Sybil? No, I’m just a ghost blogger. This morning, I was a pithy Dutch sales trainer, and in a little while I’m going to be a passionate and dedicated Drowning Prevention Specialist living in Chicago. Last year, I spent several months being a dictatorial mother of two from New Jersey and my first assignment was as an innovative 68 year old Cardiologist in California. Me? I’m 37 and I live in the mountains near Jerusalem, Israel. I’m a ghostblogger.
Perhaps it sounds creepy, but I really can become my client online. When I take on a new assignment, I spend a good chunk of time virtually stalking my client (creepier still.) Basically, I’m doing exceptionally thorough research on what she has voiced, how she expresses herself, her temperament, humor, how she reacts to other people (if indeed she does at all) and how she feels about current and relevant topics.
There are times that a new client of mine has no online history at all (in fact, one told me that if he could produce an online profile for himself, why would he need me? Fair enough!) So, my research becomes phone-based. I casually interview my client – it’s not a barrage of inquiries, it’s more of a conversation collection. I need to measure how my client reacts to challenge, what he feels strongly about, whether he engages in self-deprecating humor. I need to know his stories, his background, his style. Some of my clients have authored articles, written books or whitepapers, or been the subject of formal interviews which are later published. These are excellent resources for me as well. My clients come to me for one of four reasons:
• They are not comfortable expressing themselves in writing
• They do not have time nor interest in blogging but need to for marketing purposes
• Their first language is not English and they need to reach an American market
• They find that they don’t know WHAT to write (have nothing to say)
A ghostblogger like me is the answer. Not only do I research my client, his opinions and style but I also research his market. What are OTHER people saying who are adjacent to his market? What do they focus on? Who reads these blogs? How often are they contributing? Are there any contests for “best content”, “top 50 bloggers on Topic XYZ”, or guest blogging opportunities? These lists become by goals. Publicity is my motivator.
I am not a liar, and neither is my client. Even though the byline is my client’s name, the content originates with him. I don’t manufacture stories, I just translate them into the written word and spin them a bit to become appealing to my client’s audience. It’s all about storytelling. Isn’t that the exact definition of PR?
I have a gift for quipping, which got me into trouble at school but is EXCELLENT for Twitter. I have developed my scanning skill set by perusing relevant articles daily for each of my clients. I quickly identify a sound byte from an article and translate it into a Facebook status. Ultimately, I end up not only ghostblogging, but ghost tweeting and ghost posting. That’s what I mean by really taking on someone’s online identity – the tweets three times daily, the Facebook posts twice every day, the retweets, the mentions, the Klout score, the blogs, all of it – that’s me. It’s really just getting to know my client so well that I can speak in his voice.
I was never in the drama club in high school, but this is so much better. I get to try on different personalities (some of my clients are jokers, some are very serious, some are trite) and really compile in-depth knowledge about a variety of industries to which I’d never have had exposure. It’s like acting, but without funny hats or fake moustaches. Ultimately, it allows my clients to cultivate a following and host their own online persona, without having to do any research, writing, editing, posting, tweeting or otherwise engage in marketing or self-promotion. They get to stick to what they’re good at, and I get to do what I’m good at and get paid for it. This is what I call a fabulous job.
Guest blog written by Hilary Faverman
Hilary Faverman manages sales and marketing efforts as well as client relations and human resources initiatives for Secretary in Israel, a leader in the Virtual Assistant industry. Hilary moved to Israel 6 years ago and currently lives in the mountains surrounding Jerusalem with her husband and children, Maya, Benjy, and Eli.