My Thought Leadership Ghostwriting Process

There are a bunch of great B2B writers creating thought leadership content, and there are also several ghostwriters who target CEOs, founders, and service entrepreneurs. Why should you hire me over them? 

How could I prove that I am the best hire in a world where NDAs keep one from building a traditional portfolio?

Transparency into my thought leadership ghostwriting process was the answer I came up with. I broke it out into nine steps.

  1. Learning
  2. Extracting
  3. Ideating
  4. Frameworking
  5. Drafting
  6. Editing
  7. Optimizing
  8. Distributing
  9. Repurposing

1 – Learning

I start by using my digital social listening skills to learn about you and your business.

This allows me to figure out if I can genuinely be an asset to you before I waste your time with a pitch.

I use this information to tailor my discovery call to each potential client. My passionate curiosity and intuitive understanding of thought leadership marketing guide the conversation.

I have over an 85 percent close rate on a test project from my discovery calls. It’s because I do a ton of pre-qualifying before I bother wasting someone’s time with a pitch.

I have a precise vision of who my customer isn’t, which helps me find my ideal customer and their variations.

2 – Extracting

Once we decide to do our first article together, we schedule an informational interview.

 I ask you some conversation-generating questions around a specific topic that you want to write about.

The specificity of my questions depends on how clear your vision is when you come to me. Our extraction call may touch on several topics or be honed on a singular topic.

I record these calls for two reasons. The first is to use the information you give me to flesh out the content, and the second is to capture your voice. This is especially important if you have no writing or audio publicly available for me to study how you speak.

Writing conversationally and conveying your relationship to the expertise you are sharing are the two most essential components of engaging thought leadership articles.

3 – Ideating

The ideation stage involves two sub-stages. Our test article ideation stage focuses strictly on outlining subtopics for the topic of the test article.

Once we decide to work together on a longer-term basis, this stage also involves fleshing out a complete thought leadership marketing strategy. This gives us a “North Star” that guides all of the content we create together.

After we agree upon this strategy, generating ideas for content becomes more effortless. The boundaries established by a process often spark creativity.

4 – Frameworking

A framework is like a combination of an outline and a directive brief. It is designed to provide structure to the content while also giving the writer customized guidance on filling out each component.

I created my article framework when I was leading the content team at a boutique SEO agency, so even though I don’t write “SEO content,” SEO foundations are still built into my process.

The first step of my process is to do basic keyword research within the chosen topic of the article. I choose a primary keyword that serves as the guiding light of the piece.

Then, I analyze all of the sections of the results page for that keyword. The ‘people also search’ and ‘people also ask’ sections give me a bunch of great educational keywords. These all become potential subheading topics.

Next, I do a deep read of the top 3 organic results for the primary keyword. These three pieces of content signify what information Google considers the most relevant for your primary keyword.

The skyscraper method, which is purely SEO content creation, suggests including all of the information of these top articles and then adding your expertise or opinion on top. You are building a slightly taller skyscraper than your competitor.

I have used this method during my SEO writing era, and I have kept the elements that I think still work. This style of content creation no longer works when it comes to building a community of readers around one’s content.

My difference is that I treat my client’s expertise as the most essential information of a given piece of content. I then mold my SEO strategy to the expertise rather than building the entire article off of what Google says.

My goal isn’t to get you to the first page of Google–I strive to inspire the reader to want to read the following article from my client. I care more about the depth of community rather than the breadth of the audience.

I go deeper into the rest of this process in my discovery calls, but here is the gist of it:

  1. Keyword research and strategy
  2. SERP and top result analysis
  3. Additional external research
  4. H2 and H3 headings
  5. Inverted triangle sub-outline for each heading
  6. Title brainstorming
  7. Write the Introduction

5 – Drafting

I do so much ‘pre-writing’ because it makes the actual drafting so much easier. I hardly ever suffer from writer’s block because I can see a straight line towards my destination rather than a maze I have to navigate.

My drafting process has two phases. The first phase is what I call proto-drafting. I go through our recording and get all of your ideas down without editing your voice. The only thing I do is structure the information within my H2 and H3 subheadings.

In phase 2, I focus on making the information as engaging and articulate as possible while maintaining the client’s voice. This is where I add supplemental information and shape the interview material into cohesive content.

Then, I wait at least one day before going into my editing process.

6 – Editing

I do three rounds of internal edits before sending it off for client feedback. I do this because it is easier to focus on a particular element when editing than on everything.

My first edit is conceptual. I make sure all of the concepts in the article fit the intended theme cohesively.

My second edit is syntactical. This focuses on how each sentence is structured, including things like word choice and tone of voice.

My third edit is grammatical. This is where I clean up any grammatical mistakes.

The piece goes off to the client at this point.

I study the client feedback deeply. My goal is to keep it to one round of feedback. If I do that, then I feel like I have succeeded. Two rounds or more means there is room for me to improve my efficiency.

7 – Optimizing

Once the client approves the copy, my work is 95% done. Like I said earlier, I don’t specialize in SEO content anymore, but I still do some basic optimization.

I make sure primary and secondary keywords have adequate frequency, and then I put in links to relevant content that the client has already published. 

8 – Distributing

The distribution phase is primarily strategic advisement based on my content marketing and SEO experience.

 I don’t do the legwork of actually distributing the content, but I partner with contractors who are experts in community building and social media management.

9 – Repurposing

My core contribution to the distribution process is my ability to repurpose articles into Twitter threads, standalone Tweets, Facebook posts, LinkedIn posts, and newsletter issues.

I can also help script podcasts or video episodes.

These pieces of content are additional costs to the base cost of the article, but they exponentially increase your return on investment.

Contact me through my form below or on Twitter @BrettPucino if you have questions about my thought leadership ghostwriting process!