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Ghost Writing Problem

Discussion in 'Freelancing' started by Shaun, Jul 17, 2014.

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  1. Hi guys,

    Not wanting to join this forum on a sour note, but I literally received an email a few minutes after signing up that I'd like to get your advice on.

    I received an angry email from someone I ghostwrote a few articles for a few months back. I was accused of poaching a client from him, and that he had told me about a particular client.

    Now, from my point of view, this was in no way true.

    First of all, there was no mention of ghostwriting for him in my approach to the blog. I didn't use ghostwritten articles in my portfolio. I earned this job on merit, 100%.

    Second, I had no knowledge I had ghost written for this blog in particular. Having scanned his history, I'm not sure that is even one of his clients I wrote for! There were no links to the website in question in any of our messages.

    Third, I came across this client when collecting details for blogs to reach out to for my freelancing services. It's one of the more popular blogs, so to say I found it because of him is ridiculous. In fact, I came across it as part of my own research.

    I wanted to know what anyone who freelances thoughts on this situation are. How would you handle this situation?

    I'm relatively new to the game, and I hate confrontation, especially when I feel I'm being wrongly accused! I wrote 4 or 5 articles for this guy, and have never once disclosed this information. I don't feel this gives him any authority to tell me what jobs I can and cannot work for, especially when the websites in my niche is finite.

    Any thoughts?
  2. Hi Shaun,

    Good to have you here.

    Just to clarify the situation. Did you write articles for this person and then they sold it to a client as their own and paid you compensation for it? Is that correct?

  3. Hi Kevin,

    That was the arrangement we had.

    I was unaware I had wrote an article on his behalf for this particular client, and having looked through the articles I wrote for him and his history with this client I don't think it is even the case.

    In fact, having looked through our histories more thoroughly, I can say with about 99% certainty that this particular client was not one I worked with him on. There are no mentions of this client in any of our emails.

  4. You haven't done anything wrong. Unless you had a contract in place that placed restrictions on who you can approach and who you can work with, then it's none of his business what you do.

    I wouldn't waste your time on him. Just send his angry email to the bin. He has contacted you in a very unprofessional way. Why should you even waste your time responding to that.

    I don't see any ethical implications with this either. Does he expect you not to seek out any work in the future?

    Seriously, I wouldn't worry about it. It's their problem, not yours.

  5. Thanks Kevin, appreciate your advice.

    I didn't like him questioning my integrity when I knew I'd done nothing wrong. Very unprofessional, and very surprised by his rant.

    Ghostwrite a few WordPress articles and you're then banned from writing on WordPress ever again. Ridiculous...

    Glad I joined up! Hopefully my future contributions will be on a more positive note!
    Kevin Muldoon likes this.
  6. I have not been through that situation exactly as I don't like doing ghostwriting. I purposely charge more for ghostwriting as I strongly believe writers should get credit for their work. Your articles are an advertisement of your skills. Every email approach I get from a new client starts off with "I saw your article on XYZ...".

    While I haven't experienced the same problem as you, I have had to deal with problematic clients in the past. I always walk away from problem clients as they are more hassle than they are worth. It may surprise you that some well known website owners and bloggers have have may politely be called "personality quirks". I am unsure how some of them function in the real world.

    Thankfully, all the clients I have are great. They are professional, pay on time, and are accommodating of me ever being placed in a position of not being able to finish on a deadline. Of course, that was design, not by luck. I have purposely let go of clients who were a pain. I'd rather make less money than deal with the grief that some clients bring.

    I had a client a few months ago that I wrote one article for. They made crazy promises like giving me a share of their company, but I kept saying that I will just charge them my normal fee. They were obviously empty promises; which became clear when I asked them to put such an offer in writing. They approached me a few months later about writing another article. They kept asking more questions, kept asking me to start before they sent payment etc. I told them my rate and they said "We can pay you this". I replied "Sorry, this is my rate. My rates are not up for debate". But they kept trying to haggle. My last email to them was a polite but firm email stating that I cannot work for them as they are time wasters that don't actually follow through any of their promises (I put it a lot nicer than that!) :)

    To put it more simply, you'll deal with dickheads in this game from time to time. You can get into a big argument with them, but what do you get out of that? It's better to just ignore them and move along. Let them vent their anger in an email that is never opened.
  7. I don't like ghostwriting either. It was one of my first jobs, and after about 4 or 5 articles I realised I was wasting my time as I wasn't building any portfolio or exposure for myself.

    I think that is something all freelancers should understand before they start. In the early days, the desire to earn leads you to some bad choices when it comes to clients. You can tell within an email or two how problematic a client will be, and the bad ones just aren't worth it.

    You're right though, this person was not worth dealing with or worrying about. When I opened the email I was anticipating some kind words for finding my own way, which is the approach I would take if someone had worked with me and I saw them making progress. Probably says a lot about him, that he took the accusatory approach.
    Kevin Muldoon likes this.
  8. I wonder who it was...

    I nearly signed up to do some WordPress ghost writing a while back when I was starting out but the rates were too low and as you say, not having your name on the work isn't going to help you get ahead.

    I wouldn't worry about it and would just keep on doing what you are doing.
  9. I walked out of a job because a very known blogger hired me on the basis that my name etc would be used, but then published my articles without my name. I walked away. They were awful to work with and I really don't need that in my life.
  10. Hi guys, another quick question relating to bylines/non bylined work, so it feels appropriate to this thread.

    We've already said a lot about the negatives of ghostwriting (non bylined work), however if someone is willing to pay a hefty premium to take credit for your work perhaps it's not so bad...

    When it comes to bylined work, what sort of byline do you expect/accept? I've been contributing to a few sites recently and I've had my name, avatar, bio and a link back to my website, as you get on Kevin's site. This has been great, and it has been awesome to get some interest in my work.

    That being said, I've been negotiating with another client on the whole byline/no byline issue, laying out my stance and prices for both options. He decided to let me have a byline, however this would just be my name. No link, no image, no bio.

    I'm not sure what to think about this. Yes, I can still include the piece in my portfolio, but I'm far less likely to get additional work out of this as anyone who likes my work will have to go out of their way to find my writer website, rather than simply clicking through.

    Most people interested in hiring me are already sold on my work from the article they read, and next to nobody will be stumbling across my website by accident, therefore I think having an extra article in my portfolio will be far less beneficial than getting clicks directly through to my site.

    What would the other freelancers here think about only getting their name put on a piece, rather than all the other good stuff most websites offer? I'm unsure whether a bare minimum byline is still a byline and not something to worry about, or whether I should change my quote to somewhere between a full byline and ghostwriting rates.

    Any suggestions?
  11. If a website owner does not allow a link back to your website in the bio, charge more. If they want you to ghostwrite the article and get no credit for it, charge a lot more.

    All my clients come through my articles on the internet. Therefore, if I am to lose that, I need to be compensated for it. I now quote double my normal rate to clients for ghostwriting for the simple fact that I don't want to do it. Sure, it is good to earn a little more at the time, but I lose out a lot of traffic and exposure in the long run.

    In your situation, I would charge a premium for not having your website linked. Perhaps charge 50% more. Or perhaps even 100% more.

    I strongly believe that all authors need to get author for their work and deserve to get a link to their website. So I do not appreciate other website owners who try and stop authors getting the credit they deserve.
  12. Hi Kevin,

    Thanks for that tip. You're right, if it's something you don't want to do then you need to be compensated to a level that makes it worthwhile. Even with a 50% premium, I still would rather just have the byline, so I don't think this is enough (maybe others feel less strongly about it, I don't know).

    Surely you should set your rates at a level where you are truly indifferent to whether your clients want you to ghostwrite or not -- would you agree with that? If your standard rate is (let's say) $0.10 per word, and you would still rather get your link than ghostwrite for $0.20, you are clearly not charging enough for your ghostwriting services.
  13. Yeah I think you are right. If every client is willing to pay you to ghost write, you should probably be charging more.

    I purposely price my ghost writing services so that people do not ask for it.
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