Pay a ghostwriter or do it yourself

I was chatting to a successful ghostwriter the other day and we were exchanging ideas on how to get more business.

I told her that I get the majority of my business from LinkedIn. She told me that the majority of her custom came from her blog. “I have great SEO, believe it or not,” she said. “But it has gotten worse recently.”

What was amazing about this was that:

  • She had never used an SEO team.
  • She was not an “SEO Pro” in any way.
  • The articles that brought her business were pretty old.

The only problem was that she was getting less traffic of late. She had also stopped writing articles for her blog.

SEO content is easier to create than you might think

Because I worked in web development for nearly 17 years, I was constantly exposed to basic SEO principles. I’m not a major pro, but I’m not entirely lost in the subject either.

I believe the primary reason she was getting less traffic was because she was not writing regularly on her blog anymore. Even if the content is evergreen, googlebot will assume the blog has simply been abandoned and so start serving up “fresher” blogs in its results.

Even so, she still managed to get visits. And, despite the content being slightly out of date, it struck all the right keywords. The articles were also written incredibly well.

There is no major secret to writing great SEO content. You just pick the topic you want to write about and then write about that topic and not some other topic. She was writing about ghostwriting, and so the ghostwriting keyword naturally occured in the content of her text. Simple.

You don’t need to compile major keyword lists. Preparing enormous lists of keywords that must be used in an article results in articles that look like they’ve been written for robots. Because they have been. You might get visits, but you’ll also get a lot of “bounces” — people who land on a site and then immediately leave.

Excellently written content

The other point is that her content was written extremely well. She is, after all, an expert writer who charges $1 a word for ghostwriting books. (That’s $80,000 per book, for anyone who’s counting.) She was also writing on a topic that is familiar to her and so it probably didn’t take too long to come up with the structure for each article. I wouldn’t be surprised if she simply sat down, wrote what came to mind and then stopped when she hit 1,000 words.

When you get good enough at writing, doing that is a piece of cake.

But even when you’re able to churn out the first draft so quickly, you do still need to edit that draft. When I write for myself, I often sit down and pump out 1,000 words without looking back, but then I hack the article to bits in the second and third drafts and actually give it some structure. Those second, third, fourth, fifth drafts take time.

So, how do you do that every week if you’re the CEO of a startup? Well, most just don’t. They simply don’t have the time.

Hire a ghostwriter or do it yourself?

The natural answer is to hire a ghostwriter and a lot of CEOs and Founders do just that. But this gets tricky when you want to write leadership pieces or pieces that draw on a lot of personal experience. Finding a ghostwriter who can adequately represent your ideas using the written word is challenging. There are few of us around. I don’t say that to slight other writers. I say it because I’ve seen it with my own eyes.

Here’s why:

  1. There are plenty of “writers” around who simply don’t make the grade. This is true of every profession.
  2. But there are even more excellent writers around who simply don’t know they’re good because someone made them feel bad for charging a fair price. So these writers keep themselves stuck in low-priced, low-quality work. The result for anyone hunting for a ghostwriter is that it becomes difficult to find a writer that can do your leadership piece justice.

The writer who was told he/she couldn’t

A lot of excellent writers can do this kind of work, but their confidence has been shot to pieces because they’ve been told by certain people that you “shouldn’t charge that much for writing” because you’re “just a freelancer.” So — they don’t charge a fair price and end up delivering low-quality work because you simply can’t deliver a diamond when all you’ve been paid for is a plastic replica. A lot of great writers — and freelancers in general — are in this boat and they need to find their way out themselves. I was also there once, and the quality of my work suffered.

Like any profession, excellent writing takes time and the age-old adage that time is money is quite factual. Too little money for a project means too little time for that project. And that means poor quality.

Do this if you don’t want to pay for a ghostwriter

If you’re not eager to pay for a ghostwriter, you can do this trick to become more efficient as a writer:

If you want to write four articles a month, then do them all in one or two days. Lock yourself in a room, turn off your phone, then sit down and write. I do not recommend this because it is truly a brutal exercise. No one knows better than a professional writer what pain you go through when you just sit down and write and do nothing else! But it’s the only way for a busy CEO to get four articles written efficiently.

The point is not to do it over four weekends. Although locking the door and churning out four articles in a day is intense, it’s also more effective than splitting the work up because you build momentum. And you probably won’t want to see a keyboard for another month after the first article so it’s best to get all the articles written and out of the way and then forget about them for another 30 days! 😅

This is an option for companies that simply cannot afford to pay someone to write these high-quality articles.

Is hiring non-English writers an option?

Maybe you could hire someone to write in their native language for really cheap and then get it translated. But excellently written prose is like poetry and the work will suffer if it isn’t written in the language it is intended to be consumed in. Rhythm, the choice of words, the nuances in meaning — each of these has a profound impact on the article’s ultimate message. If you want an article in Portuguese,  you should hire a native Portuguese speaker to write it. The same is true of an English article.

This applies if you want a beautifully written article. If you just want “content for the robots” then hiring a cheaper writer is a no-brainer.

Two tricks

But either of these tricks works:

  • Lock yourself in a room and raise your courage or
  • Pay someone good money for good work.

If the price is fair and you’re interested in quality, you’ll likely find that working with your chosen writer is a real pleasure. Because you’ll be more than satisfied with both the quality and the service. Pro writers who know their worth are a pleasure to work with because they run their show like a business — and they know that only businesses with a superior product or service at a fair price can survive the storms.

R. Paulo Delgado is a freelance writer for hire specializing in business, tech, finances, and crypto. You can contact or hire him here.