If you want it done right, you better do it yourself, right?
What if I told you there was a way to consistently produce click-worthy content for your blog… without having to do all the work yourself?
Throughout my career as a content marketer, I’ve learned the secret to consistently produce click-worthy, authority-building blog content— fast.
And I’m sharing that with you today.
This is the process DigitalMarketer uses to run their content creation like a machine…
…without going crazy…
…without sacrificing quality…
…and without wasting time with poorly written, irrelevant, unusable content.
Step 1: Determine What Kind of Writer(s) You Need
Before we dig into the details of how to find writers for your blog, we need to talk about the different kinds of blog writers available.
Basically, there are two types of blog writers you might be looking for: guest contributors and ghostwriters.
These are subject matter experts in your niche who publish content under their own name on your blog.
If you scroll through the DigitalMarketer blog, you’ll notice that we work with a number of different guest contributors such as Eva Gutierrez, Domenica D’Ottavio, Ann Smarty, and more. (We have about 25 total guest contributors.)
One of the great benefits of using guest contributors is that you can publish a high-volume of content from many different viewpoints — bringing a variety of different angles and expert opinions to your website.
We’ll talk more about how to find and work with guest contributors in Step 2.
These are talented wordsmiths who will write your blog post for you so you can publish it under your own name.
It’s a perfect choice for anyone who has great ideas but doesn’t have the time to turn those ideas into a fully fleshed-out article or who perhaps isn’t a longform writer themselves.
After all, this process isn’t saying that you never want to create content and be featured on your own blog — it’s simply an alternative option for creating quality content that leaves you with time to run your business.
Here’s how DigitalMarketer works with ghostwriters:
- Create an idea for a blog post (whether that means using existing content, identifying gaps in your content strategy, or just good, old-fashioned ideation)
- Create a content brief that outlines the post. This should include the general idea, the point of view (or argument you wish to make), any research you’d like the writer to pull from, and any images or screenshots you’d like them to source. (This content could also originate as a podcast, webinar, YouTube video or stage presentation, or even be an audio file where you’ve talked out your thoughts)
- The ghostwriter turns that file into a well-written article and sends it back
- Pay the ghostwriter (we’ll cover fees later in this post)
- Publish the article on your blog
Hiring a ghost writer doesn’t mean that they do all the work for you. You still need to create a valid Hook, Promise, and Outline, gather resources, and present the content in a way that can be easily understood or executed — whether you’re sending it over email, an assignment brief, or an audio file.
Here’s an example of a brief we sent to one of our ghostwriters:
The huge benefit of using ghostwriters is that you can still publish the content you want to publish, under your own name, using your own ideas…
…but without going through the time-intensive process of writing it all yourself.
Finally, if you need to churn out more content than you have time to brainstorm, you can also combine ghostwriters and guest contributors.
Combining the Two Together
Basically, you follow the same process we outlined above under “ghostwriters.” But instead of you creating a brief explaining the outline of the post, your guest contributors create it.
Then you send the file to your ghostwriter to turn it into a well-written blog post.
The benefit here is that it makes life easier on your guest contributors and may encourage them to contribute to your blog more regularly.
See, influencers are busy people. If you’re asking successful experts to provide content for your blog, chances are they don’t have the time to actually sit down and write an entire blog post themselves.
Writing out a blog post is incredibly time-intensive (as you know). The upside here is that most people don’t get idea block or talker’s block, but they sure as hell get writer’s block.
So instead, have them record a 30-60 minute audio/video file of them talking through a blog post or just jot down those ideas on a Word or Google document.
You’ll make the process much easier on them, and you’ll increase your chances of getting more experts who are willing to write for your blog.
Step 2: Find & Approach Your Writers
Once you’ve figured out what kind of writers you need — ghostwriters, guest contributors, or both — the next step is to actually FIND those writers…
And then, you know… actually work with them!
How to Find & Work with Guest Contributors
Finding good guest contributors for your blog can be tricky.
That’s because guest contributors need to be field experts who have also shown an ability to write great content.
And some of these experts are going to be too busy writing for their own blog or focusing on their own projects to write your outsourced content.
So, how do you find guest contributors to write for your blog?
The best way I’ve discovered is to find writers who are already writing for other multi-writer blogs.
These are good people to reach out to because they’re experts who have already demonstrated a willingness to write for other websites.
Here’s how to find these people:
First, head over to a content search engine like BuzzSumo, Feedly, or Twitter lists, or even a Google query and search for the type of content you’re looking for:
You’ll see a list of results like this:
Visit the articles on this first page of results. What you’re looking for are multi-writer blogs.
In the example above, some of the multi-writer blogs include Entrepreneur, Forbes, Inc., Content Marketing Institute, and BuzzSumo’s own blog.
Next, you’ll want to check out some of these blogs and learn a little more about the writers. Visit the writer’s website, their Twitter, and so on. Get to know them.
Do they have many followers?
What kind of content do they seem to prefer?
Whose writing and ideas feel like they may fit with your blog’s voice? Whose writing do you, yourself, enjoy?
It will take a little time to sift through these writers, but trust me, it’s worth it.
You don’t want to waste your time reaching out to someone who’s not a good fit for your blog.
Eventually, you’ll narrow down your list of potential writers.
And now you have to reach out to them and ask them if they’d like to contribute to your blog.
Don’t be in too much of a hurry to email these writers, though — you’ll want to take your time here to make sure your outreach is well-crafted and persuasive.
In the email, make sure to…
- Reference the specific post(s) of theirs that you liked
- Tell them that you speak to the same demographic and that you think their content would produce a lot of value with your audience
It definitely helps to stroke their ego.
If your blog reaches a large number of people, that’s definitely a plus and is something you should mention in your email.
Here’s a sample outreach script that you can use to get you started.
I’m __________, the ___________ (Managing Editor, Content Marketing Manager, Founder) of __________. I found your article ______________ (article title) on ____ (site or blog name) and really admired how you _________(what did you admire?)!
I think something like this would fit perfectly on our site. Our company caters to _______, with our blog focusing on __________, ________, and ________.
We can offer you _______ (whatever perk or pay they might get out of this partnership), with a readership of _______ (some stats on your blog’s readership).
Are you interested in creating an original piece of content for us? Let me know, I’d love to hop on a quick call to discuss how we work with guest contributors!
After you make contact, the next step should probably be to have a phone call to learn more about the writer, see if they would be a good fit to write for you, and gauge their interest level.
During this call, be sure to give them a rundown of what you do, the focus of your blog, and how their posts might fit into your overall strategy. In addition, give them a brief rundown of your editorial guidelines.
Then, make sure to send them the official guidelines once the call is over, and you’ve established that this could be a successful arrangement.
Ask them to let you know if they have questions about the guidelines that you can answer or clarify for them — this will be your best attempt in encouraging them to actually read the guidelines, besides asking them to send over a signed confirmation outlining the content they’ll write for you as well as any remuneration promised.
How Should You Pay Guest Contributors?
At this point you’ve researched and contacted several promising guest contributors. The final thing to keep in mind is: How are you going to pay them?
But for influencers, that’s not necessarily the case. With influencers, you need to think about what will move the needle for them.
Take DigitalMarketer’s Ryan Deiss, for instance. If you offered Ryan $300 to write a blog post, do you think that would move the needle for him?
Nope. Not even close.
So what would move the needle for Ryan? One word: exposure.
Well-known influencers and experts put a much higher value on exposure than they do on a little bit of extra cash. And if your blog has enough reach, that means you have something that is very appealing to those influencers.
This is one of those things that will depend on the size of your readership and where you are with the blog in general.
At DigitalMarketer, we used to pay our guest contributors a flat fee per blog post.
But today, our blog has grown big enough that we “pay” in exposure instead. Basically, our reach has grown enough that reaching our audience is more valuable than the money.
How to Find & Work with Ghostwriters
When looking for ghostwriters, your main goal is to find someone who is a solid writer. It could be someone with a background in journalism, blogging, copywriting, etc.
They don’t necessarily need to have any domain knowledge regarding your industry or niche, although that certainly helps. But they may need a decent ability to research and learn about a topic quickly. (A writer who DOES have that domain knowledge can help to expand your content, though you may need to pay a little more for those writers.)
One of the more popular places to find ghostwriters is outsourcing sites like Upwork. And you can find some great writers on Upwork — but you can also waste a lot of time if you don’t approach it the right way.
When posting a job on a freelancer site, the trick is to keep your project closed.
Instead of allowing anybody to apply for your job, it’s better to go out and invite people yourself — in other words, cherry-pick the best writers (those who have a lot of hours inside the platform, a solid portfolio, and good reviews).
Otherwise, you’ll find yourself wasting a lot of time just filtering out unqualified prospects.
Another option is to seek out writers through your contact network. Contact people you trust and ask if they might know any ghostwriters. This could include individuals you know who also hire ghostwriters for content and/or those who have written for you previously.
Once you’ve made contact with at least one promising writer, the best way to get started is to assign and pay them for a single test article. Explain to them what the expectations are (here’s where the brief comes in), and what deadline you need them to meet.
Let them know that if it goes well, they can expect steady work from you in the future. But don’t expect absolute perfection on the first try. Writing is mostly re-writing.
Once your ghost writer has sent you a draft, give them feedback on that assignment. Ghostwriters make their living adjusting to other people’s tone and voice, so even simple feedback of what you love and what isn’t quite there yet (but could be with some edits) will be helpful to them writing for you in the future.
How Much Should You Pay Ghostwriters?
With ghostwriters, the payment question is more straightforward than with guest contributors — just about every ghostwriter you meet will want to be paid. Many of these writers make their living by writing content like yours.
Don’t suggest paying them in exposure or experience. As ghostwriters, their names are obscured under your brand, so there isn’t actually any exposure, and if they needed experience, you likely wouldn’t be seeking them out at all.
One of the most common questions we get regarding ghostwriters is, how much should you pay them?
The quick answer is, it can depend a lot on your budget and your needs.
But in general, you should be able to find a solid writer with some experience for $200-$300 per post (or an hourly equivalent).
You might be able to negotiate a lower price than that, especially if you can guarantee the writer a high volume of work or ongoing work. (Typically a higher volume of work can help justify a lower price per project because the writer is spending less time seeking out new work and thus, more time earning cash.)
On the other hand, you might need to pay more than that if the writer is really experienced, or if they’re experts in a particular field of study. (For instance, if you need a writer with dual Ph.D.’s in brain surgery and rocket science, expect to pay a lot more than $200 per post.)
Step 3: Get Started
The prospect of creating editorial guidelines and outsourcing content might seem overwhelming right now, but remember that all this up-front work will save you massive amounts of time and sanity down the road.
And the nature of that up-front work will probably depend on where you are with your blog.
If you’re still trying to get some traction with a brand-new blog, then you might not be at a place where you need guest contributors just yet. But you probably can still benefit from hiring a ghostwriter to take some of the work off your plate.
If your blog is already fairly big and established, then you should definitely be looking to recruit new expert guest contributors to save time while expanding your blog with new perspectives and outlooks.
Either way, I highly recommend taking some time to create your editorial guidelines.
They’re super helpful, even if you’re the only one currently writing for your blog. They’re a great way to help keep you focused on creating high-quality, consistent content that will keep your readers coming back for more.
…. And that’s the point, isn’t it?