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SCI Netcast 168: Wendy Meyeroff – How to Hire a Ghostwriter for Senior Care Content

Wendy is an award-winning print and online health/tech reporter, ghostwriter and marketing consultant for 20+ years. She started working as a reporter and was the managing editor of health care magazines 20+ years ago. She segued into business-to-business advertising and then to public relations.
Wendy is an award-winning print and online health/tech reporter, ghostwriter and marketing consultant for 20+ years. She started working as a reporter and was the managing editor of health care magazines 20+ years ago. She segued into business-to-business advertising and then to public relations.
Wendy is an award-winning print and online health/tech reporter, ghostwriter and marketing consultant for 20+ years. She started working as a reporter and was the managing editor of health care magazines 20+ years ago. She segued into business-to-business advertising and then to public relations.

About Wendy Meyeroff

Wendy is an award-winning print and online health/tech reporter, ghostwriter and marketing consultant for 20+ years. She started working as a reporter and was the managing editor of health care magazines 20+ years ago. She segued into business-to-business advertising and then to public relations.

Social Links

Website: https://www.wmmedcomm.com/ 

Email: wjmayeroff@gmail.com

 

Today on the Senior Care Industry Netcast

 

  • Introduction of Wendy Meyeroff
  • Wendy Meyeroff’s history of writing
  • Tips in finding a good writer
  • What to expect from a ghost writer
  • Wendy’s experiences in companies as a writer
  • Importance of communication in hiring a writer

Wendy Meyeroff’s Words of Wisdom/ Tweet-ables

 

  • “A good writer, a good communications consultant, will tell you what they do and also what they don’t do just as I just told you, I’m not an advertising copywriter and that’s a ”
  • “Ask if they have a If they don’t have a website in this 21st century, then are they just going to be learning off you.”
  • “You know how the person hiring knows they’re in trouble with the potential writer? If you give a vague description and the writer doesn’t ask any ”

Full Transcript

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

This is Valerie with the Senior Care Industry Netcast, where leaders with three or more years of experience share their advice. So let’s get to it. And in a few sentences, tell us who you are and what you do.

Wendy Meyeroff:

Hi. I’m Wendy Meyeroff a.k.a. the ghost writer who grabs attention, and I’ve been doing senior communications for close to 30 years now, both in B2B and the B2C area.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Nice. So you can write articles for me or for anyone or for a blog or a news website.

Wendy Meyeroff:

I can, as long as it’s real storytelling and it’s not advertising copy. I will admit I’m a terrible advertising writer. I’ve tried it once in my career. I lasted about six months. And then they said, “No.” And I said, “Yeah, you’re right.”

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

So tell us more about your history of writing and what you bring to the table because we were just talking about this, but now tell everybody else. You have a great history of being a journalist and a writer, and just kind of tell us where you are and where you came from.

Wendy Meyeroff:

Well, I came from the trade press, otherwise known as B2B, business-to-business writing. I was back home in New York. I’m now in the Baltimore DC area. And we’ve got tons of publishing places back in New York. And I accidentally fell into writing for a trade house, which has since become a humongous B2B publishing group. And they had magazines both for pharmacists and for the optical industry, and they hired me. It’s a long story and I won’t get into, but something gave me an edge and I got hired within 10 seconds of the interview.

Wendy Meyeroff:

So I was having to come up with story ideas. A lot of times, especially for the pharmacist magazine, I had to figure out what would be the feature every month. What were we going to talk about? And when I looked for new ideas, they got a lot of response, like we would do stories, let’s say, on how pharmacists could enhance their cough and cold division or the greeting card section or whatever.

Wendy Meyeroff:

But I am 102 years old. So we were just starting to really see video rentals. And this one pharmacist, the friend sent me his information. He was in Connecticut. My husband schlepped with me to Connecticut one day and I actually explored and I took pictures and I come back and pitch it. And the boss is saying, “No, it’s not a good story.” Well, I said, “Then can I have it? Can I farm it out?” They said, “Yeah, sure.” Well, they lost an ad, a three-page ad. I had to drag the story back from the place I sent it to, and it became one of our most popular stories, a guy from Alaska. And it says right there, how to find the fellow in Connecticut. He calls me to find out how does he reach the guy in Connecticut.

Wendy Meyeroff:

So when you capture a story, when you’re willing to look for ideas and you don’t just… As you know, Valerie, you don’t just regurgitate the same stuff over. In fact, the one I’m doing for the first March blog… And if folks want to get on my blogs, we’ll give them my contact information. But my next blog is about ways to get inspired. Your mind can turn to mush. How many stories can you think of? The brain needs inspiration. And that’s the key to good storytelling. Whether it’s for the business side… I segued into the consumer side. A lot of medical writers can’t do consumer speak.

Wendy Meyeroff:

I had a dear lady who interviewed me. I think her first name’s Emma, if I’m correct. It’s Emma [Hitt 00:04:26]. And Emma’s got a PhD and she interviewed me years ago for one of her first blogs or online audios. And she didn’t know the many levels that the consumer side needs in language, because if you’re Children’s Hospital, which I’ve written for, and you don’t know if the kids are going to read it or their parents, and do the parents read in a second language, what level do you have to bring it to?

Wendy Meyeroff:

And then you have to go up to probably no higher than 10th grade level, as your listeners should know, whatever else you’re writing, B2B stories, if you are writing a tech story for the CEO and trying to get that person to get your new artificial intelligence system. That’s the new trend now. I mean, that’s what… You have to be able to talk to them, but you still have to bring it down. You cannot say triskaidekaphobia usually to a CEO. You got to explain that means fear of the number 13, right? So it’s fun. It’s something new every day.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

You got on a good point there. You and I have crossed paths over the years and have known of each other, but I don’t know how much you know about what we do. But we write content for our clients. And we have about between 150 and 200 on any given day. And we probably purchase somewhere around 600 pieces of content a month. And these are not long, drawn-out blog posts. I mean, we keep it short because number one… And we understand about search engine optimization. But we understand that generally speaking, if someone’s going to read an article, it needs to be easy on the eyes and easy on the brain. So lists and top tens and recipes and things that are super easy to digest in small bits. If you’re going to have the top 10 things you can do for somebody with dementia or whatever it is, you need to keep it easy because they don’t have… It’s not even just the level of reading ability, which I agree with you. Probably doesn’t need to go past grade 10. But it’s also their capacity to just absorb anything more right now.

Wendy Meyeroff:

You just talked about that before we started, the zillion emails you get, and they’re not just a few sitting on my desktop either. And how do you plow through it? And even if you find one that looks interesting, how do you scan it easily and decide, “Yeah, this is worth reading through all the way.”

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah. It has to be super easy on my brain. I need the headline and the bulleted list or the summary. Before I actually click over the article, I want to see the summary. This is a challenge for all of us who are in this business of publishing content. It’s a challenge to write about the right things, not offend anyone. We always keep it very neutral. There’s no politics, no religion. It’s educational content, typically. Sometimes, a little bit of a story as an introduction, and then educational content. And that’s challenging. And as a writer, I’m sure you know this. If you’re asked to write on the same topic all the time or same market all the time, it can become a little challenging to come up with a new [inaudible 00:08:16] or a new idea. So we have clients out there. Most of them don’t ever want to touch… They don’t want to touch this. They don’t want to write content. That’s not their gig.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

But tell me, or maybe give a few tips on two things. Number one, how to find a good writer who can write for you, like you. What’s to expect? I don’t think people know how to hire someone to ghost write for them. Well, what do we even ask? If you haven’t been doing this for a long time… I mean, I know what I am not looking for and I know not to hire someone off Fiverr, and I know not to hire someone off of even Odesk or whatever they call it, Upwork.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

I mean, that’s not to say that you can’t hire someone there, but you have to absolutely know what you’re doing cause otherwise, you’re going to get spun content from another country that’s written in British English. And when [crosstalk 00:09:18] because we are a United States healthcare system, the words we use are different than the words that are British English-speaking counterparts in the world. How they say it is different. So I can tell just like that if this is written by someone who says they’re in the US but they’re not in the US. Those [crosstalk 00:09:38] happen all day long. It’s really important to know how to pick a writer. So give us some tips on how to choose a writer to write for you.

Wendy Meyeroff:

Well, I think it’s the same as finding the right car salesman or anything else. What kind of reputation does the person have? How well can you find them? And now you have social media. I don’t suggest you find them so much from Facebook or Twitter. Those are good ancillary things for any business, but look them up on LinkedIn. What are their careers? How long have they been at this? Who do they service? A good writer, a good communications consultant, will tell you what they do and also what they don’t do just as I just told you, I’m not an advertising copywriter and that’s a key word. Key word, copywriter, it used to just mean ad copy. Okay? Now everybody advertises on LinkedIn or Indeed or wherever. And it says, “We’re looking for the next great copywriter.” Yeah.

Wendy Meyeroff:

And then you read the 400 pounds of check points that they want from somebody. So do you really want a writer? Do you want an SEO specialist? Do I understand keywords? Yes. Those of us who’ve been in this business long enough, you had to do that in all sorts of copy. You had to get the right words in there. So do you say senior? Do you say older adult? Do you say boomer? You can toss any or all of those throughout the copy, right? Because if it’s looking just for senior, okay, it’ll find that word and so on. So yeah.

Wendy Meyeroff:

But if you need in-depth SEO, I am not your person. And I will tell you that, honestly. Do you need strictly a B2B writer or do you have to reach out to consumers? And that’s going to take a different tone of voice. Are you going to be more folksy? Are you going to be more direct in talking to people in the you voice? “You should remember to do da, da, da, da.”? So find out what they have been writing.

Wendy Meyeroff:

Ask if they have a website. If they don’t have a website in this 21st century, then are they just going to be learning off you. And if you don’t mind that, that’s one thing. And because you can get it cheaper. What’s the rule? You can get a good, cheap, fast, any two out of the three. You can get it good and fast, but not cheap. You can get it fast and cheap. Won’t be good. And yada, da, da. So that’s just like any other reputation thing. That’s how you find a good writer. So I definitely suggest LinkedIn and I suggest checking their own websites. If you are in a specific industry, are they in any of the LinkedIn segments? All right? I’m in one of the ghost writing segments. I think I’m in medical marketing and media or something like that. So ask them where else you can find their samples.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah. Samples are great.

Wendy Meyeroff:

Oh, they’re critical. And what to expect? Well, I think it depends again on how much research you did, how you found them, and then how much you’re willing to pay, especially given a timeline. So if you need it in two days, and depends on… Certain blogs, you could… Certain news blog, they could turn around in an hour. But then are you paying in an hourly rate? Do you want this person on a regular basis with a retainer? So ask around and get-

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Recommendations and [crosstalk 00:13:56] to negotiate. And there’s a lot to think about, especially if you’ve never hired someone. Some people like a certain amount, like 10 cents per word, 20 cents per word. How many words do you want? “Well, I want a 500-word, a 600-word. I want a 1,000-word. I want 2,000 words.” Well, you have to calculate what you’re asking for and decide on, do you have the budget for that writer? So there’s a lot to think about when you’re hiring a writer, but finding a quality writer is always in your best interest. Fly-by-night is not good [crosstalk 00:14:36].

Wendy Meyeroff:

Yeah. And you’ve got to be willing to listen to them. If you believe they’re experienced and they’re experts in their field, then listen to them. Do you have a right to change the copy? Sure you do, because you’re going to know your voice or your needs better. Brilliantly, as a ghost writer, we get behind the other person. We become their voice. That’s the whole key. Fine. But I can’t literally be you past a certain point. So you’re going to see something. It’s your industry. It’s your company. It’s your whatever. You’re going to know a certain group or a certain need better than I will. Okay? So you’ll want to change a sentence. You’ll want a different intro or whatever. If you trash the whole thing, tear it apart…

Wendy Meyeroff:

I had this happen to me maybe three times throughout my career, and I still remember the very first one, and it was an article for Cosmopolitan Magazine. And friends warned me. The founding editor, Helen Gurley Brown, was still the editor at that point. And she had to read and approve everything. So I don’t even remember what the article was about, but I did it. I sent it in. My editor approved it. And then it goes to Gurley and she tears this apart. She tore that apart. And my contact couldn’t even figure out what her problems really were. And the bottom line is I got a kill fee on it. As I say, not good. It has not happened too often. I’ve had changes, yes, but I haven’t had somebody tear it apart and say, “Well, this isn’t what I was thinking of.” You have to watch out for that phrasing because before you blink, they expect you to be not just a writer or a communications guru, but a mind reader. Yes.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Well, that’s the thing. I think it’s important when you’re hiring a writer, be specific about what you’re looking for as much as you can. So what we do is generally speaking, we have some writers that just write a bulk of articles for us every week. But if I’m looking for something longer, with more intensity, I send what I call a content… I know it’s kind of like an outline of what I’m looking for, the words I need them to use, what this article is about, who it’s for. Because we’ve done this for so long, we have a one sheet that we send a person about the content we want, and then they can structure the article however they… But they already know what sub-headlines would be great for this, what questions people [crosstalk 00:17:35] ask. And so that makes it easier for the writer.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

And then those little roadmaps, those one-page roadmaps we have, we keep those. And if it’s a different topic that we need a little bit more in-depth on, we just change the topic so we don’t have to rewrite the whole thing every time. But if you’re going to hire a writer, you need to give them some parameters. One of the important things that we’ve learned is for our writers is to say this. In the home care industry, this is stuff that most lay people, even a writer unless they’ve written for a long time, wouldn’t know because it’s obscure. When a home care aid comes into your house, they cannot hand you your medications. It is illegal for someone who’s not a registered nurse or an LPN to hand you… They can remind you that your [crosstalk 00:18:29] might be time to take them, but they can’t give them to you.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

And there’s a few other things that are just generally known by people in the industry but wouldn’t be known by someone who just walked in the door to write an article. So we’re [crosstalk 00:18:45] about the dos and don’ts in the article. And that I think helps so much. You got to give people the opportunity to know what the rules are. You can’t go on and on about handing somebody their pills every five minutes. So we’ve learned. And I think that when you hire a writer, as a business owner, that communication back and forth. As a person writing the article, if you don’t tell me what not to say, there’s no way I can know that. So I think just being very specific and outlining that article at the very least is really important.

Wendy Meyeroff:

And you know how the person hiring knows they’re in trouble with the potential writer? If you give a vague description. “I need a blog and it’s going to be about 500 words about caregiving,” or something like that. Okay? And that’s it. “We need it by next Tuesday, da, da, da, da. And it pays this much.” And if the writer just says, “Oh yeah, I can do that,” you know you’re in trouble. The writer’s going to ask, “But what aspect of caregiving? Is this from the spouse’s side? Is this from the personal caregiver? Is it from a nurse?” Even, “Who are we you talking to?” So start there and get a few more details. “And why did you decide 500 words? What if I go to 700 or 750? Or whatever. Are you sending me the copy? Am I just pulling it off the web, five key points I saw for hiring a nurse from the Mayo Clinic or something? How is this…” Oh, you know you’re in trouble if you don’t get questions like that.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah. The writer needs to make sure they have all the details. But I think it’s an art as a business owner if you’ve never been a writer to understand what kind of content planning goes into that. Once you have a roadmap built for a writer, you can switch the roadmap to any topic you want, but you got to give them parameters and give them a little help, especially if you don’t want to pay huge fees, you can’t… You’re going to spend their time going back and forth on these articles. You might as well have written it yourself if you’re that picky. So if you give them the content planner, they know what you’re looking for already. So those are my recommendations. And that’s kind of what we do. Communication is key on this. If you want someone else to write for you, you have to share with them what you want.

Wendy Meyeroff:

Yeah. And the whole business is communications. It would be good… And I will admit it’s one thing to be a writer. It’s another to be a speaker. And it took me a lot of guts when I spoke at my first national conference. I think I was explaining something to the American Medical Writers. So it might have been a part of a team, a panel about working in a virtual office, because we take that for granted now. And look at this virtual office. It used to be a phone call. All right? But back then, what equipment did you need and how do you set things up? And if you’re working from home, how do you keep loved ones from pestering you? That’s a good trick.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Dogs and kids and spouses. Yes. That’s true.

Wendy Meyeroff:

Oh. And even my dear departed Aunt Tilly. I was six blocks away or something. “Why can’t you come over for lunch? You’re not really working.” When I told her I wrote The Graduating Nurse and Family Practice News and Healthcare Informatics, and I forget the… Of course, if you tell that to most people, they’re not going to know those names. But when I said I wrote for Good Housekeeping, oh, okay. They must have really been doing something. So I got a little leeway.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

So yeah. So I think what I’d like to do is make sure that your contact information is with this video. I appreciate you enlightening us a little bit about not only what you do, but about writing in general, how to hire a writer, and what the expectation should be in that communication. A lot of people don’t understand the importance of that. And making sure you hire someone with experience, I think, is really, really important. I’ve read a lot of inexperienced blog posts, and I… Yeah. So we’ve done that a lot over the years and I’ve just rolled my eyes and thought, “Is this how people talk?” I don’t know how this is happening. But anyway, thank you for imparting your wisdom on us and sharing with us what you do.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

So we are going to put your website and all of your contact information that you want us to give out with this video so folks can contact you. You can serve as a ghost writer for whatever project they might have. That sounds awesome.

Wendy Meyeroff:

Okay. Do you want me to mention it, both the website and my email here?

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Go right ahead. Absolutely.

Wendy Meyeroff:

Okay. So my website, because I started in medical communications and now I’m more on the B2B and B2C side, but I kept the name. So it’s WMMedcomm. So W-M-M-E-D-C-O-M-M .com. All right? That’s the website. And my email address, call for free introductory consultation, and I’ll get you started on all sorts of storytelling. It’s WJ Mayeroff, M-E-Y-E-R-O-F-F, @gmail.com.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah. All right. Well, we’ll make sure this will be transcribed, and I’ll be right there for everybody when they watch the video whenever they see it. So thank you.

Wendy Meyeroff:

Yeah. And I’ll let people know that it’s up and ready to view.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Thanks. I appreciate you doing the show and doing the interview. It’s awesome information. Thank you.

Wendy Meyeroff:

Well, thanks for reminding me, and it’s good to connect again, kind lady. Long time.

 

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN

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