Ghostwriters offer many benefits for C-level executives, company presidents, and founders.
As I explained in the Top 5 Reasons You Should Hire a Ghostwriter to Write Your Content, ghostwriters:
- Save you time.
- Help build brand awareness quicker.
- Are professional writers (not hacks!).
- Know SEO (the reputable ones).
- Create authentic content.
With the benefits in plain view, now we’ll move onto how to:
- Find well-disciplined ghostwriters.
- Train them to amplify your personal/company voice.
- Retain the ones that help scale your business.
I must once again stress the importance of the 80/20 principle at work here.
Ghostwriters save upper management time so they can spend time on other valuable things like developing marketing plans or speaking at conferences. Plus, some just aren’t up to the task of writing.
As Perry Marshall says in “80/20 Sales and Marketing”, whatever someone is good at, they should focus on and do the following:
- Invest heavily and building your strongest skills.
- Find other people to do everything else. Someone else is great at what you’re bad at.
Businesses can easily do this by offloading the heavy writing to ghostwriters – especially for the high-ticket pieces in publications like Forbes and Inc.
I witnessed Marshall’s advice work for many of my past clients.
At one point, I was ghostwriting 15 pieces per month in major publications like Forbes on various subjects from finance to hardcore tech to digital marketing to entrepreneurship. To date, I have ghostwritten just over 500 articles in such top publications.
I always took pride in being a “factotum” type of writer, able to quickly grasp an industry through about 200 pages of reading, and then writing about it.
The secret is always to simplify things for readers, and get technical only when needed.
To this day, I still ghostwrite for a few of my most respected clients. I simply enjoy writing and helping others succeed in their verticals.
When I launched my agency, my experience with ghostwriting prompted me to offer ghostwriter services. But instead of impossibly doing all the writing myself (practice what we preach!), I began training a few other factotum writers that I found over the past two decades about the art of ghostwriting.
What follows are some tactics I’ve learned finding, training, and retaining ghostwriters for my clients, which can directly translate to your company’s personal need for ghostwriting.
Find a Reputable Writer
Experience Matters, But so Does Aptitude & Attitude for Learning
When we say experience, we don’t mean x amount of years writing copy for a product-based company or time at a magazine. The experience of one faithful to the written word.
I worked with writers that have been at it for over four decades, to some with only two years of “experience.” Many times the writing was equally as strong regardless of the disparity in years working within the field.
Maybe this means the 40-year experienced writer was lazy and just had it, or the two-year writer wrote more in those two years than the other one. Who knows, and who cares.
What matters is how the writer’s words speak to you.
You’ll know from writing samples of who you’ll want on your side.
With that said, it may not be perfect, but “almost” there.
This is where strong attitude and aptitude will qualify your decision.
Never be afraid of following a “gut decision” when it comes to a writer you’re going to trust help build your brand.
Make Sure the Writers Are Passionate About Your Vertical
If you’re in the motorcycle industry, don’t seek out a writer who doesn’t know the difference between a Harley-Davidson and a Ducati.
If you’re in tech, don’t hire one that has no clue what IoT or deep learning means.
You get the point.
Due to my willingness to learn about everything, and love of the written word and learning, I can quickly construct emotionally charged words on just about any subject.
I seek freelance writers like this for my agency but have only found a few. The rest are passionate about the client’s industry I match them with.
Having multiple freelance writers that are passionate about their verticals simply makes sense, and there are plenty of them out there. But many businesses sacrifice the use of multiple copywriters for one copywriter due to a focus on “company culture” over emotional sales copy.
Same goes for a ghostwriter.
Remember, a great ghostwriter may exist with a style you like when talking about motorcycles but may lack any emotion whatsoever when describing your core business.
I’d say 90 percent of the time a writer who lacks passion for the subject will struggle to appeal to emotions.
The pickings are slimmer, but there are some cases where a writer with zero passion can produce great results.
Forgot About Traditional Interviews – Audition Writers
When seeking out a ghostwriter who will be core to representing your brand, don’t waste your valuable time, or the freelancer’s, with a traditional job interview.
The solution is simple, and again reflects 80/20 thinking.
The goal is to quickly disqualify any unworthy prospects and only move on with the valuable ones.
My agency will be distinct with a hiring ad that simply asks for answers to the following, which is something you can mirror when seeking a ghostwriter:
- Your industry (digital marketing)
- Sample URLs
- SEO knowledge
The latter is more geared towards on-site content creators I seek, but a writer with SEO knowledge can help your articles produce better results.
You’ll immediately disqualify many for not answering your ad in full – if they can’t follow a simple process, how well will they represent your personal or business brands?
Again, the 80/20 principle will show here, and you’ll have two of the 10 moving onto the next step, which can be a first assignment or an actual interview – phone or Hangout or whatever to never waste time.
You’ll learn all you need to know within a few minutes.
Willing to Sign an NDA
This is huge.
Ghostwriters are building your brand, and should neither disclose information they learn about your inner business, nor allow the public to know that they ghostwrite.
This will, however, prevent them from using clips of your articles in the future for other jobs.
Be a harsh critic while training – especially during the creation of the first article.
The more direction/attention you provide in the beginning, the smoother the ghostwriting process will go.
Don’t be afraid to be a harsh critic; this will help set the tone of your voice quicker.
The closer you work with a ghostwriter from the beginning, the faster you’ll scale your brand.
The first article is crucial for creating the path to all the others. The more input placed up front, the better.
I learned this early in my ghostwriting career.
My first client was a disaster because I spent four articles trying to tune the client’s voice myself without any input. By the fifth article, the client finally provided some input, decided on which direction to choose in regards to voice. We remained consistent from there, but the first four sounded like four different people, which is obviously not good for brand building.
Starting with my second client, I began demanding crucial input.
Typical first articles go through at least four drafts to create the voice needed. This continues today, and my agency’s ghostwriters do the same.
Second articles are, on average, two drafts.
By article three, the client’s input is rarely needed. Provide a topic and let the professional writer handle the rest.
Remember, this is your voice. The more you tweak the first piece, the better the following articles will become.
Once you’ve spent valuable time training your ghostwriter, there’s no reason to do it again.
Retention is crucial once you’ve got someone creating your voice.
There are two ways to achieve this.
Compensation is simple. Set a rate, and immediately set raises.
Also, a quick bonus here and there doesn’t hurt.
Since I launched my agency, I’ve spent my time training ghostwriters to fulfill client needs. But I continue to ghostwrite for two of my clients who were with me long before my agency was even an idea.
The reason is simple – frequent bonuses and more money.
Top players of companies don’t get that far without constant learning.
This learning is typically done through hardcore reading (text or audiobooks!).
Share what you’re reading with your ghostwriter, and always be looking to influence them to always grow.
This will not only help them strengthen your brand, it will also make them respect you more, which naturally will lead to enhanced energy and stronger writing.
Those business leaders who follow the 80/20 principle — everyone from Steve Jobs to Perry Marshall — know the benefits of delegating what they either can’t do or don’t have time to do.
Creating content is typically on top of this list — and this is a task that can’t be overlooked.
Content marketing is the Holy Grail of everything in business — from copy that converts to long-form articles in Forbes or LinkedIn that scale brand awareness. And when that copy comes from the top players in a company, such as a CEO or VP of marketing, the messages are amplified.
But due to the flow of normal business, writing is typically pushed to the bottom of the list for “when there’s time.”
You don’t want to risk sidelining one of the most valuable content marketing assets of your company.
Find the optimal ghostwriter who will amplify your business and personal brands; train them; and retain them. All steps are above.
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