It’s not easy. Ghost-blogging, that is. For a client. It’s one thing to write your own blog (like this one). Approval comes easy when you are self-blogging. No deadlines, no editors, no worries about relevancy or click-throughs or conversions.
Clients, however are harder to please. Funny thing about that. They expect results. Client blogs must mesh with an overall content marketing strategy, capture well the tone and culture of the company, and hopefully lead to more business.
And it is mostly up to you (the blogger) to come up with the ideas and the execution to meet those criteria. It takes discipline to follow through and get it done, because if you don’t do it, nobody will.
Most clients fall into two categories – product or service-based. Product-based companies most likely will want blogs to focus on features or benefits of their products or brands. Search engines love blog content, and if you can drive traffic to a product blog, which then refers the traffic to a product page, you’ve done your job as far as helping conversion. Service companies want to spread their wisdom, build their brands through thought leadership and contribute to the knowledge base of their industry. Sales for them are more indirect.
Either way, the blogger’s writing has to satisfy three main objectives:
Relevancy: There are usually a handful of important topics that are high on the list of content strategy for the client. Stick to these as the main focus. Within the eCommerce industry, for example “the omnichannel customer,” usually pops up as a high interest area. Ideally the topic is newsworthy, giving it more juice because others are talking about it. Early in the week, I scan the various news and industry sites to find external articles that have some interest to the market. When I find one of two good topics, I send a one or two sentence abstract to the client and see if they are interested.
Point of View (POV): It’s important to have a good hook or tease to engage your audience. Making a thought provoking observation or link to the news article provides a good springboard. “Did you know that 90% of the music we listen to we’ve already heard?” “Or “scientists have confirmed that crocodiles can climb trees? Then pivot to your main point – “…and this has big implications for eCommerce”, and make your transition. Having a POV is critical. You have to take a side on an issue. Put a stake in the ground, offer something new. Otherwise you are just regurgitating what has already been written. You want people to come away from reading the blog thinking that the time invested was worthwhile and saying “aha”, I never knew that before. Minimize the hard sell and work on ways to be more sublime.
Tone: When writing for others you must understand the personality, the cadence and the style of the individuals you are ghost-writing on behalf of. Does have a sense of humor? Does she like to make bold pronouncements? Do they prefer facts, or anecdotes? This understanding comes time and practice, but it helps to have a good back and forth relationship to be able to bounce ideas and techniques off each other until you strike the right balance.
Mostly importantly, I am very grateful to have clients who actively participate in the content creation. Working in a vacuum doesn’t work. And it is appreciated greatly to have a client who can look at an idea and say, ‘no this topic doesn’t excite me, or yes this topic has some legs, and here are three or four or my thoughts on how this relates to our business.’ That is really all the catalyst I need.