Lately, I’ve been reading a lot about companies that ghost blog. Some are against it, while others see nothing wrong with it.

If you’re not sure what ghost blogging is, it’s exactly the same as ghost writing, with the difference being it’s blogs instead of articles or novels that are being written.

The term ghost writing simply means that the person recognized as the author didn’t actually write it. Instead, another writer does the work, usually receives a flat rate for his or her time, and the person they wrote for takes the credit.

As far as a book or instruction article goes, this is a pretty normal situation (I’ve done quite a bit of business ghost writing myself).

After all, a book (unless it’s an autobiography) or an instructional article is fairly impersonal – so does it really matter who wrote the piece in question?

With a blog, however, the rules change. A blog is the personal view of someone. Where they can release themselves from the shackles of a company, or what people expect them to say, and be honest and open with their opinions.

Additionally, a blog is about trust. People come to your blog initially through either curiosity or recommendation. If they like what you say, they may even stay around and read some more, whether by email subscription or RSS feed. And perhaps they’ll recommend you to their friends as well.

As I say, this comes from trust. Trust that you’ll be honest with your views, whether they agree with them or not. Trust that your views are yours and yours alone. Trust that if they’re listening to your advice or opinions, it’s because you believe them yourself.

Without that trust, a blog is virtually worthless. Which, by association, makes the blogger virtually worthless (and I don’t mean that in any derogatory or harsh way).

Which brings us back to ghost blogging. And, more specifically, corporate ghost blogging.

I own my own company and as someone who always encourages my clients to start a company blog if they don’t have one, it’d be fairly contradictory if I didn’t have my own. And it is my own – everything on here is written by me. After all, if it’s going to be a pointer of any kind about my business, I want to make sure it’s me that’s coming across in the message.

So what about businesses that use ghost bloggers? Do you look at them any differently than you would if one of the directors was the company blogger? Is there any difference between a director blogging or simply offering guidelines for a ghost blogger to follow? It is still the same message, after all.

Isn’t it?

20 comments
Danny Brown
Danny Brown

Hi Jeff,

I'd say the views are still pretty much the same. If it's generic, how-to stuff or news, then often a ghost writer can help with the process. But if it's your voice that you want to portray it as, then it needs to be you that does the writing.

Heck, even if the CEO simply dictates for an assistant to post for him or her, it's still his/her voice, so even that's good to go. It's just the brazen claiming of ownership on a post that is clearly not that person's. :)

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

Hi Jeff,I'd say the views are still pretty much the same. If it's generic, how-to stuff or news, then often a ghost writer can help with the process. But if it's your voice that you want to portray it as, then it needs to be you that does the writing. Heck, even if the CEO simply dictates for an assistant to post for him or her, it's still his/her voice, so even that's good to go. It's just the brazen claiming of ownership on a post that is clearly not that person's. :)

JeffHurt
JeffHurt

So now that it's almost Sept 2009, nearly one year from the original post, do you still fill the same about this issue?

Just finished reading and commenting on @markwschaefer 's Grow Blog with his post Can You Out Source Authenticity http://schaefersolutions.blogspot.com/2009/08/c.... He had a link to your post here.

I'm curious how you feel now about ghostwriting blogs today. Perhaps it's time to revisit the issue and discussion?

JeffHurt
JeffHurt

So now that it's almost Sept 2009, nearly one year from the original post, do you still fill the same about this issue?Just finished reading and commenting on @markwschaefer 's Grow Blog with his post Can You Out Source Authenticity http://schaefersolutions.blogspot.com/2009/08/c.... He had a link to your post here.I'm curious how you feel now about ghostwriting blogs today. Perhaps it's time to revisit the issue and discussion?

JeffHurt
JeffHurt

So now that it's almost Sept 2009, nearly one year from the original post, do you still fill the same about this issue?Just finished reading and commenting on @markwschaefer 's Grow Blog with his post Can You Out Source Authenticity http://schaefersolutions.blogspot.com/2009/08/c.... He had a link to your post here.I'm curious how you feel now about ghostwriting blogs today. Perhaps it's time to revisit the issue and discussion?

Danny
Danny

I think this is where the main problem (for wont of a better word) arises, Kari. As both Joe and Darryl's examples show, and where your point comes in, it's having that recognizable and unified voice. Since it's the company interacting with the client, having different voices on the same blog can lead to confusion - and that's off-putting for a customer.

Thanks for sharing your opinion, always appreciated. :)

Danny
Danny

I think this is where the main problem (for wont of a better word) arises, Kari. As both Joe and Darryl's examples show, and where your point comes in, it's having that recognizable and unified voice. Since it's the company interacting with the client, having different voices on the same blog can lead to confusion - and that's off-putting for a customer. Thanks for sharing your opinion, always appreciated. :)

Kari Rippetoe
Kari Rippetoe

I don't see anything wrong with ghost blogging either - if the voice remains consistent from post to post, and each piece is reviewed before publishing. Also, don't display "admin" as the author (at least use someone's name as the author, even if that person is not actually writing the posts).

Kari Rippetoe´s last blog post..17 Tools for Monitoring Your Company's Online Reputation

Kari Rippetoe
Kari Rippetoe

I don't see anything wrong with ghost blogging either - if the voice remains consistent from post to post, and each piece is reviewed before publishing. Also, don't display "admin" as the author (at least use someone's name as the author, even if that person is not actually writing the posts).

Kari Rippetoe´s last blog post..17 Tools for Monitoring Your Company's Online Reputation

Kari Rippetoe
Kari Rippetoe

I don't see anything wrong with ghost blogging either - if the voice remains consistent from post to post, and each piece is reviewed before publishing. Also, don't display "admin" as the author (at least use someone's name as the author, even if that person is not actually writing the posts). Kari Rippetoe´s last blog post..17 Tools for Monitoring Your Company's Online Reputation

Danny
Danny

Good points, Daryl. Perhaps the reason you didn't initially get the audience you were looking for was due to the different voices coming out? Many repeat readers normally come back because of the "voice" of the blog, and when you have too many, this can be diluted.

Thanks for sharing.

Danny
Danny

Good points, Daryl. Perhaps the reason you didn't initially get the audience you were looking for was due to the different voices coming out? Many repeat readers normally come back because of the "voice" of the blog, and when you have too many, this can be diluted. Thanks for sharing.

Darryl Parker
Darryl Parker

I've tried ghost blogging with several different writers to the tune of several thousand dollars over a two year period. At the end of the day, I don't think we accomplished the fine tuning into audience I had hoped for when we started. In fact many of the posts were seldom or never read. There were dozens of posts written, but it wasn't until I started focusing on my blog personally that I began to see a response.

That said, I do believe that once established with a significant following, a talented writer could be an invaluable assistant. But don't leave that writer with the responsibility of building audience.

Darryl Parker´s last blog post..Information Banking

Darryl Parker
Darryl Parker

I've tried ghost blogging with several different writers to the tune of several thousand dollars over a two year period. At the end of the day, I don't think we accomplished the fine tuning into audience I had hoped for when we started. In fact many of the posts were seldom or never read. There were dozens of posts written, but it wasn't until I started focusing on my blog personally that I began to see a response.

That said, I do believe that once established with a significant following, a talented writer could be an invaluable assistant. But don't leave that writer with the responsibility of building audience.

Darryl Parker´s last blog post..Information Banking

Darryl Parker
Darryl Parker

I've tried ghost blogging with several different writers to the tune of several thousand dollars over a two year period. At the end of the day, I don't think we accomplished the fine tuning into audience I had hoped for when we started. In fact many of the posts were seldom or never read. There were dozens of posts written, but it wasn't until I started focusing on my blog personally that I began to see a response. That said, I do believe that once established with a significant following, a talented writer could be an invaluable assistant. But don't leave that writer with the responsibility of building audience. Darryl Parker´s last blog post..Information Banking

Danny
Danny

Hi Joe,

Thanks for sharing your view on ghost blogging. With your example, it's clear that you have the final say and don't approve anything until you're happy with it. As you say, it keeps you looking prolific which can only benefit you and your company. This is where ghost blogging definitely offers an advantage.

I think where the opposite is in effect, where it's an outsourced blogger that's given a vague outline and is then left to their own devices, that's causing questions to be asked.

You're the 3rd person that's mentioned the blog design, while many others have said the opposite and that it's fine. Perhaps I'll offer a vote? ;-)

Thanks for stopping by and offering your views, always appreciated Joe. :)

Danny
Danny

Hi Joe, Thanks for sharing your view on ghost blogging. With your example, it's clear that you have the final say and don't approve anything until you're happy with it. As you say, it keeps you looking prolific which can only benefit you and your company. This is where ghost blogging definitely offers an advantage. I think where the opposite is in effect, where it's an outsourced blogger that's given a vague outline and is then left to their own devices, that's causing questions to be asked. You're the 3rd person that's mentioned the blog design, while many others have said the opposite and that it's fine. Perhaps I'll offer a vote? ;-) Thanks for stopping by and offering your views, always appreciated Joe. :)

JoeHageOnline.com
JoeHageOnline.com

Danny, I'm fine with ghost blogging. I have a ghost blogger on my corporate team and she writes in my voice about my topics. I review everything that goes live and edit here and there if necessary.

She saves me time and can be far more prolific than I have time for. Without her, my blog would definitely suffer.

Joe Hage

P.S. Finding your reversed-out white type difficult to read.

JoeHageOnline.com´s last blog post..Big words: good or bad?

JoeHageOnline.com
JoeHageOnline.com

Danny, I'm fine with ghost blogging. I have a ghost blogger on my corporate team and she writes in my voice about my topics. I review everything that goes live and edit here and there if necessary. She saves me time and can be far more prolific than I have time for. Without her, my blog would definitely suffer. Joe Hage P.S. Finding your reversed-out white type difficult to read. JoeHageOnline.com´s last blog post..Big words: good or bad?

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

Hi Jeff,I'd say the views are still pretty much the same. If it's generic, how-to stuff or news, then often a ghost writer can help with the process. But if it's your voice that you want to portray it as, then it needs to be you that does the writing. Heck, even if the CEO simply dictates for an assistant to post for him or her, it's still his/her voice, so even that's good to go. It's just the brazen claiming of ownership on a post that is clearly not that person's. :)