You’ve probably heard of ghostwriting before, but perhaps you’re not sure what a ghostwriter actually does, how to become one, or how much they make.
Ghostwriting has evolved in recent years and is now one of the most lucrative niches for freelance writers. Today, most ghostwriters are creating a variety of content for businesses and company executives.
But there is a lot of variation in terms of pricing. Why do some ghostwriters struggle to make a name for themselves while others are able to charge a steep premium for their ghostwritten content?
Before we answer that question, let’s start with what a ghostwriter is and what they do.
What is a Ghostwriter?
noun: ghostwriter; plural noun: ghostwriters; noun: ghost-writer; plural noun: ghost-writers
- a person whose job it is to write material for someone else who is the named author.
At the simplest level, a ghost writer is someone who writes content for someone else to put their byline on. In the past, ghostwriters mainly were hired to write books, but today they are employed to create a variety of content, like blog posts, industry reports, speeches and more. Obviously, the key caveat here is that anything you write for a ghostwriting client can’t be claimed as yours.
But because you can’t include the article in your portfolio, ghostwriters typically charge a premium in addition to their regular rate.
Benefits of Being a Ghostwriter
1. You get paid upfront
When self-publishing a book or writing an online course to sell, it takes time before you earn anything, and sales aren’t guaranteed. With ghostwriting, you negotiate the rate on a project-by-project basis and are paid upfront.
2. It pays well
As more and more companies recognize the value of insightful, well-written content, being a ghostwriter has become one of the most lucrative freelance writing niches.
3. You don’t have to worry about marketing
If you’re launch your own book or online course, you need to handle all the marketing yourself. This is something that a lot of writer struggle with. But as a ghostwriter, your job is to write and that is it. Once the final product is delivered then your job is done, and you can start working on the next project.
4. Grow your writing practice
Ghostwriting is unique skill set and doing some ghostwriting work can be a great way to grow your writing practice and learn new skills.
So how do you become a successful freelance ghostwriter?
Tips for Becoming a Ghostwriter
1. Develop Your Writing Skills
You have walk before you run.
And you have to write before you ghost.
The most successful ghostwriters first made a name for themselves through more traditional freelance writing. In some cases, the first experience these writers had with ghostwriting is when an existing client reached out and asked, “Could you create something for our CEO?”
So, focus on developing your writing skills first.
2. Have a Portfolio
Imagine this: you reach and offer ghostwriting service to a potential client, and they respond with “Great! Our CEO needs someone to write a speech she’ll be delivering at a big conference. Can you send me some of your work?”
But you can’t send them anything, because you’ve only ghostwritten articles and none of them have your byline.
So long potential customer.
That’s why you should create a professional portfolio and even consider creating a professional website. Here you can list some information about yourself, showcase your past work, and highlight the writing services you offer.
3. Learn How to Adopt Someone’s Voice
As a ghostwriter, your job is to capture someone else’s voice. And this is much easier said than done.
No, I don’t mean you should practice impressions of your clients, but you should practice writing using different styles and tones. Some businesses have a very conversational tone, other businesses aim for authority in their writing style, and others want the tone to be entertaining and light.
The best way to get better at adopting other writing styles is, unsurprisingly, forcing yourself to practice writing in other style.
It’s also important to spend some time getting to know your client. Conduct an interview with the person you’re writing for, read their existing content, follow them on social media, and subscribe to any communication they’re sending out.
How to Find Ghostwriting Jobs
So, how do you actually find ghostwriting jobs.
Due to the nature of ghostwriting, I suggest that you limit your job board hunting to the higher quality boards.
Contena curates some of the best freelance writing jobs online. While only a few of the job posting will be looking for ghostwriters, it’s a solid place to start looking for ghostwriting jobs.
Plus, you can always apply to other freelance writing jobs while you’re searching for ghostwriting gigs.
Freelance sites like Upwork and Fiverr are another great place to find ghostwriting gigs.
Be sure to list ghostwriting as one of your areas of expertise, so customers can find you directly when they’re looking for ghostwriters.
Having a strong professional profile is key for sites like Fiverr. Because there is a lot of competition among freelancers, you need a strong profile to stand out.
Word of Mouth
One of the most common ways to get new ghostwriting clients is through referrals or word of mouth.
Perhaps one of your previous copywriting clients is looking to hire a ghostwriter specifically, or maybe they have a colleague that they can introduce you to. It helps to be proactive here, and actually reach out to old clients and ask if they are interested in hiring a ghostwriter.
While you obviously don’t want to annoy your past clients, most professionals are used to receiving these requests for more business so you shouldn’t run into any trouble by firing off a few emails.
Another great place to look for ghostwriting jobs is social media.
Most marketers and companies are active on social, which gives to the opportunity to connect with them, learn about the types of content they post, and pitch your ghostwriting services.
There are a few different ways to look for ghostwriting gigs on social media:
- Join Facebook groups with “freelance writers” or “ghostwriter” in the title.
- Reach out to companies in the niche you write for.
- Connect with marketers and editors at interesting companies.
Be sure to also optimize your profile for ghostwriting by including some keywords and relevant that #ghostwriting or #ghostwriter hashtags.
Check out more at the Freelance Writing Stack