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Should You Use a Ghostwriter? 5 Things To Consider

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

If you’re like me, you have moments where your time feels so stretched, you want to clone yourself: just step into some contraption from a science fiction movie and generate two yous. I know I’d enjoy a having a second Jason around to mow the lawn while I play with the kids.

Even if you enjoy writing, you might not have the time or motivation to produce as much content for your website or blog as you would like. In a previous post, I mentioned the idea of hiring a writer so you can get more content, and, thus, build traffic to your site. But if you want to maintain the authority that comes with posting and writing under your own name (byline), why not consider a ghostwriter? Do you hire an accountant to prepare your taxes, or contract with a bookkeeper to manage your business finances? Ghostwriting is not very different. You could hire someone, or direct someone on your staff, to write as you on blog posts and guest posts on other blogs as well as for article marketing purposes and ebooks. A ghostwriter can also do research, interview sources and even answer emails and post comments to other blogs as “you.”

Ghostwriting is increasingly common, especially on corporate blogs. That “note from the CEO” in the emailed newsletter could very well have been penned by someone else. Some blog “purists” aren’t fans of ghostwritten content. Others might prefer to mix their approaches, writing the most important, first-person content themselves and leaving the day-to-day blog posts, or special projects such as ebooks, to a professional ghostwriter. I use ghost writers on occasion and that it’s really boosted my exposure on the Internet. As you think about whether to move in this direction, here are a few things to consider:

1. Ask yourself what you want to get out of hiring a ghostwriter. Is your main goal just to get more content up, because you haven’t gotten around to doing it yourself? Do you have specific things you want to say, and have the research gathered, but are having trouble organizing your thoughts? Do you just dislike writing, or feel you aren’t good at it? Like any service, be it clerical or highly technical, oftentimes you’ll choose to hire something out because your time is better spend on another aspect that will move your business (and income) forward. Ghostwriting services are available at all price points and specialties – you can even hire a professional ghostwriter who is skilled in search engine optimization (SEO).

2. You get what you pay for. Sure, you could pay bargain-basement prices for a writer from another country, or a student who wants to write “just for the experience.” This strategy can occasionally work out, but it can also end up being more trouble that it’s worth, especially if any sort of technical or industry knowledge is required. You could pay per blog post, per printed page, by the hour, or by the project. In some cases, you might offer the ghostwriter a royalty or percentage of the money that the writing makes.

3. Choose someone who “gets” you and your business. Show your ghostwriting candidate some of your own blog posts, ebooks and other work. See if he or she can easily adapt to your writing style. You want someone who is a good writer and also has the industry savvy to make subject matter understandable. Be willing to spend some time on the front end showing your writer the ropes. You could start by writing a rough draft or giving the writer an outline or list of bullet points, or just give them a topic (or group of approved topics) and let them run with it. Still, in most cases, you’ll want to make sure you give final approval to everything that goes out in your name.

4. Don’t overlook other potential benefits of hiring a ghostwriter. It’s not just about saving time, or even saving money. For example, another reason I like it is that if my employees produce the article, the research that goes into an article assignment serves as a great training tool. That way, the article or post, and all the discussion that grows from it, pays off exponentially for SiteHatchery.

5. Be aware of legal and ethical issues, and other touchy stuff. Some business owners and webmasters are hesitant to use a ghostwriter because perhaps it feels a little like “cheating.” One argument against using a ghostwriter is that if someone else is writing what “you” think or advise, especially in first person, it is in some way misleading the reader? I don’t think so, in most cases. We’re not talking about college essays here. A ghostwriter saves you time and money while bringing skills to the table. They’re just saying what you would have said. In my opinion, using a ghostwriter should not hurt your credibility.

By definition, a ghostwriter is usually unnamed, but is occasionally credited in some way – especially in the case of speechwriters or authors of full-length books. However, before hiring someone to write under your name, make sure you’re both on the same page regarding whether the writer can include the experience (blog name, etc.) on his or her resume or portfolio, in job interviews, in casual conversation, or other situations. If discretion is especially important, you might want to have the writer sign a nondisclosure contract.

Executed properly, ghostwriting is simply articulating the thoughts and knowledge you would have had anyway, and getting them out there in a more efficient way — which is ultimately a service to the readers. You’re not aiming to deceive.

I hope you’ll consider the benefits of hiring a ghostwriter for your next website, blog or ebook project. Have you done so? Am I writing this myself, or is it a ghostly imposter? Please let me know your thoughts on this topic in the comments below.

Posted by: Sitehatchery.com – a Chico web development company providing web design and development services nationwide.

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