As I grow my portfolio of writing on the web, I see many sites that will only work with freelancers willing to write as a ghostwriter. Based on my experience, this is a terrible idea for both the writer and the site. Here are some reasons to turn away from ghostwriting and proudly putting the author name next to the published work.
As a Writer
As a freelance writer, your work is your paycheck. Building a strong portfolio of writing samples is one of the keys to getting future work. On the surface, this is a big value for you to write using your own name, but there is quite a bit more to it.
One major benefit to writing as yourself is Google’s Author Rank. According to Google Web Spam leader Matt Cutts, Author Rank is becoming a prominent method to rank content in web searches. Your author rank is tied directly to you and your Google+ profile.
Each article that you write using the rel=author tag tells Google that it is by you. Rather than ranking pages based on the website quality, by attaching the article to an author, they are able to rank articles based on your personal reputation as a writer.
You can use that Author Rank as a selling point when pitching new clients, as a strong author profile will help articles you write rank highly faster, even if the site behind it doesn’t have a strong PageRank just yet.
Of course, when writing is your bread and butter, sometimes you might have to cave in and give up your credit to land a high paying client. That is okay in some circumstances, but you might try to explain to them why ghostwriting isn’t great for them either.
As a Publisher
The Author Rank example might look like a reason to hire ghostwriters, as you are building your rank on their hard work. However, the search engines will also notice that your writing is only appearing on your site. While the exact algorithms are not public, it is safe to assume that writers building reputation on high-quality sites are going to bring your site more than you can on your own.
You are also building your reputation on the hard work of others. I am an active member of the personal finance blogging community, and one story came to light last year that almost put one major blogger down for good.
The guy behind Finance Fox is a nice guy. I met him at the first ever Financial Blogger Conference in Chicago. He made the trip down from Canada to learn how to make his site bigger and better. His site did grow significantly, but most of us didn’t know he was using ghostwriters (or so he claims) to do much of his writing. While only Eddie knows the truth, he claims that he used ghostwriters and didn’t fact check what they were doing when they plagiarized many other sites in the community.
Eddie didn’t have a way out. He published the posts under his name, so as far as most of us were concerned, he is guilty. Period.
I suggest all multi-author site owners do what I do. Publish each post under the name of the person who did the writing. Give them credit where it is due and share the mutually beneficial rewards of Author Rank.
What do you think of ghostwriting? Are you willing to ghostwrite for others, or do you have others ghostwrite for you? What is your opinion? Please share in the comments.
Image by Patrick Denker / flickr