In Part 1 we discussed what ghostwriters are, and where you can find them. In Part 2 we did a sidebar and talked about Elance.
In the third part of this series of posts we will look at choosing a ghostwriter.
Choosing a Ghostwriter
Choosing a ghostwriter is as difficult as hiring someone to work for you. You want to make sure that the “fit” is there.
You can find many ghostwriters and writers in general on Elance. Some are “local” (meaning they work in North America) and there are many that are offshore – Europe, Asia, and India. Are they any better or worse? You need to be the judge to decide that.
Personally I’ve never gone with anyone offshore, I always stayed with North American writers. I found that the words they use are more in-tune with the way people behave and think. I did try offshore once, and wasn’t pleased with the work so it was put up for bid again.
Next you want to consider their experience. Have they been doing this for years? Or are they new at it? There could be nothing wrong with someone new at it, afterall they have to start somewhere – right? But when you look at experience you also want to see what type of writing they specialize in.
I’ve worked with writers that were “jacks of all trades” – meaning that they would spend the time to research particular topics and could write good, compelling articles. I’ve also worked with writers who specialized in a particular areas — for example jewellry and diamonds whose work was comparable to what you’d find in specialty magazines because they knew the topic extremly well and you could read the passion they put into their work. It was truly without reproach.
There is nothing wrong with using someone who is able to write on a wide range of topics, and depending on your needs this may be the way to go. However if you want something very precise, and written by a SME (subject matter expert) it will be beneficial to look for someone with those specific skills.
Evaluating a Ghostwriter
When evaluating writers, you will also want to see samples of their work. Most, if not all, will provide samples to you. Take time to read them. Start a conversation with them. How they respond to you, how quickly they respond and what “language” is used will all give you an idea of their skill.
When you review their samples, see if you can answer these questions:
- Does the writing make sense?
- Does the writing get the point across, or does it lead you down different paths? Is it confusing?
- What is the vocabulary like?
- Are there mistakes? Spelling, grammer or other apparent or obvious errors?
- What tone is used in the samples? Will it fit with your needs and requirements? Do the different samples use different tones? Will the writer be able to adapt to a tone that you need for your project?
- Is the intended audience obvious, or is it very confusing – meaning, are there multiple topics in one sample making it confusing to determine what they are trying to get across.
A well written document/sample should flow from A > B > C. Think back to school – is it answering “who”, “what”, “when”, “where”, “why” and “how” (note that the article may not need to answer all those questions)?
Most of the writers on Elance will provide references, in fact the way they are set-up it is difficult to not provide some type of reference. Writers that are serious about what they do, and that want business will be more than happy to provide you with references.
One thing to remember - always use references with a grain of salt. After all, do you think that a writer will give you a bad reference?
One thing I like about Elance is that everyone is rated so you can always question someone that was rated poorly or received a poor reference. It’s tough to hide anything on Elance. Each writer on Elance receives a rating by the people that have used them:
Here you can see that the writer has a 98% positive lifetime rating, 671 positive, 12 neutral and only 2 negative. You would probably be safe to use this individual for your project.
If the writer avoids specific questions, you probably want to avoid them entirely.
In the next installment, we will discuss pricing and how to manage your project and the writer you’re working with.