Written for EO by Nico Prins, a communications consultant who specializes in internet marketing.
When you read articles by busy CEOs on sites like Forbes or Entrepreneur, you might wonder how they managed to find the time to write the content. After all, if their daily workload is half what you are managing, they’d be struggling to fit in the hours needed to draft a 1,500-word, SEO-optimized article.
And you’d be right in many cases! There’s a good chance that the person who wrote the article is a professional ghostwriter. (I can say this with a high degree of certainty because I’ve written a number of articles for founders and c-suite executives.)
In this article, I’ll share with you how to find a ghostwriter who can build your authority and help you grow your business.
What is a ghostwriter?
First, the basics: A ghostwriter is someone who produces material for others without taking any credit. Ghostwriters are best known in the media for penning books for celebrities and politicians.
Ghostwriters are more commonly used by c-suite executives to:
• Write content for online and offline business publications
• Create content for a company website
• Write blog content, including for social media platforms like LinkedIn
The ghostwriter will create the content under your name. It’s the kind of thing you’d have gotten in trouble for at college.
Why use a ghostwriter?
Building your authority as a thought leader won’t happen overnight. It can take 50-plus articles published across multiple sites before you start to see recognition for your hard work.
Writing takes time. You need not only a few focused hours to craft the article, but you’ll need the bandwidth to pitch ideas to editors and follow up on queries. A good ghostwriter comes up with content ideas, pitches to editors, and writes top-quality content.
Still, even a good ghostwriter benefits from direction and guidance. You need to set aside time to collaborate with your ghostwriter—after all, your name and reputation are on the by-line! The ghostwriter can help you effectively share your experience and knowledge.
How to find a ghostwriter
You want a ghostwriter who can match your tone of voice and is easy to work with. Before you hire a writer, I recommend assigning a test so you can assess the quality of their writing. Don’t rely on already published examples, as those have likely been edited by the publication’s staff.
I use this template when interviewing a ghostwriter for clients.
Also, make sure to review their work. You can find more information on how to hire and manage a ghostwriter in this article on Inc.
Set your strategy with a ghostwriter
When you work with a ghostwriter, you need to set clear business goals. These goals will form the basis of your strategy regarding what publications to target, and the type of content you want to create.
For example, your goals while working with a ghostwriter may include:
- Generate speaking opportunities at relevant conferences
Create connections with potential customers to generate sales leads
- Boost your SEO
Each of these goals requires a slightly different strategy. Let’s explore how to approach each next.
Use a Ghostwriter to Generate Sales
A ghostwriter can help you generate sales by establishing your credibility. Content published with your name in a title like Forbes impresses people. Include links to your articles on your LinkedIn profile. Mention your work in client meetings.
You can also leverage these writing opportunities to develop your relationship with a lead. For example, ask a person you want to connect with to add input on an article. The nice thing about this approach is that it’s not “salesly.” It’s a subtle way to start a conversation and to highlight your expertise.
Use a Ghostwriter to Become a Public Speaker
Getting up on stage in front of your peers at a conference is a proven method for building your authority as a thought leader. A ghostwriter can help you achieve this goal by helping you establish your credibility on a topic and growing your public image. Leverage your articles to reach out to decision-makers at an event you hope to speak at.
Use a Ghostwriter to Boost Your SEO
Backlinks are a vital part of SEO. At the risk of oversimplifying why they matter, the more backlinks your site has, the higher your site will appear on Google search results. Your ghostwriter should naturally start to acquire these links for you.
By working closely with your ghostwriter, you can develop a strategy to help you create links to content you want to rank for. Over time, this can result in an increase in traffic to your site.
A good ghostwriter is like your online assistant. They have the time, experience and skills to help get your name not just online, but seen by others through search results. With their connections, a ghostwriter will publish articles under your name on relevant blogs and publications.
With a clear strategy in place, a ghostwriter can help you achieve your business goals.
Nico Prins is a business consultant and the founder of Launch Space. He helps companies make money by sharing strategies that increase sales through content marketing, CRO and email marketing.
Hi Kate. I think that’s a really good approach. It’s important that the client is confident that the writer they choose to work with can emulate their voice.
Sometimes I feel as if I am the only ghostwriter who understands what the person hiring me needs to know. While many people in the industry feel their credentials and portfolio are sufficient, I think ghostwriting is more personal. I will always provide a sample of my work. What is different about my sample is it is based on the client’s words – text, audio or video. I will not provide an introduction without some input from the author client. The length of my samples is about 400-600 words and I am happy to earn their trust.
Hi Allen. Thanks for your feedback. I can understand why your colleagues would choose not to write a spec for a client. Based on my experience hiring ghostwriters for people I find it useful to run a test. It helps me see if the writer can create the kind of content that a client needs. Moreover, I think it’s acceptable to do this given that a test is a standard part of a lot of an application for most jobs and I don’t feel like a ghostwriter should be exempt because they have a large portfolio of work.
I enjoyed your article—with one important exception. Virtually all of my ghostwriting colleagues share one rule with me: NEVER, EVER write audition, free of spec articles for prospective clients. It just isn’t done and is the hallmark of a client who is out of touch with reality. It sends up an immediate red flag: this is someone who’s going to be difficult to work with. If they can’t discern the quality and voice of my work after reading my sample articles and portfolio, then, I guess it’s just not a good match.