An open letter from a BlogMutt writer, part one in a two-part post on how customers can get exactly what they want in their content.
I love to write. Let's get that straight. I love to create the best possible posts for BlogMutt customers. It always comes as a disappointment when my posts are rejected, because that means that I have been unproductive for the considerable time I put in writing that post, and you are now that much farther away from getting the post that you actually need. I hope we can avoid that, but in order for this to be a mutually beneficial relationship, we have to help each other out.
There are a lot of talented writers here at BlogMutt and elsewhere in the content industry, but rejection happens -- our rate is about 10%. The question is how we can improve that record.
So let's take a look at this particular writer's stats and go from there:
- The largest group (27%) of rejections I receive come because I took a chance writing about a subject I didn't know much about, and had to rely on research I could glean from widely available sources. In these cases, the customer says I don't exhibit enough knowledge or expertise. Fair criticism.
- Sometimes (under 10%) customers express this by saying that my writing is too generic.
- About 18% of my rejections are because I miss the mark in how I describe the customer's business.
- Sometimes (about 5%), customers have a distinct format they want me to follow and I don't follow it correctly, or it wasn't communicated in the first place.
There's a theme here: in most cases of my rejections on BlogMutt, I just didn't start with enough to go on to write the post the customer really needed.
A Little Collaboration With Your Ghostwriter Goes a Long Way
As blog ghostwriters, we do bring to the table some personal experience and expertise. Many of us have had careers and years of experience, sometimes connected with the kind of work you do. We try to bring that to our writing. But for the most part, we're writing about things we don't have a lot of experience in for an audience of experts. As professional writers, we are really good at researching things that we don't know anything about. We are a fanatically curious lot.
Here's the thing, though: we're not the experts, and never will be. We don't have the experience or the resources to get everything right the first time. You are the expert in your field. What we would like to do is help you project your expertise into your blog, so you can use your expertise to establish your brand. Unless you can expend resources and time to find and hire writers specifically from your industry or profession, you may find that we generalists will need a little bit of your help to get everything right.
Jessica Lee at bizbuzzcontent states the ghostwriter's perspective succinctly:
Here's how I see it: we're providing a marketing service for brands and executives who need to be part of the conversation. They have great ideas and experience to share, but no time to sit down and write them.
There is a process that goes along with this that ensures not only that the expert's ideas are being extracted effectively, but also that the brand is being upheld... It all starts with the collaboration of ideas.
So, how can you collaborate with your ghostwriters even when your time is limited? It's really not that complicated.
Capturing Your Tone
Many of our customers are excellent communicators in real life, they just find it too stressful or difficult to sit down and put their thoughts in writing. Or, they're fine writers who just don't have the time to keep up a regular blog. Neither of those customers have to sacrifice what makes them unique when they use a ghostwriter.
I've developed some great partnerships with customers who say that I just "get" what they're going for in terms of tone and style. That's great, but I wasn't born "getting" it: those customers provided some way for me to understand what they needed. It doesn't happen overnight, but there are a couple of things you can do to help speed the process along:
- Provide examples of past things you've written or pieces that you think represent your brand's voice well. We can pick up a lot about what you're going for from just one or two examples -- we are nothing if not great impersonators!
- Show us the changes you make to the posts you get from us. Most customers have to make a few tweaks to their posts before they're published, and it can really help us understand what you need if you show us some examples of changes you made to make the posts sound more like you.
Bottom line: we can write for basically anyone, but collaboration is key!
Understanding Your Perspective
The more information we have about your special message, your unique value proposition, and how you want to address your topics, the better. Again, I've found that presenting examples of past posts that you liked is very helpful here.
It's also about being specific enough in your directions that we land on what you want the first time. Maybe that means you come up with a concrete outline for the writer to adhere to (which we'll get to in the second part of this post). Personally, I prefer writing for customers who leave it somewhat up to us how exactly we address a topic -- I find myself wanting to do some research on my own and come up with a point of view. Most of the time when that happens, my customers and I see eye-to-eye.
In either case, clarity on a couple of things is important:
- Your perspective: What does this topic have to do with your business and what do you want readers to take away from the post?
- The kind of work your company does and does not do: Make sure we know the limits of what you can provide, so we don't structure a post around something that's not actually relevant to your business.
Usually, all it takes is a couple of sentences of direction to make everything crystal clear to us. We'll take it from there.
I like to see my writing on your blog or website. I have written enough un-bought books not to care too much about my name. What I do care about is your name, and making sure my writing upholds your credibility.
As I said, we're not experts, so we might need some guidance in your areas of expertise. This is where it really helps when you provide resources that we, as industry outsiders, may not be aware of or have access to. If the information we need to address a certain topic is in subscription journals or industry publications, for example, make sure you've provided us a way to access that information. Even just pointing us to sites you know are reputable can really help us cut through the noise and get to the heart of what you want your post to talk about.
We, as ghostwriters, care about your reputation just as much as you do (after all, you're our bread and butter). The best advice we can give is to share information with your ghostwriter to prevent inaccuracy and keep the writer's perspectives in line with your own.
Our Writing + Your Expertise = Quality Posts
Writing has a technology all its own. Organizing and eloquently stating ideas on paper is the skill ghostwriters contribute to the enterprise. To a degree we ghost bloggers can search out and find some new information and assess overall perspectives on a wide variety of topics. However, the final authority is that of the customer.
That's why collaboration is the key to successful blog ghost writing: we don't want to speak for you, we want to help you and your brand speak for yourselves. It is important to me that I see my customer as an ally and they see me as that as well. Communication and clarity are important, as is a willingness to work with writers and share your expertise to get to what you need.
We want to make your blog a source of pride, not stress -- we just need a little help from you to do that. A little investment in collaborating with your ghostwriters will save you lots of frustration down the line.
A BlogMutt Writer
Editor's Note: Stay tuned for part two of this post, where we'll get into the nitty-gritty of how best to communicate your needs with BlogMutt writers.