Many people feel unsure in their writing abilities and although they want to have a blog they feel ill-equipped to actually write the blog posts. After all, ghost writers put the words together for autobiographies and lots of other published works. Why not a blog, too? It might seem like a good idea, but my advice is to avoid this practice. Instead of getting someone to pretend to be you, there are better ways to get your company's blog off the ground.

Ghost writers can work just fine in lots of situations. I mean, when they write autobiographies, they are essentially shaping the words of the subject into a narrative. It makes sense that many people with a story to tell don't have the ability to craft a 300-page book, with a start, middle, and end that tells a story. You really need writing skills (and lots of them) to do that.

But blog posts are different. They are short, so they require the ability to have an idea and write a few sentences, but they require nowhere near the skills needed for a book. Also, they are continuous, so you can't sit down with a ghost writer a few times and have them pump out 20 posts. Blog posts need to be written by you.

They need to be your ideas. They need to reflect who you are as a company. If you don't have any ideas, then you don't need a ghost writer-you need to have someone else do the blogging (with their own byline on it). Don't hire someone to write their own ideas and put your name on it. You can't outsource your personality.

If you really have ideas, but worry about your writing ability-stop. What you need to do is stop obsessing over how bad a writer you are and just give it a try. If you really can't put two grammatical sentences together, get an editor who proofreads your stuff and makes corrections before posting. With practice, your writing will improve and you'll need less editing.

You can also do team blogging, where you have a co-author for your blog. You might have the ideas and the other person might do more of the writing. It's less common for blogs than for books, but it's better than a ghost writer.

Social media is about transparency, so keeping a secret as to who writes your blog gets you off to the wrong start. If you want to blog, you'll figure out a way to do it yourself, get someone else to do it, or get help to do it yourself. But a ghost writer is not the approach you need-there are too many better alternatives.

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November 5, 2012

Mike is an expert in search marketing, search technology, social media, publishing, text analytics, and web metrics, who regularly makes speaking appearances.

Mike's previous appearances include Text Analytics World, Rutgers Business School, SEMRush webinar, ClickZ Live.

Mike also founded and writes for Biznology, is the co-author of Outside-In Marketing (with James Mathewson) and the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (now in its 3rd edition, and sole author of Do It Wrong Quickly, named by the Miami Herald as one of the 11 best business books of 2007.


Not every business owner is going to be the best writer in the world, nor are you expected to be. But content is so important for SEO (and online marketing in general) that you can't afford to not do it simply because you don't think you're a good writer. I think a ghostwriter works really well for e-books and white papers, but you make a great point about the blog--it's hard to write in someone else's personality.

I agree there is no one in this world that can truly translate your message as yourself. Rather get someone to go over each article, but keep it as your won.

Yes, that's true. If you want to make something good you should get some person that you trust, or just do it on your own, also ideas these times are priceless.

Ghostwriters do a great job if you want to publish your e-book or write something extremely important for you. However, I do not recommend anyone to pay someone to write on their own blogs - this is, in my honest opinion, the worst thing someone could do.

Hi Mike!

Good topic again. We do this sort of work. Really, busy executives just don't have time to be maintaining three or four social media profiles. On the other hand I insist that our writers take on the personality of the client. Ideally the ghost writer has easy access to the client to ask the client's opinion on the issue. I think I'll push that access/interaction issue a bit further over the coming months.

If the ghostwriter is spreading the right message, this is effectively not much different than an executive assistant. It's called leverage.

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