One of those is ghostwriting. Businesses of all sizes, non-profits and government recognize that they have to be out there to build or reinforce a brand, connect with target audiences in a human voice and sell. The shrewd ones approach that using all formats, from long to short, in all mediums - print, digital, video, audio and in-person. Therefore, we established ghostwriters are being sought after.
No surprise, entrepreneurial types with a background in communications are jumping into the niche. Or trying to. Here is an I'm-available ad on Craigslist which approaches the process so ineptly and maybe also unethically and illegally that it could have come from a satire in Onion or Harvard Lampoon. Here is what's very wrong.
Promotion Placed in Wrong Section of Craigslist. The blurb annoys because it is in the help-wanted area. Those clicking it on will be annoyed that they have wasted their time doing that. There is no job or assignment here for them. Some have been so enraged as to target the piece for a public rant. That kind of push-back, if spotted by a journalist surfing Craigslist looking for a juicy story, could go viral.
No description of expertise, track record or types of clients served. Instead the pitch reads, "Hi! I am a senior at UCO studying English. I would like to help those in need of writing a paper."
That's about as promising in nailing down assignments as if I put on Craigslist, "Hi! I am a seasoned ghostwriter. I would like to help executives in need of a higher profile create their articles." So? It's nice I want to help. Likely, no one will respond with willingess to be helped.
Gets into territory which may be unethical and/or illegal. Most institutions of higher learning bar the ghostwriting of student assignments. If detected the student could be expelled. Depending on the institution that could also be illegal.
Yet, the blurb reads, "For $20 a page I will concoct a paper for you in MLA format with as many required sources as needed." More experienced communications pros word the ad as "Assistance with the strategy and content of your term papers."
Either this hustler is totally naive. Or the person who placed the ad could be some kind of law enforcement or school official who went undercover to trap the kinds of miscreants who would use this kind of service. In the Boston area, the authorities placed an ad for a lawyer to ghostwrite a paper for a law school student. The lawyer who answered was not only outed in the media but lost his good job.
The takeaway from this for newbie ghostwriters is to analyze how the established competition presents itself. Usually we are generous with our time. We will answer a few questions about pitching, ethics and staying on the right side of the law.