If you run a website and you follow the conventions of SEO and Internet Marketing, you have a blog. You need to keep that blog updated, but you don’t have the time. You don’t have the budget to pay an in-house writer to maintain your blog. What’s the solution? Ghost writing.
The process of ghost writing is nothing new. Long before the Internet, books — particularly reference books and technical writing — were often written by unaccredited ghostwriters and published under the author’s name. It’s a legitimate process that allows you to run a popular, frequently updated blog without investing the time in creating posts yourself.
That said, the world of hiring a freelance writer is fraught with peril. Writers are a wary species; freelancers are often left unpaid, so they pick their clients carefully. You need to know the waters of freelance hiring before you can buy content for your blog.
Cheap is good, right? In the world of freelance writing, the opposite is true. You can purchase posts for less than a penny per word, or you can pay as much as a dollar per word. These are drastically different budgets, and in some cases you might not see much difference between the product? Why is this? What’s the deal with freelancer pay?
On the low end of the scale, you have content mills. These sites accumulate hundreds or thousands of writers and allow you to post assignments to be written. You can select specific writers, or you can leave your assignment to the open pools. These are the cheapest way to get content, but they have a few drawbacks. First, the quality may not be up to par. You never know what you’re going to get, and while you do have the opportunity to request edits, sometimes a writer just doesn’t work. This wastes your time, if not your budget. You have to wait for your article to be picked up a second time, written, and hope that writing is satisfactory.
Content mills also have another drawback. If you find a writer you like, you can send them assignments directly through the platform. You cannot, however, contact that writer outside of the platform. It’s a violation of the content mill contract and can get both your account and the writer account terminated.
Outside of the content mills, you have two options; freelance job boards and private hiring.
On freelance job boards, you can post assignments and writers post bids. You can see their pitch and hire a writer who looks like a good fit. You can often contact these writers outside of the platform as well, with no repercussions. On the other hand, you’re likely to be flooded with low-quality bids from foreign writers with a perhaps tenuous grasp of the English language. They will have low prices, but their quality corresponds.
Private hiring requires a bit more legwork to find individual writers with their own social media profiles and websites. You will need to contact them and negotiate to have your content written. This is one of the best sources of high quality writing, but the process is more time intensive and expensive.
In general, remember; you get what you pay for. Higher rates attract better writers who are more willing to revise their content to meet your requirements. Lower pay means lower quality work and a higher chance of the writer dropping the project rather than waste time with revisions and risk rejection.
Many clients post assignments with ridiculous keyword instructions. Writers understand SEO, often better than website owners themselves. Their job depends on it. If you want to target a keyword, feel free to include it. Don’t demand 15 uses of a given keyword in a 300 word assignment. Not only is that difficult to write in a way that sounds natural, it also looks like keyword stuffing to a search engine.
Writers understand your need to maintain a constant voice on your blog. You can specify first, second or third person viewpoints. You can specify a business tone or a casual atmosphere. What you should avoid doing is heaping on 2,000 words worth of instruction on a 500 word assignment. The more trouble your assignment looks for the pay, the more likely it is that the best writers will avoid it.
For that matter, how long should your assignments be? For a typical blog post, you’ll probably want between 500 and 1,000 words. Any shorter and you don’t have space for a call to action, deep keyword utilization or user engagement. Too much longer and you risk losing the attention of your audience and the focus of the piece.
Don’t forget that you can hire ghostwriters for projects other than blog posts. Full-length, 20,000 word e-books are just as viable, if you’re willing to pay. The same goes for 50 or 100 word product descriptions for your ecommerce website. Any text on a website that isn’t the actual coding can be done by a ghostwriter, if you find the right one.
The world of freelance writing is perilous and dangerous for a writer. Too often, businesses will decide that the content they get isn’t up to their exacting standards and simply not pay the writer. As a content buyer, do not do this. Always pay your writer, even if your content isn’t exactly what you pictured. This is why many writers congregate around content mills. Content mills require that you pay in advance, so the writer gets paid on auto-acceptance of the content. Unless you reject the content with good reason — and many content mills require at least one round of revisions first — you have to pay the writer. This is all part of the content mill contract.
If you hire a writer outside of a mill, make sure you have a contract. A contract requires that you pay the writer, but it also requires that the writer produces quality content on your deadlines and according to your specifications. Work amicably with your writers and you will have a good experience.
As a content purchaser, you want to build a reputation as a client that provides a good experience to work with, pays well and accepts quickly. Here are the distilled tips for client success:
Writers are a community, with their own blogs and forums, just as there are blogs for entrepreneurs and business owners. If you frequently buy content, you will gain a reputation. It’s up to you how that reputation grows and if it benefits you as you accumulate high quality writers. With the right stable of writers, you can have an excellently successful blog. With cheap, low quality content, you may as well outsource to non-native speakers.