Are Ghost Blog Writers for You? How Do You Find the Time to Blog?

By
Real Estate Agent with Sereno Group Real Estate

A lot of great blog posts are inspired by questions that I get. Sometimes they are asked directly to me, and other times. I check VisiStat or SiteMeter to see how people have found my posts. At least one time in 50, it's a question that lands a Googler to my blogsite.

After speaking at Bloggers Connect last month in San Francisco, a LOT of bloggers asked me how I find the time to blog, read other blogs, and respond to comments. I know that this is a huge question for a lot of folks, especially those who are not yet convinced that blogging actually pays off.

It does. It just takes time, like any other form of marketing, like farming with postcards. But with THIS form of marketing, it requires more time than money.

As for me, I like to write, so when I have a topic I'm enthusiastic about, it's easy to write and it's fun to write. True confession: reading some other blogs are not so enjoyable. A lot of bloggers don't know how to write. It's as interesting as listening to a dial tone to slog through some blogs. But many of them, even some of the dull ones, have great information. Many are inspiring with the info they've dug up, the pictures they showcase, or whatever new gizmos are on display. (After attending Connect, I finally ordered a flip camera. I will catch up with the times!)

For some, writing is hard. Maybe it's impossible. Or maybe there's just not enough of a buy-in to actually blog, even through they're hearing from the gurus how important it's going to be for SEO.

Is it important enough to hire a ghost writer?

That's an interesting question. My initial take is "it depends". Will the content be local? Will it be unique? That's one thing. People can get national news on any website, so my thinking is that blogging about stuff than can be found on CNN just doesn't make a lot of sense. But even worse is if the content is not unique.

Last year I had a virtual assistant and someone on her team offered to do some posting of sorts for me on my Realty Times subscription. (It expires this month and I'm not renewing - better, I think, to have the traffic on my own site, though I did make one sale from RT.) Anyway, since I was so busy blogging, I had ignored the RT updates and the virtual assistant's team member was going to take my info and update it for me.

Bad idea.

Know what I got?

I got national news and I got something that was copied onto all their other clients' RT updates. And it didn't just happen once.

We're talking fired. At least that member of the team was history.

Today I had a look at a blog - a gorgeous blog, I might add - for a very high end team which is wading into the pool of blogging. The site looks very professional, but there's a paid blogger with national, non-unique content being posted. I Googled two lines and sure enough, it's on other sites as well.

How will that help SEO for them? I'm assuming that's the goal: improve the SEO, get the traffic, and the traffic turns into leads. But if the content isn't unique, I rather think it's not going to help.

What do you think about ghost writers on a blog? Is it a good way to solve the "time problem"?

(Please NO LINKS or "advertising" in the responses.)

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Show All Comments
Rainmaker
128,498
Laura Monroe
Inman News - San Francisco, CA
Social Media Director

Hi Mary~ This is an interesting post from the "Virtual Assistant" side, and for me personally "ghost writing" on an agents blog is not necessarily a liability I would enter into lightly. Now, I do have clients that send over original content that needs to be re-worded for copy, or elaborated upon in a style that more suitable for a blog and simply posted with photos added etc. That I will do.

Once again, I will just add a footnote that anyone who enters into a relationship with an independant contractor or virtual assistant needs to use due diligence when hiring and communicating these types of tasks to a VA. Making sure they are educated enough in copyrighting, blogging, etc. is increasingly important.

August 19, 2008 11:51 AM #53
Rainmaker
652,546
Bob & Carolin Benjamin
Benjamin Realty LLC - Gold Canyon, AZ
East Phoenix Arizona Homes

There will be more and more "ghost" bloggers no doubt as more people move into the blogging arena -- not everyone will take personal time to write blogs.

August 19, 2008 11:57 AM #54
Rainer
1,702
Jeff McLaughlin ~ Silicon Valley Realtor
Alain Pinel Realtors ~ Los Gatos Ca - Los Gatos, CA

I'm back already! this thing is like 'crack' for Realtors! I better slow down...

Thanks Mary for the support!

Cheers,

Jeff

August 19, 2008 12:14 PM #55
Rainer
4,909
Seth Callen
Layered Artwork XChange - Oklahoma City, OK

Like you said, "it depends".  For me to feel comfortable with ghost writing, the ghost writer would have to be in-house so I could comminicate and collaberate on a daily basis.

August 19, 2008 12:15 PM #56
Anonymous
Anonymous
Dan Green (Bring the Blog)

Jeff, to chime in: You are using your Bring the Blog membership in the EXACT way that it was intended.  You've added relevant links, some of your own content, and you've managed to create some of that juice that everyone's always talking.

Look, if we can all agree that blogging is marketing, then we can agree that the goal of blogging is to generate new clients and retain existing ones.  And like all marketing efforts, when the costs exceeds the benefit, it's time to reconsider the marketing plan.

Contrary to what people tell you, blogging is not free.  It costs TIME and for all of us, time is our inventory.  As such, it's quantifiable and it's no wonder that most brokers don't like it when their agents carve out 30 minutes a day to write.

Time spent blogging is time NOT spent on any of the following income-producing activities:

  • Driving in the car with buyers
  • Connecting with our network to remind them what we do
  • Taking new listings

Time spent blogging is time spent MARKETING and there is a real cost for doing it.

Hiring a blogging company to write your posts may not be your style, but it's a system and a method that works for a lot of people.  Especially those agents for whom writing blog content and making it look professional is not their #1 skill.

August 19, 2008 12:42 PM #57
Rainer
1,702
Jeff McLaughlin ~ Silicon Valley Realtor
Alain Pinel Realtors ~ Los Gatos Ca - Los Gatos, CA

Well my ghost writer [Dan Green], you've convinced me! My 15 day trial will end, and I will be subscribing to the full year thereafter! I'll keep the rest of you posted on the long term outcome.

Thanks again everyone...this is truly fun!!

Jeff

August 19, 2008 02:10 PM #58
Anonymous
Anonymous
Anonymous

hi Mary,

I don't think ghost bloggers are a good idea as they don't allow the blog owner's personality to come through and they mislead the public into thinking that the writing is done by the blog owner themselves.
If it is clearly stated who wrote the blog, then I believe it's fine....however then it wouldn't be a case of ghost writing!

Jo

August 19, 2008 03:32 PM #59
Ambassador
405,056
Jo-Anne Smith, Sales Representative
Oakville, ON
Oakville, Burlington and Mississauga Region Real E

oops, I wasn't signed in when I left the comment above/below:

hi Mary,

I don't think ghost bloggers are a good idea as they don't allow the blog owner's personality to come through and they mislead the public into thinking that the writing is done by the blog owner themselves.
If it is clearly stated who wrote the blog, then I believe it's fine....however then it wouldn't be a case of ghost writing!

Jo

August 19, 2008 03:37 PM #60
Rainmaker
238,463
Benjamin Clark
Homebuyer Representation, Inc. - Salt Lake City, UT
Buyer's Agent - Certified Negotiation Expert

I couldn't do it. As you stated, it just isn't right.

Bad for SEO

Bad for rapport (What if they ask you about "that blog you wrote" and you don't know what they are talking about?)

If you are trying to get clients from your blog, you better be writing it yourself.

August 19, 2008 03:50 PM #61
Rainmaker
161,471
Mary Pope-Handy
Sereno Group Real Estate - Los Gatos, CA
CRS, CIPS, ABR, SRES, Silicon Valley

*****WARNING****

I have deleted two comments that were simply advertisements. If you want to write about *your* ghost blogging or related services, fine, but links out are not appreciated and are going to be viewed as spam.

Dan Green (above) did it right. His comments are not getting deleted.

Sorry guys, I feel like I'm a teacher again....

August 20, 2008 12:15 PM #62
Ambassador
410,697
Susan Goulding
Crown Key Realty, Tracy & Mountain House Real Estate - Tracy, CA
Northern CA - Tracy & Mountain House Real Estate

Just my guess but those of us commenting don't use or have ghost writers.  I can not count the number of times I've heard, "Hi, you don't know me I've been reading your blog and I feel like I already KNOW YOU........"  The relationship has been established.

 

August 19, 2008 05:25 PM #63
Anonymous
Anonymous
Rachael Bishop/RE/MAX Direct Boynton Beach FL

I would feel like a fraud.

August 19, 2008 08:19 PM #64
Rainer
1,702
Jeff McLaughlin ~ Silicon Valley Realtor
Alain Pinel Realtors ~ Los Gatos Ca - Los Gatos, CA

RE: Just my guess but those of us commenting don't use or have ghost writers. I can not count the number of times I've heard, "Hi, you don't know me I've been reading your blog and I feel like I already KNOW YOU........" The relationship has been established.

Susan, you make a great point here. I can see how that would happen once you've been blogging for awhile. Does that happen a lot for you and do you actually get qualified clients/conversions out of it frequently...or mostly bored tire kickers? please tell me you do; I'm optimistic that upon diving head first into the 'blogger pool' will, there will be enough water to keep me from breaking my kneck!

[And my partners/team leaders are staring to ask me lots of questions about this whole 'blogging thing'...there 25 yr high-end veterans & super old schools newspaper advertisers with gigantic print ad budgets...if you catch my drift? Neither of them likes to write, email or surf the web much for that matter either.]

One last question [Mary if you're still reading your take on this would be helpful too]: do you think if you had a team under you and multiple people were blogging on various subjects on your blog, but all authors we're disclosed and you read & APPROVED everything posted on there which you didn't write...do you think that would be acceptable to your prospects who call you after being frequent readers? I have no answer to this part myself since I literally just started posting last week.

Thanks for your thoughts!

 

August 19, 2008 08:35 PM #65
Rainmaker
432,368
Stanley Stepak
Howard Hanna Gold- Avon Lake, OH - Avon Lake, OH
Realtor - Avon Lake, Avon, Bay Village, Westlake,

Gee Mary the way I look at that is what does that say for the person's skills? If I was looking at that I would consider the person to have poor communication skills.  Are they bad at negotiation too?  I could go on.  When write here you are "speaking for yourself" I don't like the idea... I struggle with speech writers for the same reason.

stanley.stepak@realliving.com

 

August 19, 2008 09:06 PM #66
Rainmaker
161,471
Mary Pope-Handy
Sereno Group Real Estate - Los Gatos, CA
CRS, CIPS, ABR, SRES, Silicon Valley

Jeff I absolutely think that team blogging is a great idea, even if the head honcho doesn't review every word. It's ok for various members of the team to have their own take and personality shining through.

Look at Rain City Guide or Bloodhound blog. They aren't teams (everyone works for different companies) but by having multiple voices, there's a really nice chorus going on.

Now to the other extreme, there's a company blog (a real estate firm) where there's a writer who is none of the people supposedly writing. That is a true ghost writer. A CEO of the company supposedly writes one of the posts but anyone who knows him knows it doesn't sound like him in the least. I think that is the other extreme, and the one I'd really, really stay away from.

August 19, 2008 09:07 PM #67
Rainer
56,006
Aloysius Donohue
Keller Williams Realty - Ridgewood, NJ
Ridgewood Real Estate

Mary,

Obviously, I am no expert but it seems like a bad idea to me.  If you are writing to inform and so that folks can get to know you - why would anyone want to put their name to something written by someone else?  I don't see how your personality could come through this way.  Also, it takes some thought to craft a post interesting enough to get someone to read it while still having some good SEO-friendly attributes. 

I automate and farm out every reptitive task that does not require a lot of thought but I don't think blogging fits into this category.

-Al

August 19, 2008 09:54 PM #68
Rainer
1,702
Jeff McLaughlin ~ Silicon Valley Realtor
Alain Pinel Realtors ~ Los Gatos Ca - Los Gatos, CA

I"m sooo hooked Mary! what a fascinating discussion for realtor SEM junkies. You've created a gigantic monster it appears! I really have to get some work done now...lucky you! jk

So Stanley-Thank god for SPEECH WRITERS....could you image our current President without one?

But on this subject, I strongly beg to differ with your contention above; just because an agent or team doesn't have anywhere near enough time, or inclination for that matter, to blog enough to make it at all worthwhile for clients to read and/or google spiders to grace it with a high PR, etc, doesn't mean a blog platform [vs a static old school 1.0 website] can't ethically and righetously be an effective & preferred communication and marketing tool simultaneously for them...again as long as they're open about whose posting what/where/why....Realtor=love of disclosure right?

And certainly it doesn't mean that agent(s) who seek 'blogging assistance' can't write, communicate, or negotiate effectively; au contraire! I take serious issue with that contention. Rather many of the top negotiators/communicators won't/can't be bloggers themselves precisely because they're too busy negotiating & selling homes!! [my mentor/partner Rick exemplifies this...amaaaazing negotiator...ZERO TIME to blog. Yet he thrives off more leads/biz constantly...hence our team effort-Collaboritive Blog strategy, pro-blogger post supplementation, etc]. These can be mutually beneficial relationships indeed, compared to 'one man band' approach to both blogging and RE in general I might add. Not that I take issue with that approach at all of course....

Anyway, I just think ya'll on the opposite side of the fence on this delicate issue, should really try to see the broader picture and various motivations blogging can bring to different agents. One approach is not necessarily better than the other...just different.

And free time to blog...what's that? Hell my laptop is steaming, and I'm behind with 'work' already 1 day after 'discovering AR'....back to work! There I've said me piece...

The Muse

P.S. Mary-I'm off to read the two blogs you mentioned right now...thanks! lol

August 19, 2008 11:06 PM #69
Anonymous
Anonymous
Anonymous

I love to take an idea, research it, and the write about it. I've been doing it all my life, and even created several small businesses dedicated to the task. My first business at the age of 10 was researching, writing, and typing papers for college students at Texas A&I University (now Texas A&M University at Kingsville). Since I've had 43 years of experience, there's no need for me to copy someone else's work unless I'm quoting it and crediting it, and I even try never to do that if I know it's going to be on the Internet.

August 20, 2008 02:37 AM #70
Rainmaker
294,842
Ray Saenz
United Property Brokers, Inc - Aurora, CO
Homes for Sale in Aurora, Colorado - Aurora, CO

Mary,
great post, btw, I do not want a ghost blogger, but I need help with my grammar, very difficult sometimes to write blogs, it is not very easy when english is not your first language and what you really want to transmit, many times very hard for me this oohhh well ! :)
Ray Saenz

 

August 25, 2008 03:32 AM #72
Anonymous
Anonymous
guptil


Well said! That certainly proved Canada's stupid foreign policy and the minister shut his wide mouth after hearing all other countries attending the CHOGM. Canada is promoting terrorism to be a close ally to US. This is very wrong and they just want to grab the Tamil votes which are mostly Liberal.

June 28, 2013 04:32 PM #73
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Rainmaker
161,471

Mary Pope-Handy

CRS, CIPS, ABR, SRES, Silicon Valley
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