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How To Start Working As A Ghostwriter

Working as a ghostwriter can be a lucrative and more anonymous way into a professional writing career. If you can capture the voice and tone of another in your writing, you could find ghostwriting a fulfilling career path.

However, it takes time, refinement and a flair for imitation to build a name for yourself as a ghostwriter. Some of the best-paying freelance writing gigs out there include ghostwriting for academic content, business proposals, technical literature, scripts, books and video content.

If you’re considering this as a potential avenue for your writing talents, here’s a step-by-step guide to help you start your journey in the ghostwriting world.

Step 1: Understand What Ghostwriting Entails

As a ghostwriter, you’ll write content officially credited to another person. As mentioned, this could cover different formats, such as books, speeches, articles or scripts, amongst others. This might not be straightforward, to begin with, especially if you’re used to writing in your own voice more extensively.

With ghostwriting, it’s key to write in the style and voice of the person you’re ghostwriting for. You need to make the content appear as though it came directly from the client. Writing in this way takes research and practice, so it’s worth doing some writing exercises in imitating character voices or creating different styles of copy before jumping into a contract with someone.

You also have to let go of your sense of ownership, as you’ll be getting paid for letting someone else take credit for your words. That’s just a fact of the role, so it’s a good idea to decide how comfortable you are with that before you proceed.

Step 2: Hone Your Writing Skills

Before you dive into a career working as a ghostwriter, ensure your writing skills are up to scratch. You’ll need an excellent grasp of grammar, vocabulary, style, and the ability to adapt your writing to different tones and voices. It’s worth doing research into different writing styles and the kind of written content many ghostwriting clients are looking for.

If you’re feeling a bit rusty or out of practice, try undertaking some new writing projects and get feedback on them. Ask a family member or friend to write a letter or a short essay on a topic, and then do the same, but write it in their voice. Then, share your work with them to see how well it matches up to how they’d do it.

Step 3: Build Your Portfolio

Whether you’re working as a ghostwriter or not yet, you’ll need to do this. Start creating a portfolio of your writing. You can’t use confidential or NDA-protected ghostwritten work. However, you can include other published writing that showcases your ability to write in different styles. Freelance writing or even personal projects of a short length can be a great way to build this portfolio.

Step 4: Marketing Yourself

Once you’ve got the hang of the role and have built a small but strong portfolio, you need to build a client base. As a freelancer, you’re responsible for all areas of your career development, including digital marketing. Fortunately, it’s not as challenging as it used to be to build a business presence as a sole trader.

Spend time researching how to develop a personal brand. Once you’ve created a concept that shines a light on who you are and what you have to offer, you can start marketing yourself as a ghostwriter. Create a professional website, write blog posts about ghostwriting, and share your expertise on social media platforms. As with other primarily digital careers, networking is crucial, so make time to find and make genuine connections with other writers and potential clients.

Step 5: Consider Your Niche

Although it’s not completely necessary, it’s worth considering if you want to write within a specific niche. Once you’re working as a ghostwriter, you’ll have opportunities to explore several avenues of expertise. If you have one that you already excel at, why not use it to your advantage?

Ghostwriters can offer specialist writing in various content and technical areas. These might include fiction and non-fiction, business or academic writing, technical documentation, scriptwriting or short scripts for YouTube videos, for example. It may not always apply to you, but if you do find a niche that suits your interests and expertise, you can focus on becoming an authority in that area.

Step 6: Establish Your Rates

Here’s the important part. Do not be tempted to undersell or lowball yourself to get started. That’s a very easy trap for freelancers to fall into in the hope of getting some work under their belts! Instead, research the going rates for ghostwriting and set your prices accordingly.

Remember, as a ghostwriter, you won’t receive credit for your work, so you should consider charging for far more than you would for bylined and credited work. This is especially true for novel writing projects, where the issue of future royalties from sales might come into play. As with everything, it pays to do your research and develop an informed strategy for pricing your ghostwriting services.

Step 7: Seek Out Clients

Once you’ve decided on your rates and you’ve established your brand or presence, it’s time to find the paid gigs. You can use several freelancer marketplaces to start looking for clients. There are also regular ghostwriting gigs posted on job boards, social media and other career-focused sites such as LinkedIn.

You can also gain some traction by pitching directly to authors, businesses, or publishers who might need your services. Whenever you’re reaching out to a potential new client, remain courteous, professional and clear about what you can offer.

Step 8: Understand The Business Of Your Business

The writing is only one part of working as a ghostwriter. As a freelancer, you’re self-employed, which means you have to know about the business aspects of your field. This extends to understanding and negotiating contracts, confidentiality agreements, and payment terms. Do not neglect this side of things, as it is crucial to protect your rights and ensure you’re fairly compensated for your work, especially if the credit will be going elsewhere upon completion of the deliverable.

Step 9: Deliver Top Quality Work

This almost goes without saying, but when you land a client, ensure you deliver your best work. This is your best opportunity to establish your credibility and build strong business relationships with your clients.

Not only that but if you deliver a professional service alongside an excellent product, those clients are more likely to recommend you to others in their network. Meeting deadlines, communicating effectively, and producing high-quality content will help you build a strong reputation and lead to more opportunities in the future.

Step 10: Always Keep Learning

The writing industry is always evolving. You’ll need to keep an ear to the ground to stay updated with the latest trends, improve your skills, and expand your services. Ongoing learning and adaptation to emerging tones and voices will help your writing stay fresh and aid your successful growth as a ghostwriter.

Considering these steps and exploring what working as a ghostwriter is like will give you a good baseline for starting out. However, to do well as a ghostwriter, you need to employ a combination of writing talent, professionalism, and the ability to understand and emulate others’ voices.

If you’ve found this post helpful, I’d love it if you gave it a share or a pin on Pinterest. You might also enjoy some of my creative writing resources, such as this character development template or these posts on worldbuilding.

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