Under most circumstances, outsourcing blog posts is the best way for life coaches, startups, entrepreneurs, small businesses, and personal brands to get the most out of their content marketing strategy. Though it can make you anxious, and even seem dangerous at first, the right professional ghost blogger will provide high-quality content that reflects well on your business and, hopefully, drives a good deal of traffic to your website.
But let’s be honest about one thing: there is a process involved when you outsource blog posts. It goes far beyond just saying, “Here you go,” and leaving the writer to his or her own devices. The best content is created with careful planning, long-term vision, and specific, targeted goals. It’s always good to look good, of course, but these blog posts also have a job to do!
The good news is, this isn’t rocket science. You want certain things from your blog, or you wouldn’t be starting it. Remember what those are, come up with a solid plan of attack, and then pass that plan along to your outsourced blogger when the time is right. From there, all you’ve got to do is keep track of projects, retain creative control, and sign off on finished pieces. Your blogger will take care of the rest.
Here are 9 things you should be sure to take care of before outsourcing blog posts:
1. Establish Clear Objectives
What is your main objective with this blog? Before you know what kind of blog posts would best suit your business, you have to know what you want the blog itself, as a resource, to accomplish. Figure this out before doing anything else, and then share your plan with your writer before you outsource blog posts. Everyone needs to be on the same page, and everyone needs to know the long-term goals.
2. Set Up a Posting Schedule
How many posts would you like to publish each month? How many each week? Set clear parameters before beginning so that the blogger knows what will be expected, and also so that you have recourse should your preferred schedule not be met.
3. Know What Campaigns Will Be Promoted
With your business or brand blog, you need to promote ideas that dovetail with products or services you have on offer. At the bottom of every piece, there should be a CTA that encourages further engagement with your business on behalf of the reader. That can be a white paper download, an email newsletter sign-up, or a free eBook, for instance, and many different blog posts (i.e. a campaign) should be developed specifically to lead readers to it.
4. Develop Post Ideas Built Around Keywords
Utilizing keyword research tools, find heavily-trafficked individual and long-tail keywords related to your field that can serve as the basis for your brand's blog posts. Whether detailing aspects of your business or offering advice, your ghost blogger will produce better, more valuable content when post topics are worked out in advance.
5. Know Your Target Markets & Customer Profiles
Who are these posts for, ultimately? Who’s going to read them, or, better asked, who will find them most interesting and valuable? Develop customer profiles and client personas for (and with) your ghost blogger, and he or she will have a better idea of who the audience for these pieces will be. That information can drive everything from tone to language to argument style, and make the pieces far more interesting to their intended audience than might otherwise be the case.
6. Develop and Share a Style Guide
You are bringing on someone else to write these posts, but the posts are from your brand, in its voice. Before you outsource blog posts, determine what that voice is, and how you want these pieces to be presented. A professional blogger should have no trouble using a clearly-written and well-thought-out style guide—he or she is a professional, after all—and using it to develop a consistent, regular voice and writing style for your brand.
7. Clarify the Chain of Command & Review Process
We’ve said before that you can’t let your writers run wild, and that it’s super-important to retain creative control. As such, it’s absolutely essential to let your ghost bloggers know who they answer to, who will be reviewing the work, and how that review process works. Being clear about all of this up front saves big headaches down the road.
8. Strategize Cross-Promotion and Social
Once these blog posts are done, the work is not yet finished! Sharing and cross-promotion open your blog posts up to a level of traffic they might never see without them, so be sure to promote the pieces over social media, both your brand’s social accounts and any other affiliated ones.
9. Make a Resources Bank (with Passwords)
The work will come out better if, when outsourcing blog posts, you also provide a variety of resources your ghost blogger can use. That means everything from a content management system like WordPress to a social media scheduler like HootSuite to paid accounts on stock footage websites like ShutterStock. And don’t forget industry-specific research engines and media aggregators, as well, to help your blogger actually write the posts.