Updated: Jan 21
If you’re considering a ghostwriter to help with the content workload, here are some tips for making it the best relationship possible.
The benefits of blogging have been tested and documented. Having a blog results in an increase of links to your website, which results in an increase in web traffic and an increase in inbound leads. Yet, with all the benefits of blogging, companies still struggle to dedicate the resources required to keep a consistent pace.
In 2022, 64% of B2B companies outsourced their blog writing to a copywriter (ghostwriter).
As a professional marketer, I’ve hired ghostwriters in the past. Some were amazing to work with, while others were challenging. As a full-time writer now, I want to share some helpful tips I’ve learned. These things have worked well for me and kept me efficiently plugging along, reducing the number of re-dos needed and keeping my clients happy.
Set the tone with a conversation
You should consider writing blogs from “your authentic self.” Yet, today, many business blogs take an overly professional and boring slant. How would you describe yourself if you were going to write a blog using your authentic voice? Are you funny? Serious? Are there specific words or phrases you say all the time or terms you would never say? If you intend to achieve authenticity using a ghostwriter, then holding a meeting via phone, video call, or in-person, is something I would recommend.
In your first meeting, provide them with the following:
A style guide outlines terms and phrases you’d use and those you wouldn’t use.
Examples of your past writing so they can hear the voice you are trying to achieve. (If you don’t have examples of your writing, give them examples of a style of writing you aspire to.)
Brand elements from the company you’d like to carry to your blogs.
Context. Supply the writer with information about yourself and your role. It is critical to understand background information to meet your expectations.
Speaking of expectations…share them
Ghostwriters typically have multiple clients and are working on scheduling them all into a 40-hour week. If you have timeline expectations or a review process you’d like to follow, you should be very clear about that. It may take some negotiation to reach expectations you both find agreeable. If a writer cannot commit to a specific timeline and you would prefer to know when drafts are coming, they might not be a good fit for your project.
Other expectations that are good to set upfront:
Who should receive drafts?
What type of file would you prefer?
Would you like to see changes tracked?
What length should the content be?
What types of resources are ok to use and not ok to use?
Do you have an SEO/keyword strategy to consider?
Plan extra time for training and feedback in the beginning stages of a new relationship. Adjust your expectations; don’t expect perfection right away. Provide the writer with topics for each blog, an outline if possible, and point them in the direction of resources you’d like them to utilize (this could be research or discussions with subject matter experts). If you want them to speak with other people in your organization, make introductions and set the expectation that talking to this writer is a priority - ensure you’ve provided the writer enough time to schedule and complete an interview before an expected deadline.
Once you have worked together for a while and the writer is producing work you enjoy, you can give them more independence in recommending topics and outlining content.
Always be honest
Honesty is key to a successful client-writer relationship. Too often, I’ve seen (and I may have been guilty of this myself) a client that will just re-write the entire piece. The draft required too many edits to send it back all red with tracked changes. Don’t do this! No one learns anything, and you’re not getting the needed help. You're also spending time doing a job you're paying them to do.
Provide your writer with honest feedback about drafts. Hop on a phone call to discuss your concerns, if warranted. Then, instead of re-writing it yourself, have a conversation and ask them to take another stab. Most writers take constructive feedback well - especially ghostwriters who write in someone else’s voice. We understand that you want it to sound like you, so just be honest.
Ghostwriting relationships can become very strong over time; many ghostwriters can be treated as “part of the team” at organizations. But these relationships aren’t fantastic overnight - it takes time, patience, and overall strong and honest communication to make them the most beneficial for both the client and the writer.
If you need a ghostwriter or want to explore what a content strategy could mean for your business, reach out!