How to Hire a Ghostwriter for Your Blog

If you have your own blog, you probably enjoy writing and are fairly good at it.  But search engines demand fresh content to keep you ranked highly.  It can become a challenge to keep the posts flowing a couple times a week or even daily.  When that happens, you might want to consider hiring a freelance writer for your blog.  You can use a writer to offload a couple posts per month or do all the writing for your blog so you’re freed up to start another one.

Where to Look: Find Ghost Writers & Staff Writers on Elance

Here’s my step-by-step guide to help you find and hire the right ghostwriter or staff writer for your blog.

1. Understand the Different Types of Writers

ghostwriter for blogYou may have heard these terms used interchangeably, but there are some big differences and it’s important to distinguish between them when hiring.

A ghostwriter is an anonymous writer who is paid to write many types of content that are officially credited to another person like blog posts, e-books, and autobiographies.  A good ghostwriter will try to use your style of writing and voice to make her posts appear like you actually wrote them.

If you want to use a ghostwriter for blog posts but don’t want to mislead anyone, there’s no requirement that says you have to display your name below each post.  Just leave your name off and let people assume what they want.

A staff writer on the other hand usually goes by their own name, but can be very similar to a ghostwriter.  They’re hired by a blog or other content provider to write content on an ongoing basis.  Often times they are freelance writers and not permanent employees, but they usually have a long term relationship with the content provider.

One bonus to using a staff writer is a potential bump in visitors.  If the writer is well known, they may be able to bring some of their existing readers to your blog or help promote you on social networks.

fiverr blog post writer

An article writer is typically less qualified than the writers above and works on short term deals.  Often times you’ll find the cheaper article writers working in developing countries with English as a second language. While most ghostwriters and staff writers are hired for large projects or long term assignments (like several blog posts/month), article writers typically write short, <500 word articles.  If you’re trying to build up a niche site you may sign up for a bulk deal from an article writer to simply generate content for search engines or distribute to article directories in order to obtain backlinks to your site.

2. Ask Around for Referrals

Before you take the time to search for freelance writers online, ask your network of friends, family, colleagues, or fellow bloggers if they know of any skilled writers.  A good referral will save you time, energy, and reduce your risk.  Before I start a search for any freelancer, I try to think if there is anyone I know that has been in a similar situation and has a good recommendation.

3. Create a Job Posting for a Writer

Once you know the type of writer you want, it’s time to start looking.

In your assignment, you’ll want to specify the writing style and theme of your blog to make sure you get applicants with experience in the right area.  A mommy blogger may not be able to write about personal finance and vice versa, so be sure to specify the genre up front.

Here is an example of a freelance writing job post.

I am hiring a ghostwriter to create posts for my blog.  The blog category is Personal Finance with an emphasis on financial planning strategies for young adults.

I would like to start out by paying for two blog posts immediately.  If all goes well, I’ll need 4-6 posts per month on an ongoing basis.

You will be required to write articles based on the keywords that I send you, and each article will need to pass the following requirements:

Requirements

–  Language: Must be a fluent American-English writer

–  Post length: must be 500 words or more

–  SEO: Posts should be keyword optimized for search engines (I will provide the keywords)

–  Original Content: Post must be unique and cannot be published elsewhere.

–  Images: Each post should include an image.  All images must be licensed or follow Creative Commons guidelines.

Please provide prior writing samples when applying.

IMPORTANT: To prove you’ve read this assignment, please write I READ YOUR REQUIREMENTS in the first line of your bid.  I will eliminate all bids that do not start with this phrase since many people do not read requirements.

I always include the “Important” statement at the end in order to weed out candidates that don’t read the assignment.  You’d be surprised at how many responses you’ll get from freelancers who have never bothered to read your whole posting and may not be qualified.

4. Post your Job on a Freelance Writing Website

To find a quality writer, I suggest trying out more than one before making a commitment (just like dating).  I prefer to hire a couple of writers to create 1 or 2 posts each and then see which I like the best.  You’ve really got nothing to lose because posts are relatively inexpensive.  And if they’re decent you can run posts from several writers on your blog and then hire the writer you like best for long term work.

Post your job on any of these popular freelance websites:

I’ve also heard good things about the quality of writers found on the Problogger Job Board although I’ve never tried it myself.  However, unlike the first three sites where the fees are included in the bids from the writer, Problogger charges a $50 listing fee to display a job posting, but then allows you to contract directly with a writer.

What can you expect to pay for a ghostwriter?  My experience is that you can get decent 500 word blog posts written between $15-30/post.  As you move up in that range, you can expect better quality and more bells and whistles like promotion on social networks.  It’s possible to find article writing rates cheaper than that, but they usually won’t have much substance and you’ll probably need to do A LOT of editing.   

5. Select Your Candidates

Within 24 hours you should get a lot of offers.  Immediately disqualify any that do not have your statement “I READ THE REQUIREMENTS…” at the top.  Again, you don’t want a writer that is not thorough.

Fortunately, it’s a lot easier to narrow down candidates in specialties you are familiar with (like writing) unlike trying to find technical talent.

freelance writerAside from the obvious (writing skills) here are a few more things to look for in a ghost writer:

  1. Follows through on deadlines and commitments
  2. Can write with both readers and search engines (SEO) in mind and incorporate your desired keywords
  3. Can suggest topics or write based on your desired topics and outlines
  4. Can follow your instructions like use of <h3> <h4> tags, image attribution, post formatting, incorporate links to other internal posts, etc.

You can track each of your candidates in this freelancer comparison worksheet I created.  It makes it easy to keep track and compare candidates across freelancing sites.  I’ve also added a section for “last action” so it’s easy for you to remember where each candidate is in the hiring process.

Once you’ve reviewed your candidates, select two or three writers and send them your suggested topics and keywords (if desired). I prefer to use different topics for each writer so there’s a better chance I can use all the articles on my site.

6. Evaluate Completed Blog Posts and Hire a Ghostwriter

Some writers have a voice that will work better with your blog than others. See which writer best matches your own personal style and offer them a long term blog writing position.

You may even decide to pay for posts from multiple writers on an ongoing basis.  I like this approach because you can get some diverse writing and if something doesn’t work out with one, you’ll still have a writer to fall back on.

Negotiate: You may be able to negotiate a lower rate per post by:

  • Offering long term work.
  • Asking for tiered pricing.  What I mean by this is that you may agree to pay something like $25/post for four posts for month. If you decide to request additional posts in a month perhaps they are at a lower rate like $20/post.
  • In return for a lower base rate, offer a % of ad revenue or higher rates if certain traffic thresholds are achieved.

At this point, hopefully you’ve found quality writer to join your team at a reasonable price.

If you have more tips about finding or hiring a writer, please share them in the comments.

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