Thursday 24 January 2013

Ghost Blogging - Seriously?

I came across the ghost blogging debate the other day and I'm not talking about the supernatural kind. I'm talking about people who hire other people to write their blog content on their behalf. And it is perfectly legal. My initial reaction was, 'you have got to be kidding me.' As an aspiring writer, I cannot fathom the idea of asking someone else to write my posts for me, no matter how bad they can be. And frankly, it never even crossed my mind until I crawled out from under my rock and stumbled across the online debates. 

But if I can accept the idea of a ghostwriter, (even though I don't like it) then why do I have such a problem with ghost blogging? Well, part of it is because I tend to think of blogs as more personal, almost like I could pick up the phone and call. The commentary, personal accounts, and comments all contribute to building trust between blogger and reader. After a while, a connection is created when readers can relate to the fears and insecurities, triumphs and letdowns of their fellow blogger. Eventually, they may even become emotionally invested. You don't build that kind of connection to the author by just reading their book. If I ever found out that one of my blogging buddies hired a ghost writer, I'd feel disappointed and misled. Not to mention I'd lose trust in them as a writer and fellow blogger.  

But what if I give a different example, say the CEO of a large corporation? Say this CEO wants to maintain a certain proximity with her employees by publishing an article to their online newsletter once every couple of months. She gives her secretary the main points she wants to make and lets him do all the rest. Is that okay? It doesn't feel as bad, but I'd still feel misled if I were to find out. 

So where do we draw the line? What do you think about ghost blogging? And are there times you think it's acceptable? 


  1. I cannot see myself ever hiring someone to write my blog posts. I blog to share a bit of myself and my work with the world. Having someone else write all my content would defeat the purpose of blogging for me.

  2. I feel as you do - blogs are personal, at least when it's an individual. (Company blogs are a little different, although that's still lame to get one;s secretary to write it.)
    If you don't have time to write your own posts (and network and socialize) then maybe you shouldn't be blogging.
    Wow, that sounds harsh, doesn't it?

  3. Someone emailed me asking to write for my blog and I replied, "No. I prefer writing my posts myself." I never heard from the person again which is a good thing :)

    I will not hire anyone to write for my blog. It would defeat the purpose of my blog. I agree blogs are personal, but at the same time I don't want anyone invading on my personal space on the internet - it just doesn't seem right. And it takes more time too. You can do more things on your own - sign up for blogfests, etc.

    If it was for a professional purpose, I would understand. But personally, I want to connect with my readers (like you) and would be disappointed if one of my bloggy friends hired a ghost blogger. I would unfollow them :)

    Thanks for bringing this up, Elise!

  4. I've never heard of this before. I agree with you, LG, and Alex. What's the point of blogging if you're going to have a ghost writer. It doesn't make sense. That's like sending someone to have your physical in your place.

  5. CEOs and other executives do have speech writers.

    Ghost Bloggers, maybe for the high rollers, but for the average blogger - I would think it might alientate the readers if they aren't told that it's not the blog owner they're talking to.

    Guest blogging, okay, ghosting on a blog, sounds unethical.

  6. Hmm, I imagine someone with a huge following might do something like that. I like blogging, so wouldn't think of asking anyone to imitate my voice. For me, that would be like having a fan page and asking someone else to answer questions from my fans about my writing.

  7. actor/director george takei [sulu, of original star trek fame] with more than 3 MILLION followers, still writes his own posts on fake... uh, facebook... of course he posts stuff sent to him, too, but if george can write his own....

  8. I think if the blog serves a business or marketing purpose hiring a freelance writer is probably a business decision. But I agree, hiring a writer and allowing people to think it is my voice is a little misleading. Plus, would completely rob me of my joy!

  9. I've never heard of ghost blogging and I think would feel betrayed to find out a blogger I followed had paid someone to write their posts. Your blog is your voice and let's people have a connection to you.

  10. Like Livia, I also had someone offer to write posts for me (maybe it was the same person?) I was a bit nonplussed, so I haven't responded yet! Like the others here, I couldn't get my head around it. Particularly with something like writing, everything is so personal and when I write posts I feel like I'm talking to my friends. A complete stranger doesn't know my fears and insecurities and I would be very uncomfortable having them write about them, add in the fact I have bits and pieces about my family here and there and the idea becomes creepy, to say the least!

  11. I've never heard of ghost blogging but I'm not surprised by it. I'd never consider it for a personal blog.

  12. Ghost blogging? What a sham. They should call it sham-wow-im-not-original. market that!

  13. In the marketing scheme of things, ghost blogging probably has it's place. I find it a shame (and can't imagine I'd do it myself), but I can see why some people would think they should do this.

  14. I actually have a lot of friends who "ghost blog," but they do it mainly for companies, or occasionally write up posts on certain topics for different people. I don't think it's that weird, but only because I am from a freelancing background so it never seemed odd to me. That said, I would never dream of having someone blog for me. My blog is mine, and I want people to get to know me. But I can see the benefits for companies and such. :)

  15. L.G. Hi L. I agree it would absolutely defeat the purpose of having a blog and I wouldn't consider doing it either.

    Alex: I don't think that sounds harsh at all.

    Livia: Wow, I didn't realize people where actively pushing their ghost blogging service via email. *shakes head* Good for you for saying "no." There can only be one Livia Peterson - movie critic, and I'm glad it's you!

    Stina: Agreed, 100% and I'm glad I'm not the only one who didn't know the existence of ghost blogging! (:

    DG.: I think most of us are okay with guest blogging, we know exactly who is doing the posting and there is no intent to be deceitful. I'm even okay with speech writers. Probably because people who require speech writers are usually in a business/political setting and we all know they need the help writing. But ghost blogging, that's just all kinds of wrong imo.

    Joy: Can you imagine someone responding to your comments or commenting on your blog on someone else's behalf (without making it clear who they really are)? I find that a bit creepy. Sure some of us have our alter egos but it's usually done in a comedic setting and readers know this an alternate pen name. I guess what bothers me is the taking credit for someone else's work and deceiving your readers.

    Lawolf: Right on wuff. I need to 'like' George's page... (:

    Julie: I think it's less disturbing when associated with large business because we've come to expect some level of deceit from them. But with a personal blog... that's just terrible. And I agree, blogging is too much fun to let someone else do it! (:

    Melissa: Absolutely, especially if it's a blog I follow.

    Nick: Oh wow, creepy indeed. But there's obviously a market for it if they're actively promoting their service.

    MJ: At first I was surprised, but then realized if there are ghostwriters, why not ghost bloggers? Still I find the concept a bit creepy.

    Tammy: Sad, isn't it.

    T. Drecker: I don't know. Maybe for the larger corporations, where you're not interacting with your readers... but with the time constraints, I'm sure there's a lot of money to be had as a ghost blogger.

    Kyra: I can understand for large companies, as long as somewhere it's stated or made clear that ghostwriters (bloggers)are use...but then again that would defeat the purpose of having a 'ghost' writer. I bet your friend makes good money though...

  16. Awesome! Maybe I can hire someone to be me on book book tours too. But why stop there. Maybe I could send them to church for me, and doctor's appointments. Maybe they could even do a bunch of the housework and "mom" work. Yea, this could be big.

  17. I think ghost blogging is fine for large corporations. But for an author? No way. I'd feel betrayed reading someone's blog and finding out it wasn't really them.

  18. I can see large corporations using a ghost blogger, but I'd think it would be a bad idea for a writer.

  19. I agree with you, Elise, If a blogger needs a break, that's what guest posting is for. Or collaborative blogs where several people share the responsibility.

    And for the record, your posts are never bad. I love your blog. :)

  20. I think it would be more effective to have a ghost commenter than a ghost blogger. Anyone can crank out a 300 word ghost blog and post it. The time suck is when you go and visit other people's blogs in the hopes that they will reciprocate and thus, build a relationship with you.

  21. Agreed--given part of my blog serves as a journal, I'd hate to have someone writing my emotions for me!

  22. I do some ghost blogging for my clients, buts that's for corporations/businesses that don't have the resources for blogging and social media.

    As for writers, there are many bestselling authors that have assistants that sometimes preform tasks like blogging and social media posting/tweeting etc.... I'm not offended because as a reader, I'd rather have the author writing a favorite series.

    But for someone like myself, I don't think that's right. Now is a time to build an audience and perfect not only our writing but our voice. Having someone else do it would just be wrong.

    You always have the best posts, Elise. :)

  23. There are blogs with nothing but third party content. As a writer, it does seem like cheating. The point is to let an audience know us. Yes?

  24. Greetings Elise,

    Although I wont mention a certain article I did on ghost blogging, I thought you might like to know that I actually have a ghost blogger on my site. Just between you and me, please keep this a secret, I have an alleged human, Gary, ghost blog on my site. Bet you could um see right through my comment.

    Seriously, yes seriously, we would never have anybody write on our behalf.

    Pawsitive wishes from Penny the Jack Russell dog and modest internet superstar! :)

  25. I think there's a difference between ghostwriting and ghostblogging in that you put more trust in the latter--you trust that the person on the other side of the screen (so to speak) is always the same and is who they say they are. It's less personal when reading a book or article; or at least, that's my perception.

    Interesting post!

  26. If blogging is a way to connect with people, then it seems kind of false to have someone else write your posts. As a reader, I'd feel cheated somehow.

  27. No. I don't understand it. Maybe I'm being closed-minded, but if you don't have time to blog, why have one, or just have blog with only guest bloggers instead of ghost blogs? I definitely don't understand ghost writers.

  28. Hola.

    I see two sides to this. For example, I would never ask someone to ghostwrite my blog for me, as my blog is an online history of me and a very personal thing. However, I'm guessing that film and music personalities, heads of corporations do have blogs, but they maybe bonkers busy being the face of their particular "brand" they hire folk to do posts for them on their blogs, websites, Facebook pages and Twitter feeds and vet the content.

    If you look at any media outlet (BBC News website for example), many famous folk post articles in a very "blog post" format on them. Andy Murray, the tennis player often has a column on the BBC sport website, but I'm pretty sure he doesn't write it. He most probably has a telephone interview that is taped and then transcribed and edited well.

    I have heard that there is good money in ghost blogging and other "brand awareness" on the internet, You just have to make sure that what you are ghost writing doesn't put your moral compass on the wonk. You know?

    Rock on,


  29. Sara: LOL! I'd just want someone to do the house work... :D

    Jessica: I guess for large corporation people almost expect it. And I agree with you about authors, ghost blogging is just wrong.

    Ciara: I think it'd be bad for a writer too. Especially if word got out...

    Melissa: Thanks Melissa, but sometimes I do post some dumb stuff... maybe I should get a ghost... naaaa! :P

    Michael: LOL! Only you would think up of ghost commenters! I don't know why but that cracked me up. However...I think you're onto something... :P

    randi lee: Hi Randi, that's exactly how I feel about it too. (:

    Mina: Tipping the scales of balance here! (; Okay, so I can understand the use of a ghostblogger/writer for large corporations/businesses. But for personal blogs, even from high profile individuals, I still think it's creepy. And glad you liked this post, remind me to thank my ghost...uh...I mean....thanks. :P

    Mary: Yes, I think the audience should know, but once the "secret" is out, you can't call it ghostwriting or ghost blogging anymore. I don't know...the whole concept is strange to me.

    Gary: You and Penny are not trying to hide anything from your readers, which is one of the reasons we love you both! :)

    Golden: I agree, which is why I can understand ghostwriting. But ghost blogging just seems so much more deceitful.

    lbdiamond: That's exactly how I feel about it.

    Nancy: I'm surprised it's legal. Ghostwriting I can understand, but ghost blogging.... no.

    Wayne: Hope things are doing well after the move. (:

    Anyway, I see your point and I do agree to a certain extend. Big corporations, high profile people, use and probably need ghostwriters. I just think it creepy to have a ghost blogger, especially for a personal blog, no matter how "big" of a personality you might be. And yeah, I bet ghost bloggers do make a lot of money.....

  30. I think ghost-writing and ghost-blogging are dishonest, fraud, and practically criminal. I know someone who ghost-writes and another who ghost-blogs, including pretending to be the person on forums and commenting as them on blogs. I'm really getting fed up with the whole publishing "industry." Anything for a buck. :(

  31. Ghost blogging is bogus, and I don't give a carp about who's doing it (or not doing it, for that matter). Laaaaaaaaaaaaame.

  32. Hi Elise ... the blog is yours and you are responsible for the articles - so I guess if you're happy enough to have a ghostblogger - and the difference isn't obvious ... why not ....

    Declaration I believe should be highlighted ... I do always take 'big bloggers' with a pinch of salt - as I do some writers - especially celebrity type ones ..

    Not sure I care too much - but I'm aware ... and thanks for reminding us .. it can happen on blogs too ... Cheers - Hilary

  33. I swear I've received multiple emails from groups who want to ghostwrite posts for me, for free. Right. No catch? And why do you want to write posts for me? Very strange. I'm such a control freak i wouldn't be able to handle someone else writing my posts. It just wouldn't be me, you know? :)

  34. Thanks for stopping by to check on me, Elise. :)

    Interesting post. I used to be offended by ghostwriting in general until I read Gabby Douglas's (Olympic gold-medalist) book. I enjoyed the book and realized it couldn't have been written w/o the ghostwriter. I guess I'd be okay with ghostblogging too if I knew upfront that the owner of the blog wasn't the one writing the posts and as long as good content was being delivered. But, no, I don't like being deceived.

  35. I am with you Elise, I believe the real thing is better and of course more personal and intimate. Being involved with the people connecting to you is extremely important.

  36. Ghost blogging? Just doesn't make sense... why on earth would you want somebody else to blog on your behalf? What about the authentic blogging voice... isn't it compromised? Or is that irrelevant? What about the very personal nature of blogging... building relationships and trust? Ghost blogging borders on fraudulent...

  37. There are many blog sites that host "guests" for regular content. I suppose thats not to different than ghost blogging. I've had a few professional bloggers contact me to be able to write blog content for me. Tempting sometimes, as I don't always know what to write for a post; but I'm with you in the personal touch.

    And, I blog to connect with other writers, and I do hope some of those buy/read my material; but I blog for me, not for the general reading community. So having a ghost blogger would defeat the purpose. But I've often thought I'd like to be a ghost author; someone gives me the general outline and I fill in the blanks with a viable story. So if a blog is more about posting content than making connections, I see the appeal as an advertising tool.


  38. Lexa: I have a hard time with it too, especially for personal blogs where you share comments, commentary and a like with your readers. It's creepy as well as being flat out dishonest. It's I guess if both parties don't care and enough money is being passed around . . . "anything for a buck," like you said.

    Mina: LOL! Couldn't have said it better myself. :D

    Hilary: I'm wary about the celebrity and big name type sites too. But I still think people should be honest about who is doing the posting. There should be some kind of transparency. But I understand that for some big names and businesses, ghost blogging is prevalent from a time management and advertising standpoint.

    David: For free. Sure. LOL! Wow, I didn't realize how many of my fellow bloggers have had people contact them offering to ghost blog.

    Linda: Hi Linda! I too would be fine with ghost blogging if, like you said, "I knew upfront that the owner of the blog wasn't the one writing the posts." But when that information is not disclosed I feel cheated.

    Carolyn: Thanks Carolyn, the real thing is better. People don't like being mislead.

    Michelle: I agree. If you have a blog you should do the work. If you don't want to do the work, at least give credit where credit is due. It sounds easy, and really, it is. (:

    Donna: Hi Donna, thanks for stopping in. I have no problems with guest posting and have had people post their content on my blog. But I don't think it's similar to ghost blogging, mainly because we know from the get go who is doing the posting, and proper credit is given to the person doing the work. But I understand where you separate blogs that just post content and personal blogs that try to connect with their readers. But I think there should be more transparency if people are going to use ghost bloggers, somewhere it should be stated to avoid misleading the reader.

    As for ghostwriters, I'm a little divided. It's been used for so long and most people are familiar with the practice . . . but it's always a shock when/if readers discover the author of their favorite book used a ghostwriter. I guess the trick is, don't get caught, lol! (:

  39. This is a good post idea. I guess I feel people can do whatever they want, but I would personally not read a blog/book/etc written by someone else other than that person. So they can do their thing, but I won't read it anymore...

  40. Ghost blogging--now I've heard it all. Pfff. Like you, I accept--even if I don't like--ghostwriters, so why does this feel like so much deeper a betrayal? I agree that blogs are more personal, that the intent is to establish some sort of connection. But I think it's more than that. Like with ghostwriting, I think disclosure is key. I like your CEO example, but let me take it a notch further: let's imagine I'm a super-duper famous soccer player, and I start a blog (let's also imagine there's an audience for that, hehe--can you tell I'm no soccer fan? :D). Now, soccer players are notoriously un-verbally-oriented, literacy-challenged. Just listen to the post- (or even pre-) game interviews. So assuming a bloke like that wouldn't know the first thing on stringing a coherent sentence together, let alone a blog post, isn't a huge leap. BUT, for those millions of his fans, said bloke most definitely has something important to share. Would it be a betrayal of that fanhood for our bloke to hire someone to write his blog for him? He'd still provide the content, wouldn't he? My conclusion: as long as he discloses who the writer is, how the collaboration works, I think it's a great idea.

    Like everything... Honesty is the main thing.

  41. I agree that it would feel wrong to find out that one of my bloggy friends was using a ghost writer. However, on a corporate blog I pretty much assume it's a ghost writer or underling doing the real work. So, to me, it's all in how you present your blog. Is it a personal author blog or a publisher's website? There's a big difference in expectation there, IMO. I would never use a ghost writer my blog.

  42. Hmm, a thought provoking question here. Something I'd shy away from personally, but understand where some folks may use the concept to advance their own objectives.

  43. Sometimes I wish I had the use of a ghost commenter...especially when I fall behind like I did this week. :)

  44. I had no idea such a thing existed. I'd rather just skip a week if I need to then hire someone to make my blog 'sound' different! I'm with you, lady. Ghost blogging is all sorts of wrong!

  45. Kelley: It the whole feeling of being deceived that bothers me. If people were honest up front, I don't think it would be such a big deal.

    Guilie: That is a good example. I've come to the point where I think people just need to trust their readers enough to be honest and let them know if a ghostwriter or ghost blogger is doing the work. So in short, I agree with your conclusion, transparency is the key.

    Shell Flower: I'd never use a ghost blogger on my blog either but I can see where it wouldn't be unusual for big corporation/business to use them. I any event, I think transparency is the key. I'd be more willing to accept it if it was stated that a ghostwriter (blogger) was doing the writing.

    Alan: I think if people want hire a ghost blogger, they need to let their readers know.

    DL: LOL! You're the second person here to wish for a ghost commenter. :D And I hear ya, it can get overwhelming. . .

    Sabrina: I think there are other alternatives to simply hiring a ghost blogger. But if people want to go this route they need to let their readers know.


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