Guest Post by Abby Kaufman. Abby is a freelance writer and editor living in Sudbury, Massachusetts. Connect with her on LinkedIn!
For the first dozen years of my career, I worked as a newspaper reporter and magazine editor. What I loved about my line of work was finding the best way to share a story so that it resonated with the audience.
Ghost blogging is no different. Again, I’m on the hunt for the best way to tell a story from a particular client’s perspective. Not only does my writing need to ring true for that client and provide an accurate reflection of his or her business, it needs to speak to the customer the client is hoping to attract, retain or inform.
It’s no secret a blog can draw a reader in and build rapport – or it can send a potential customer running for the hills! But many B2B business owners and marketers don’t have the time or resources to regularly produce blog content for their websites. Or, despite a wealth of industry knowledge and an original point of view, they might simply lack the polished writing style needed to truly connect with their prospects.
Enter the ghost blogger – typically a freelancer, outsourced writer, etc., who is going to take all of your interesting ideas and write on your behalf while you maintain the author byline.
Sure, not everyone is comfortable with this type of working relationship, but it’s actually a lot more common than you think! Some professionals express concern about “taking credit for someone else’s work.” But utilizing a ghost blogger’s services should not diminish your credibility if the two of you are working together, and the writer is truly able to represent your thoughts and ideas when it comes to putting pen to paper. Remember, it’s a partnership!
That said, getting in tune with each other is sometimes easier said than done. The key is to provide the right guidance for your ghost blogger so he or she can do the best possible job. Check out the following four top tips on successfully working with a ghost blogger:
1. Start by setting clear expectations.
One of the most important things business owners or marketers can do to foster a strong relationship with their ghost blogging counterparts is to set clear expectations from the onset of the engagement.
Establish a system for communication, setting deadlines, keeping to a schedule, and passing edits back and forth. Let your ghost blogger know the nuts and bolts of what you’re looking for, including word counts, keywords, and how revisions will be handled.
If you set mutual expectations early on, the process will go much more smoothly than if you fail to address the parameters of the work.
2. Provide buyer persona information.
One of the most valuable tools a ghost blogger can be given is a buyer persona. Why? A buyer persona provides insight into who will likely be reading the blog – as well as their respective values and interests, challenges at work, relevant goals, and how they make their buying decisions.
Having a buyer persona to refer to allows the writer to pinpoint a tone and style that will have a successful impact on your audience. It’s like having a handy cheat sheet on the customer.
If you don’t already have a buyer persona to give to your ghost blogger, take a few minutes to create a simple one. Think about the intended audience: who they are, what they are after, and how you want to inform them. Then pass this information on to the writer.
3. Advise on tone, style, etc.
Your ghost blogger will also benefit from learning what kind of tone you’d like him or her to take when writing the blog. Just as you wouldn’t speak to your grandmother the same way as your best friend, the same tone is not appropriate for all topics and readers.
It’s a good idea to provide your writer with an example of a blog post you’ve recently read that demonstrates the tone or style you’re looking to emulate. Then let your trusty sidekick know you’d like your own articles written in a similar manner.
More often than not, you’ll also want to advise the ghost blogger to write conversationally. Even if your audience is super techy and highly informed, no one wants to read a staid, boring blog. A good writer should be able to find a comfortable middle ground, maintaining a conversational style without coming off as too casual. Above all, the writing should be credible, confident, and clear.
4. Remember, you are the expert.
Clients often wonder how a ghost blogger can produce posts that are smart and informative when he or she isn’t “in the business.” Sure, some of your more technical how-to pieces may require a ghost blogger who has a good deal of experience writing in your particular industry. But with the right writer, this shouldn’t matter; it’s more about communicating effectively and making the most of the partnership.
That’s where you come in. You are the subject matter expert, and your input is absolutely invaluable to the writer.
Pass on your expertise by providing a few solid sources on the assigned blog topic. Also try giving the writer a brief outline for the post, including any essential topics or subheads he or she should hit on, and then take the time to exchange ideas and angles during a planning session.
When you receive a first draft of the article from the writer, it’ll be your turn to make sure the blog is written in a way that is credible and real. You may end up wanting to add in some additional points, expertise, or statistics that take the blog post to the next level.
Working with a ghost blogger can be a truly rewarding experience for you and your business. What’s more, it will free up a good chunk of your time to handle other important tasks that require your attention. Moving forward with these tips in hand, you’ll be well on your way to building a solid relationship with your writer, and your content will appear polished, professional and pleasing to your audience!