Every so often, after a long workday, Kinsey Schofield goes home feeling a little dazed and confused. "It's exhausting," she says. "I pretend to be seven different people, then I don't remember who I am."
Schofield, 24, is a business world ghostwriter--and the online voice of some high-profile names, including Nick Cannon, Robert T. Kiyosaki and Chris Moneymaker. She is part of a growing army of outside contractors who blog and tweet unseen in the name of ego and entrepreneurship. Writing as her clients, she posts on Facebook and MySpace, or tweets pithy thoughts straight from her iPhone.
As the Internet levels the playing field for sales and services, business ghostwriters like Schofield are becoming an essential part of marketing strategy. Stephen Turcotte, president of Backbone Media Inc., a Boston-area Internet marketing company, estimates that 20 percent of American businesses now have some kind of blog, with about one in four outsourcing the writing--although few will admit to that particular kind of outsourcing. Nevertheless, on Elance.com, a website for business freelancers, demand for ghostwriters surged last year: Its category jumped to the 25th-most popular from 74th over the first nine months of last year.
"The idea is to position yourself so that people come to you to buy rather than you selling them," says Nathan Egan, a social media consultant in Wilmington, Del. "It's a paradigm shift. You create the right pool with the right fish, and the fish come to you."
Kiyosaki--the investor and best-selling author (Rich Dad, Poor Dad) and motivational speaker--has a legion of fans hungry for his pearls of wisdom. Trouble is, he's often too busy to keep his followers up-to-date on his latest brainstorms. That's where Schofield comes in. He gives her random bullet points, which she repackages and sends into cyberspace. For one of his recent seminars, which cost attendees $5,000 each, she tweeted his comments--here's one: "Socialism is for losers"--for people who couldn't afford the admission price. For Cannon, the actor, rapper and TV personality, she blogs and tweets. As Moneymaker, a world poker champion, Schofield tweets his tournaments, hand by hand.
Kiyosaki, 62, says digital communication is vital to his empire, built on the sales of board games, books and seminars. "We believe that social media, like any other media channel, can connect with consumers and engage them with the Rich Dad Brand--even more so than other mediums," he writes in a response to questions about his use of social networking. He would not directly comment on Schofield's work.