Spend any time blogging and it won’t be too long before a prospective client might get in touch and ask if you ghostwrite.
What the hell is that?
It’s yet another type of writing that a lot of freelancers do. And it’s actually a lot more common than you think. Not to mention it can pay pretty well too.
Because we’re going to dig into ghostwriting here, covering the basics and help you learn how you can get into this type of writing if you want.
But first, check out this video:
Ok, now let’s get into it.
What is a ghostwriter?
In the most basic sense, ghostwriting is when you write for someone else (or a brand) and that person (or brand) puts their name on it.
Ghostwriting is super common and happens all the time across every industry out there.
You have people who ghostwrite everything from blog posts and books (including self-published Kindle books) to whitepapers, thought pieces, speeches, emails, and social media, among plenty of other options.
You name a type of writing, and you’ll find a ghostwriter who specializes in it.
So you’re probably wondering why someone would hire a ghostwriter.
There are a bunch of reasons, but two really stand out compared to the rest.
Reason #1: Time
Ghostwriters are really common in the business world because you just have a lot of executives who want to get content out there. But, being busy business people, they don’t always have the time to actually devote to sit down and bang out a bunch of blog posts a month.
Even with a site like this one, we’ve got a ton going on, and it can be really hard to find the time to write new stuff every week while still making videos, doing outreach, and taking care of all the other stuff behind the scenes.
So imagine what that’s like for a bigger brand.
Reason #2: Skill
Another reason sometimes boils down to skill, the person who needs the ghostwriter might just not be a great writer.
This is super common in the world of books. You’ll find a ton of celeb autobiographies, as one example, where it was actually written by someone else with the guidance and input of the celebrity.
The same is true for other types of writing too, thought pieces or speeches are perfect examples where some ghostwriters can shine.
Not everyone is great at writing, or even enjoys writing, maybe they shine at doing podcasts or on YouTube videos but when it comes to sitting down to write, it’s just too much of a process.
At the end of the day, ghostwriting is a lot more common than you probably realize, but it’s still an unexplored area of writing for a lot of people — especially those new to freelance writing.
The pros and cons of ghostwriting
As with any type of writing, there are pros and cons to ghostwriting.
But because it’s a special type of writing compared to your standard freelance blog content, for example, it’s important to cover both sides so you can decide if it’s right for you.
The biggest thing to understand when it comes to ghostwriting is it’s really a matter of personal choice. Some people feel a bit icky about ghostwriting, which is totally fine, while others make a good living and a full career out of it.
The point of this post is to give you all the info so you can decide for yourself before you get asked about it.
Let’s start with the biggest issue that people bring up, you don’t get your name on your work.
For a lot of people, this is a deal-breaker.
If you don’t want someone else getting the praise or attention for the work that you did, that’s totally reasonable and ghostwriting might not be for you.
Some people don’t like the idea of writing as someone else, that’s ok too. It’s something where you have to decide if you’re happy working this way.
For some, the idea of ghostwriting is no problem at all, it’s just another job. While for others, becoming a ghostwriter is only ok if they get a lot of input, guidance, and time with the person they are ghostwriting for so they can really write like them.
Another negative is it can be harder to get your name out there if you don’t get to claim your writing as your own.
Once again, this is a personal choice.
Some writers want to build a big personal brand and platform which is more difficult to do if you aren’t writing under your name. While other people are ok with collecting their check and staying in the background, they have no interest in being a name or a brand beyond the small circle of their clients.
When it comes to actually writing, the process can take a little longer too.
Sometimes it can be hard to get the right tone/voice on the first try. Great ghostwriters can nail it, but sometimes the drafting process, especially at first, can be stretched out a bit more versus a standard assignment.
Ok, those are all legit cons to think about so now let’s look at the good stuff.
Let’s start with one of the biggest pros; the money.
Ghostwriting tends to pay a lot better than standard blog writing, there is value in you giving up your byline (so if you do get approached as a ghostwriter, be sure to bump up your rates for it).
If you are someone who prefers to stay under the radar, you have to do little to no promotion of your work. Since you’re usually ghostwriting for a brand or a bigger name, the pressure is on them to do all the promotion and marketing.
That means all you have to focus on is writing.
But that isn’t to say you can never ever speak about a ghostwriting project (unless you sign a full non-disclosure agreement).
In most cases, you can still highlight your work. When you work with a lot of brands as a ghostwriter there are often clauses in the contracts (and you can add this to yours too) that allows you to use your ghostwritten work for your portfolio.
Now while that doesn’t mean you can blast it out all over social media, it does mean that you can share that, per, however, the clause states, with other potential clients. If you have a client who doesn’t want you to mention the work at all, ask me for a testimonial instead.
Another cool benefit of becoming a ghostwriter, especially in a particular niche, is you can learn a ton about that topic.
When you ghostwrite in a particular niche, you’ll spend a lot of time speaking with the people you’re ghostwriting for — both to get a sense of their voice and tone but also their thoughts on a topic. Being able to spend this time chatting with a subject matter expert is really valuable.
You can take the skills and information you’ve learned and apply those to other projects in your niche. Which brings us to one last big benefit of ghostwriting; variety.
With ghostwriting, there are lots of projects you can work on. Ghostwriting is really common for books, but you can also do blog posts on the company’s website as well as ghostwrite guest posts on other sites, email newsletters, and more, so there are plenty of opportunities to try out different types of writing.
And the more you know about a niche, the more valuable your work will be.
How to become a ghostwriter
Does any of this sound interesting to you?
If you’re already freelance writing then it’s a pretty easy jump to becoming a ghostwriter.
Here are a few ways to approach getting into ghostwriting:
Revisit your past work
Chances are, at least for a few of you, you might have already ghostwritten some stuff and hadn’t realized you were doing it at the time.
If you have and you liked it, congrats, you’re a ghostwriter now. It’s just another skill you can add to your resume moving forward.
Let clients know
It doesn’t take some extraordinary skill set to become a ghostwriter. So if it’s something you’re open to doing, let your clients know.
You can update your website or LinkedIn profile to say you do ghostwrite. And, if you’re sending out emails to some of your current or past clients asking for more work, drop a note that you’re open to ghostwriting too.
Search job boards
Lots of freelance writing job boards will note if gigs are for ghostwriters. So you can do a quick keyword search for that term on any of your favorite job boards to see what pops up.
Also, look keep an eye out for all the other places you’d look for online writing jobs including LinkedIn and social media too.
Include it in your LOIs
When you are writing out your letters of introduction to send out to your target client list, including the fact that you’re willing and able to be a ghostwriter.
Some companies or brands might only want to work this way, so stating it right up front in your email can help move you to the head of the pack.
For beginner writers going the agency route is often a pretty smart choice. Many will have at least a handful of clients who are in need of good writers. And, if you let them know ahead of time that you’re interested in ghostwriting, you could find some good matches through the agencies that can help boost your portfolio.
Ready to start ghostwriting?
Awesome. At least now you have some of the tools you need to get started and dig into this type of freelance writing.
Got any other questions?
Let us know and leave them in the comments.