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The Pros and Cons of Hiring a Ghostwriter

Courtesy of Alvernia University Online

Everyone has knowledge to share, but not everyone has the writing expertise to convey it. That's where ghostwriters come in. A ghostwriter is someone hired to write content that is credited under a different person's name.

Entrepreneurs hire ghost writers because, though they have extensive industry knowledge, they may struggle articulating it into engaging content, which is necessary to increase brand awareness and build a consumer base. It's likely they don't have the time, either. Hiring a writer solves both problems. Ghostwriters can be used to write content in many formats, including books, speeches, website content, articles and more.

The benefits of hiring a ghostwriter.

Hiring ghostwriters, especially good ones, isn't as inexpensive as writing the content yourself, but there are plenty of benefits.

Time: Most entrepreneurs generally don't have a lot of free time. Working a 12- or 14-hour day doesn't leave much time to for an entrepreneur to produce quality written content. Even for a someone with extensive experience writing, it can take an entire day – or longer – to research, write and edit one article.

Collaboration: The writing that represents a company is important, but producing the content sometimes falls to the bottom of an entrepreneur's to-do list. Collaborating with a writer can solve that problem, hiring them to provide consistent, high quality work. At the same time, entrepreneurs can help during the process offering their expertise and business knowledge to the writer, which could expedite the writing process.

Brand Awareness: Promotional writing builds brand awareness, and putting a ghostwriter in charge ensures that quality content will be ready to post, leaving the business leader to focus on the company.

SEO Expertise: A spot on the first page of an online search is the goal of any company, and writers trained in search-engine optimization (SEO) can help. A recent study found that the first three positions on an organic search, searches run through a search engine, resulted in nearly 40 percent of all clicks. By linking to authoritative sources and using strong keywords, a company's content can be more easily found through organic searches.

Consistent Content: Creating content consistently is arguably just as important as having quality content. American management consulting firm McKinsey & Company argued that the three C's of a satisfying customer experience are, "consistency, consistency, consistency." In this digital era, customer experience extends to online, as well. Hiring a ghostwriter to produce content on a consistent schedule is key when managing your blog or other online written content. An inconsistent posting schedule will result in less engagement with the audience and negatively impact a brand or business.

In addition to consistent posting schedules, the content itself must be consistent with the brand, meaning its voice. When the audience can notice an abrupt change in voice or tone of the written content, they feel the content is disingenuous. Working with a ghostwriter ensures that each blog or article released will have a similar tone and voice, leaving an entrepreneur's content streamlined and consistent.

One of the issues entrepreneurs may face as they start the search process is that it is difficult to find a good ghostwriter. It's in the name; they are phantoms – there to compose the material and leave so the subject of the work receives the credit. Entrepreneurs need to take time to find and vet options, whether it's through an agent or searching on websites like Writer's Market.

Is hiring a ghostwriter ethical?

An important question facing entrepreneurs is how hiring a ghostwriter could impact their business integrity. In some fields, using a ghostwriter is an accepted and common practice. In other fields, the use is less publicized. Still, there are many solutions available for entrepreneurs who are worried about how using a ghostwriter will impact their integrity.

One option is for the ghostwriter to collaborate with a writer, sharing the credit on the published content. Whether it's an expert article for a publication or a book on your business, co-authoring publicly gives credit to all who wrote the piece. Author James Patterson earned credit for writing a book in 2018 with former U.S. President Bill Clinton. In a similar situation, former Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs requested author Walter Isaacson write a book about his life story and provided unprecedented access to Isaacson.

Another option is for entrepreneurs to be more involved in the creative process. One example, from Steve Farnsworth of Jolt Communications, is for entrepreneurs to do one of three tasks:

  • Be interviewed by the writer
  • Write down their thoughts and ideas about the piece
  • Write the first draft themselves before the ghostwriter edits it.

In every situation, the ghostwriter can request feedback from the entrepreneur to help refine the piece into the final product.

Ghostwriting very carefully toes the line between creating original content and appropriating content. A ghostwriter is defined as someone who writes "for and in the name of another," but it's the transactional nature of the relationship between client and writer that separates ghostwriting from someone who appropriates content without consent.

While entrepreneurs don't have to explicitly inform readers that a ghostwriter was used, they should not lie if asked directly. Being honest with consumers goes a long way toward promoting brand trust. A study in 2016 found that 94 percent of consumers said transparency was important to them for their purchasing decisions.

Become an entrepreneur worth reading about.

Before hiring a ghostwriter, consider the pros and cons listed above as well as whether you believe it is an ethical practice. There is a potential pitfall of seeming inauthentic to customers: however, ghostwriters provide a much-needed service for any entrepreneurs – helping promote the brand. A 2012 study found that 61 percent of Americans made a purchase based on a recommendation after reading a blog post. Having consistent, polished and easy-to-find content helps a company's bottom line.

Entrepreneurs are expected to make decisions for the betterment of their company every day. Alvernia University offers an online MBA that can help you make the best ethical decisions. You'll learn best practices within ethical and moral leadership, developing responsible and socially engaged leaders in the community, workplace and around the world. With the convenience and flexibility of online learning, you'll earn an MBA in as little as one year or on a schedule that works for you.