ghost blogging

I received some excellent questions last week about what types of ghostwriting I offer and how I work. This is a bit different from my normal article style but I wanted to highlight exactly how I work!

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1. I write in YOUR voice and style

Of course it’s not going to be 100% perfect but you’d be surprised at how much like you the writing sounds. This is a skill that I’ve been developing for years.

The writing will sound like you BUT it will also be written using proper grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. For one of my ghost blogging clients, we are making the transition from a prior ghostwriter who wrote in a choppy, uncomfortable manner. The writing sounded formal, stilted, and a bit like a non-native English-speaker was writing. We are making the transition to convey the “author’s” ideas and thoughts but in a writing style that is professional and conversational.

For me to write in your voice and style, I need to examine your writing. Which means I spend serious hours reading and examining your blog, book, and newsletter – stuff you’ve written in the past. The only time this falls apart is if you DON’T already have samples of your own writing; in that case, I have a great Plan B!

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Let me be really clear – there’s nothing wrong with deciding to hire a ghostwriter. You don’t do everything in your business, right? You are probably already outsourcing the tasks that you are either not good at, don’t like, or don’t have time for. Most people start out with outsourcing their bookkeeping, taxes, or sending out their newsletter.

A ghostwriter is just another person on your team who helps you get it all done!

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Here are some great reasons to hire a ghostwriter:

  • You don’t like writing or feel you’re not good at it. I’m a firm believer that everybody has a story to tell but I 100% get it that not everybody is in love with the written words.
  • Tasks like your blog, book, newsletter, or articles keep getting added to your to do list and then stay there, day after day, week after week.
  • There are other activities that only you can do. Instead of being a money-making activity, these writing activities are taking you away from other things that do make you money.

I want to say this clearly: it’s not a failure AT ALL to bring in a writer! You’re an expert at what you do and people pay you for your knowledge, skills, and passion. Writers are the same and we love to write!

Here’s what you need to do before hiring a ghostwriter:

1. Be realistic about your budget

You might be able to get a writer on the cheap but is the writing of any quality? This writing is representing your business – more than video, podcasts or interviews ever can. You don’t need to pay through the nose, but don’t expect a quality writer to be cheap either.

2. Look at their credentials

Your writer should be a native English speaker or have the writing skills of one. Ideally she should have a degree in writing (Creative Writing or Journalism) or English. If not, then years of experience will also do the trick!

3. Be clear about your expectations

Nobody is going to write EXACTLY like you do but a good ghostwriter should come close. However, understand that there will be a process while your writer gets to learn your voice so there might be more edits in the beginning. You’ve got to be okay with letting go and letting the writer do her job. That being said, if she isn’t matching your voice and style, you might need to look elsewhere.

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As I’ve been marketing my ghost blogging services, I’ve been told a few times, “I don’t need a ghost blogger, I have guest bloggers.” This comment made me realize that maybe business owners don’t necessarily realize the differences between the two AND know the advantages of each.

Guest Blogger

A guest blogger is someone who has been invited (or offered) to write a guest post on your blog. Usually, a guest blogger will be an expert in their industry and will work in the same industry or a complimentary industry.

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Pros:

  • Using a guest blogger from time to time can give you a much needed break in posting. Lining up a guest on your blog is a great idea when you know you’ll be too busy to write great content, like when you’re launching a new product or going on vacation.
  • You can offer your readers a perspective on something that is outside your area of expertise. For example, I have a guest blog post coming up that is written by a healthy lifestyle and success coach. It will be about healthy, computer friendly snacks. This relates to what I write about since I assume that most of my readers and clients spend large amounts of time at the computer.
  • You can feature a client, business associate, or vendor and build your relationship with them. It’s a great way to help somebody else build their credibility by getting in front of your people.

Cons:

  • You don’t know exactly what you’re going to get when you ask someone for a guest article. Everyone can tell a story; not everyone can write well. I invited someone to guest on one of my blogs with a great story about a run-in with the Secret Service. The story was great but I had to massage the writing a bit to make it clearer. This meant that I didn’t really save any time from writing the post myself. (It is a GREAT story, though. Read it here.)
  • You can’t control the content. While you can request a topic at the end of the day, it’s up to the guest blogger to write the piece. That means that you may have an article that doesn’t share your views on a topic. Most of the time, a guest blogger will not use your blog for THEIR personal platform, but it does happen.
  • You’re readers aren’t reading your voice. Make sure that you clearly show that the post is a guest post so when the tone, style, and flow are different your readers don’t think you’ve gone off the deep end.
  • Be ready for missed deadlines. 99.9% of guest bloggers are super respectful of the deadline you’ve set. But sometimes life gets in the way and they just can’t make the deadline, forget, or otherwise get busy. And if you’re really counting on that content… it can be a challenge.

Ghost Blogger

A ghost blogger may not be an expert in your industry but he or she will be an expert in the written word, researching, and extracting the essence of what your expertise is and then writing about it.

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Pros:

  • A ghost blogger can save you a ton of time in the week-to-week posting on your blog. Instead of spending an hour or more each week to research, writing, and post your blog’s content you’ll spend an hour (or so) per month meeting with the ghost to outline the month’s content.
  • You still get to control the content! While a guest blogger will write about what you request, she will write HER perspective on it. A ghost writer will write YOUR perspective.
  • The content a ghost blogger creates for you will be a very close match to your writing style. It should match in tone, style, idiosyncrasies, word choice, etc. When you’re readers read it, it should still SOUND like you.
  • You can still post your own content! Just because you hire a ghost blogger doesn’t mean that you are no longer allowed to write your own stuff.

Cons:

  • It’s not free. A guest blogger will provide you a post for free, in exchange for a link on your blog. But a ghost blogger will need to be paid for the work.
  • It won’t be exactly how you do it. I look at it like loading the dishwasher: I can show my honey how I do it. He will do it almost like I like; maybe the plates will face the other way or the forks will be down instead of up. But at the end of the day, the dishwasher is loaded and run and I didn’t have to do it. Close to my way was pretty a-okay.
  • You don’t have to DO the work, but you still need to manage it. You need to make sure that your ghost blogger is meeting your deadlines, understanding what you want in your copy, and matching your writing “voice” as clearly as possible.
  • You have to surrender some control. You won’t be the be-all, end-all of your blog. You have delegated it to someone else. For some people, that’s really difficult and may not be worth the freed up time that a ghost blogger offers.

At the end of the day, both a guest blogger and a ghost blogger can save you time. The question is which will save you the most time and cause the least headaches!