Ever since the concept of ‘blogs’ started, ghost blogging came into existence.
What is Ghost Blogging?
“Ghost blogging” takes place when someone writes on behalf of a company, agency or individual for a fee but receives no credit in return. Once the blog written by the ghost blogger is accepted and paid for, the ghost blogger loses all claims of copyright and can never divulge the details of such arrangement.
If I have to be honest, I began my career as a ghost blogger in 2007. It is only in 2011 that my blogs begins to be published in my own name. Between 2007 and 2011, I earned a lot as a ghost blogger; however, my opinion still remains the same:
“Ghost Blogging is not justifiable.”
The idea of someone else getting credit for my writing is not acceptable.
Nevertheless, to argue this issue neutrally, let’s see both sides of the argument.
Arguments Defending Ghost Blogging:
There are two arguments which proponents of ghost blogging use to justify its use –
(1) Everyone cannot be a writer.
I maybe the CEO of a company but I may not possess necessary writing skills to voice my own opinion on the company blog. Moreover, companies find it feasible to hire a ghost blogger for penning down issues and opinions of others and represent them in a professional way on the company blog.
Same is the case with the unofficial blogging industry. It is a fact that if you have to start and make a blog highly successful, you cannot handle everything yourself. This calls for outsourcing and one of the first thing outsourced is the requirement for ghost bloggers.
(2) Money wins over copyright.
Proponents of ghost blogging feel that if someone is paying a blogger to blog on their blog/s, there is no need to give credit for to the ghost blogger. The ghost blogger can either be a freelancer working from home or a full-time staff of the blog owner’s company.
This is akin to the conventional jobs we have today. You work 9 hours a day, receive a salary every month and there is no talk about your contribution to the company. Yes, a small group of employees get promotional occasionally but that’s about all the growth the company is willing to give.
The same thing goes for blogging – you write, you get paid, you give over copyright and you are asked to undergo the same role repeatedly – for many ghost bloggers, this is justified as long as they get money.
Arguments against Ghost Blogging:
Ghost blogging is unjustifiable because of the following arguments:
(1) Credit is important.
If a runner in a 400m race comes first and the runner is not given the promised gold medal, will that be justified?
It is not justified because the runner has worked hard to reach this goal and receiving that gold medal is an acknowledgement of his success.
In other words, the runner receives credit for his/her accomplishment.
The same goes for writers, doesn’t matter if its blogging or an opinion editorial. It is a prized moment in the life of any writer to see his/her name in print, to be recognized by people for their woven words, to be acknowledged for their thoughts.
All this is robbed off when the same writer is asked to ghost blog. In ghost blogging, someone else writes and another person gets all the credit. This is completely unethical.
Tell me, would J.K Rowling accept if her name is struck off from the Harry Potter series and published in the name of someone else or of the publishing house? NO. You shouldn’t too!
(2) Problem in portfolio building.
A writer gets clients on the strength of past publications, which helps to increase the writer’s portfolio and develop writing skills.
Now if a ghost blogger is not given credit for work, how can the same person build writing portfolio.
In engaging in ghost blogging, the blogger severely limits his/her professional opportunities. The companies and individuals who hire ghost bloggers also play an important role here.
These days, anyone hiring bloggers ask for past works and links to the same. If everything is ghost written by the blogger, how can the blogger produce evidence of past publications bearing the blogger’s name?
(3) Client who hires ghost bloggers is dishonest.
You cannot run a successful blog if you are not honest about the people behind the blog. People who are contributing on your blog write about their opinion and you, as the blog owner, have no right to stamp your name on those thoughts and opinions. Ghost blogging is not a transparent practice.
Therefore, if you are not honest about people writing your blogs, can your readers really trust you? I would say NO.
It is not only me but big organization like The Chartered Institute of Public Relations also question ghost blogging as a practice. The say:
“Under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations a blog run by a professional to give the impression of independent support is illegal and contravenes the CIPR Code. The CIPR discourages the practice of ghosting a blog.”
What is the Solution?
(1) If you have one blog –
It’s best to have a list of contributors on the blog, with their name, image, profile detail, their blog URL (if any) and contact information. Each blog should accompany the name of the contributor/s.
(2) If you have more than one active blog –
Maintaining a list of contributors for different blogs can be time consuming if there are a large number of contributors; therefore, it’s better if you display your blogs under a common name, a professional blogging agency perhaps, and list the name of all contributors in that list.
As usual, give the name, image, profile detail, blog URL (if any) and contact information of the contributors. Each blog should accompany the name of the contributor/s.
Note: Unless you are selling the blog/s, make it part of your policy not to remove the published blogs of the contributors. In case, you have to do so or sell the blog, notify all the contributors.
(3) If you are running a company –
If you are running a proper company and you want to have a blog and outsource the work to writers, it’s good to disclose the name and other information (as above) of bloggers in the “Team Members” page, and every blog should have “The ‘ABC’ Team” in the end.
Work of any kind should be done with complete honesty and integrity. The term ‘ghost blogging’ is improper in any case. There is no justification of robbing any writer off their copyright just because you are paying them.
Build a better community of bloggers by acknowledging your contributors.