site.
- You can get recommendations from one website owner and write on other sites.
- You can actually build a nice freelance gig out of this if you can produce good content.
The financial benefits of hiring a ghostwriter:
- If your business is too big to run on your own, a ghostwriter can help you manage your blogs.
- You do pay the ghostwriter, but in exchange for them producing good content, your site gets more traffic and makes more money.
- 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:
- Most writers are terrible (stay away from the ones who charge cheap prices for their services).
- Many ghostwriters have no clue how to actually write high quality content.
- 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:
- A website owner may be a cheapskate and pay you very little to write a lot of content.
- You have a lot of competition to deal with as many other ghostwriters and freelance writers compete to get the same gig you want.
- 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:
- From the perspective of the website owner.
- 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.