How to Get Started as a Ghostwriter

How to Start Ghostwriting With No Experience

If you’ve been working as a freelance writer for a while, you might have come across “ghostwriting” jobs. Perhaps a client has already asked if you offer this as a service? Or maybe you’ve seen ghostwriting ads on job boards and wondered if you should apply? 

If you’re not sure what this type of work involves, how much it pays, or if it’s a good career move for you, this could be because the world of ghostwriting can be quite secretive. But, you're in luck! This article will cover all that and more!

So, what does a ghostwriter do?

There are two parties involved in ghostwriting work: 

  • The ghostwriter – this is the person who crafts the work and gets paid a fee for the completed writing project. They usually don’t receive any credit for the work and can’t include it in their portfolio. 
  • The author (your client) – the person who needs high-quality writing work. They hire a ghostwriter, put their own name to the work, and then take all the credit. 

Who needs ghostwriters? 

Ghostwriting is surprisingly common, with most of the non-fiction books on the New York Times bestseller list having been written by a ghost. 

But ghostwriters are also needed to write: 

  • Blogs 
  • eBooks 
  • Song lyrics 
  • Speeches 
  • Podcasts

Why aren’t companies or influencers writing these themselves? Usually, it comes down to either not having enough time or not having the expertise to create content they would be happy to promote as part of their brand.

Is ghostwriting the right choice for your freelance career? 

If you’re building a career as a freelance writer, you might be wondering why you would agree to take on work that doesn’t have your name attached to it. 

Why let someone else proudly place their photo and author bio next to writing that you’ve spent hours creating? The main answer is that it pays better than typical freelance writing.

A recent survey of 213 writers from the Peak Freelance community revealed that writers charge 16-20% more for ghostwriting services than their typical freelance writing rate.

Career Trend also proves that ghostwriting is lucrative, particularly if you’re working on novels, business books, or scripts. They estimate that ghostwriters can earn $20,000 per project, or up to $50,000 if your client is a celebrity.

Why is ghostwriting a difficult gig? 

If you’re just getting started as a freelance ghostwriter, these figures are bound to be tempting! But one of the biggest challenges is trying to build up a profile as a ghostwriter without being able to discuss any of your experience in this area. 

Let’s say you’ve written a 50,000-word eBook for a top nutritionist and want to market yourself as a ghostwriter in the health industry so you can write for similar professionals. 

Or perhaps you have ghostwritten blog posts for a trending digital marketer and would love to gain more clients in this niche. 

How exactly do you spread the word about your services without offering up proof of the projects you’ve worked on?

6 Ways to Market Your Ghostwriting Services

There are several ways to market yourself as a freelance ghostwriter, including those outlined below.

1. Become an experienced freelancer 

The natural path to becoming a ghostwriter is to make a name for yourself as a freelance writer first. 

If you’re hoping to be a ghostwriter within a specific niche, then make sure you have plenty of writing samples that showcase your skills in this area. Ideally, these will be featured on clients’ sites as well as your own – it always looks impressive that other brands have hired you for your way with words! 

Freelancers who don’t have many clients under their belt can work on landing guest post spots to build their portfolios. Anything that has your author byline attached is great evidence for a future ghostwriting gig.

2. Offer ghostwriting as a service 

If you have a writer website (and anyone serious about becoming a ghostwriter should), then make sure that you list ghostwriting as one of your service offerings. You can also optimize your social media profile bios by adding this info.  

Your site should include a portfolio with a variety of your work. Although you won’t be able to show off your ghostwriting projects here, you can demonstrate how well you can adapt your voice to the tone of your client. 

3. Join networking groups 

Online networking groups are an opportunity for freelance writers to meet, socialize and exchange ideas. But these channels are also an excellent source of work – either as referrals from your online freelance colleagues or when a fellow ghostwriter has too much work and subcontracts some to you. 

When you join a new group, make sure you introduce yourself as a ghostwriter so the other members know you’re available for work.

4. Try your hand at guest posting 

What better way to prove you know the ins and outs of ghostwriting than to write a guest post on the topic? By mentioning your ghostwriting skills in your author bio, anyone who reads your post will know that you also offer this as a service. 

You will also get to piggyback on the success of the site you’re writing for and let a whole new audience know that you are a talented ghostwriter for hire. 

5. Pitch to your existing clients 

If you’re already writing for a client, then you could politely pitch your ghostwriting service to them. Let them know that you’re available to take on this type of work and sell the benefits to their company. 

Perhaps you could create a lead magnet for their landing page that could expand their email list or bring in a new revenue stream? 

Or maybe their CEO is interested in penning a book about their business experience but doesn’t have the time to put pen to paper? 

6. Cold pitching to small businesses 

Small businesses in just about every field could benefit from a ghostwriter. Look at the businesses in your hometown – from dentists and lawyers to nurseries and health food stores. Seek out websites that already have blogs, but don’t update them regularly. 

The chances are that these businesses already understand the value of having a blog but don’t have the time to commit to regular content creation. Let them know that you’re the ghostwriter for the job.

How can ghostwriters find the right tone of voice? 

Freelance writers are often encouraged to develop their individual voices and writing styles when they’re starting out in the field. But as a ghostwriter you will need to be skilled at silencing your own voice and adopting the tone of your client, so their audience doesn’t become confused about what the brand stands for. 

Some tips include: 

  • Reading their existing blog content 
  • Going through their About Us page or Mission Statement to understand their background and company goals
  • Follow the client on social media to soak up the tone of their posts 
  • Request a brand style guide to learn any specific rules about format or language  
  • Join their email list so you have regular access to their content updates 

Are you ready to get started as a ghostwriter? 

By now, you should have an idea about whether ghostwriting is the right gig for you. 

If it is, you can get started by gaining credibility as a freelance writer and then market your services as a ghostwriter. Let the world know that you’re available to pen their projects! 

But remember the golden rule of being a ghostwriter – never break your client’s confidentiality!

About the Author

Rebecca Noori is a freelance writer covering topics related to careers, entrepreneurship, HR, recruitment, productivity, finance, and leadership. Her writing career began back at uni when she worked for TimeOut. More recently, she has spent the past 7 years creating long-form blog content and white papers for a range of B2B clients. She is also a contributing author at Mama and Money, FreelancerFAQs, and Clever Girl Finance.

Connect with Rebecca on her website or LinkedIn.

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