1. Reader relations
A blog is a hungry and demanding little beast.
You have to continually feed it new content, moderate comments, respond to readers, promote your posts, analyse results and monetise your blog.
It's hard for anyone to manage. As your blog grows, the situation grows and, more often than not, most businesses abandon their blog as it becomes an impossible beast to maintain.
You must prepare in advance to stop your blog becoming an unmanageable beast.
One way to achieve this is is to question whether you should write your blog posts, divvy them up with guest bloggers or staff writers or just outsource the blog to a professional freelance writer completely.
There are benefits and pitfalls to each approach and here are some questions you may want to consider:
A blog is a gateway to build trust, bonds and relationships with your readers. They get to know you, like you, look forward to the next post and interact with your content, which is a great marketing tool.
But if you've built a blog personally branded around you then you've also built up a readership that want you and you alone.
So you discard the possibility of outsourcing your blog - but is this the right decision?
Admittedly, if a blogger such as the wonderful Stephen Fry decided to outsource his blog, readers would revolt as it would be impossible for anyone else to emulate his tremendous personality and writing style.
If your blog is established with hundreds of loyal readers then a move to outsourcing could be tough. You may lose readers and enthusiasm within the ranks of remaining readers. No one likes change and such a shift can take time, good planning and weathering the rumbles from readers as they accept new authors.
Rest assured, things will settle down. Try to still sporadically post yourself and hire a freelance writer that matches your tone, style, ethos and brand personality.
But all of this only matters if you have an audience - what if you are just starting out?
That does make life a lot easier. Build your blog around amazing content - rather than your personality. Then it won't matter if your content comes from someone else. As long as it's still amazing, your readers will be happy. And you can hire in other freelance writers to help as your blog beast grows.
Which leads us to the next question:
2. What sort of writer do you need?
You need to find a freelance writer that fits your business brand, its mission and has a certain level of knowledge about your industry. Only work with bloggers that can fit in with your goals and get results. Here' are three key questions you need to ask before bringing a freelance writer onboard (with my responses to those questions from my perspective as a freelance writer):
Does the writer have knowledge of your industry?
I've worked in the science and technology sectors that I write about, so I have a unique understanding about these topics and a wealth of experience that most freelance writers cannot offer.
How long have they been writing?
More than 10 years for a range of publications both in print and online.
Is the writer's personality and writing style a good fit to your brand?
I am an adaptable and accomplished writer. Take a look at this blog and my recent work for Cambridge Imaging Systems to build up an idea of my personality and writing style. Or contact me to find out more - I'm not a blog beast so I don't bite!
Hiring a writer to contribute to your blog means trusting them with your business reputation. It's a big ask and this level of responsibility is one that I am acutely aware of.
I understand that I have to maintain and enhance the credibility of my clients' brand, engage their target audience and make life that little bit easier for my clients by freeing up their time to focus on what they do best - their business.
A freelance writer who can string a sentence together but who can’t make you look awesome?
Meh. No thanks.
A freelance writer who can fire up your audience, spends time to understand your business and shows loyalty to helping you succeed?
That’s gold dust. And that's what I do.
3. Money talks
Time to break the bad news: good writers do not work for free.
You have to decide what to bring to the table when working with freelance writers. Sometimes a byline is worth more to a writer than a chunk of cash. You could also offer to build their credibility by recommending their services to readers and contacts. There's always room for negotiation.
In general, the more you give, the more you get.
Pay a low amount and you will most likely get a poor headline, shoddy grammar and dull ideas. And you won't be doing much to build your blog and brand either.
At the other end of the spectrum, some writers will do everything for you. They will edit, polish, promote and get photos for the post. You'll pay a lot more, but you'll also get a lot more in return.
Some bloggers will even allow you to take credit for their writing, for a fee.
Let’s look into that now.
4. Should you hire a ghost writer?
It's a controversial practice to get someone else to write on your behalf and present it as your own, particularly when it comes to blogs.
There is a counter argument that says, if your writing skills are not up to the job, then you may be damaging your brand and credibility by attempting to write a blog. And, by bringing in a raft of freelance writers, your brand is diluted and, again, your credibility is damaged.
Those with basic writing skills often turn to ghost writers to transform their notes, thoughts, presentations and company documents into engaging blog posts.
It's the same knowledge, there's just someone else writing about that knowledge. And, more often than not, it’s that knowledge and not who puts it into words that readers truly care about.
Ghost blogging is a viable option for those that do not want to spend time writing, feel they do not write well, are not seeing the results they want from their blog or just want to focus their time developing other areas of their business.
5. What if it just doesn't work out?
After a couple of months of blog outsourcing, you may not be getting the posts or the results that you want.
Don't panic. It happens. You just need to adjust.
Change your blogging strategy. For example, go back to blogging yourself, hire a different freelance writer, try a ghost writer - you will find a strategy that works for you and your business.
It does not matter which route you decide on when outsourcing your blog. You won't be committed forever. A blog is a marketing tool and, just with any other marketing tool, you need to tinker, test and adapt it to your needs.
Eventually you’ll tame your blog beast and find the freelance writer that works best for you and your business. I'd love to be that writer - please contact me to find out more.
Need help with your blog?
I'm the freelance writer who gets tech. So, I blog on three core topics:
Science and Technology