In episode 316, Megan chats with Caroline Truett about how ghost-writing can lighten food bloggers’ loads, helping them gain more time to focus on other aspects of their business.
We cover information on what ghost writing looks like, why it can benefit you as a blogger and understanding the pricing for both using one and becoming a ghost writer.
Listen on the player below or on iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast player. Or scroll down to read a full transcript.
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Connect with Caramel & Cashews
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Bio Carolyn Truett is the founder of Caramel and Cashews – a gluten-free recipe site. Six years ago Carolyn was diagnosed with Celiac disease and her love for food was turned upside down. After giving gluten the boot, you can now find Carolyn creating amazing gluten-free recipes everyone will enjoy!
- Ghost writing is writing a piece of content on behalf of someone else. Your name is not up there and nobody knows you’re doing it.
- A ghost writer tries to capture the voice of whoever they’re writing for.
- Connecting and networking with other bloggers is a great way to always find recommendations and then be in a place to offer up your services to someone else as another revenue stream.
- Have writing samples to offer up to potential clients.
- Post your services on Facebook groups.
- If you’re looking for a writing position, you can search within Facebook groups and see if bloggers out there are seeking help for this service.
- As a VA, you can join Facebook groups to ask questions about ghost writing, rates or anything in that vein.
- Ask for a review after you’ve been ghost writing for someone so you can share that along with your services. That blogger can recommend you within the blogging community as well for organic help.
- You can create a sales page for your services on your own blog or add it to your LinkedIn page that you ghostwrite.
- Ghost writers can use SEO to provide quality writing, use a variety of language and verbs as well as use a variety of supporting keywords and long tail keywords.
- Ghost writers can do continuing education in SEO and writing to help keep their writing sharp.
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Carolyn Truett: Hi, this is Carolyn Truitt from Caramel and Cashews and you’re listening to the Eat Blog Talk podcast.
Sponsor: Hey, awesome food bloggers. Before we dig into this episode, I have a really quick favor to ask you. Go to your favorite podcast player. Go to Eat Blog Talk, scroll down to the bottom where you see the ratings and review section. Leave Eat Blog Talk a five star rating if you love this podcast and leave a great review, this will only benefit this podcast. It adds value. I so very much appreciate your efforts with this. Thank you so much for doing this. Okay. Now onto the episode.
Megan Porta: Hello, food bloggers. Welcome to Eat Blog Talk, the podcast for food bloggers looking for the value and confidence that will move the needle forward in their businesses. This episode is sponsored by RankIQ. I’m your host, Megan Porta, and you are listening to episode number 316. Today I have Carolyn Truett with me and she’s going to talk to us about how ghostwriting can help put food bloggers by lightening the load and giving them extra time to focus on other things.
Carolyn is the founder of Caramel and Cashew, a gluten-free recipe site. Six years ago, Carolyn was diagnosed with celiac disease and her love for food was turned upside down. After giving gluten the boot, you can now find Carolyn creating amazing gluten free recipes everyone will enjoy. Carolyn, how’s it going today?
Carolyn Truett: Great. How are you?
Megan Porta: I’m doing good. I’m so happy you’re here. We are excited to hear you talk about ghost writing. But first we wanna hear what your fun fact is.
Carolyn Truett: Sure. Okay. So my fun fact is that I met my husband swing dancing. He was really great at it and I always wanted to dance with him.
Megan Porta: Oh, okay. So we need to hear the story, talk to us through did you meet at actually swing dancing or where were you?
Carolyn Truett: They used to have venues. I dunno if they do anymore because we don’t do it as much anymore. But they used to have venues where they’d have live music and everybody would show up and dance, essentially. So sometimes it would be downtown and sometimes it would be at different venues. It could be really anywhere.
Megan Porta: So you saw him from afar doing his awesome swing dancing thing, and you were like, I gotta know that guy. Then it just evolved from there.
Carolyn Truett: Yeah, basically. So then I got good enough myself, that he would ask me to dance and then yeah, it went from there.
Megan Porta: So did you feel like you were up to par when you started dancing with him?
Carolyn Truett: Maybe. I acted like I was.
Megan Porta: That’s so funny. Okay. Swing dancing is the coolest dancing ever. When somebody’s really good at it. It’s just ah, you’re like, whoa, that is so cool.
Carolyn Truett: Mainly because it’s not rehearsed, they’re not doing a rehearsed dance. They’re just dancing as they go.
Megan Porta: So you have to remember all the potential moves.
Carolyn Truett: Not necessarily. You learn a step, an eight step and then that is the basis for dancing and then whoever you’re dancing with, it’s a lead follow. So somebody’s leading and somebody is following. Based on what they’re doing with their hands is what you know what to do. So if they’re pulling you forward, then you go into a spin, it’s kinda like that.
Megan Porta: Oh. So if you can keep an eye on their hands, you’ll know what’s coming.
Carolyn Truett: You’re doing steps together. It’s been so long now that I can’t remember. It’s 1, 2, 3 and 4, 5, 6, 7, and eight. So you’re doing that with your feet the entire time, and y’all are both doing it at the same time and one person is leading with their hands, so you’re holding hands together. They may be like pulling you forward or pushing you backward. Based on what they’re doing is how you know what to do. So basically you don’t even have to think about it if you’re a good dancer, because you’re just kinda following what they’re telling you to do.
Megan Porta: So cool. Do you guys do that anymore?
Carolyn Truett: Sometimes randomly, but we don’t go dancing a lot because we have three kiddos.
Megan Porta: Uh huh. Oh, I love that. So cool. So I’m trying to think of how sometimes it’s difficult to make a segway, like how swing dancing relates to writing. So there really is no connection. I guess they both are creative. So there’s our segway. So now we’re gonna talk about ghost writing. Would you mind starting off just by talking about what ghostwriting is in case somebody doesn’t know what that is.
Carolyn Truett: Sure. Ghost writing is writing a piece of content on behalf of someone else. So your name is not up there and nobody knows you’re doing it. You’re writing on behalf of another food blogger.
Megan Porta: Okay. So it’s like a way of getting somebody to write for you, but it actually sounds like it’s your voice and you’re doing the writing.
Carolyn Truett: Yeah. So when I write, I try to capture the voice of whoever I’m writing for.
Megan Porta: Okay. We’ll talk about that in a little bit, like how to do that. Do you wanna talk through your story, how you got into ghostwriting?
Carolyn Truett: Yeah, sure. So I listened to another blogger on a podcast and I listened to her story. So I connected with her and she started a group on creating content pushing out five posts a week, just a way to motivate other bloggers. So I joined that. I’ve always enjoyed writing. To write content as a way of bringing in income while I’m getting my own blog off the ground. So I posted in her group, saying I’m looking to do content writing. If anybody’s interested or needs help, let me know. So she messaged me and said she was looking and that she would love to have me help. That’s how that got going.
Megan Porta: So it kinda fell into your lap, right?
Carolyn Truett: Yeah, it was very natural.
Megan Porta: That’s cool. You have a history with writing, so it’s not like you had to force writing, right? You actually enjoy writing.
Carolyn Truett: Yes. I’ve always loved writing since I was little. I’ve always had journals and I’ve always been constantly writing.
Megan Porta: So if somebody is listening and they just align with this and they enjoy writing too, then this could be an avenue now, not everybody does enjoy that portion of it. Writing for some people is like a huge ordeal. Yeah, it’s a huge block. So if you enjoy it, know that there are other people out there who don’t and then you can actually dive into something that you enjoy to take something off of the plate of somebody else, is the whole concept here.
Carolyn Truett: Yes, exactly.
Megan Porta: So if somebody else doesn’t have this natural progression where things just fell into their lap and they do want clients, how do you recommend they go find a client?
Carolyn Truett: Now this isn’t directly going to find a client, but one way to do that, that was natural, but it happened because I connected with her before I was looking for clients. So I think that’s huge too, is just always connecting with other food bloggers for the sake of connection and not necessarily gaining clients. Then you have friends and connections that are food bloggers and that can lead to something. That’s a little bit, less direct and there are direct ways, but I do think that’s important. But Facebook groups are a super great way to do that. So I find when someone posts about ghost writing questions, like a whole slew of bloggers that need help, will ask for rates and examples of work. There’s so many bloggers out there that need help. There’s so many things on their plate and then it gets to a point that you kinda have to outsource.
Megan Porta: Yeah. Now, when you go into Facebook groups, do you offer this up or do you just keep an eye out and look for people who are wanting the service?
Carolyn Truett: Sometimes both. It just depends. Depending on the group you can post and say, I’m a ghost writer. If you’re looking for a ghostwriter, I can send you examples of my work and my rates, and then see who responds. Or you can just peruse through and see if anybody has already posted and see if there’s tons of comments, asking for rates. Because that means they’re actively interested in a ghost writer. Both.
Megan Porta: That’s a good idea. Just to look for who is putting clues out there. If they’re asking about certain pieces of it, that probably means that they are wanting help. Which groups are okay to offer your services in, because I know a lot of groups you have to tread a little bit lately.
Carolyn Truett: Yeah, that’s true. I would just always check the rules. Because sometimes it’s OK to post your services, but sometimes not okay to post affiliate links. Each group has different rules. So I think I’d just check the rules before I go into that. But there are groups specifically for VAs or people who are looking to output their services up. So those ones are obviously okay to do that.
Megan Porta: Do you have specific groups that you can mention here that are good for ghostwriting?
Carolyn Truett: I do have a couple VA groups I’m in. I don’t have them written down specifically. Then also a couple food blogging groups too. The VA groups are good, but sometimes being in a group of just bloggers is helpful because they’re all bloggers. So I can send those to you specifically.
Megan Porta: That’s okay. We can definitely include that in your show notes so that people can go reference those there. Then I also wanted to mention one of the reasons I created the free forum for food bloggers. It’s at forum.Eat blogtalk.com. It’s Monday morning. I’m so sorry. I need to go check that. I think that’s right. Forum.eatblogtalk.com. Is because those groups can sometimes feel really scary because you don’t wanna say something wrong and offer something out of a good place. You’re genuinely offering to help people, but then it comes across as you’re promoting yourself and then you get kicked out or you get in trouble. So the reason I created this group was so that people don’t feel like they have to tread lightly. I want food bloggers to go in there and just be like, Hey, I offer this service, whatever ghost writing and not feel afraid that I’m gonna get mad because I’m not. So I wanted to put that out there. You Carolyn, or anyone else can go in there and say whatever you want, as long as it’s kind. Promote yourself and just do that. So I want to say that. Okay. Anything else about finding clients? So you recommended groups, Facebook groups, VA groups, blogger groups, connecting with food bloggers. I think that’s such an indirect way to do that because you never know down the line when someone’s gonna think of you. They’re like, oh, Carolyn does writing. They meet somebody else at a conference and then they connect you two, so that’s a really great way too. Is there anything else about finding clients?
Carolyn Truett: I think finding your first client, maybe the hardest, cause once you get going, you find more confidence in finding clients. But also that you already have a client, you can say I write for successful food bloggers. You can put that out there and they know, oh she does write for bloggers. Other bloggers trust her with their blogs.
Megan Porta: Yeah. So it helps you gain confidence and it also allows you for an opportunity to get a testimonial or something too, right?
Carolyn Truett: Totally. Yes.
Megan Porta: Do you grab testimonials from people that you write for?
Carolyn Truett: I do. I don’t have a page or anything like a sales page, but I do have my LinkedIn. So I just will ask the bloggers I work for to leave me a recommendation down there so I can send that to a possible client, if they want to see testimonials.
Megan Porta: Do you recommend that bloggers create pages specifically for writing if they wanna get more into that?
Carolyn Truett: Yeah, I think it just depends. I’ve not had to do that, but I know that a lot of people do and have found success with that. You could even use SEO to pop up when people Google ghostwriting for food blogs.
Megan Porta: Oh, so yeah, that’s a good idea. Bloggers are so great at SEO. So I feel like there’s so much opportunity to use that knowledge in other areas, outside of just creating a recipe post. Doing something like that could get you money, just creating a really great optimized sales page for your writing services would be great. You could get on page one or two and get more money.
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Megan Porta: So once you find your first client, what do you do? What is the journey that you go through?
Carolyn Truett: It really depends on each client, but generally I ask them about the writing process and if they have a format already. If they do, I ask them to write it down very specifically in a Google doc and send it to me and for them to be as specific as possible. So I can format the post, do the bulk of the writing, but format it in a way that it’s already done and how they like it. So they can just push it live.
Megan Porta: So you ask them for an example, and then you just go through it really carefully. Is that where you grab onto their voice?
Carolyn Truett: Yeah. So typically I’ll go on their website and find some recent posts and read those. That’s how I get an idea of their voice. Some people write more informatively and some people write more casually. So you can get an idea of that.
Megan Porta: How much back and forth or trial and error does it take when you have that first client? Is it easy to do? Is it more difficult?
Carolyn Truett: That’s a good question. I think for me it’s pretty easy, depending on the client and their voice.
Megan Porta: Then I’m sure some people write really like technically and maybe not as emotionally and then there’s the other way around too.
Carolyn Truett: Definitely. I feel like a good way to check, besides asking if they like the post, is to read it once they post it live. So if they push it live and they’ve changed a bunch of things, you wanna take a mental note of that or even email them and ask them what they didn’t like.
Megan Porta: Oh, okay. That’s really great. Just take note of what they put up with. After that you just keep tweaking and how much tweaking is necessary usually?
Carolyn Truett: For me, I like to write a post and then the next day I go and read it. Because then I have a fresh set of eyes and usually I will hone things and change things so it’s a little bit more refined. I always put things superly just so I’m not missing or writing a wrong apostrophe or little errors.
Megan Porta: Do you follow up down the road to see if the SEO is good on the page?
Carolyn Truett: Yeah, definitely. Yeah, I will check in AHrefs, how posts they’re doing and see if they’re getting traction.
Megan Porta: Yeah. That’s great. Then how many clients do you have?
Carolyn Truett: Right now, I have two because that’s all I can handle. I have three kids under seven, and I’m also trying to get my own blog off the ground and not all in school right now.
Megan Porta: Oh my gosh. That’s a lot. Time is precious.
Carolyn Truett: Very precious.
Megan Porta: How do you recommend others determine how many clients they can take on?
Carolyn Truett: That’s a good question. Knowing how many hours each post takes you is a good way. So it’s starting with one client, seeing how many hours each post takes you and then going from there. Don’t take on too much and then not be able to fulfill what you’ve promised to do, right?
Megan Porta: So if anything, just start really small and see what you can handle, because you wanna provide quality to your client and then maybe build from there. Which sounds like that’s what you do.
Carolyn Truett: Yes. With time, you get better at it because each client that comes like has their own format, and you’re not used to that. You’re used to another format. So it usually will take me longer to begin with and be a little bit more stressful to begin with. Then that becomes more natural and easy. Then it’s usually okay, I can take on another client now.
Megan Porta: Yeah. How do you recommend people price this? I know that’s a loaded question. Nobody likes that question, but I wanna get your thoughts.
Carolyn Truett: Yeah. For me, I just started conservatively and then I adjust my price based on my experience and the value I’m able to provide for someone. So like initially I started with a per hour rate and now I charge a proposed rate. But pricing is usually all over the map. So from dirt cheap to super expensive. So really it’s up to you, what you wanna price your services at. Not everyone’s gonna wanna pay what you charge and that’s fine.
Megan Porta: I think that’s a key thing right there. That you aren’t going to be able to get just anyone and everyone, you are going to get a select amount of people who are willing to pay you for the value that you are providing and you just have to be okay with that. I think that is like the hardest thing about pricing is that you need to just be okay with people saying, Nope, I can’t pay that.
Carolyn Truett: Exactly. Yes. That’s fine. It really is true that you get what you pay for. So the price someone pays will vary depending on the skill level of the writer too. Everybody is skilled differently.
Megan Porta: Okay. So how are there other ways that you can provide just lots of value for your clients other than obviously providing them with quality writing? What else do you do to make your clients really happy?
Carolyn Truett: You definitely wanna keep up to date on your SEO. That’s vital. So I listen to different podcasts and follow different courses. I think that helps me stay up to date, especially with SEO changing like it does. So a couple podcasts I like are the Blog Millionaire podcast and the AHrefs academy was super helpful. I also took Stupid Simple SEO, things like that just are really helpful.
Megan Porta: Anything else to stay up to speed on outside of SEO? Or do you think that’s the most important thing?
Carolyn Truett: I think that is definitely important, but I think there’s other things for sure. Making sure the posts are really meaty is important, especially if you want it to rank at the top. Checking what posts are ranking for that keyword and what they’ve covered in those posts is important to check those things. Also I guess not everybody has this, just having extensive knowledge in food. The more you cook with food, the more you work with food, the more you know about it. The more natural that is and the easier it is to answer FAQs and to know the ins and outs of what that person reading that post needs to know.
Megan Porta: That’s a good point. You do have to know about food. I think if food bloggers are listening, which will be our main audience here, hopefully you know about food, if you’re a food blogger. Yeah. So that’s a given. But then do you do keyword research for the people that you ghostwrite for?
Carolyn Truett: I have not done keyword research yet. I do with the main keyword they send me, I do keyword research. But I do not research the keywords for them.
Megan Porta: Okay. So they provide you with the focus key phrase, and then you do your own strategizing as you write the post. What tools do you use to help you with that?
Carolyn Truett: Yeah it really depends on the client. Because one of my clients sends me a long list of keywords from RankIQ. So I’ll put all those in the post for her. Then another client just sends me the main keyword and I do the research. So it depends. But for me, with the keyword research, typically if it’s an update post, I’ll go in and look at what keywords it’s ranking for currently. If they’re on page one, but not ranking in the top three, then I’ll sprinkle those keywords throughout the post. Then, sometimes I’ll use RankIQ as a guideline just to see what main keywords are being used in the top couple posts. I’ll try to put some LSI keywords in there, but you don’t wanna stuff the post with keywords either.
Megan Porta: Yeah. Making it sound natural, but also including all of the juicy stuff. So do you think that doing this, adding ghost writing to your business, has really helped to grow your business and your blog?
Carolyn Truett: I think it definitely can. For me, it’s been really great. But since my time is so little, like my time has shrunk that I use in my own blog right now. But for me, I’m okay with that. Where I am in my journey. But I think just having the connections with those other bloggers is essential, and huge. All of my clients have been so kind and helpful and willing to put links to my blog and those kinds of things. Just helpful if I have any questions or need any help, they’ve been more than willing to do that. I think that is huge.
Megan Porta: What else do people need to know about this? If they’re on either side of it. So if they wanna dig into ghost writing as a way to expand their own business, or if they want to hire someone to ghost write, what do we need to know?
Carolyn Truett: I guess if you’re looking to add this to your business, you want to be a good writer. That’s essential and you wanna write engaging content. I think a good way to do that is to read engaging content. So for me, when I read well written engaging copy, it makes me a better writer. I take notes of what I like about it too. So active verbs are more interesting than verbs, like use, does, has, so I’ll write those down. Like mimics, features, snags, reviews. Those are all verbs that are interesting. So I think that’s a huge thing.
Megan Porta: I love that tip. So just looking at the verbs you use and making sure they’re a little more interesting than does, has. Yeah, because those are extremely boring. Such a great tip. Okay, so you need to be a good writer. I like your suggestion about making sure that you go and read other content that is engaging and that maybe is producing some sort of creativity inside of you when you read it and really inspires you somehow. So if somebody wants to hire a ghostwriter, they don’t like this, but they’re listening now because of that. What do you recommend for them?
Carolyn Truett: Okay. Probably again in Facebook groups. If they post, saying I’m looking for a ghost writer. I’m sure they’ll have 20 plus comments. But I think looking at their work is very important and seeing how they write and getting an idea of the knowledge they have about blogging and SEO is gonna be huge too.
Megan Porta: Okay. So just feeling around in the groups and there’s so many people who love writing. I talk to people all the time who love it. They also are looking to expand their businesses. So just finding those people and they’re out there, I know they are.
Carolyn Truett: Yes. Connections are good again as well. I can’t say that enough because you can ask the bloggers, if you’re in a mastermind group or just a blogger if they have somebody or know somebody, those are really great ways to find somebody.
Megan Porta: Key resources for that. Totally agree. What else do we need to know? Is there anything else you wanna leave us with Carolyn, on this topic? Anything at all?
Carolyn Truett: Let’s see. One thing that I feel like I missed is that in a post, it’s important to incorporate long tailed keywords, as well as a main keyword. So that post has the option to rank for multiple keywords, not just one.
Megan Porta: Oh yeah. That’s very good to recommend. Cool. Thank you. I hope this inspires people to dig into this as a new avenue for revenue and also for people who don’t enjoy writing. For them to go out and pursue maybe hiring somebody. Outsourcing.
Carolyn Truett: Yes.
Megan Porta: So this was super valuable. Thank you for joining me today.
Carolyn Truett: Sure. Thanks for having me.
Megan Porta: Yeah. Do you have either a favorite quote or words of inspiration to leave us with today?
Carolyn Truett: Yes. So my favorite quote recently is, “the best time to plant an apple tree was seven years ago. The second best time is now.”
Megan Porta: Love that quote. There’s never, maybe there was a better time than now, but now is now. So do it now if you’re thinking about it. Yep. Love it. We’ll put together a show notes page for you, Carolyn, and we will put those links to resources if you’re interested in finding those there. You can get that at eatblogtalk.com/caramelandcashews. You say caramel? I say caramel, but…
Carolyn Truett: Yeah, either is fine.
Megan Porta: Caramel or caramel and cashew. Tell everyone where they can find you online, on social media and all of the other good stuff.
Carolyn Truett: Sure. So I’m very active on Facebook, as I’ve mentioned. So feel free. Just send me a Facebook message. I love to connect with bloggers as I’ve said before. So if you have any questions or, and just want to chat with another blogger, feel free to message me.
Megan Porta: Awesome. Thank you. That’s very generous. Thanks again, Carolyn for being here and thank you so much for listening today, food bloggers. I will see you in the next episode.
Outro: We’re glad you could join us on this episode of Eat Blog Talk. For more resources based on today’s discussion, as well as show notes and an opportunity to be on a future episode of the show, be sure to head to eatblogtalk.com. If you feel that hunger for information, we’ll be here to feed you on Eat Blog Talk.
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