How to Hire and Work With a Ghostwriter For Your Photography Blog

How to Hire and Work With a Ghostwriter For Your Photography Blog | Mastin Labs

We are the “man behind the curtain”, the furious fingers typing the works of your favorite authors, and the secret wordsmiths that mix a thousand words to paint a picture. You are the visual artist, the capturer of memories, the student of light and angles, an artist in the foreground, and a scientist behind the scenes. Taking photos is your passion, and (for many of you) writing is your chore; that is why you need us. We are ghostwriters, and our job is to make your ideas come to life.

In this digital age, content marketing is one of the most important business decisions you can make for your company. Good content drives healthy SEO, draws attention to your website, shows off your galleries, and reinforces your reputation as an expert in your industry. If blog writing is not already a cornerstone of your business strategy, I highly recommend hiring a ghostwriter.

“Taking photos is your passion, and (for many of you) writing is your chore; that is why you need us. We are ghostwriters, and our job is to make your ideas come to life.” - Chantel Bailey

In this digital age, content marketing is one of the most important business decisions you can make for your company. Good content drives healthy SEO, draws attention to your website, shows off your galleries, and reinforces your reputation as an expert in your industry. If blog writing is not already a cornerstone of your business strategy, I highly recommend hiring a ghostwriter.

3 Reasons You Should Hire A Ghostwriter

1. You don't make time to write.

Let’s face it, you know that writing for your blog is essential, but every time you sit down to do it, you do (literally) anything else instead. You have a hard drive of galleries collecting dust, your blog page has a tumbleweed rolling across it, and the last time you were published was three James Bonds ago. It’s time to face the music; you simply won’t do it unless you delegate it.

2. You're a better photographer than you are a writer.

The number one benefit of hiring a ghostwriter is that it frees you up to spend your time doing what you love (and what you do best). You are exceptional at what you do, and employing a ghostwriter who is outstanding at what they do will only push your business forward. The phrase, “Jack of all trades, master of none” has merit. When you delegate your blog writing, you are giving yourself the gift of time; time that you can spend growing as a photographer.

3. You have great ideas, but don't know how to tie them together.

A ghostwriter’s job is to bring structure to your ideas and create an engaging storyline for your readers.

When you’re the photographer, you’re so close to the action that it can be hard to get a fresh perspective and to speak about your experience using language that resonates with your audience. Your ghostwriter didn’t live your experiences. They’re not inside your brain, so they naturally take on an outsider’s perspective, and find ways to make your story clear and appealing to your audience. A ghostwriter’s job is to write the blog that best relays the story you want to tell

Finding The Right Ghostwriter

Hiring a ghostwriter is not like hiring a dry cleaner it’s not transactional, it’s relational, and not all ghostwriters are created equal. My number one piece of advice when you hire a ghostwriter is to focus first on finding the right person. Ask yourself, “Would I care to be stuck on an airplane with this person?” If you immediately feel motion sickness, take that as a sign that you need to keep looking.

Hire Them For Their Voice

This concept may seem counterintuitive, but hear me out. Have you ever been asked to shoot something that just wasn’t inspiring to you but you agreed to it anyway because there just wasn’t a good reason to say no? I’m willing to wager that you did a fine job, but your work, frankly, could have been shot by anyone. Conversely, have you ever been asked to shoot a dream session, and took photos that you consider to be some of your best? Just as you produce your best work when you’re shooting what you love, so will your ghostwriter. This doesn’t mean they have to be an expert on every topic you ask them to write; it means that you should appreciate your writer for their natural personality and find ways to maximize what makes them unique as a writer. Your ghostwriter should be a kindred spirit.

From the first contact, ask your writer what they most like to write, and examples. A ghostwriter’s job is to emulate the voice of the client, but they should have personal work to show you that reflects their unique view.

Pro tip: In your email exchanges, write in your voice. If you are looking for a goofy, lighthearted ghostwriter, but email them as though you’re a stiff down-to-business professional, you’re sending the wrong message. Even if the ghostwriter is naturally goofy, they will likely respond in kind (after all, imitation is what we do best), and you will have missed your opportunity to work with an excellent candidate.

Understand Their Pricing

As a photographer, you discuss details of your job with your client; your shot list, the number of images you’ll deliver, how many hours you’ll spend at the shoot, etc. Similarly, it’s crucial that you discuss expectations with your ghostwriter.

Most ghostwriters work at an hourly or project-based rate. There are benefits to both, but I strongly recommend hiring a ghostwriter that is project-based; you’ll know exactly what you’re getting for the budget you’ve set aside, and there’s no room for unexpected charges.

Set expectations with your ghostwriter by first understanding their rates. Here are a few clarifying questions you can ask your ghostwriter after they’ve given you a quote.

  • What is your turnaround time?
  • How many words are in one blog?
  • How many rounds of edits are included?

Pro tip: You are a business owner and so are they. Just as you expect to be valued for your talent, it’s important to value your ghostwriter as well. If you have budget constraints, be upfront about them and ask the ghostwriter what they can provide to you for the budget you have.

Working With A Ghostwriter

Once you’ve found a ghostwriter that you like, that has a similar voice, and that you can afford, it’s time to focus on growing together and maintaining a positive relationship with your ghostwriter.

Be Honest and Set Expectations

Don’t be afraid of hurting your ghostwriter’s feelings, instead, be frank about the changes you want. A ghostwriter’s most significant responsibility is to tell your story with an honest, articulate, and captivating voice, and only you can help them do that. Time spent tiptoeing around your edits or biting your tongue about your expectations is time wasted. It’s nothing personal, and your ghostwriter knows that. Be upfront and factual about edits and your ghostwriter will thank you. Use straightforward language and only explain when it’s necessary that you do. Never lecture; your ghostwriter is not your employee, they are your partner, treat them as such.

Pro tip: Conflict isn’t inherently a bad thing. It’s something you can benefit from. Think of it as an opportunity to set expectations and strengthen your relationship with your ghostwriter. Speak about it positively by starting your conversation with, “I’m so happy this came up…”

Help Them Help You

You hired a ghostwriter so that you could spend your time elsewhere, so do everything you can to give your ghostwriter all the information they need upfront so that you minimize the need for wasted time in the editing process. It took me years to realize that I could cut out most of my back and forth with clients if I asked for information up front before I wrote a single word. To efficiently collect this information, I created a template that I now send to clients as soon as I’m hired to write a blog. If your ghostwriter does not have a similar process already in place, I encourage you to lead the way and use my questions below as a guideline. I solemnly swear that it will save everyone time and energy in the long run!

Blog Guidelines (Example):

  • EVENT: Please state the type of event, and its date. List the names of the people involved and any other details that you feel are relevant (venue, caterer, etc.).
  • DETAILS: What was memorable about this event? Tell me about your experience with the subjects in the photos. Describe significant moments, stories, or qualities of the event.
    • First dance song, how the couple met, unexpected rain at the reception, etc.
  • LANGUAGE: Make a list of a few words you would use to describe the event and the subjects in the photos.
    • “Fun, quirky, unique, lighthearted” vs. “elegant, exquisite, dignified, classic” etc.
  • LINKS: Please attach a link to the photo gallery, event video, press release, etc.
  • CALL TO ACTION: What action do you want your reader to take?
    • “Enter to win a free mini session!” “Attend my workshop!”
  • NOTES: Add any additional notes or comments here.

I ask my clients to fill out as much, or as little of the template as they feel is necessary to make the blog feel personal. I recommend that you start with these questions and alter the template to best suit your individual needs. Use this form to brain dump everything you remember about the event, don’t worry about structuring your memories or using good grammar, that’s not your job. This template should only take you a few minutes to fill out. Your ghostwriter should be able to fill in the blanks and create a storyline based on the information you provide; so, the more details you give them, the better.

Pro tip: When you get the first draft from your ghostwriter, add any additional details, make edits to the document, and add general comments. Try to get it all out in the first round of edits. After one round of content edits and another round of grammar and punctuation edits, the blog should be ready for publication. If it is not, you should revisit your process and talk about how you can work together more efficiently in the future.

Content marketing is one of the single most important things you can do for your business, and it is an absolute must in photography.

A ghostwriter can help you elevate your business by delivering your message in a clear, easy-to-follow, thoughtful way that does your beautiful work justice.

As a ghostwriter myself, I can tell you that the relationship between a ghostwriter and their client is truly special. Believe it or not, some of my favorite clients have even become my closest friends (looking at you, Mastin Labs!). So whether you’re a busy photographer with barely enough time to brush their teeth in the morning or a photographer that simply holds a general disdain for blog writing, I encourage you to look into hiring a ghostwriter for your business.