Getting the Most Out of a Ghostwriter: Use This Free Content Brief Template

Ghostwriter Content Brief

A content brief helps you get the most out of your ghostwriter
Access your free content brief template >>

There are many reasons business professionals and marketers want to publish content on a company website. It has a direct correlation with stellar SEO. It’s great for increasing brand awareness as a thought leader. It even works for nurturing leads through the sales funnel. And the list goes on.

While the benefits of content marketing are likely not new knowledge to you, there is one problem. You have very little time and even fewer resources to create quality content. That’s why marketers should not feel inauthentic when outsourcing blog posts, eBooks, and other content offers to a ghostwriter.

Hiring a ghostwriter is a great alternative when you are short on time and skill to write the content in-house. Use these four tips to get the most out of your partnership. Plus, I’ll share a free content brief template that encourages successful collaborations.

4 Tried-and-True Ghostwriting Tips

Understand that it’s a partnership. Ghostwriting is so appealing because it saves a substantial amount of time than writing a piece of content yourself. However, for this to be a successful experience, you cannot wipe your hands clean from the project altogether. In essence, a ghostwriter can’t magically write a blog post with 0 contexts. 

This is why it’s helpful to provide your ghostwriter with a content brief and outline (more on that later) that addresses your piece’s key components. If you are unsure of some of these initial details, collaborate with the ghostwriter to gain their perspective.

Communicate frequently. To best channel your ideas and thoughts for the content piece, a ghostwriter first needs to hear those ideas, views, and opinions. Whether this is via email, phone, Loom, or video meeting, it helps to communicate periodically with the ghostwriter throughout the project.

Doing so gives your writer the chance to ask questions and for further clarification. It also helps the ghostwriter gain insight into your voice and writing style. As a result, the final piece will sound like it was written in-house and not a third-party.

More than a one-and-done relationship. To get the most out of a ghostwriter partnership, it helps to build out an on-going relationship. This way, the writer has enough time to really understand your voice, writing style, target reader, and more.

In the initial stages of outsourcing your content, work with more than one ghostwriter on different deliverables. Compare and contrast what writer most aligns with your processes. Then, narrow down the selection to one or two writers you want to continue building a partnership with. Over time, the ghostwriter will feel like an extension of your team and less like a stranger.

Be open to suggestions. The ghostwriter’s job is to help write great content. You hired them because they’re skilled writers who know their trade. While you know your brand, products, and services better than anyone, please take advantage of their expertise.

Especially if you hire someone with experience writing to your unique audience, they will know how to produce content that is relatable and easy to digest. Ultimately the final, published product is up to you — but always be open to hearing their suggestions for ways to improve.

Featured Resource: The Ghostwriter Content Brief and Why It’s Valuable

Now that you understand the value and best practices of a ghostwriter let’s discuss using a content brief to identify essential information before the writing process beings. The purpose of a content brief is to make sure your ghostwriter understands your goals, objectives, and purpose. This content brief, coupled with the tips from above, will emphasize a successful collaboration between you and your ghostwriter.

A content brief helps you get the most out of your ghostwriter
Access your free content brief template >>

Brief summary.

What is this content piece about? In two sentences, maybe three, write down what the piece is about. Your summary should not include any jargon, buzzwords, or technical lingo — explain it in the simplest way possible.

What this blog is and is not.

In this section, explain what information is crucial to the story and what can be left out. For instance, let’s say you hire a ghostwriter to produce a blog on tips for how to successfully work with a ghostwriter. In this scenario, the writer should not focus on how to find a ghostwriter because the target reader probably already knows this information.

Who is this article for?

Define the demographics of your target reader. In most cases, this includes their job title, seniority, and jobs to be done. However, depending on your brand, it could also include genders and age groups.

What are the pain points of your target reader?

Every piece of content you produce should provide a solution to the reader: the more value your content can provide, the better. By identifying your audience’s pain points, the ghostwriter can speak to these challenges and offer helpful resolutions.

What is the big idea? 

How will this content change and reinvent the reader’s everyday processes? Your big idea doesn’t need to be earth-shattering, nor should it be a prosaic thought. The big idea, however, needs to include compelling insights that will make the reader think differently.

What’s the hook? 

This is sometimes the same as “the big idea,” but not always. It’s the thing that is most likely to strike immediate interest. It’s the thing that gets the reader to click into your article rather than the hundreds of other posts in their search engine.

What makes this story worth sharing?

Think back to the goals and objectives of your target audience. Provide actionable steps for how they can accomplish them.

Why is this piece different than everything else that’s been written? 

By now, the topic you would like to discuss has likely been written about by several other organizations. For this reason, the ghostwriter must know how to reinvent the wheel and provide out-of-the-box thinking for the piece to stand out. 

Are there smaller value nuggets in the story that we don’t want to forget? 

If so, share those in this section. Perhaps it’s a downloadable eBook or valuable statistics to reinforce your points. Or a free template 🙂

Write 3-7 possible titles.

If you have working titles, include those here. However, this can also be a part of your content questionnaire where you rely on the ghostwriter to create several titles for you to choose from.

Write the story. 

As humans, we often make decisions based on emotions. For this reason, adding a personal anecdote or story is a great way to bond with your audience. Share this detail with a ghostwriter so they can incorporate it into the final article.

What images do you have to go with the story? 

This section won’t always be necessary when sharing your content questionnaire. However, if you have charts, infographics, and other graphic elements the ghostwriter should reference, include those here.

What is the outline of the blog? 

Are there required subsections the ghostwriter should include? If you don’t identify these, chances are they will be missing from the initial article drafts. Providing ghostwriters with an outline allows for a strong foundation when beginning the writing process.

Other helpful sections.

Before hiring a ghostwriter, it can be beneficial to create a style guide that outlines your tone, voice, and writing guidelines. It serves as a reminder of how they can meet your content strategy. Additionally, provide a few links to published articles so they can have a clear picture of your brand and style. 

Go for the Ghostwriter

Ghostwriting can be seen as a taboo content strategy in the marketing world. However, it is a more common practice than most let on. Take celebrity autobiographies, for example. At least 60% of “celebrity-written” books are ghostwritten.

It is an excellent approach to churning out quality content with little time and effort on your part. Of course, collaborating with a ghostwriter isn’t always a smooth process and easy experience. I recommend using these tips and the content questionnaire for the effective use of a ghostwriter. 

A content brief helps you get the most out of your ghostwriter
Access your free content brief template >>

Do you have a ghostwriter success story? I’d love to hear it. Let’s connect on Twitter, @michelleurban.

Special thanks to Grow & Convert for the content brief inspiration. Several years ago, we collaborated on a content project, and they used a very similar methodology where they kicked off writing with a content questionnaire. 

By Michelle Urban

Michelle Urban is the founder of Marketing 261, a digital agency for startups. With a hands-on, get-it-done attitude, she and her team focus on executing measurable plans to get real results. For over 15 years, she’s built scalable marketing programs for demand creation, lead generation, customer advocacy, and engagement. She’s also a wanna-be writer and weekend windsurfer who occasionally binge-watches Netflix. Ask her about the time she danced with Oprah and Beyoncé on live television.