I recently saw an article with some tips on writing blog posts more quickly. They were all decent tips, but one caught my eye as being either completely misguided or crazy like a fox. Tim Scullin wrote:
Outsource Your Posts
Currently I write all my posts because I am very interested in my topic. However if you can’t keep up or are just not interested in writing about your topic anymore then outsourcing your posts could be a great opportunity for you. You can get quality posts from English speaking writers for as little as $10 a post. Make sure you test out your writers skills before you pay and even then only pay for a few posts at first. If you find their style is horrible or doesn’t fit with your target audience then you can change.
Now, I write all these words with an occasional advance read-through of topics on “Simplifying Complexity.” Blogging is about conversation. It’s about voice, your voice and my voice. We can’t discuss issues, I can’t present information, if you can’t trust that they’re even my words.
Well, some people can. They’re called companies. To me, the only time when “outsourcing” the writing makes any sense is when you are merely putting up blog posts to sell stuff or to create an apparent mountain of content too hard for a DIY competitor to climb. And that’s a race to the bottom.
Outsourcing blog posts is not much different than celebrity ghost-written twittering, or gwittering (that’s ghost-twittering, and yes, I just made it up; TwitterProxy seems like the right word for Obama’s folks – see below). A fellow in the NYT article complains that it’s okay to “ghostwrite” for brands but not for celebrities who are brands. It’s simple — one is sending updates about X using twitter and the other is X sending updates.
For example, we had a PR firm pitch ThoughtStorm, and while we liked their PR activity proposals, the offer to create social network profiles, updates, and so on was definitely a slippery slope for us. Now it’s easier for us to draw a line because we know that there are few people who could create actual content related to what we do as opposed to posting news-ish updates and links to other people’s writings. And we would have simply identified these sorts of updates by labeling them as from a different user/team rather than from me or my partner.
Finally, although I’m unlikely to use the President as an example in many circumstances (and the stories seem to indicate that Obama’s tweets are indeed ghost-written), the Whitehouse blog doesn’t claim to be written by him, when it could be. Any President adopts the words of speechwriters, and there are those heads of state who control their own messages (Churchill is a personal favorite of mine in this regard).
If Winston Churchill could find the time to write his own speeches during WWII, you can respect your audience enough to find the time to write your own blog posts. If you can’t write all the time, just write better when you do.
So, you tell me: Is Tim giving misguided advice, or does he secretly know that only the “inauthentic” will use this tool, get presumably less interesting copy, and thereby cease being in actual or potential competition with so-called “real bloggers?” Or to make a more pointed question: would you be upset if you found out that your favorite blogger was faking it?