There’s a growing demand for writers who can produce high quality ghost-written pieces.
Ghostwriters create anything from corporate blog posts to personal memoirs, and more.
As you consider various writing projects, you will probably eventually be offered a ghostwriting project. You may wonder. “Is ghostwriting for me?”
In this post I’ll explore that question. In particular, I’ll take a look at ghostwriting as it pertains to blogging and business writing (since that’s where I have the most experience). What we discuss should be relevant to other types of ghostwriting too.
If you’re a ghostwriter of any type, I’d love to get your opinion on ghostwriting.
What Is Ghostwriting?
At its most basic, ghostwriting means writing without credit. The piece may be credited to someone else, or to a corporation or other entity.
This is a more general definition of ghostwriting than some use, but I think it fits since projects of this type of have some similarities.
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of ghostwriting.
Pros of Ghostwriting
Whether you’re looking for projects to get you through a slow spell or a long-term steady gig, business or blogging ghostwriting projects may be the answer.
Here are some advantages to accepting ghostwriting assignments:
- Lots of work. Let’s face it. Many businesses don’t have time to handle all their writing tasks. Any business site that has a blog that isn’t updated could be a potential ghost writing client. And blogs aren’t the only writing needs that businesses have.
- Pays more. At least it should. Since you don’t get a byline as a ghostwriter, you may have trouble using the project in your portfolio. Remember, you’re being asked to write in someone else’s voice and style, which can be difficult.
- Creative stretch. Ghostwriting often gives writers a chance to try a different type of writing than they might ordinarily do. You may have to learn a new writing style, a new market, a different niche, and more.
- Repeat business. If you’re lucky enough to get a ghost blogging position and the client likes you, it’s likely that the gig will be a steady one. Most businesses need ongoing blog posts. The gig will also become easier as you get used to client’s need.
Ghostwriting may seem like the ideal writing gig, but there are some negatives you should know about before you accept your first ghostwriting project.
Cons of Ghostwriting
Before you accept a ghostwriting gig for a business (or anyone else), make sure that you understand the drawbacks:
- No credit. This is a biggie. Not only will you not get credit, you may even be asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Bylines are important to writers. For that reason I usually give regular clients a small byline discount.
- Someone else’s voice. Learning to write in someone else’s voice is tricky at first. You need to pay attention to what they’ve written in the past and make your writing sound the same way. It’s important for a business blog to have a unified voice.
- Picky clients. Clients tend to be particularly picky when you write in their name or the name of their business. They may make more changes than other clients, since they will be held responsible for what you write.
- Ethics. Sometimes, ghostwriting causes ethical or even legal problems. This is especially true if you are asked to use your ghostwriting voice to misrepresent someone or something. Make sure that you understand and conform to any laws or ethical concerns involving your project.
If you don’t consider the cons of ghostwriting, any one of them could come back to haunt you later on.
Tips to Thrive as a Ghostwriter
How do you enjoy the positive opportunity of ghostwriting without being bitten by the drawbacks? By being careful when you accept the project. Here are some tips to help:
- Contracts. Don’t assume anything. Make sure everything is spelled out in detail. Make sure you understand their expectations, especially regarding authorship and disclosure. A contract also protects you if you have trouble collecting payment.
- Study their voice. Like individuals, different businesses have different voices. It may take some effort to adjust your writing style to the client’s, but you can do it. Start by reading what they’ve already written.
- Balance ghostwriting with bylined work. If you do all ghostwriting, your portfolio may suffer. Potential clients may think that you haven’t been doing anything at all. To counter this impression, I recommend taking on some bylined work.
- Ask for a testimonial. The client doesn’t have to admit what you wrote for them, but they can admit to hiring you for a freelance project. They can also state that you did a good job. This can offset the problem of a thin portfolio.
Would you like to learn more about ghostwriting? Here are some more resources.
- From Yo Prinzel on All Indie Writers, Five Essential Tips for Ghostwriters. This post deals with the responsibilities of writing in someone else’s name.
- From Linda Dessau on Content Marketing Institute, Don’t Get Spooked: Ghostbloggers Can Fuel Your Company Blog. Linda looks at how ghost blogging can benefit the client.
- From Emma Snider on HubSpot Blogs, Ghostwriting 101: How to Capture Their Voice Without Losing Yours. Here are some very practical tips about changing your voice for a ghostwriting client.
- From me, Ethics in Writing (Part 1 of 2) and Ethics in Writing (Part 2 of 2). Two of my earliest posts on this blog was designed to start a discussion on ghostwriting. Be sure to read the comments.
While I do accept ghost blogging projects and much of my technical writing and business writing goes uncredited, I typically turn down memoir and fiction ghost writing projects.
Do you accept ghostwriting projects? If so, what types? What problems have you faced and how did you overcome those problems?