Most blogs are like whale carcasses. They drift ashore from parts unknown, look like they’ve been dead for weeks, and they stink. Man, do they ever stink. That’s because intelligence and business savvy don’t necessarily indicate writing ability. There’s no shame in that, either. Expecting a blog to turn a manager into a writer is like expecting MSPaint to turn one into an artist. Skill matters. That’s why recycled clipart and truncated, “Powerpoint English” emanate from the brainiest desks in the world.
Still, SEO firms always tell you to get a blog. You want those linkbacks, blogrolls and Technorati ratings, don’t you? You drag yourself to a keyboard, jot down what you can, and lo, more whale blubber hits the Web.
Don’t do that. Let somebody write for you. It’s called ghostblogging, and it’s a standard practice for businesses that want the marketing benefits of a blog, but don’t have a writer to spare for the job. Some ghostbloggers write on behalf of a specific executive; others play the impersonal “voice of the company.”
Good ghostblogging transforms your company’s interests into compelling copy. To make it work, you need a writer/manager relationship with these features:
- Consultation: A ghostblogger needs access to your ad copy, mission statement – every word that defines your business in the public eye. Use that source material to brainstorm article topics together. A good writer knows how to flesh out your rudimentary ideas, so if he’s not contributing ideas, hire someone else.
- Research: A qualified ghostblogger is as good a researcher as he is a writer. He writes as he learns, until the finished product won’t embarrass you in front of fellow industry experts. Beyond that, he explores tangents and nifty trivia to make every article appealing. He won’t just read about the cat food business – he’ll tie it back to ancient Egyptian cat worship.
- Approval: Give your ghostblogger write-access to the company blog, but make sure he always gets your approval before he posts an article. Even if you trust him completely, you should at least give the post a once-over so that when somebody mentions how much she liked those Egyptian cat deities, you know what she’s talking about.
- Interest: Thanks to the statistical magic behind Internet marketing, people occasionally forget that real people are supposed to read this stuff. Nobody expects sublime prose from a business blog, but it should catch your target audience’s eye all the same. This is especially important when your business flies under the pop culture radar. If you train supermodels to be astronauts, the copy writes itself, but not everyone’s quite so lucky. If the article merits a “meh,” send it back.
- Updates: Ghostblogging is about quality and quantity. Dead blogs look bad, like you’ve got a slipshod attitude toward your business. Set an update target with your writer and see that he meets it. Depending on how much activity you want, get him to write articles in weekly, monthly or quarterly clusters. Approve them in one lump and then post them according to a set schedule.
Under the right management, a ghostblogger makes you look as good at blogging as you are at running your firm. Use one, and project the image of a dynamic business exert – not a whale carcass provider.
About the Author: Malcolm Sheppard is a pseudonym for the ghostblogger of the same name. He works for GILL Media, an Internet marketing firm with offices in Peterborough, Canada and Tampa, FL.