Running a blog is a lot of work.
You have to continually feed it new content, keep up with WordPress updates, maintain your hosting account, moderate comments, respond to readers… dozens, maybe hundreds of little tasks. And then there’s promoting and monetizing your blog, which is even more work.
It’s hard for anyone to manage, and the larger your blog grows, the worse the situation becomes. That’s why it’s good to prepare in advance for blogging eventualities you might face.
One of those eventualities is the question of whether you should write your blog posts, split up the work with guest posts or staff bloggers, or outsource blogging completely. There are pros and cons to each of those approaches, and here are some questions you might want to consider:
1. Your Relationship With Your Readers.
When you blog, you need to build trust, bonds and relationships with your readers. They grow to know you and like you, and they can’t wait to read your next post. Some become die-hard fans that rave about you or comment all the time. Great!
Not so great if you’ve personally branded yourself. The problem with personal branding is that you’ve built up a readership who wants you and you only.
So you worry: what will happen to your blog if you outsource your blogging?
Well… it depends.
If a blogger like Dooce or Naomi Dunford decided to outsource their blog, their readers would probably revolt. Their personalities are such a large part of the blog that it would be hard to get their readers to accept anyone else.
So if your blog is already big and established, and you have thousands of loyal readers, it could be tough. There’s a good chance you’ll lose some readers if you hire staff or start adding guest posters. Fans will read their work politely, but it’s really you they want. It will take time, a good plan, and weathering rumbles from readers until they accept it.
No one likes change, but eventually things will settle down. They’ll hang in there, especially if you’re still active with posting now and again, and if you hire a blogger whose style and tone matches your brand personality. Make sure the blogger also provides similar-quality advice, info or entertainment as you’ve been giving.
Of course, all of that only matters if you have an audience. What if you’re just getting started?
The truth: it’s a lot easier. You can build your blog around posting awesome content, rather than one particular personality. It won’t matter where the content comes from; as long as it’s awesome, your readers will be happy. And that leaves the door open for you to hire other writers.
Which leads us to the next question:
2. What Type of Blogger Do You Need?
You can’t just hire anyone who has a fair hand. You need to find a blogger who fits with your business brand, its mission, and the level of knowledge your blog provides. Of course, this blogger also has to be able to fit in with your goals and get results.
So you need to find the right blogger. Here are some questions to think about before bringing someone on:
- Does the blogger have the knowledge for the job?
- What’s the blogger’s writing style and personality like?
- Does that style fit with your business and brand?
- How long have they been blogging?
- Do they have proven results?
- How experienced and skilled are they?
- Can they help you achieve your goals?
Note that I didn’t mention, “How much do they cost?” We’ll get to that in a bit.
First, though, recognize that outsourcing blogging comes down to basically trusting someone with your business reputation. You’re not just shoving off a task – you’re giving someone permission to represent you and your business. This means that person needs to be able to maintain your credibility (or enhance it), please your readers and get them talking, and generally make your life better and easier by freeing up your time and becoming an asset to your blog.
A blogger who just writes well but who can’t make you look awesome?
One who can fire up your audience, get them raving about your business and shows loyalty to helping you succeed?
Well now. That’s gold.
3. How Will You Compensate Them?
Good bloggers don’t work for free, but they don’t always want money, either.
Some prefer marketing exposure. Others want a link to their blog. Or republication rights. Or a barter arrangement.
Everything’s negotiable, and everyone wants something different. They definitely want something for their efforts, though, that’s for sure.
So, decide what you bring to the table. Can you send them traffic? Build their credibility? Help improve their search engine rankings? Recommend their products and services to your readers?
You need to have something to offer in exchange for a blogger’s work (and you’ll probably need more than $10 and a link), so figure out what you’re prepared to give in return for what the blogger brings to you.
In general, the more you give, the more you get.
Pay $10 for a blog post without offering anything else in exchange, and you’ll probably get a bad headline, sloppy grammar, and ordinary ideas, none of which would do much to build your blog. At the other end of the spectrum, some bloggers will do everything for you, including editing, polishing, getting photos, and promoting it to generate traffic. You’ll pay a lot more, anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars per post, but you’ll be getting a lot more for the money, too.
For a fee, some writers are even willing to let you take credit for their work. Let’s talk about that next.
4. Should You Hire a “Ghost Blogger?”
No, it’s not a sordid, dirty word. Ghostwriting means someone writes on your behalf and you present the work as your own. The President does it with his speeches. Nothing wrong with that.
But it’s controversial, especially when it comes to blogging. Some feel it’s dishonest. Others feel that there’s nothing wrong in hiring someone to help write and share your knowledge with your audience. There’s no rule that says you must slave over writing posts if you absolutely can’t stand it, don’t have the time, or just don’t want to.
Smart entrepreneurs don’t do that. Why should you?
Here’s another argument: if your writing skills aren’t up to snuff, and you might be potentially damaging your credibility and sales, and if hiring staff bloggers or guest posters dilutes your brand and also damages your credibility… why wouldn’t you hire a ghost blogger?
People with average writing skills often hire ghost bloggers who turn their notes, audio files, thoughts and outlines into great posts. Same knowledge – just someone else writing. And very often, it’s the knowledge that your readers care about, not who puts it into words.
So ghost blogging may be an option for you, especially if you don’t like to spend time writing, can’t write well, aren’t seeing the results you want, or want time to develop other areas of your business. There’s nothing wrong with it, no more than there is hiring a chef for your restaurant.
5. What If It Doesn’t Work out?
Every time you make a change in your business, there’s always the risk it might not have been the best decision.
So let’s say you hire a blogger, work with a few guest posters, or decide to hire a ghostwriter. After a couple of months you realize that you’re not getting the results you wanted. Maybe traffic is down or your audience has shifted or sales have dropped.
Don’t freak out. It happens. All you need to do is adjust.
Unless you’ve completely trashed your business reputation, you can always change your blogging strategy. You can go back to blogging yourself, hire a new blogger with a different personality, get a ghost blogger to write more posts for you… whatever works. Take a look at Copyblogger, who went from a tight team of bloggers to multiple guest posters and back again.
No matter what you decide about outsourcing your blogging, you’re never stuck and committed forever. A blog is just a marketing tool that you can play with and test, adapt to your needs and measure for effectiveness as you go along, just like any other form of marketing.
And don’t worry – eventually you’ll hit on the solution that works best for you.