Blogging still matters. That’s not going to change, (sorry, folks), even if you feel like you don’t have the time to write. When people share a blog post from your company, and then link to your site, you build online authority that can help you achieve your goals for growth. Crafting useful, targeted, high quality blogs as part of a comprehensive content marketing strategy can boost Internet search engine rankings and drive qualified leads to your site that are more likely to convert to sales.
So what do you do if you don’t have the time to blog? You can hire a ghostblogger or task someone on your team to ghostblog on your behalf.
Ghostblogging is one of the easiest ways for busy professionals to create content, from executives and entrepreneurs to small business owners. It is a process that can generate a steady stream of new articles, opinion pieces, editorials, thought leadership pieces, and other types of content for your website while limiting, or eliminating, the need for busy professionals to take time away from their primary job to write.
I’ve used ghostblogging methods to generate blogs for everyone from corporate executives to venture capitalists to attorneys to non-profit leaders to customer service agents.
My secret? I talk to people. I listen to their responses and ask them probing questions. I record our conversation—and then I generate blog content.
Ghostblogging in 10 Easy Steps
1. Research topics.
The person, team, or agency that is in charge of your marketing can brainstorm blog topics before the interview. Look at search patterns, engagement data, keyword research, as well as market data about your audience, your market, and your competition to discover topics that are more likely to spur engagement, or conversion—or other goals unique to your company. The marketing team can create an editorial calendar from this list and assign certain subjects to certain experts, or allow them to choose the topics they want to speak on.
2. The interviewee should provide research material if it is available.
If possible, the bylined author should share the topic and any notes they have written on this subject with the ghostblogger before they meet. If you are using an editorial calendar, allow for flexibility—give your experts the option to respond to relevant current events and news instead of speaking on an assigned topic.
3. Establish the audience for the blog.
Ghostblogging generates better content if the author knows exactly whom they are speaking to before the interview. Who is the target audience for the piece?
4. Have a point.
Each article should have a take home point for the reader. It can be helpful to establish at the start of the conversation what primary point they want to get across in the article. It is even better if they already have a basic argument in mind—perhaps even an outline.
5. The ghostwriter interviews the author, and records the full conversation.
The interview can take place in person, through a phone call, Google Hangout, Skype…etc. As long as the conversation can be recorded, the method of communication does not matter. You can use a simple handheld recorder, smartphone app, Garageband on your Mac, or any other recording device.
6. The ghostblogger should actively listen and respond.
It is the blogger’s job to ask the right questions so that by the end of the interview they understand the author’s main point and argument, with plenty of supporting evidence and stories that illustrate the ideas and make the piece more vivid.
A note on time: the interview can last five minutes or an hour. A short conversation is fine as long as you are able to establish at least one complete argument. Longer interviews can yield enough material for multiple blogs. I once turned a very productive hour long interview into four blogs that were each between 600 and 1000 words in length.
7. The ghostblogger transcribes the recording and shapes it into content pieces.
Conversational language doesn’t always “read” well, and so your transcript will require some editing. In the editing phase, the writer may smooth out the language, tighten up the structure, and, in some cases, do supplemental research to provide sources that support the piece. Some words or phrasing may also need to be changed to better capture the author’s intended meaning and tone.
Ideally, the author will then collaborate on the blog by reading the piece and changing anything that does not capture their their authentic voice. This is author’s opportunity to refine the argument, clarify meaning, and sharpen language.
Pro-tip: I prefer to collaborate with my subject through Google docs. All drafts of the document are preserved and it is easy to see who made what changes and when.
9. Final edit for SEO best practices.
The ghostblogger should do one final edit, to catch any last minute typos and to embed relevant hyperlinks in the text. This is where it is helpful to have a writer that is familiar with today’s SEO best practices to ensure that any linking opportunities that are likely to provide an SEO value to the page are taken advantage of and properly executed.
10. Publish online. Promote the piece through relevant channels.
Capture Authentic Voices and Stories
As a ghostblogger, I feel that my job is to capture the authentic voice and stories of the author of the piece. To offer the insights and expertise of my subject and then efficiently produce content that will provide value for the expert, the business, and for the people the client wants to serve. My interview subject is, in fact, the real creator of the piece. I simply act as a conduit for their ideas. The final piece that is published can proudly be published under your expert’s name—because the ideas, and thought leadership provided belongs to them.
Don’t Let Your Blog Turn Into a Ghost Town
Building web traffic, generating leads, and increasing sales are the three greatest motivators for business blogging. Many companies start blogging to achieve those goals but then, after a flurry of posts, momentum lags or stops altogether. Have you ever stumbled across a blog that was abandoned so long ago that it has tumbleweeds blowing through it? If this has happened to you, what impression did you get of the company? Chances are, it was not favorable.
Ghostblogging can invigorate your blog with fresh, unique, high quality content. Hopefully the process will be fun and collaborative. Good luck with your ghostblogging efforts! If you have any questions about the process, feel free to email me at email@example.com.