How to Evaluate a Ghostwriter for your Business Blog

Written by on January 14, 2013 in Books & Self-Publishing, Ghostwriting - 4 Comments

What tips do you have for selecting a ghostwriter?Selecting a ghostwriter for your business blog can be intimidating. Often you’re looking at a freelancer – someone you’ll find online and never talk to in the flesh. Make your search for the ideal blog ghostwriter easier with these tips:

First, take a good, long look at your prospective ghostwriter’s portfolio.

Read it. Really read it. What is the scope of their work? How many topics have they written on? Does each piece, regardless of topic, sound authoritative? Is it error free?

Research it. Read some other pieces on the same topics. How does the prospective ghostwriter’s hold up?

Google it. Take a few paragraphs – even a few sentences – and Google them. Make sure that all instances of the text are attributed to your prospective ghostwriter.

Second, ask for references.

Call them. Have an actual conversation with your ghostwriting candidate’s past clients. Don’t be afraid to ask hard questions about their performance and dig deep for authentic answers. And don’t stop at a single phone call, either. Call several references, the extra work on your end will pay off when you’ve found your best possible ghostwriter for your needs.

Third, schedule a test drive.

Often, the only way to know that your ghostwriter is right for you is to ask her to complete a test project. Make it short – no more than 500-800 words – and know that this will be paid work. If you’ve done your legwork in tips one and two, this will be money well spent and you’ll go into your contract knowing how you  and your ghostwriter will work together.

Photo credit: Andrew

4 Comments on "How to Evaluate a Ghostwriter for your Business Blog"

  1. Merlene's Memos January 23, 2013 at 8:03 pm ·

    Hello,

    I think this is an excellent article about ghost writing for website blogs.

    However, as a freelance writer, I will not ghost write. I will not ghost write for many reasons.

    Firstly, I will not ghost write for someone else’s blog because I think it is unethical for any website owner who sells a product or service to publish someone else’s work as their own. These owners are advertising and making profits from sales or services and, as such, have established themselves as experts in some industry or environment — yet, pay low rates for someone else to write about a topic they are suppose to be an expert on.

    I did not realize the extent of this blatant form of false advertising and pseudo form of establishing oneself as an expert until I went searching for work online with online publishers.

    Without reading the small print in the digital contract, I bid, wrote and submitted an article about psychology, hypnosis and drugs. It was a 600 word blog. When I took the assignment, I thought it paid $60. After I finished the article and was about to receive payment with client approval, I learned that it only paid me $6. I was angry. I never accepted the payment. Two years later, after writing for a online publisher who does not pay for my work, but does publish my byline, this same article was discovered through some new plagiarism software. The new company thought I stole the work. Fortunately, I was able to retrieve my original from my hard drive, submit my version and got things settled. I explained that it was a “no harm, no foul” as I am sure the website had paid the online agency for my work.

    Nonetheless, two years later, this same article is still the Home Page of a drug addiction recovery facility. For the cost of a penny per word, the online referral website and the website client have had benefit of and profit for my work and can’t even share the credit for my expertise.

    Ghost writing was once reserved for books. Ghost writing is suppose to pay the author more money, not less, in exchange for the author not being able to use it for clips, samples, referrals or recognition.

    Now, with the advent of online publishing which is often plagiarized, copied or distributed with attribution, this form of freelance only perpetuates the “work for free” attitude that writers already face daily. Writing is seldom valued until someone needs to sell something. Clients need to remember that salesmen earn a commission and writers should be paid well for their work also. .

    Merlene

  2. Liz Bauman January 23, 2013 at 9:29 pm ·

    Marlene,

    Thanks for taking the time to share your experience! I’m sorry that you got burned in the process (I think most web writers have more than a few of those stories).

    Like a lot of employee/client relationships, there’s the possibility for people to be taken advantage of, but the real key is to make sure you have a well-crafted contract in place before any work is done. This includes understanding the writer’s rights for the work going forward.

    As for ghostwriting as a shady practice – the marketing field has fallen prey to a lot of fishy practices over the years. I’m personally an advocate for blog ghostwriting, but it absolutely has to be a collaborative relationship. A lot of experts aren’t great writers or SEO experts. So, they need someone to take their ideas and turn them into something marketable. In that instance, I think a ghostwriter is one of the best investments a business (especially on that relies on the web for clients) can make.

    Best,
    Liz

  3. Patsi Krakoff October 30, 2013 at 11:23 am ·

    I’m sorry Marlene had such an experience. I ghost write business blogs for several clients and there’s nothing unethical about it. It is also financially rewarding. My clients are good writers and have published books, however, their consulting businesses are active and don’t permit them time to write, research, and publish frequently enough on their blogs.

    So I do it for them, twice a week. I write about their areas of expertise (leadership development) and try to use informal language in their own voices. But I don’t accept low paying contracts, I’m expensive. But I do good work for them, not just content but SEO optimization and social media promotion.

    I am now doing a couple of ebooks for clients and I love the work but never know how to charge. My fees are high, but for the work involved, I’m thinking I should start charging more. If anyone has any suggestions on how to structure fees for book writing, please let me know.

  4. Teena Lyons December 20, 2013 at 3:31 pm ·

    Taking on a ghost writer is a big decision, so you want to do your research, whether that’s references, testimonials, or previous work, to ensure you’re on the same page.

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