Equipping Writers for Success
The Writing Life
The Writing Life
This free script provided by
by Dawn Copeman
Return to Blogging & Social Media · Print/Mobile-Friendly Version
Ghost blogging is a growing but hidden writing niche. A ghost blogger gets paid by businesses to write and post blogs for their websites and their own company blogs. Blogging for business is a perfect combination of copywriting and writing nonfiction articles. It is a regular and recurring writing gig and a niche you can easily get into.
Why Blog for Businesses
Businesses know that their website is their shop-window 24/7. They also know that to get a good Google ranking, they need to have frequently updated, unique and relevant content. The easiest way to do this is to have a blog. However, most business owners and managers are too busy actually running their business to write the blog posts they need. When they do find the time to write them, they often don't really know what to write, and their blog gets populated by unread and quite often unreadable posts. These posts don't provide the customer with any real content or value, and because they generate no visitor interest, they get ignored by Google.
This is where you come in.
Even if you've never written a blog post before, you have one very big advantage over the business owner: you are a writer. If you can write nonfiction articles, you can blog for businesses.
There are three ways you can find clients:
Take a look at websites run by local companies or by companies in a field you are interested in and see if they have a blog.
If they don't have a blog, check their Google ranking. Simply search for the type of business and the geographical area they are in and see where the company comes in the rankings. If they are coming up low, you can suggest to the owner that a blog will help improve their Google ratings. I did this for a client. When I first Googled them they were originally hidden halfway down page 2, but with a regularly updated blog full of relevant content, they made it to the top 5 on page 1.
If they have a blog, take a good look at the posts: are they interesting? Do they tell you anything new? Do they make you think that the company is knowledgeable in its field and you can trust it? If not, make notes on what you found. Then view blogs belonging to other businesses in their field, note what they do differently, and you have a case to put to the owner as to why they should pay you to write their blogs.
You then need to cold-call the business owner or manager. You can do this via a phone call, but I usually send an email or letter first and then follow with a phone call or Skype chat. I have blogged for many businesses and with their permission, I can refer potential clients to links so they can see my work. But if you haven't written a blog post before and don't feel comfortable about this type of marketing just yet, you need to hit the job boards.
Job Boards have a lot of bad press. It can be incredibly hard to find a decent client and to earn a decent wage on some of these job sites. However, if you are just starting out in a new field, they also offer you a way to hone your skills, build up a portfolio of work and earn some money at the same time.
When I first started blogging for businesses, I earned a massive $10 per blog post! Wow! However, it took me around an hour and a half at first to write a post. Now some people will get angry here and bemoan that rate of pay. But let's compare it to some rates I've seen recently from established print magazines: $50 per 1000 words, $40 per completed article of up to 2000 words. Now that $10 per 500 word post doesn't look so bad! Plus, the more blog posts you write for a client, the quicker you get and the more you earn per hour.
Also with most of the job sites there is a guarantee that you'll get paid, which is a bonus. Plus, you will visibly build up your expertise and experience, which means you can then start to look for the $50 blog post gigs.
When looking for blogging jobs, be wary of jobs that ask for bloggers but then say that you need to get the blog posted on several sites. This is not real blogging. This is more like spamming. Some clients will not only want you to write a blog post, but also to somehow, magically, get it posted as a guest post on a variety of sites. Now, I can't say that many sites that welcome guest posts would be interested in, say, 'how to preserve your garden tools over winter', but some owners seem to think you should be able to get that post onto The Oprah Blog. If you see a job like this posted or if a client asks you to do this, run – or at least politely decline.
Advertise Your Services
Mention on your website that you write blog posts for businesses. Mention it to business owners if you attend your local business networking group and tell everyone you know that you provide this service. Word of mouth is still a very effective marketing method.
So, you've found a client, now you need to write the post.
Writing the Post
To write a successful blog post, you need to approach it as you would an article. You also have to bear in mind that, just as with article writing, there is nothing new under the sun. You need to make your blog post unique by looking at the slant you will take on the topic. To do this you need to work out who the audience is, what they need to know and, crucially, what your client wants to communicate.
You then need to research your blog topic to ensure you can write a blog post that meets your client's needs. You need to write an engaging hook and ensure, just as in an article, that each paragraph builds upon the former and that you deliver all you promised to do in your header and hook. The only differences are that you will need to write in your client's voice, research often quite obscure topics, and think about SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
Finding Your Client's Voice
This is easier than it sounds; it's just like matching your article to the style of a magazine. You need to talk to your client to get a feel for how they speak and write, and look at the style and language used on the website or in their emails. Some clients have no grasp of written English and are keen for you to be the 'voice' of the business – professional yet warm. Talk to your client and ask if they have a particular style they would like to use in the posts.
The good news is that when you blog for businesses you find that a little research goes a long way. You might need to spend a few hours at first getting to grips with the field and gathering material for a post; however, you can always use that research in following blog posts. You might need to subscribe to obscure trade bulletins (a monthly newsletter on drink bottle fastenings ) or do detailed Google searches, but as with all writing, no research need ever go to waste.
Search Engine Optimisation hasn't gone away; it is still a key part in attaining a high Google ranking. What has, thankfully, gone away are the web pages and 'articles' so stuffed full of keywords that they were almost unreadable.
When you write a blog post for business, the main aim is to attain or maintain a high Google ranking. To do this, it most provide content (value) to the reader and it must also contain SEO key words. It must not, however, be stuffed with them.
You need to ensure that your title, in particular, has keywords that are likely to be searched for on Google so that Google can find and pick up on your blog page. "How to Maintain Your Garden Equipment" is a boring but effective SEO title for a blog post. "Keep them Clean and Pristine" is a more attractive title, but will do nothing for Google!
Most blog publishers such as WordPress, Joomla and Drupl have 'widgets' that enable you to choose the most relevant SEO keywords related to your post and to select them as the ones to use in the 'tags' and 'metatags' for your blog post.
So if you've written a blog post on English Wine Winning Awards, then it is likely in your blog post you've written the words English wine, English Vineyards and English Winemakers. All you need to do is select those words as the SEO words and the 'widget' will tell you how many you have, and red-mark it if you have 'stuffed' your text with them. This enables you to either re-define your keywords or rewrite your text so it doesn't appear to be keyword-stuffed.
Publishing the Blog
Most clients will at least initially want to see the blog post before it goes live. I send blog posts via email for checking and approval. If any amendments are requested, I will make them and then send back to the client. Once the client is satisfied, I will publish them onto the blog.
Some clients will do the posting for you. Others will provide you with login details and expect you to schedule the blog posts. If you've never used that blogging platform before, ask for written instructions. However, once you've used one system you will find it easy to switch to another.
In particular, look out for the keyword widget and the section that asks for a summary of the text for Google purposes. Do not leave any of these SEO sections blank. If you are unsure, ask your client.
And that's all there is to this hidden niche. Once you've successfully blogged for one client, you can expand. Find more clients and write more blog posts or maybe consider the related field of ghost 'tweeting' or ghosting for businesses on social media sites. As with all writing, the more you do it, the easier it becomes - and with blogging for business, the more you do it, the more you can earn from it.
Dawn Copeman is a UK-based freelance writer and educator who has published over 300 articles on the topics of travel, cookery, history, health and writing. An experienced commercial freelancer, Dawn contributed several chapters on commercial writing to Moira Allen's Starting Your Career as a Freelance Writer (2nd Edition).