Hiring A Ghost

Cheryl Whitman

Written content has become crucial to the success of a medical aesthetic practice. Book authorship, online blogs and websites that feature timely, informative articles on the latest cosmetic procedures impress prospective patients. However, creating frequent and high-quality content is a time-consuming challenge for physicians who already have a full-time job treating patients and managing a private practice.

This is where ghostwriters come into play. These are professional writers who help experts in a variety of fields create content—ranging from books to blog posts, case studies, newsletter blurbs and full-length feature articles—that is then published under the expert’s name.

Why Hire a Ghostwriter?
As a physician who specializes in noninvasive cosmetic procedures, you know more about this subject than even the most knowledgeable consumer, reporter or editor. A ghostwriter will take that knowledge and put it into a consumer-friendly format that will garner you attention from prospective patients and the media.

Regularly updating the content on your webite helps to boost your practice’s ranking in search engine results. Using a ghost writer to author a book positions you as a thought leader in the industry and can lead to press appearances as well help draw new patients to your practice.

Finding a Ghostwriter

There are several essentials to finding and working with a ghostwriter. First and foremost, there has to be an intellectual and personal connection between the ghost and the professional. Ideally, the writer will create content in the “voice” of the professional—becoming, in effect, a surrogate for that individual.

The first step in hiring the right candidate is determining what duties you would like this individual to perform. Tasks may include writing a book, bylined magazine articles, daily or weekly blog posts and even speeches.

Once you’ve determined the ghostwriter’s duties, you can create a job description and advertisement. Some of the best avenues to find a professional ghostwriter include:

• Craig’s List (craigslist.org) and eLance
(elance.com). These free sites are popular with writers. They are also cost-effective. The downside is you will receive a flood of unqualified applicants that you will need to weed through to find the qualified ones.

• Word of Mouth. Ask your colleagues if they have ever worked with a ghostwriter they can recommend. This is a good option because the writer will already be familiar with healthcare and, specifically, cosmetic medicine.

• Public Relations/Advertising Agencies. These organizations create written content for a living, and they are typically excellent at it, especially if you work with an agency that represents others in the medical aesthetics industry.

• Practice Consultants and Advisors. Practice management and practice marketing consultants understand the needs of elective practices and can often help create content or provide referrals to writers who have experience within the industry.

Choosing a Ghostwriter

As you examine resumes, look for writers who have experience creating the type of content you are seeking. Writing a book and creating daily blog posts are two very different experiences. Ask candidates for samples of blogs, book chapters or speeches they have written
for others.

Ghost writers need to gather the material for the content they create. This may be done through interviews, dictation or email. Ask the candidates how much time they will need from you. Also, make sure you ask candidates how they go about capturing their clients’ voices, spirits and ideas.

You can ask your final two or three candidates to write a sample blog post based on a short interview. But do remember that this person is a professional, just like you. If you’re asking for more than a 250-500 word sample, the writer should be paid for his or her time.

Finally, if you’re ready to hire the writer, you will need to determine how you will work together. Will there be short interviews conducted with you or can you provide other sources within your practice or dictation? Setting aside a certain amount of time weekly or monthly to work with your writer can help assure the timeliness of new content. Fact-checking and copy-editing should also be considered before the content goes public.

Then comes the big question: What will these services cost? There is no one-size-fits-all pricing for professional ghostwriters. Some write by the hour, others charge a flat fee based on the project.
The rates can be as low as $10-$15 per hour for an amateur writer to hundreds of dollars per page from an experienced and in-demand writer. In determining the best fit for your needs, you will want someone who understands your industry, and who makes you feel comfortable. Fortunately, there are ways to control the costs of creating frequently updated content.

Controlling Costs

When working in a very niche market, it is possible to use the same basic material in several platforms. Blog posts can be compiled to create longer articles and even downloadable eBooks. In addition, white papers or case studies can become “fodder” for a series of shorter blog posts. Each of these content items can then be promoted to the media through one or two page press releases.

If you do not have the time or inclination to create your own written content, you can secure the services of your very own Cyrano de Bergerac: someone who will put your thoughts and insights into writing in ways that can and will enhance your global effort toward marketing, promotion and practice building.

Cheryl Whitman is the CEO of Beautiful Forever, a national aesthetic business consulting firm that helps physicians develop new profit centers for practice growth. Contact her at cheryl@beautifulforever.com.

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