How to Use Blog Ghostwriting for Great Content with Busy Executives
April 20, 2017
One of my favorite campy science fiction movies is the 1997 underrated classic Starship Troopers. Embrace the intentionally hammy acting, the gratuitously guffaw-inducing violence, and the over-the-top special effects, and the movie becomes a definite guilty pleasure. A line spoken in an authoritative tone by a newsreel announcer near the end of the movie stands out as I write this post:
“We have the ships! We have the weapons! We need soldiers!”
The quote can be easily adjusted to fit marketers who are struggling to convince co-workers and busy executives to devote time to produce blog content:
“We have the knowledge! We have the inbound marketing plan! We need writers!”
Blog ghostwriting can be the answer to delivering the content you need to make your marketing plan a success. To quote Starship Troopers one more time: Would you like to know more?
The Benefits of Ghostwriting
Ghostwriting is more common throughout the literary world than you think. For example, most celebrity “autobiographies” are not penned by the celebrities at all, but rather, a professional writer behind the scenes. Through a combination of extensive interviews with the celebrity and outside research, the ghostwriter delivers a finished product that captures the subject’s voice and intentions.
Blog ghostwriting operates in a similar way. Your company’s executives likely bring significant thought leadership to your industry’s space. Ghostwriting incorporates that knowledge and uses it to further your inbound marketing efforts. Some of the benefits of this strategy include:
- Executive content without as much executive effort: Many execs relish the chance to promote themselves and their companies via blog content. Unfortunately, everything else on executives’ plates often prevents them from carving out a few hours to write a workable post. Ghostwriting shifts much of the effort from execs to the writer, whether it’s you, a fellow staffer, or a hired freelancer.
- Better quality of writing: Some executives deliver incredible prose. Others, despite their knowledge of the space, are all over the place with their copy. Blog ghostwriting provides a uniform—and, ultimately, better—quality of writing across all your content. Frankly, no exec wants to look dumb with the content they write; ghostwriting can allay those fears.
- The power of collaboration: As already stated, executives offer thought leadership to your marketing efforts, and writers bring the technical knowledge in producing content. The combination of these two areas of expertise results in blogs that are informative and entertaining, thus capturing readers’ attention and increasing the likelihood they will return to your website.
- Efficiency: Ghostwritten blogs generally see the light of day in less time than ones written by busy execs. For starters, professional writers may not require as much editing than a well-meaning but nonetheless rambling executive. Second, ghostwriters can knock out multiple posts in a shorter span of time, whereas execs might scramble just to find a couple hours a month to type something up. Finally, one interview between a ghostwriter and an executive (more on this in a moment) can yield several blog posts.
Four Approaches to Ghostwriting Blog Posts
The process of ghostwriting blog posts can take on many forms, and you may find that multiple and/or combined strategies work best for your plan and for the content being created. Generally, there are four paths available to blog ghostwriting:
- Exec writes, ghostwriter edits: This might be the most hands-off approach but can still be incredibly effective. The executive writes a post and a ghostwriter or editor whips it into shape. This is perfect for execs who love to write and have the time available, but know their writing needs work. This is also good for a ghostwriter who knows little about the topic or the industry but wants to learn. The exec’s voice shines through with this strategy, but the writing is crisp and doesn’t turn off the reader.
- Exec outlines, ghostwriter writes: Commonly, an executive will provide a basic or detailed outline from which the ghostwriter will produce a post. This is another great approach for execs who know what they want to say but aren’t quite sure how to turn that knowledge into a functional blog post. The ghostwriter works from the outline, filling in the gaps and adding an introduction and conclusion if necessary.
- Ghostwriter interviews and writes: In this scenario, the ghostwriter and executive hop on a call and discuss what to include in the blog post. Although this generally requires more time for the ghostwriter, he or she does get a great sense of the exec’s viewpoints and knowledge, as well as is afforded a chance to ask questions as needed.
- Ghostwriter starts from scratch: Realistically, ghostwriters never start completely from scratch—either they are already familiar with your company and industry or are given enough advance information to work from. The writers create the content, and the executive’s name is attached to it once posted. Eventually, a ghostwriter who continually writes the content will become so good at it that he or she captures exactly what an executive wants to say, often from just the title of the post when it’s assigned.
After a ghostwriter produces a blog post, it should go through some sort of review, editing, and revision process before it’s posted. Some executives are meticulous about ensuring that the copy is precisely capturing their voices; others might be trusting the writer did a good job and thankful the post was written for them in the first place. Many executives will fall somewhere in between. Unfortunately, the real struggle here may be to remind execs to carve out a few minutes to take a look at completed posts, which is why ghostwriters delivering good content is so important—due diligence during the writing process leads to fewer headaches later.
If your executives have never worked with ghostwriters before, there might be a bit of an adjustment period. Execs may be resistant letting someone else write a post that will go under their name. Co-workers handling the ghostwriting may be hesitant to put in work for which they’ll get no outward credit such as a byline (professional freelance writers usually don’t have a problem with this, however). Whether you encounter some initial bumps or not, be sure to assess how the process is working and make adjustments as needed. After enough blog posts have been posted, track their success or lack thereof. Is there one exec whose posts are more read than others? Is there a particular ghostwriter whose content draws more clicks and comments? Is one type of post performing better? Inbound marketing is all about measurements, and ghostwritten content is no exception.Do you use ghostwriters to produce blog content for the busy execs at your company?
About the author
Joe Gillespie is Director of Inbound Copy for SmartBug Media. He graduated from Marquette University with a B.A. in journalism and, before coming to SmartBug, was a two-decade veteran of the newspaper industry. Read more articles by Joe Gillespie.
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