How to Interview a Ghost Writer

Boo! How to Interview a Ghost Writer

Find the Right Ghost Writer for Your Needs

ghost writerEver been to Disney World’s Haunted Mansion where you look in the mirror and see a ghost SITTING RIGHT NEXT TO YOU? Or, during the Halloween period, are you plagued by all those images of white-sheeted characters flying through the air, with only those black beady eyes peeking out from the front of their heads? Scary stuff.

Rest assured that hiring ghost writers for your website content or blog need not be a scary affair. These “ghost” writers are different. They could be dressed in white sheets with black eyes peering out, zipping around screaming “boo” for all you care. Because they get your writing jobs done, efficiently and professionally, in your voice, with your byline. It’s your own live ghost, and a friendly one at that.


Ghost writers abound, penning autobiographies, research papers, speeches, press releases, and blogs. And with strong web content, a requirement for any company (thanks, Google!), ghost writers nowadays are par for the course. In fact, ghost writing is one of the top outsourcing needs for any business.

Some businesses are hesitant to use ghost writers because they are scared on the legal front – how can they put their byline on something they didn’t actually write? Here again though, ghost writers aren’t scary, but rather are considered ethical and legal since they write from the perspective of the voice they represent. Ghost writers are instructed with specific content, ideas, styles and keywords to use in their writing. Everyone knows politicians have speech writers, right? Same idea.

Finding Suitable Ghost Writers

Ghost writers can work directly for companies, freelance independently, or, often, ghost write as part of a Virtual Assistant package. In addition to “ghost writer”, there are equivalent job titles including: Content writer, online writer, blog writer, blogger, ghost blogger, copywriter or marketing writer.

Often it’s best to hire a ghost writer via a reputable agency – many freelance writers are known for falling off the face of the earth, leaving you without the written content you needed just that day. An established agency, on the other hand, has successfully vetted for work ethic and talent, and has stand-in writers just in case.

Writing Samples

The “interview” for an outsourced ghost writer is a content review first, and a phone meeting later. Start by reviewing her writing samples. A good sign is a writer with a (positive) multiple personality thing going on – she can write about many fields, using different personas, each suited to the client.

For example, an established ghost writer might have written articles for a security firm, a nursing home, a teenage girls’ psychologist, and a museum, all in a week’s work. Not to mention, web content ghost writers are usually integrating the client’s preferred keywords for SEO purposes.

The Interview

If the writing candidate seems on the mark for you, then schedule a phone interview. There is no need to actually meet this person face-to-face. Via phone, you’ll get a feel for the person doing the writing, instilling trust for a potential working relationship. In addition, it will help her get a feel for who you are (your personality, cadence, humor, intonations, general style), which, in turn, influences her writing more accurately.

Example Questions

Here are a few key interview questions to ask ghost writer candidates:

  • Tell me what you like about writing.
  • Does your price include a set number of revisions?
  • Give me an example of a writing client who was challenging and what you did about it.
  • What information do you need from me (client) in order to produce quality content?
  • Tell me how you compose articles for best SEO practices.
  • Can you advise me on which keywords to utilize for my target market?
  • Approximately how long does it take you to write a 500-word article or blog? (Most blogs  or web articles are between 300-800 words, so the 500-word figure provides a good gauge.)
  • How do you organize your time in order to complete writing tasks by deadline?

Things to Consider

Even if the writer doesn’t have experience writing the specific type of content you need, she may well be up for the challenge. For many ghost writers, each new angle provides the opportunity to be a veritable actor in print, each submission the chance to step into a persona, crafting sentences to best entice the target audience and effectively convey the client’s message. Get a sense about what she likes to write, and why she likes to write. If you’d like to move forward after the interview, try out the writer with a test assignment, and then take it from there.  The test assignment (do expect to pay for it, however) will give you a sense of how long she takes to produce content and how close she might be to the message and brand you want to portray.

By now it’s passé to say “content is king”, but one thing’s for certain – you need excellent content for your website because Google’s algorithms get better and better at recognizing the real thing. By outsourcing your content to a trusted ghost writer, you are freed up to better grow your business, making your daily schedule all the less scary.

Related Tip: Google now gives more search results weight to bylines which are linked to a Google Plus account.

Submitted by Chaya Leah