When to Hire a Ghost Blogger

Ghost blogging is the practice of hiring a blogger to “ghost-write” your blog for you. Supposedly people do this because they:

  • “Don’t have time”
  • “Can’t write”
  • “Don’t have a THING to say”
  • “Leave it to the professionals”
  • “Don’t connect with the market”

mannequin  [id: 722271]In general I’m opposed to this practice.
Why? Because your blog represents YOU. You’re trying to build a relationship with your reader so they trust you, take your advice or call you because they respect your opinions. While it’s  possible your ghost-blogger is creating relationships with your readers, they’re not relationships with you. If those readers connect with you there’s going to be some ‘splainin’ to do and even in the best of cases you’ll have dented their trust. David Mullen puts this into words from a PR agency perspective.  and I agree with him that the  best way to communicate your message is with voices from within the company. Look at the progress made by companies like Zappos who shows off several blogs from employees, and even Boeing ,the perspective of an in the trenches, passionate about the product employee does worlds more than the carefully written text of a ghost-blogger.

So when is a ghost-blogger appropriate?
If you’re really unable to write your blog, or you need to blog in a market that you don’t know, then some would say ghost blogging is OK. I still disagree, but there is gray area there to hire a blogger to write about the product as a member of the team. If you really, really, gotta go there, here are some tips.

Transparency rules
Personally I prefer transparency, so if you’re going to hire a blogger to write about your company then give them their own by-line so people know who they are connecting with.
If you’ve got a big market to appeal to, like an auto manufacturer, ski-resort etc., and you want to hire multiple bloggers to write for you, that can make sense, but don’t pretend they’re all the same person.

Don’t off shore
I came across this example in the research for this post and I had to post a link. Here they are purporting to be THE answer for your business blogging needs and they can’t complete a sentence. “Super Ghost Blogger The solution for maintain your blog.” indeed. Now, don’t get me wrong, you can go through my blog and find plenty of typos, nobody’s perfeckt, but I don’t sell myself as a ghost blogger.

Get a plan
This is really just a checklist off the top of my head. I’m sure everybody has something to add, and please do add them in the comments below.

  • What are they going to write about?
  • How often?
  • What’s the review process?
  • Who supplies them with topics and trains them on the product, company culture and voice?
  • Where do they get content and images?
  • What listening tools can they use to watch what’s going on in the space and what keywords do you want them to be watching for?
  • How will they handle comments?
  • Are you confident they can answer questions or will they be fielded by someone on the team and then answered by the blogger?
  • Who will read the blog to make sure it’s on track and the voice is staying consistent?
  • What kind of training do you need to give her so she can be authoritative?
  • Put together a list of phrases you DO and DON’T want used

What else?

Would you hire a ghost blogger? Under what circumstances?

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  • Janet – thanks for extending the conversation. I think it's an important one, especially as more social media consultants pop up overnight and more agencies toss social media into their capabilities presentations without people who've actually spent time in the space.

    As I said on my blog, I don't think ghost blogging or ghost micro-blogging is advantageous. There are too many other worthwhile options. For example, create a cross-functional team of bloggers to spread the load.

    Or don't blog. Do things that take less time. Do a video blog instead. Use Twitter. Check out 12Seconds.tv. Find tools that work for you.

  • Great article! I agree with you whole-heartedly – I am very opposed to ghost-writing in any regard. In fact, I was COMPLETELY shocked to find out that somewhere in the neighborhood of 75% (or more) of non-fiction books are ghost-written, a fact that truly dismayed me.

    Because of that, I made sure that I wrote every word in my book – I just could not possibly stand up and take credit for someone else's work.

    What shocks me most about this is that it is an accepted practice – just "how things are done" in the publishing world. And yet, I can remember the big "hub buh" about Milli Vanilli, when it was revealed that the twin models were not actually the singers.

    Of course, that ended their careers – and yet, we allow other's careers to be built on this very dishonesty…

    Maybe it is because my mom was an English teacher, but it just really bugs me. It just isn't right!

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