Focusing on a particular niche or specialty is a great way to market yourself and your writing services and command higher rates from clients.
While many writers choose a specialized niche based on a topic, such as real estate, marketing, finance or something similar, there’s another option many don’t consider…
That is, specializing in a certain type of writing.
One type of writing you can specialize in is ghostwriting.
Ghostwriting allows the end client to get high-quality, professionally-written content, but still attribute that content to their own name or brand.
Yes, this does entail giving up your precious byline and letting someone else get the credit for your hard work and talent. It can be a hard pill to swallow sometimes, but there is one point I want to stress here: You can get paid to be a ghostwriter… and get paid well.
Clients are willing to pay top-dollar for professional, high-value content they can attribute to their own company.
As a ghostwriter you “appear” more knowledgeable and trustworthy to potential clients because they are trusting you to know their brand and company so well that you can write content valuable enough that they feel comfortable distributing it as their own. It’s risky for clients to put their name on content they didn’t write, so hiring a top-notch writer is essential. And top-notch writers command top-notch rates.
Ghostwriting is also a referral-heavy game. If you make one client happy, there is a good chance they will refer you to their colleagues and business friends, and before long, you can enjoy a full workload and a solid stream of income just from their work.
But, like any type of writing, ghostwriting isn’t for everyone.
Are you considering ghostwriting?
Are you unsure about whether ghostwriting is right for your career?
Let’s talk more about this unique type of writing so you can decide if it is an avenue you want to pursue.
Ghostwriting Pros and Cons
You can get paid very well to ghostwrite content as many businesses simply don’t have the staff or the talent on board to write great content themselves. And as I mentioned before, they’re willing to dive deep into their pockets to get the content they need to impress their customers.
Aside from the pay, ghostwriting also has many other benefits:
- Solid flow of work. Most clients who require a ghostwriter have regular content requirements. They need blogs, white papers, eBooks, proposals and all types of copy written on a monthly or even a weekly basis. This can be enough to keep you busy for a while.
- Leads to more business. I can’t tell you how many of my ghostwriting clients have referred me to their colleagues and friends. If you provide great work, they want to keep you happy, and that means sending work your way and keeping you busy.
- It’s low pressure. Nothing is attributed to your name or your business, so you can write about any topic or in any style you like. It can be very freeing.
- It’s varied. With ghostwriting, you get all sorts of assignments on a huge variety of topics. It can be a great way to not only improve your writing skills, but also your base of general knowledge. This can help with future projects.
- LOT of work. Virtually every small business, start-up and company needs a ghostwriter, so that means there’s opportunity for work. All you need are the right connections.
But while ghostwriting can be great, it isn’t without its disadvantages.
Though not having your byline on a piece can be freeing, it can also be a setback – especially if you’re just starting out as a writer.
Without a byline, you can’t add your ghostwritten content on your portfolio, post it on your website nor send it to potential clients. It’s as if the copy never existed! This can be frustrating for writers.
Another con is that you may not get to write the way you normally would. Most businesses will have a set voice they want you to use – a tone they need carried through all of their content and copy, no matter what that may be. Sometimes, this can be hard to nail down or just plain awkward to write.
One more thing to note is that ghostwriting clients tend to be particular. They want things done a certain way, and they’re often not so great at explaining what that is or how they want it done. This can make the writing process frustrating, especially if there are constant edits and revisions that eat into your bottom line.
Legalities of Ghostwriting
I’m no lawyer, but I’ve had countless ghostwriting clients over the years, and there are a few things you should know before diving in.
- NDA – You will need to sign an NDA, or non-disclosure agreement. This keeps you from revealing your relationship with the client to outside parties. It’s a simple form that requires your name, a signature and date, but like with any contract, make sure you read any fine print. It can vary for each client.
- You will not own anything you write. This means that any copy you send to your client or write at their request, does not belong to you. You can’t share it with others; you can’t post it on your website and you likely can’t put that client on your resume either.
- You can’t collect any royalties or fees if your work does well. Because the content is owned by your client, they have all the rights to any money your work makes. If you’re ghostwriting a book and you want a cut of royalties or other expenses, you may want to get a lawyer involved to negotiate on your behalf.
How to Start Ghostwriting
In my experience, the best place to find ghostwriting opportunities has been LinkedIn.
As I mentioned earlier, most ghostwriting jobs will be for businesses, and there’s no better place to connect with business owners than LinkedIn.
Use “professional ghostwriter” or something similar as your headline on LinkedIn, and fill out your profile fully.
Add any samples you have rights to, update your experience and request recommendations from past bosses, clients and colleagues. You can even post an update telling your professional circle that you’re currently looking for freelance ghostwriting work. You never know when someone might need your services – or know someone who does.
You’ll also be surprised by how many out-of-the-blue contacts connect to you. Many people head to LinkedIn just to search for writers and other freelancers, so check your inbox often in case a potential client has contacted you.
I dedicate an entire chapter in my Free Book to this topic. I talk about how to attract, find and win high-quality clients on LinkedIn. You can grab a copy here.
Aside from LinkedIn, frequent industry job boards for listings of curated, high-paying ghostwriting gigs. Always have a resume, a few samples and a good pitch handy.
Get to Ghostwriting!
I dabbled in ghostwriting a little and I eventually did it full-time. Even though I do not have a lot of clips online as a result, I preferred this setup as it led to me starting an agency instead.
I hope this post helps you decide on whether ghostwriting is right for you! If you have any other questions about it, feel free to ask them in the comments.