Ghostwriting has a key role in today’s content marketing landscape. If you’re interested in growing your writing career and you’re willing to hand off your byline, read this.
Corporate ghostwriters play an important role in helping businesses feed the increasing demand for high quality, branded content. There’s a wide range of clients — from Fortune 500s to local businesses — that are clamoring for a voice in the marketplace.
Many business leaders want to integrate a content marketing strategy that includes influencer marketing, but are unable to do so because they can’t write or don’t have time. Freelance writers help them to achieve these goals. Since there’s a growing understanding of the potential ROI on content marketing, budgets for this type of work are bigger than ever before and are continuing to increase. As a ghostwriter, you’re giving up a byline, but as a result are compensated better than other writing jobs.
In many cases, executives and managers not only rely on ghostwriters to write but also to act as content strategists, generating ideas, topics and conducting the necessary research to be authoritative on a given subject.
Types of Ghostwriting Clients
Ghostwriting takes different paths, but there are three basic types of clients:
- The Outliner: The Outliner has specific thoughts and ideas to share. Whether she’s pressed for time or just doesn’t enjoy writing, she’s looking for someone to turn those ideas into a finished product. She’ll often provide a lot of source material for a ghostwriter to write from: references, outlines, rough drafts, conversations or interviews.
- The Collaborator: The Collaborator is less hands-on. She has an idea of what she’d like to say, how she wants her brand to appear and even some key points. She might offer you titles, a paragraph summary or some quick references on specific articles, but she’s relying on the ghostwriter for his ability to take a seed idea and run with it.
- The Hands-Off Thought Leader: The Hands-Off Thought Leader wants the ghostwriter to contribute both original ideas and words. She may have some general topics she wants to touch on, but ultimately this client wants the full package from title generation to research, drafting and editing. She may review the final product before it’s published, but wants the piece she reviews as close to finished as possible.
5 Tips to Make Your Ghostwriting Venture a Success
If you’re interested in working as a ghostwriter, consider these five tips before signing on with a client.
- Determine Expectations: Will you be working with an Outliner, Collaborator or Hands-Off Thought Leader? Using these archetypes, identify what the client is asking for. Both parties need to be clear about expectations from the start. How involved will she be during the process? Who provides the ideas? The research and quotes? The final edits?
- Set a Clear Scope of Work: A clear scope of work is essential. How is your time accounted for in the project (interviews and research)? Will you be responsible for posting content or sourcing images for onsite pieces? Are you approaching publishers about offsite content? How many rounds of edits are included per piece? Determining these points in advance will minimize conflict, while helping you maximize the profits from each engagement.
- Study and Develop the Voice: The ability to embody another person’s voice is a core skill of a successful ghostwriter. Study her voice before you start writing. Ask for previous examples of her writing or watch videos of her lecturing. Discuss what tone she wants to convey. Arrange to interview her one-on-one, if you can, and pay attention to her word choices, how her sentences flow and her overall communication style.
- Hone Your People Skills: Strong people skills are as important as strong writing skills when you’re ghostwriting. Sometimes it’s about helping your client figure out what she really wants to say. Interview chops and the ability to tease out complex ideas is crucial. Patience, curiosity and a sense of humor can help make articulating ideas less daunting for the client.
- Be Committed to Feedback: The best ghostwriters are open to feedback. Imagine you had a public platform and you were hiring someone to speak on your behalf. It’s easy to see why your client is invested in getting it “just right.” Soliciting and integrating feedback is key. At the end of the day, it’s her byline on the piece, not yours. Don’t be afraid to defend certain decisions you’ve made but stay committed to your end goal: writing something that pleases the client.
Ghostwriting has a key role in today’s content marketing landscape. Success starts with clear expectations and a process which is reinforced by good people skills and gracefully accepting feedback. If you’re interested in growing your writing career and you’re willing to hand off your byline, ghostwriting can be a profitable strategy to make a living in the content marketing world.