Don't be spooked. Hire a ghostwriter.
A ghostwriter is your behind-the-scenes hired pen, producing the writing deliverables you need to promote yourself and your company. But you are the face, voice and byline of the final product -- whether it's a speech or presentation for a conference, blog post for your website or article for an industry journal or business magazine.
In the spirit of the Halloween season(ghostwriter -- get it?), this column is dedicated to providing insight on how to work with a ghostwriter and what will be expected of you. That's right, while you've outsourced the heavy lifting -- the writing, you've still got some work to do.
Here's the trick.
The trick for your ghostwriter is to write in a way that sounds like you but better. By better, I mean better than you could write. You've hired a professional, after all. But the ideas should sound like your own. Your ghostwriter shouldn't use words you wouldn't use or never had. It has to be your voice.
The trick for you is to have something to say. Your ghostwriter isn't a mind reader. You have to have some topics in mind -- and not just topics but particular angles on those topics. It's your subject matter expertise you're highlighting. You might not know exactly how to write it, but you know how to talk about what's happening in your industry or what you think the future holds for this market or that service.
You and your ghostwriter should take time to sit down and talk before any writing begins. When I'm ghostwriting, I interview my clients much like I would have in my reporting days. I ask the questions I need to write the piece. All told, it's an hour tops of my client's time, and the end result -- whatever I've written -- is much better than if the client just sent me a topic with a few bullet points to include.
Treat your audience.
A final trick: Don't be too self promotional. Instead, treat your audience with news they can use or inspiration they can apply to their work or life.
For example, say you are an accountant. Rather than write about how your various services ensure accurate bookkeeping and easier tax filing, write about the tax filing tips tax filers need to know right now. Or, imagine you're a real estate agent. Don't write about how you stage homes, but instead about how sellers can stage their homes for a quicker sale.
You might feel like you are giving away your expertise. You are, and that's a good thing. People don't want to do everything themselves; they want to hire pros. Show your audience what you know; let them see you're a pro.
When you're brainstorming topics with your ghostwriter, think of articles that tell readers how to do something, that explore an opinion you have about your industry or that offer personal lessons you've learned as a business leader and entrepreneur.
It's really not that tricky. By treating your audience to the information, insights and inspiration that make their work and lives better you are building up yourself and your business. And they'll never know you hired a ghostwriter to do it.