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ghost bloggingRunning a business as a blogger typically means you are a ghost blogger. About 90% of my business is writing search engine-optimized (SEO) blogs for other businesses. When non-writers and old school business persons hear you’re a blogger, they may think you write posts about your latest cupcake recipe or rant about domestic ennui. However, I was talking to a professional writer recently who didn’t understand ghost blogging.

When you visit a business’ website, if they’re progressive and smart you’ll find a blog. Search Engine Watch reported in a post this week that “companies that blog generate 67% more leads per month than those who don’t.” The business is usually too busy doing such a great job of their work that they don’t have time to maintain an engaging blog. Someone else does it. A ghost blogger.

The right ghost blogger needs to:

  1. Write intelligently about the topic. This means the company may need to find someone with real-world experience in their field or clips on a related topic. As a writer, be proactive when speaking with a new company and show them anything that you’ve worked on that complements their field, no matter how old the clip is.
  2. Know the latest search engine algorithm changes. This is tough, but if blogging is your business you follow the Google Webmaster Blog among many other sources. Review the company’s site before your meeting. No matter who I meet with, if the person or company already has a website I tell them one thing that they could change that will help their site perform better. Even if we don’t end up working together, I’ve left them with something that helps them and they know I know what I’m talking about.
  3. Be ethical. This brings us to the main point of this post….

ethicsEarlier this month an attorney became the spotlight of an ethics debate concerning his blog. Like the majority of attorneys, he hired a blogger. Like the majority of attorneys, the blogs appear to be written by the attorney and there is no disclaimer on the site informing a user otherwise. The ethical issue is that a user will believe the posts are the “thoughts and feelings” of the attorney when they are not. Some proposed that this could compromise an attorney’s license should a court find this act “misleading.”

A big assumption is made here. The assumption is that the attorney is not vetting each post. I was on an Internet marketing conference call this week with other SEO writers around the country. There were many others who brought up the same point.

One of my clients reviewed my blog posts monthly for a year before he felt comfortable having me write and post them independently. Another client picks apart each post—some go through four revisions—before she’s comfortable with having them on her site. Yet another will take the content I wrote and add their own edits before posting.

ethical

How can you protect yourself as a ghost blogger?

Talk to your clients about this ethical debate. Provide a disclosure as part of your contract with them so that they acknowledge this in writing. Encourage them to review and approve your work before adding it to the site.

Media insurance for writers. There are annual policies that help protect you should anyone hold you liable for damages associated with content you have written.

Curious about the latest trends in blogging? I’m hosting a blogging seminar in Times Square October 10 – there is a free live webcast, so you can attend from anywhere!