Ghostwriting and Contracting: Writing Content Without Writing Content

Ghostwriting and Contracting: Writing Content Without Writing Content

A steady flow of quality content is extremely important, both for demonstrating your expertise and activity in your field as well as weighing heavily in your search engine ranking. However, not everyone has the time to formulate, write, polish, and post fresh content every few weeks. And even if you do, you might not have the skill to create content that is high enough in quality to represent your business.

Ignoring your content can heavily damage your business. So how do you keep up if you don’t have time?

Thankfully, nothing in the rulebook says that you need to produce all of your content yourself.

Cafe-table-350-525Copywriters and Guest Bloggers

There are a number of services out there to help you generate content. Some can be a bit of a shot in the dark—a number of freelancing sites are notorious for employing poor-quality writers, many of whom have limited experience and/or have English as a second language, for prices low enough to scare away the experienced, quality writers. Other sites have a wealth of ‘diamonds in the rough’ that can have the skills and experience to deliver what you need, all at a reasonable price.

There are also a few marketing sites that have a seasoned writer on-staff as well as a kick-ass blog of their own (*cough*PrecisionImpact*cough*). These companies make it a little easier to form a relationship with your writers, which means articles with a more consistent quality and a greater understanding of your company.

Once you have established yourself and gained a readership, you can start considering trading guest spots with similar blogs; writing a guest spot on a partner business’ blog will grant you access to a new set of followers, and letting another author write a guest spot for yours will give you free content. Unless there’s a major discrepancy between your blogs’ popularity, guest blogging tends to be a win-win.

typewriter keysContract Writers vs Ghostwriters

The byline is something that will need to be taken into consideration when negotiating with a writer. Do you want to have your own name appear on all your articles? Then you need a ghost writer. Ghost writing is usually a little more expensive, since the author can’t take credit for his or her work.

Don’t care about authorship so long as the quality’s spot-on? Then contracting to a copywriter should be fine, and you can expect to shave a bit off the price.

In both cases, most contracts will give you exclusive rights to the work (and if they don’t, that should be a major red flag), meaning you can do whatever you want with it once it’s finished; the only difference is that a contract writer will require his or her name on the by-line.

In case you were wondering, our copywriter is a man of limited ego who has no problems ghostwriting if necessary.

How To Keep It Interesting

Remember that, even though your writer is going to be putting pen to paper, you’re the one who knows your industry the best, and you’re the one most familiar with your customers.

For this reason, I would strongly recommend that you provide a launch point that interests your audience and concerns your industry. This will help you keep your website ahead of the curve, setting trends rather than reporting on them.

A post will typically fall into one or more of the following categories:

  • Reporting or editorializing on recent industry-related news
  • Weighing in on a debate going on within your industry (including responses to other industry-related blogs)
  • Providing a review, overview, or demonstration of a new product or service
  • Educating your audience on industry-related matters (such as, I don’t know, a humble marketing agency helping its readers understand marketing).
  • Providing a free offer or showcasing a free tool
  • Highlighting a sale or limited-time discount

When posting a discount, it’s important that you take Gary Vaynerchuk’s ‘Jab Jab Jab Right Hook‘ theory into account: You need to give and give and give before they will listen to an ask.

Caveat Emptor: The Wrong Ways to Produce Content

hike 2 525 350Rule 1: There Are No Shortcuts.

Google is a collective of some of the brightest minds in the field of computer technology, all creating programs that are constantly learning from and adapting to an incomprehensible amount of data, using some of the most sophisticated hardware in existence.

In other words: Google is most likely smarter than you.

If you try to ‘game the system’ by using ‘black hat’ tactics like stealing others’ content or recycling your own, Google will find out. And they will punish you by tanking your spot on the search engine results page, if not hiding your website altogether.

Rule 2: Quality is Key.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that your content is a reflection of your company as a whole. Cutting corners on your content will give visitors reason to believe that you would cut corners elsewhere in your business.

Think of it in these terms: Your content is like articles in a magazine, and your website branding and services are the ads. Which content do you think has more valuable ad space? A high school newspaper or Rolling Stone Magazine?

Closeup of assorted coins.Rule 3: You Get What You Pay For.

There are a lot of people out there who will write you a full 500-word article for five bucks. While receiving a full article for a twentieth of the cost might seem like a great deal on the surface, you need to stop and ask yourself: Why is it so cheap?

The sad fact of the matter is that it costs five dollars because it’s worth five dollars. More often than not, the article will be rushed and thoughtless, it won’t pay attention to SEO factors like keywords and cross-linking, it will be rife with spelling and grammar errors, and sometimes it can even be cobbled together from parts stolen from other articles, thereby incurring the wrath of Google when you post it.

Rule 4: Stay Involved.

As tempting as it might be for the busy entrepreneur to sic a writer on your dynamic content and be done with it, the fact of the matter is that it’s still your content. To make sure that it stays true to your brand, your business, your readership, and your voice, you need to provide at least some guidance. This could be as involved as delivering a bulleted point-by-point of what you want said, or as hands-off as simply sending an email saying “Let’s do something about ghostwriting this week.”

Coffee and Notebook 525 350Conclusion: Gentle Nudges and Trust Falls

Like with most things in marketing (and life), what you get out of dynamic content depends entirely on what you put in it. If you hire the lowest bidder and let them run hog-wild with content, you might end up with articles on completely irrelevant topics, cobbled together with bricks lifted directly from Wikipedia and mortared together with broken English and spelling mistakes.

If you want your content to work for you, you’re going to need to find a writer you can trust to keep your content on-key, and take the time to give that writer enough input to keep your content on the same page as your business.

Want to take your content to the next level? Speak with our writer to see if he’s a good fit for your content. Confident with your own writing, but want someone to proofread or ‘zazz it up‘? We do editing as well. Have a whole whack of loose ends and questions about other facets of marketing? Let us know, and we’ll do our best to help you out.

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William Hull

With a background in publishing and experience writing copy for virtually every medium, Will has dedicated himself to becoming as versatile, knowledgeable, and effective as humanly possible. His core belief of quality over quantity is the foundation upon which Precision Impact was built.

He is also unable to make a 'Penseur' pose without looking at least a bit ridiculous, as evidenced by his profile photo.
William Hull
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