How to build authority online without writing your own blog – 4 approaches reviewed
Google favours blogs written by named subject-matter experts. Such expert blogs feel more real and interesting. If you write your own blog, quite naturally you’ll be getting lots of long-tail keywords in there. So you’re likely to perform well in natural search. But writing really good stuff takes time and you could be burning the midnight oil or working weekends. Going around in circles. Drafting and redrafting. It’s why many writers are half-crazy (only kidding) So while it makes sense to write your own blog, what are the alternatives? Here I’ll be reviewing two common tactics – hiring a freelance writer and using a content farm. And I’ll be introducing two under-used ways to build authority and authenticity. These are both borrowed from my business journalism days. – hiring a blog ghostwriter and curating other people’s content.
1. Using a freelance blog writer
Typically businesses brief a writer to come up with a list of topics and blogs in a given business niche, such as renewable energy sources. The idea is if lots of content is produced in that area, then this should push the website up Google’s rankings.
I’m a little sceptical about such a blunt instrument at this time. Since companies are putting out 3 x as much business blog wordage year on year… you’re competing in a very crowded space.
If you choose this approach, I suggest you target your efforts in these 3 ways:
- Do a persona workshop and sone content strategy work with your writer – SWOT analysis, dream customer / nightmare customer, target reader for your blog, key brand values/ tone of voice, and how you’re different from your competitors, plus looking at their blog and content for what you envy and criticise. Finally considering how your target audience gets to your website, likely question on their mind and mood they’re in.
- get your writer to do some keyword analysis. Tools such as SEM Rush allow you to search your competitors to see which keyword phrases they’re performing strongly on – both in natural search and paid-for. You can then find gaps – content people are searching for but there’s relatively little content available as yet.
- Plan content that helps move the buyer along in their decisions towards provider selection and purchase. Take inspiration from They ask you answer by Marcus Sheridan – See this 3 minute video intro
2. Use a content agency / farm
This common option ticks the boxes by filling up your content calendar for months ahead. But check first if the agency will work with you on a content strategy, and will they line that up with your marketing strategy? Do they ask you to define your target audience, in some detail, and your readers’ likely problems and questions. Do they analyse your website against your competitors’ for gaps and opportunities? This whole briefing process is needed to get a great result from an agency that is briefing writers who are new to your business. And briefing takes time and money
In my view, using a content agency is often a big mistake for small business. Why? Because in order to make it affordable and time-efficient for you, much of the necessary strategy gets jettisoned. You’ll be losing the passion, personal voice, the WHY of your business. And while the content will tick the boxes in terms of word count, deadline, topic and, if you ask, on page search engine optimisation, you’ll likely end up with content that feels divorced from your business. This kind of content is produced by scouring Google for similar content and recyciling it quickly. Do you really want to pollute the internet with more generic boring blog posts? .
3. Hire a blog ghostwriter
When I was a business journalist on an HR magazine, I had to fill 4 pages of opinions. And often we had a shortage of interesting opinion – it was just training companies and software suppliers saying something to get publicity among HR people. So often I would consider a hot topic, and then think which HR directors might have a useful opinion on that topic. And I called them, and asked them if they had an opinion, and I took down their comments, and formulated it into an opinion piece. Then I emailed to to them for their input. This worked for me because I got relevant and lively content for my page. And it worked for them because they were too busy to think about writing something like this. But a short interview on the phone was easy enough.
I suggest you can use a similar approach. Thing is you need to agree with your ghostwriter some current affairs topics that you can riff off right now. What’s a hot topic or controversy in your sector right now? Do you have a strong opinion, or some helpful advice?
For this service I suggest using a writer with a strong journalistic background so they can ask lively questions that get you to give animated responses. They should also know how to set a newsy context in the introductory paragraph and weave both the content sourced from you with information from the public domain so the result works well.
4. Curate and comment on other people's content
Does this sound like you?
- Is your finger on the pulse of what’s happening in your sector, niche, or specialism?
- Do you already read expert news, journals, press releases, videos and the like – and distil your own views from that?
- Are you a discerning consumer of such content? Can you add your own thoughts, and spin based on years of experience?
- Do you have an independent point of view – are you a contrarian?
- Are you great at distilling out the key points of any news or research?
How might this work?
You cherrypick the best content in your sector and comment on it. You summarise the content in easy language and make it digestible for busy readers. This is a great service for your readers in an age of fractured attention and information overload.
- LinkedIn posts – Write a series of these snippets with links to the source you’re referencing.
- Email newsletter – similarly, provide snippets of the latest most important updates in your sector, and your particular take on them.
- Letter to the editor – old-school approach that’s still relevant. Do you have a magazine or publication for your specialism? Browse articles in the latest edition, looking for things you can comment on. Email the editor with your own take.