You want to blog, but you’ve got no time. Who you gonna call?
Of course, ghostbloggers don’t wear tan jumpsuits and proton packs. They don’t collect ectoplasmic residue, read “Tobin’s Spirit Guide,” or save New York City every five years — or if they do, they don’t mention it to anyone.
However, they do help you transform your thoughts into blog posts, and they do as little or as much of the work as you want them to do.
Let’s take a look at the ghostblogging process and how it can supercharge your content strategy.
What a Ghostblogger Can Do for You
If you want to find customers online, you need a blog. It’s one of the most cost-effective ways to generate and nurture your leads. Consider these statistics:
- Percent of marketers who’ve acquired new customers using their blogs: 57 percent of those who blog monthly, and 82 percent of those who blog daily. (Source: Hubspot)
- Percent of companies whose blogs report a positive ROI: 79 percent. Also, marketers who prioritize blogging are 13 times more likely to report a positive ROI. (Source: Hubspot)
- Ideal length for blog posts. Blog posts that contain 1,600 words and take about seven minutes to read receive the most engagement. Think back to your college research papers. A 1,600-word research paper would contain five or more double-spaced pages. (Source: Medium)
Maintaining a blog could generate big marketing returns for you, but it will require a lot of your time. If you enjoy writing — and you’re a good writer — you might enjoy dedicating a chunk of your time to blogging. Building engagement for your blog takes time, and you have to produce consistently to earn that engagement. If you don’t really enjoy writing, and you’re not confident about your writing skills, you might find it tough to stay motivated until your blog starts producing.
Your ghostblogger’s role depends on how much help you need with your blogging strategy. If you know what you’d like to blog about, you can send an outline of your thoughts to your ghostblogger and ask your ghostblogger to create a blog post. If you struggle to come up with blog topics, your ghostblogger can pitch topics to you.
Instead of writing the equivalent of a daily five-page paper, you pay a blog writing service to create content for your company. You turn blogging over to a digital marketing agency while you focus on coordinating the rest of your business.
Is Ghostblogging Dishonest?
Critics of ghostblogging argue that the practice isn’t credible. They say that publishing a blog post with your name on it — a post you didn’t write yourself — isn’t honest or authentic.
Think of it this way: You don’t prepare your company’s financial statements yourself; you hire an accountant to prepare them for you. You don’t prepare your own legal documents; you trust an attorney to take care of them for you. Ultimately, those financial statements and legal documents speak for you and you’re accountable for them even though you didn’t create them yourself. You delegate this professional work to professionals who will do a better job than you will.
In many ways, hiring a ghostblogger is similar to hiring an accountant or a lawyer. Professional ghostbloggers have extensive communications and marketing experience. They perform high-quality research and fact-checking to ensure the integrity of your posts.
Also, the best ghostbloggers can imitate your writing voice to capture your personality and unique style. They take your thoughts — created by you — and express them better than you’d express them yourself.
In 2015, when so much of marketing has gone online, it makes just as much sense to ask for communications support as it does to ask for accounting and legal support. As long as you remain the final authority on what’s published under your name, hiring blog writing services is a smart business decision.
Best Practices for Working With a Ghostblogger
Hiring a ghostblogger requires due diligence, just like hiring other support professionals like accountants and attorneys. Work with someone from your marketing agency, or talk to fellow industry professionals about who they’ve hired. Ask for writing samples, and pay your ghostblogger for a trial blog post before committing to a long-term relationship.
Be Clear About Non-Disclosure
When you create a non-disclosure agreement with a blogger, it’s important to be clear about how ghostly your ghostbloggers should be. The same discretion goes for ghostbloggers who create content through your marketing agency. Ask yourself a few questions before setting up your non-disclosure agreement.
In some cases, if your brand is yourself and you’re marketing your blog as your personal content, the discovery that you work with a ghostblogger could jeopardize your reputation. Revealing that some of your blog is ghostwritten could hurt your chances of getting speaking engagements, or it could make it more difficult to publish your own work later. If your reputation depends on you being you, then set up an ironclad non-disclosure agreement (NDA) with the ghostblogger.
In most cases, a ghostblogger writes more for your company’s brand than for your individual brand. It’s okay to let your ghostblogger claim your business as a client as long as the ghostblogger doesn’t disclose critical details.
These details can include which employees he or she writes for, information about your company’s intellectual property, or insider scoops related to your company’s creative process and product development.
Ghostbloggers know that their clients value discretion, and they won’t get referrals if they don’t act in good faith.
Provide Access to Subject Matter Experts (SME)
Unless you’re running a sole proprietorship, you’re not the only source of thought leadership within your company. Some of your most knowledgeable employees can also serve as resources for the company blog.
Identify employees who could contribute great ideas to your blog, and set up times when they can communicate with your ghostblogger. Ask them to do what ghostblogger Linda Lessau calls a “brain dump” about their topics. They can put their ideas in an email, create a mind map, or make an audio recording of what they’d like to say.
Your ghostblogger is a communications expert, and some ghostbloggers specialize in specific industries or subject areas, but your ghostblogger probably lacks the hands-on experience that you and your SMEs have. For this reason, your ghostblogger needs to spend time with your SMEs.
You and your SMEs should schedule regular meetings with your ghostblogger to brainstorm topic ideas, develop an editorial calendar, and fine-tune posts that are in progress. Your SMEs should make themselves available and follow up quickly when ghostbloggers contact them with questions.
Ask your ghostblogger whether meetings are included with their per-post rates or whether they constitute additional billable hours.
Review Every Post Before Publication
Although ghostbloggers remain anonymous, their work represents your business. Publishing a ghostblogger’s posts without reading them first could endanger both your brand and your credibility. Within smaller companies, you or someone you trust should read every post, offer feedback for revisions, and make the final call on whether it gets published. Expect to go through multiple drafts of your blog posts, especially in the beginning stages of the ghostblogging relationship.
If you work for a larger company with a good-sized marketing team, your ghostblogger can report to your content manager or managing editor. This person can make sure posts align with your marketing strategy and maintain a consistent style.
As a courtesy to your ghostblogger, set a contractual timeframe for blog post approval, and define how many rounds of revisions are included when posts are submitted. Most ghostbloggers have multiple clients, so they need to know when to schedule time for revisions and when their work will be approved for payment.
Handle the Social Interactions Yourself
The ultimate purpose of blogging is to engage your audience, so make time to respond to your readers. Even if your ghostblogger creates your post, handle the social sharing on your own, and make sure to coordinate your social media strategy with your content.
You, your marketing agency, or your in-house social media team should share the link, reply to blog comments, and interact with readers on your social networks as part of your blogging strategy. Invite your SMEs to join the discussion, and ask them to share the post on their personal networks.
You’ve read the post, you’ve approved it, and you’ve published it, so feel good about owning it in the comments and on social media.
Remember that blogging isn’t just about putting up regular posts. It should be part of a cohesive overall marketing strategy. Amplify your blog posts by sharing them on social media and in your email marketing. Also, offer people the chance to subscribe to your blog, and treat those subscribers as leads. Build relationships with regular readers, and share their content (if it’s of high quality) on your own social networks.
Don’t Cross the Streams: Hire a Ghostblogger
When you’re busy running a business, multiple streams of activity compete for your time. Remember Egon’s advice from “Ghostbusters”: Crossing the streams is bad. Don’t let your workload turn into the equivalent of a giant, building-smashing Mr. Stay Puft. Instead of trying to do all of the work yourself, let professionals handle your blogs free up your time and creative energy.