Ghost writing is a tool. Hiring a ghost writer lets people who either don’t have the time to write or don’t have the talent to write communicate.
Without ghost writers, many people who have great ideas and insight would never blog.
It’s not because they don’t want to, it’s because the average blog post takes a non-professional 1 – 2 hours to write. If you think CEOs write every last one of their own blog posts, you are mistaken. They don’t write the letter in front of the annual report, they don’t write their speeches to shareholders, they don’t write their financial reports. Some of them don’t even write their own emails.
Would you really want a person who’s making $1,000 per hour spending 1 – 2 hours every day writing a single blog post instead of running the company? For that matter, if you’re making more than $35 per hour, do you really want to spend 2 hours every day writing blog articles?
If you bill or get paid more than $25/hour, writing a blog post may not be the best use of your time. The time you spend researching, writing, and editing is time you could spend billing and generating revenue.
The challenge is that hiring a ghost writer is tough because there are no real professional standards in the business. There is also no clear definition of “professional ghost writing.” Our professional experience has taught us that ghost writers and ghost bloggers generally fit into five buckets:
- Cheap and Dangerous copywriting sweat shops typically charge $10 or less per post and usually promise keyword rich copy. The challenge is these writers rarely are paid enough to do original work (after overhead, they have $3 – $5 left to actually pay the writer). As a result shortcuts are the rule. Dangerous shortcuts like stealing content from other websites, using non-native writers, skimping on editing, and failing to do any fact checking can come back to haunt you later.
- Solo Practitioners are often very good at what they do, except during their day job’s regular working hours, while on vacation, some weekends, or when life gets a little busy. The challenge with a solo practitioner is simply making sure they have time to meet your deadlines, can work with your legal department and are highly responsible. You’ll also need to make sure you have time for doing more editing on your own, as solo practitioners rarely have an editor. Solo practitioners can be a great value if you want to manage them. If you can find a solo practitioner who does this as a regular job, hang on to them. They’re worth what you’re paying them.
- Social Media “Experts“ should generally be avoided. The general rule of thumb, at least according to Malcolm Gladwell, is you’re considered a top performer (an “outlier”) if you have 10,000 years of experience, and you’re considered “good” if you have 8,000. The problem is, a lot of social media tools like Twitter aren’t even 10,000 hours old, so it’s hard to become an expert in a field like this. Plus there are too many social media tools to truly become proficient at. You can have a passing knowledge about a lot of them, but a passing knowledge doesn’t make anyone an expert either.
- Ad and Marketing Agencies are usually a good source for writers, but this isn’t their core business. They do ad campaigns, marketing campaigns, and online marketing. But they also have higher overhead, because you’re paying for people who typically don’t work on your project or technology.
- Professional Blogging Agencies usually cost a little more, but have advantages, especially for businesses and high profile clients. Professional ghost writers should have a solid editorial process, access to a diverse stable of writers, provide safeguards against copyright infringement, have no issues with deadlines and can accommodate your compliance department.
When you’re looking for a ghost blogger, pay careful attention to your budget, your blog requirements, and whether you have any special requirements you need to meet, like passing posts through your legal department. Then see if you can work with a solo practitioner, a blogging agency, or whether you want to cheap out and risk it all with a sweat shop.