I have written before about my major reluctance and sometimes distrust in hiring other people (ghost writers) to blog for me for a number of reasons. But I’ve since developed a lot of new rules and experiences that can really benefit anyone who uses them as well as if you are one of these people who is looking for work.
What are they?
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 which they do.
After they finished and the content is published, instead of them getting the credit, the articles they produced are listed as YOU, person A being the author. That’s basically what a ghost writer is.
The only credit they can get is if you keep rehiring them or recommending them to other bloggers. However, any final piece/s of work they create for you is not credited to them. There are cases and absolutely no problem in my opinion when someone gets the credit for writing an article, provided that it is very good.
What is the difference between hiring regular content writers vs the ghost ones? Apart from the latter not being given credit for the final piece, nothing. They both have the same type of occupation and are being paid to do the same thing. You just have to decide which type of person you want to hire.
Now just because someone is a ghost writer doesn’t mean you actually don’t see them. In most cases, you do get in touch with someone, know what they look like, what type of work they deliver and have an idea of who you’re doing business with.
There are also cases where you deal with agencies who employ those types of people in which case, they’ll tell you that their “team” of will do the work, and in that case, you probably won’t know the person/s whose doing the work unless you ask for that info.
My experiences with this:
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 NOT doing it are still relevant. However, I opened up to this option more and more because honestly, I had to.
My overall business was expanding into different niches websites thankfully and I just didn’t have enough time with all my other responsibilities to cover all the work (basically content creation) that I needed to do in order to fill up these other sites.
So I did end up hiring just 1 ghost writer and though things didn’t originally go completely well (I would end up correcting a lot of things he wrote, asking for redo’s on certain articles, ect…), in the end I am happy that I opened up to doing this and it’s taught me a lot of lessons about outsourcing, lessons which if used correctly, and absolutely lead to an massive increase in your business too and the ability to get a lot more high quality stuff done correctly.
How to filter out the bad writers from the good:
If you’ve ever applied to a job, besides the actual interview, if you do get the approval, there’s often times training is involved, training to help you understand what is expected of you as an employee to become productive to the business.
Often times this training is paid for and may go on for days or weeks, but it is an investment on the business owner’s end to have excellent employees.
I recommend you treat ghost writers with this type of filter. It is very, very important that you understand who you are doing business with. What I have learned to do is this:
That training period I eluded to in the regular work environment is more of a “trust” period when it comes to the people I look to hire.
Here’s are the 7 things that go into that “trust period” and believe me, you’ll want to use this filter too:
The way I typically look for a ghost writer is to ask other blogging buddies of mine I know are successful if they use one and if they are cool with it, to provide me their contact information. This is usually the most important piece for me because if someone who I know is successful at blogging and has someone writing for them already and they’ve been doing it for a long time, then that already filters them out to be good enough for me to hire as well and in most cases, I can probably forget about a few of the requirements I’ll be listing below.
1. First I’ll get in touch with the person and ask if they can work for me on so and so topic.
2. Then I will ask them how long they’ve been writing and if they can show me some of their work. If they do, 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.
3. I will also ask this person if they use duplicates. 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 the client is doing SEO, having reused content is destructive to have. Make sure the person you’re speaking to understands this risk and DOESN’T engage in it. If they have “pre-made” articles set up to be delivered to you right away upon request, I would treat that as a risk factor. I tend to trust the person more who says it’ll take them so and so days to complete the work/s because it signals to me they are actually writing new things.
#3 is seriously something I would re-read and reuse as a filter because people just don’t understand how easy it is get screwed over by a writer who fails to understand this and just cheaply re-delivers the same work.
4. I’ll have them work on a “plan B” site. 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.
And this is really one of the major tests against the third risk I was just pointing out. If they lie to you and re-use the same content, at LEAST it won’t be your main business website that gets screwed over and you can argue for a refund without taking major losses to your main source of income. This is why a plan B site is one of the best filters in my opinion to use.
I would rather a plan B site take a hit which isn’t making anything or very little vs a main one which is making thousands every month.
5. I will always give them a keyword to write about and if necessary a brief summary of what I want. Since I am into marketing, I don’t want my investment to be lost. Besides having a good content creator, I want to make sure the work they put in gives me a good ROI and one of the ways I do that is by giving them a keyword to use so that it attracts the search engines. Typically I’ll also give them a title and if they aren’t very familiar with the topic, I’ll let them know about it, provide a few links to help them figure it out.
6. I will always proofread what they send me before publishing it on my site/s. In my mind, it’ll be awhile before the person you hire can be fully trusted to deliver work you don’t even have to look at, and it’s not because of the lack of trust, it’s usually because there’s always a time period before the person whose working for you understands your style, your expectations and can fully deliver on it but until that happens, always make sure to check the articles they give you, read it/them, put the proper links in it (if you’re marketing) and if there’s an issue, let them know about it, always.
7. 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.
Despite this being a test, it’s still a good investment:
Now even though all of these filters are part of a test period, it’s not like I’m exploiting the person. They are being paid and I look at this as an investment. In my mind:
If the person is legitimate, then the site they were working on for me will succeed and I will make that money back.
I can then maintain a relationship with that person and have them work for me on bigger projects. Recently I wrote an article on building an SEO company. And if you ever upgrade to something that like, having the type of content creator you trust is going to go a long way in helping you deliver to your clients the kind of work that makes them happy at a faster rate!
Taking on more ghost writers:
Depending on the type and amount of work you are seeking to accomplish with your blog/s will ultimately determine if you need 1 or more people. Should you require more than one, I would recommend going through the same filter above, even if the person is highly recommended.
I had this type of situation happen once, but it showed me just how important it is to stick to that filter I “designed”:
Awhile ago, the same writer I still use tried to get another person to help them work for me since they were overloaded, but they didn’t tell me about it. Since I do checkup on every article they produce, when this other person I didn’t know about emailed me their work, I immediately noticed a few things:
First, the writing was completely different.
Then the content itself was very uninformed vs what I wanted. My original writer became used to the topic I had them writing about. This other person however didn’t really research it as much and as a way to cover the amount of words I wanted in the article, they basically ended up filling it with hypothetical stories, which was not something that I felt was needed or was of the quality I expected.
Obviously I contacted my guy and let them know. He apologized, redid the work himself and then went back to being the exclusive writer for the site in question. But it was one of those lessons which showed me how important it was to maintain one of those 7 “rules” above.
Now I understand that this other person was inexperienced and there’s room for them in the future to be a content creator for me, but until you are confident in the content that is produced by the person, do not publish it and don’t feel bad about mentioning it to them.
Ok so we’ve got the blog owners out of the way, but what about the actual ghost writers?
Honestly, if you’re the person whose looking to get hired, not the person hiring, then you need to read this post. It all really comes down to in my opinion a combination of being able to handle the 7 requirements, as I added above as it will make you very qualified and at least finding 1 person who trusts you and then recommends you.
If you can find one serious blog owner or business looking for bloggers, you can make great money.
How much should you charge the people hiring? Well it ultimately depends on the reputation you develop, plus the amount of work you’ve already done for the person.
You can charge per words or per article but personally, I would charge for the whole article if you’re new and would not go above $20-$30 for each one. Offer package deals to your “employer” for less if they buy articles from you in bulk, say you’ll write a 1,000 words at least. If you get more repeat work and your recognition and reputation improves, you can start charging more.