Become the Best Ghost Blogger Ever in 30 Minutes Flat

A half hour is all freelance writers need to become a great ghost blogger.Does the idea of writing as a ghost blogger for a client make you nervous?

I hear from a lot of writers who wonder how that’s done. How do you successfully write as someone else? And how do you keep from becoming a schizophrenic if you’re ghost blogging for multiple clients?

I’ve also heard from quite a few writers who’ve tried ghost blogging but ended up with unhappy clients. The posts just didn’t ‘sound’ right. Something was off.

And they ended up losing the gig. Which really hurts, especially if you’ve lined up a good freelance blogging client who’s paying $100 a post or more.

I hate when that happens! So today, I have a couple strategies to share that will solve this.

2 Steps to perfect ghost posts

There is an easy way to do this ventriloquist trick, where your writing comes out sounding just like the client would have written it. Your client is ecstatic, the posts are easy to write, and this gig becomes a nice, ongoing deal.

It’s a two-step process that I’ve done many times, and it works like a charm.

I caught on to these tricks fairly early on in my small-business ghost-blogging career, sort of by accident. Once I tried these techniques, I was blown away by the results.

Clients universally raved about my ghostwritten posts. “That sounds just like how I would have said it!” they’d say.

How can you do this? It takes a little time. Really, very little! A half hour ought to do it.

Here’s how to become a terrific ghost blogger — fast:

Make an appointment

Tell the client you need a half-hour chat with them to get the blog rolling. You probably need to talk to them anyway, just to map out the topics you’ll write about and firm up a publication schedule.

Lots of freelance writers have an aversion to client meetings and talking on the phone, and try to get this figured out on email or instant chat. Do *not* do this with ghost blogging clients.

Instead, get them on the phone, and start a conversation. Tell your client you’d like to ask a few questions to learn about their business and get up to speed. Some questions that work great:

  • Why did you start your business?
  • Who are your customers and how do you solve their problems?
  • What are the biggest challenges in the business today?
  • The biggest opportunities?
  • What are you hoping to accomplish with the blog?

Get a business owner talking about what they do and their marketing goals, and you’ll hardly be able to shut them up. You’ll hear their passion coming through and learn why they love what they do.

Either record this conversation or take lots of notes. Pay particular attention to words and phrases they use repeatedly. Note industry jargon and ask what it means.

Presto: Now you have a written record of exactly how your client ‘sounds.’

Pick up those words and phrases and industry lingo and use them in your ghosted blog posts. If they like to start sentences with, “Anyways…” or say “sooner than later” a lot, use it in your post.

The results will amaze you. Clients will wonder how you got it to sound just like them!

Simple: You listened, and you used their words in their posts. No surprise, they love it.

Do an exercise

One more thing while you’re having that client chat that will help you is to ask them one key question. This will help you to write the posts so they’re in the tone and style the company wants.

Yes, you can study their existing marketing materials for a bit of this, too. But pose this one challenge to your client, and you’ll nail it.

Ask the client to describe what they want customers to feel about their company when they read the blog. What are they trying to convey about their business, at the emotional level? Ask them to use no more than five adjectives for this description.

Is their company friendly? Approachable? Authoritative? Innovative? What are the most important values they want to impress on readers?

Make your client give you a list of descriptors, and it’ll be easy to craft prose that delivers on their vision.

Now when you sit down to write ghosted blog posts, you aren’t facing a blank page. You have ideas, you have their own words in front of you as a swipe file, and you understand the tone they want to set with their blog.

What are your ghost blogging tips? Leave them in the comments.

How to be a Well-Paid Freelance Blogger

 

 

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25 comments on “Become the Best Ghost Blogger Ever in 30 Minutes Flat
  1. jogos says:

    This is awesome Carol! Nice and easy โ€“ just make notes/record them, and then say what you need to in your own words! Couldnโ€™t be simpler!

  2. Trish says:

    All excellent advice – you have to do your homework before beginning. I also find that as long as there is info about the company online, bios, mission statement prior to “meeting” with them is helpful.

    Everyone has their own way of information gathering, but phone calls definitely help.

    Clients are very appreciative when they know you are available and want to capture their tone.

    Thanks Carol!

  3. Great post, Carol! I find that when ghostblogging, like when copywriting for someone else, you have to write in that person’s voice. It’s not just picking up on their idiosyncrasies of speech, it’s also their level of style, the overall organisation of the piece, the continuity patterns, the word choice, the sentence structure and the types of subjects they use as referents. It’s a very complex skill to master, as I am sure you will agree.
    Dr Rie Natalenko recently posted…6 Things to Prepare Before You Start to WriteMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Yes…but you can pick up on all of that by spending a little time listening to the client talk. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • I agree that you can hear the unique voice when you listen to people, but that isn’t the same as being able to write it, as I’m sure you will agree. You can hear elements of music without having the skill to reproduce them. I totally agree with you that you need the listening skills, and that they inform your writing in a chosen voice. Those skills are not, however, the same skills you need to write in that voice. It might be a little courageous to claim that by acquiring the listening skills, you can immediately apply them (in 30 minutes? ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

        • Carol Tice says:

          I think if you listen *and take notes* on what you hear, you have a road map to writing in their voice, Rie. It’s quite a bit simpler than learning to master a musical instrument.

          • You and I might find writing simple. I have been a writing teacher for over 35 years, and I can’t say that we are in the majority. Most writing students find that the skills involved in reproducing voice are very advanced, high-level skills. Even the best ear and the most copious notes won’t give people the *writing* skills involved. They are a good start, an essential start, but that’s all they are. Listening, note taking and writing are three different skill-sets, don’t you think?

            • Carol Tice says:

              Sure they are — but my point here is too many writers skip the critical half-hour of *listening* to the client. It’s all done on email or a 2-minute Skype call…and then they wonder why the copy doesn’t please the client.

              Writing in your client’s voice begins with listening to them.

              I’m not here to make writers think a skill like ghosting is super-tough to master. I think if you listen to your client, their posts almost write themselves. They give you all the essentials you need to ‘sound’ like the client.

              • You say, “Writing in your clientโ€™s voice begins with listening to them.” and I *totally* agree. I understand that you are trying to make it all sound super-easy. I think that’s where we don’t quite agree. Some writers will, indeed, pick the skills up immediately, but most will have to work at it, in my experience – and should be prepared to do that. If a thing is worth doing, it is worth the work involved in achieving mastery.

  4. Nadia McDonald says:

    This is new and refreshing Carol. I never heard of Ghost blogging. It seems like a trend of writing that is fun to execute on paper. I love to ask questions, and it will spontaneously set the pace for an interview. I have an interview lined up now for a story I am working on. What I love most about this concept is that it is simple, interactive and to the point!

  5. Nikunj says:

    These are some great tips for freelance writers. I myself love to write articles.

  6. Daryl says:

    This is awesome Carol! Nice and easy – just make notes/record them, and then say what you need to in your own words! Couldn’t be simpler!
    Daryl recently posted…Return from my HiatusMy Profile

  7. Linda H says:

    I’ve used these techniques many times and Carol’s spot-on, they work. In fact, they can work so well the client gets business within a few days or weeks and isn’t prepared for it, so he says it doesn’t work. The key is to get them talking about their company and then just listen and type or record and listen.

    Use this technique for my resume writing clients as well. It’s great for executive management who love talking about their successes. But for mid-management and even entry-level, once you get them talking you capture their essence and when it’s included on a resume it nails getting interviews. Managers also realize they are talking to the real person presented on the resume, which is even better.

    Thanks for confirming the process and techniques that work.
    Linda H recently posted…What Do You Say When an Interviewer Asks โ€” Why Should I Hire You?My Profile

  8. Raspal Seni says:

    Hi Carol,

    I’ve written ghost articles and for blogs too, but only on oDesk, where you know clients hardly give out their e-mail address. So, I don’t have an experience with a client on phone/skype.

    But, as I read this post, I kept visualizing and felt it would work like magic, actually I saw it working magic on the client.

    Will surely use these two tips if I need to ghostwrite again. Thank you, won’t forget these tips.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Raspal, you spotlight yet another reason not to work through intermediaries like oDesk. Often you have no meaningful client interaction due to the low rates, and the result isn’t something to be proud of.

      So you’re not only not being paid well, but you’re also not building strong portfolio pieces trying to guess at what clients want off a couple scribbled lines on a dashboard somewhere.

      • Raspal Seni says:

        Very correct!

        Had I known back then, working so hard and then being paid pennies, I’d still get useless portfolio pieces without links or headshots, I’d have never worked on oDesk and would have searched for sites like MaLW.

        Makes me wonder how these strange creatures (clients) want perfectly written articles, and aren’t even ready to properly communicate.

        Anyway, I learned from my bad experiences, and can guide others now, if I see someone working on such sites.

        I’d advise others to stay off of such sites and I haven’t myself gone back to oDesk, even though I really need money ATM.
        Raspal Seni recently posted…How to Start a Blog/Website on a Shoe-string Budget?My Profile

  9. Penny Taylor says:

    Carol, you are spot on. My worst nightmare client at any given time is the one who doesn’t want to talk and simply says, “I don’t want to be involved, just make it happen.” And if the web content they’ve got me referring to is minimal or just plain bad, things get worse.

    • Carol Tice says:

      I stop right there, when they give me that, and tell them that will NOT get the results they want. I will need to talk to someone. If they just want to shoot off an email and expect magic, I am not their writer. Those projects always turn to s*t and I don’t want to be there when it happens!

  10. Understanding the essence of a business is vital. And you nailed the key points, Carol.
    If possible, I like to meet with my client in person. And ideally, getting to be part of a brainstorming session with other employees is ideal.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Right on, Heather!

      I had one big client where each page of content or case study I did for them, I did a half-hour interview with the relevant expert at their company. No surprise — their stuff came out great, with all that opportunity to ‘hear’ the company’s voice.

      • Sherel says:

        Great post, Carol!

        I can see how these techniques could be really useful for generating new business too.

        Thanks,

        Sherel

        • Carol Tice says:

          It really works for any sort of business copy, Sherel. I’m using the same technique right now to write a business-plan type document called a confidential information memorandum, that businesses prepare to sell the company. It’s helping me tell their story in a way they love. This is actually my second document like this I’ve done, and both times, I turn it in and they just go nuts, because it’s exactly what they wanted. It sounds so right.