If you’re successfully growing your business as a freelance writer, you may find yourself looking for a new challenge, like getting paid to write an entire book for someone else. In other words, you may want to try your hand at becoming a ghostwriter.
What is ghostwriting?
A ghostwriter is hired to write books, speeches, or other texts that are credited to another person. Ghostwriting isn’t always glamorous. Polishing a piece to perfection only to have someone else put their name on it might not sound like a good use of your writing talent.
But ghostwriting can be a fun way to hone your craft, work with amazing clients, and make good money. So we’re inviting Nikita Ross to convince you to give ghostwriting a try.
I tend to get the same response every time I tell people I’m working on a ghostwriting project:
“Doesn’t it bother you that someone else gets the credit?”
It sounds counterintuitive, doesn’t it?
I do a significant portion of the work, then someone else publishes it under their name. Isn’t that just like that one kid in your high school group project that does nothing to contribute, but gets the same grade as you?
No, it’s not.
I confess I had the same feelings once. Then I started ghostwriting and learned how rewarding it could be, both mentally and financially. Let’s see if I can change your mind and convince you to become a ghostwriter.
How I Started Ghostwriting
My first ghostwriting gig appeared within weeks of completing the VA Foundations course (now part of the #FullyBookedVA System), which I had taken to get the knowledge I needed to translate my passion for writing into a career.
While creative writing has always been my forte, I’m not Stephen King, and my kids need to eat.
Knowing that I had ventured into freelancing, a colleague approached me with a request. She asked if I’d be willing to help her transcribe a traumatic event into writing as a type of catharsis.
“So like, ghostwriting?” was my not-so-articulate response. “Yes,” she said, “I suppose it is.” Figuring it couldn’t hurt to help a friend and get a useful writing sample, I agreed.
Best. Decision. Ever.
From there, I actively pursued ghostwriting opportunities and training resources and began my path as a ghostwriter.
What Kinds of Clients Hire a Ghostwriter?
The benefits of ghostwriting for your clients are numerous and varied.
Many successful entrepreneurs, executives, and innovators have brilliant thoughts they’d like to share with the world, yet they also have a business to run. They may only be able to work on their writing project in bits and pieces, while a ghostwriter can dedicate their complete focus to the task.
Hiring a ghostwriter to assist in conveying these ideas adds value to their offerings and clout to their purported expertise.
Some clients are engaging speakers, but they lack the ability to carry their tone over to paper.
When they speak, they seem to captivate their audience, but when trying to write the ideas down, the words fall flat. A ghostwriter can use their know-how to translate their client’s voice into written words, without compromising the client’s unique flair.
Finally, a ghostwriter offers experience.
Whereas your client may be an expert in the field of photography, you are an expert in the field of ghostwriting. With time and practice, you can get a feel for what works and what doesn’t, and experience interviewing to ask the right questions. The photography client’s job is to tell their readers how to use natural light to their advantage in a photo shoot. Your job is to make sure the words are informative, sensible, and well-edited.
Not sure what niches you can specialize in as a freelance writer? We’ve done some research and brainstorming for you, and we came up with over 200 niches to choose from. Here’s the list:
Why Should I Become a Ghostwriter?
Chances are you aren’t interested in ghostwriting for free, right?
So let’s try and get over the idea of someone else taking credit for your work and focus on how this format can help your career.
First, let’s be honest: you likely weren’t going to write that story anyway.
Consider this: if a client asks you to ghostwrite a book on a subject that you have no prior experience with using their guidance, would you be upset that you didn’t think of it first?
If they are offering to give you their expertise and pay you monthly for the duration of the project, would you wish that you were putting in the hours conducting research without a steady stream of income?
It’s all about perspective.
You aren’t on the hook for marketing. Once you submit that final document, you are not responsible for advertising or social media sharing. The time-consuming act of selling is entirely up to them.
You learn new and interesting things to apply to your life and business.
Ghostwriting can take you outside the confines of your niche and broaden your knowledge base. If you have a thirst for knowledge – and you must if you’re here – ghostwriting can be rewarding on a personal level. Additionally, the experience can be financially rewarding, since those learnings can carry over into your future gigs.
Anonymity can be your friend, which may be hard to believe in the social media age. For one, you can charge a premium for remaining anonymous. If you aren’t receiving credit in a published document and offer the benefit of discretion, charge for it!
How Do I Market Myself as a Ghostwriter?
“How do I find ghostwriting jobs if I can’t prove any of my work?”
This is a valid concern. There are a few options:
1. Just ask – Ask your client if you can use their work as a sample. Obviously, clients don’t want their ghostwritten work to be common knowledge, but many are ok with having a clip used privately. You won’t get to share the piece all over the internet as your work, but you can link to it when asked for samples by a potential client. On the other hand, some clients will say no. That’s totally their call.
2. Get testimonials – Testimonials are your best friend. Ask for a testimonial to use on your profile. Better yet, include it as a requirement in your contract. Sometimes having a testimonial from a happy customer is more effective than a writing sample.
3. Use your other samples – If you have work published under your byline, use it! If a potential client is trying to assess your writing skills these, in conjunction with testimonials, should cover all your bases.
4. Complimentary sample pieces – Use your connections and offer a complimentary ghostwritten piece with the understanding that it will be used as a sample when pitching new clients.
Where Can I Find Ghostwriting Jobs?
So now that you know how to present yourself, where do you find work?
- Job Boards – Ghostwriting is gaining popularity, and you can often find ghostwriting jobs alongside other freelancing gigs online. Additionally, don’t hesitate to reach out to non-ghostwriting job postings and pitch the idea to them. It may be something they haven’t considered and could give you a competitive edge.
- Current clientele – Ask your current freelancing clients if they’d be interested in your ghostwriting services. Explain the benefits to them and present it as an add-on to your current offering.
- Cold-pitching – reach out to businesses in your area and introduce your services, and how ghostwriting can help their business.
- Networking – attend local business events, talk to the local Chamber of Commerce, or host an information session at a coffee shop. Your writing may be centered around anonymity, but you should make your name as well-known as possible.
Take the First Step to Ghostwriting
Ready to take the first steps to becoming a ghostwriter?
You may want to start by interviewing your friends and family for practice. Try to determine catchphrases and mannerisms to carry over into written copy. Take some time to research and build confidence in your ability.
Remember, as with anything this skill will take time and practice. Stay focused and determined, and your ghostwriting dream career will become a reality.
So have I convinced you to give ghostwriting a try?
Nikita Ross of Indelible Ink Writing is a professional writer with a background in social media management, marketing, and event coordination. When Nikita isn’t assisting clients with their writing needs, she enjoys helping people alter the direction of their storyline as a Precision Nutrition Level One certified wellness coach at Strong in Body, Strong in Mind.