Have you thought about hiring a ghostwriter but are worried about if they’ll get the job done in the way you envision it?
As I moved from my career as a content creator working in marketing, to running an agency and taking on clients for a team, I had the same worries. What if the writers I hire don’t write for my clients the way that I would? How do I make sure they understand the brief and drive the results I’m looking for?
Well, here I am years later still running a successful agency, about to share with you why hiring a ghostwriter might not be as scary as you think.
What is a ghostwriter?
A ghostwriter is someone who writes copy, be it for a book, an online publication like a blog, a speech, song or pretty much anywhere that copy is needed.
The difference between a ghostwriter and a copywriter is a ghostwriter doesn’t take credit for the words they write. They write on someone else’s behalf or use a brand name, like the company’s name that hired them. Working with a ghostwriter can be nerve-racking for some people. How will it work? Will they right with the right tone or have the correct knowledge to write what you’re looking for?
If you’re thinking of hiring a ghostwriter, keep reading to learn how to get the most out of your experience.
Why should you hire a ghostwriter?
Hiring a ghostwriter is a good idea for people or companies that do not have the time, skillset or passion for writing.
For organisations involved with content marketing, this can be particularly helpful.
Writing regular blogs, magazines and newspaper articles, press releases, books, you name it, it all takes time and an exceptional set of skills to get the most out of it.
A ghostwriter’s job is to make the process easier for you while getting the results you want from your copy. A professional ghostwriter can adapt the tone of voice they write with, write compelling, persuasive copy that inspires the reader to action, for example, buying a product or visiting a particular website. Professional ghostwriters that work with online content should also know on-page SEO, meaning that the copy will work for both people and search engines.
Before you embark on hiring a ghostwriter consider the following
Before choosing your ghostwriter, you must first define your expectations. Writers specialise in different types of writing as well as different subject areas. Be clear on what you expect from the copy and set achievable goals.
For example, if you want to persuade people to take a particular action, or if you want to come across like a thought leader than you’re unlikely to achieve this from a budget blog seller. These low-cost blogs are churned out quickly with little to no research. Instead, work with a writer with experience in the field and a history of persuasive articles. Define what subjects you want covered in the copy and what call to actions you want if any. For online content, now is an excellent time to set out what links you would like to include in the copy if there are particular pages you wish to promote.
When writing your brief, include as much of the following as you can to get things started on the right track.
- Information about you
- Your brand guide
- Your tone of voice
- Your goals for the copy
- Your target customer persona
- Subjects you want covering
- Any call to actions
- Links you want including
- Your target keyword (if it’s for online distribution)
- Ideal word count
- Any do’s and don’t (e.g. companies you don’t link to)
Start with a meeting
When working with a new writer, it’s good practice to have an initial meeting either virtually or in person. Not only is this an opportunity for you to get to know each other and ask each other questions, but it’ll also help the writer to get to know your tone of voice.
Establishing a tone of voice
When writing for other people, it’s always essential to get the tone of voice for the copy correct, and this is particularly true for ghostwriting. The tone directly represents the named author or organisation, so establishing how serious or friendly the author wants the copy to be is essential. So is their type of humour.
Not to panic, though. Establishing a tone of voice for your copy may be easier than you think. If you have brand values, then you’re already on your way to establishing a tone of voice. Your brand values should be represented through the copy and images you use. If you don’t have brand values yet, don’t worry, we’ll cover other ways to communicate your tone of voice.
Start by thinking of your brand as a person, what is that person like? Ask yourself questions like what type of vehicle do they drive and what colours do they wear? It may seem a little strange to begin with, but it’s through these choices that we express ourselves daily. By expressing our brand in this way, we get to know how flamboyant the brand is, how playful or stern. We begin to gather a picture that’s hard to describe without the use of visuals.
Your tone of voice is made up of these descriptions, along with your values, differentiators, brand visuals and more. We’ve put together a list to think about when providing a ghostwriter with your tone of voice.
- Provide your brand values
- Describe your brand as a personality
- Describe what differentiates your brand
- Provide examples of previous work
- Provide your brand guide and/or visual materials you’ve created
- Describe any words that you want to avoid
- Describe the complexity of language you want to use
- Let your writer know your customer persona
To learn more about developing a customer persona for your business, read this article.
Working with a writer of any kind is a collaboration. Though in time, you may get to the point where you can leave your writer to it, safe in the knowledge that everything will be just how you want it. It’s unlikely that your relationship will begin this way. So don’t be afraid to provide feedback.
A common mistake here is to edit the copy yourself, adjusting phrases and tweaking words to fit with your voice. I want to encourage you not to do this, and instead leave a comment for the ghostwriter to do this for you. Let them know what words need tweaking or what phrases make you uncomfortable. A professional writer won’t be offended by the feedback; it’s part of their job.
Adding comments is pretty straight forward, both Microsoft Word and Google Docs provide this feature. Or if you’re working with an agency like mine, we provide specialist software that makes feedback, commenting, version tracking and even publishing directly to your website and social media platforms straight forward.
Leaving comments and feedback allows the writer to learn and get to know you more. Everyone has their preferences, and learning yours is all part of the job of a ghostwriter.
If you plan on working with a ghostwriter for a long time or on repeated projects establishing this kind of beneficial relationship will save you time and get you to your results quicker.
Hiring a ghostwriter vs doing it yourself
It all comes down to if you have the time, skillset and the passion for writing it yourself. A ghostwriter is there to support you and make your life easier. If you’re unsure if a ghostwriter is the right path for you, ask yourself these questions.
Do you have the time?
Writing takes time, that’s time away from other work responsibilities, time away from social activities or other demands on your day. If you feel your time is worth more than the cost of hiring a ghostwriter, then it might be time to consider hiring one.
Do you have the skillset?
There’s a high chance that you know how to write. It’s something we’re all taught at school. Ghostwriting isn’t just about the ability to write. It’s about being able to write for the task at hand and crafting compelling copy to make your audience pay attention.
That may mean learning how to write to persuade people, or how to describe a product without it sounding boring. It could meaning learning on-page SEO or how to write for email marketing.
So ask yourself honestly, yes you can write, but are you the best writer for this job?
Is writing something you love doing?
It may be hard for some of us to believe, but some people have a passion for writing. They wake up wanting to write, and they go to bed thinking about writing. Are you one of those people?
If not, then that’s ok, you can hire that type of person!
Writing the occasional article may fit your drive for writing, but if you have a lot of copy to write, like a book, regular blog articles or a lot of product descriptions, then you’ll want to find someone passionate about writing and doesn’t mind dedicating their time to it.