Using ghostwriters helps fill a great need for business-owners who are pressed for time and skills, and yet need their blogs to be productive and lucrative. If you probably still believe that it’s only the big celebrities and politicians who use ghostwriters to pen their books and movie scripts, what you may not guess is that the number of entrepreneurs getting added to the ranks is swelling by the day. Most people who hire ghostwriters today are fairly busy everyday business owners and professionals who understand the value of content marketing, but either have no time, skills or bandwidth to be able to do it consistently and at high quality.
Today’s market demands “visible expertise” for any entrepreneur or professional to be able to build a brand online. And most often, that visible expertise has to be displayed in the form of books, blogs, white papers, speeches, presentations, reports, podcast and video scripts and so on. Not only do business owners need to produce fresh and original content prolifically, but the bar is also getting set higher and higher on quality and device-responsive writing. With so many zillions of words written everyday by so many millions of bloggers, writers and authors, the chances of making every blog post and article count in the multi-screen marketing stakes is getting higher. Audiences demand, value and share nothing but “exceptional quality”. And that explains why many business owners prefer to outsource their writing to professionals who know their game.
To be a freelance independent ghostwriter is one thing – but to be able to run a professional writing and ghostwriting business is quite another. The owner of a turnkey ghostwriting service often takes on accountability for the client’s entire content strategy, and among the deliverables are client-management, service performance, and consistency and quality guarantees on behalf of his whole team. Managing a team of writers and maintaining standards in a rapidly-evolving environment, handling clients of all sizes, is an onerous task.
Like all service-based industries, the challenges may include stiff or even impossible client deadlines, lurking undercutting competitors, clients with unclear goals and expectations, or staff with great talent but no responsibility towards clients. How do you manage such a business? What is the present demand and the future like for ghostwriting? And how does the owner of a ghostwriting business keep his writers loyal, motivated and ever-sensitive to clients, such that he can maintain or even beat market standards?
David Leonhardt of The Happy Guy Marketing (TGHM) is one of the achievers in the “ghostwriting business” and his customers and work portfolio speak for themselves. Most importantly, in this business line, where operators arrive today and disappear by tomorrow, the sheer longevity and consistency that David has succeeded in maintaining are testimony to several facts in his favor: one, he has stayed the course with an unrelenting eye on quality; two, he has been technology-responsive, flexible and evolutionary in a market where the nature of content creation demands are changing all the time; three, in a milieu where good writers are in high demand, he has been systematic in selecting, onboarding, nurturing and retaining the best talent on his panel.
What is David Leonhardt’s perspective of the business he is in? His invaluable thoughts are in this interview below …
Why do people find writing tough, why do they outsource?
People outsource their writing for a number of reasons. I would say that the top three reasons are:
- Lack of time, too busy doing other things.
- Not really being good at writing, much like I’m not good at chemistry or plumbing.
- They want it to be really, really good. So they can write memos and business letters, but they want a specialist to write their novel or their biography or their blog posts.
Which part of writing seems to trouble writers like you most, and why?
In my estimation, originality is the tough part. I have already read most blog posts that will be written in the next month. Many of the words will be different, but the ideas and the approach are the same. From a business perspective, that might make sense, so why not? From a writing perspective, though, it sucks.
What do other bloggers or business owners perceive as “key value” they obtain from outsourced writing?
Bloggers don’t perceive value from outsourcing. It’s business owners who are not bloggers that perceive the value, because they either can’t write well enough or don’t have the time to write. Bloggers think they write well enough and they make the time because that’s what they do.
What are the pros and cons for your business in handling writing assignments for clients?
The pro is that I earn money. That’s what a business is for. I also get to work on a multitude of topics. I have learned the inside story behind cleaning up chemical weapons. I have helped make a national social strategy more effective. I’ve been on the front lines of preparing the population for a possible epidemic. I have done this without having to know anything about all the topics … yet, I have learned about these topics through writing about them.
There are no cons that I can think of.
What are the pros and cons for your business in managing quality/schedules from writers on your panel?
The pro is, of course, that we can handle more projects, both in terms of volume and in terms of expertise. I have a writer who specializes in the Middle East, for example. Believe it or not, we have had numerous projects in that area over the years. I have a writer who specializes in finance. Another specializes in abuse. I have a couple that specialize in screenplays. A good, diverse team can do so much more than one person.
The cons are dealing with humans. One reason I cling close to my tried and true writers is that I know they will treat the clients like royalty. Earlier in the business, I had a couple writers try to shake clients down for more money. I learned that when I have a team member who not only writes well but cares about the clients, they are gold.
Please tell me what made you start in this niche … how did you get into this area?
That’s almost too funny. I had meant to go in a different direction, and I wasn’t getting there. When I took a step back, I understood that I had two marketable skills as a freelancer. One of them was writing, and over the years, that is the direction I headed. Other writers found me over the years, and all of my current writers have been on my team for at least six or seven years. They are people I can trust.
What goals have you set yourself? Short term and long term?
Short term, I’ve set about to upgrade my three websites. But at the pace I am going, it is looking more and more like my long-term goal.
What have the trends in the writing industry been so far … and where do you think the writing industry is now headed?
Recent trends in writing have been very good. There are two important ones:
- With the proliferation of cheap publishing options, everybody wants to be an author. Since not ever author has the time or skill to be a writer, there is a growing market for ghostwriting.
- Thanks to Google, many people are beginning to realize that they can’t pay $5/article and expect any results. At least a good chunk of the market has woken up to the fact that quality counts. Many people are still looking for shortcuts to cheat the system, but that “many” is slowly shrinking.
I expect both these trends to continue.
How has mobile affected the writing industry? What works and doesn’t nowadays?
Oh, that’s a whole topic for a blog post on its own. I have a contract to do some writing for Canada.ca, and that is a huge part of the overhaul of the Canadian government’s websites. Plain language is even more important than ever, bite-sized information is growing more important. Short is sexy.
My personal favorite bit from David’s many writings:
In the bio section of his website, David has answered the eternal question that people ask: “How are writers different from authors?” It’s not just the content of his answer that tickles me, it’s his way with words. Read this:
In the real world, the debate rages on, too. Often the distinction is between having a published work, which makes you an author, and writing, which makes you a writer. Just for the record, that would mean that as soon as you start writing, you become a writer. As soon as you publish, you become an author. As soon as you stop writing, you cease to be a writer. However, you go to your grave an author, and five centuries later you remain an author. You cannot shake the title. You cannot outlive authorship. When they round up all the authors in the next military purge, you cannot disavow being an author. Once you publish, you will forever be known as an author.
I guess by David’s definition, I am a writer since I am at least writing “ceaselessly”. But whether I’m fit to be an author (with an unshakable title that can outlive centuries!) – well, I think I’ll have to wait till the next military purge to let you know!
Want to get in touch with David?
Follow David on Twitter: http://twitter.com/amabaie
Follow David on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/amabaie/
Hire writers/editors: http://THGMwriters.com
Promote your website: http://www.seo-writer.com
There’s also a “Contact Us” poem on the TGHM site…
If you want to contact us today, You’ll find it easy to have your say,
Fill the form to the right, And before the next night,
A response will be soon on its way.
(Yes, TGHM can help you with your poetry, too.)
What to read next?