Thinking about becoming a ghostwriter?

Our Choices guest today is Jann Baylon. She writes about ways to make money as a writer by being a ghostwriter – a very inspiring occupation. I worked as a technical writer and editor for most of my writing life.  That is another fine source of income for a writer.

Now let’s read what Jann has to say about ghostwriting.


Becoming a Successful Ghostwriter

by Jann Baylon

Image Credit: Pixabay

Once upon a time, there was a common narrative that writers couldn’t easily make a living. The idea was that an audience was simply too hard to come by for all but the most successful writers — those with major book deals, or notable columns in newspapers and magazines.

It’s still true today that writing is only lucrative for a small percentage of highly successful (and often lucky) individuals. But this is true in many lines of work. And looking past the idea of significant wealth, it is now the case that plenty of writers find ways to make good money. This is largely thanks to the limitless opportunities available online. And some of the best such opportunities come in ghostwriting.

According to some sources, professional ghostwriters’ earnings can be $5,000 or more per project, $5 per word, and/or up to $120 per hour, depending on the structure of a given job. Those aren’t guaranteed, absolute numbers, nor do they neatly depict what annual earnings might look like. But at those rates or better, it’s clear that an industrious, successful ghostwriter can make a good living. So I want to give a few tips on how to develop this kind of career.

Write Daily

If you’ve spent some time on the site, you may have come across a few words on the journaling approach to blogging. Journaling is an immensely rewarding activity in a number of ways, both in blogging and in one’s personal life. But I also think it speaks to one of the most valuable ideas out there for anybody trying to make a business out of writing — which is to write something every day. It is practice and exercise, plain and simple, and writing skills can grow weak like any muscle group. Whether it’s a few paragraphs about your day, a full short story, a web article, or any number of other things, jotting down something in a journal each day is essential practice if you’re to be the best writer for your craft.

Start A Real Business

Many people get into ghostwriting as a “side gig,” or as a way to supplement income with an occasional freelance job. But if you really want to be a successful ghostwriter, it’s best to make it a real, formal business that you can run continually. Fortunately, becoming a professional ghostwriter is a simple process compared to starting a lot of other types of businesses! You’ll need to name the business, draw up a plan for it, and determine its structure (such as whether it’s registered as a sole proprietorship or LLC). But your overhead costs will be relatively low, and you should be able to launch fairly efficiently. In the end though, having a real, registered business with its own name, website, and consistent activity will give you a much better chance at securing regular work from clients.

Cultivate References & Recommendations

Regarding that last point about securing work from clients, it is also essential that you begin to cultivate references and recommendations as early as possible when starting a ghostwriting business. Particularly because you’re ghostwriting — meaning you won’t always be able to share the work you’ve done as your own — endorsements from past clients can be substance behind your most effective pitches to new clients. Whether by providing contact information to satisfied clients, posting testimonials visibly on your website, or anything similar, you should let those who might hire you know that others have appreciated your work.

Make Yourself Easy to Find

There’s an interesting look at ghostwriting from the perspective of an entrepreneur looking to hire a writer, in which the fact that “you have to find and hire them” is presented as a negative. This provides some insight into the client side of things, on which it can be frustrating and difficult to find a suitable writer for a given project. You can use this insight to your advantage though, and take it as motivation to make yourself easy to find. This means learning a few marketing tricks, making your website SEO-friendly, and becoming active on social media, as well as on freelancer-for-hire sites. But ultimately, the easier you are to find, the more attractive you’ll be to prospective clients (and a wider range of them at that).

Schedule Ahead

Finally, try to get into the habit of scheduling ahead. It’s often natural for a writer to take on one project at a time, and worry about the next bit of work later. But if you’re to turn ghostwriting into a professional career, you’ll need to devote regular attention and effort to client outreach, negotiation, and planning — as well as writing. This doesn’t mean you should multitask to the point at which your writing suffers. But you should never completely neglect future projects or general outreach while working on a given piece of writing. It’s important to make the business as steady as possible.

With quality writing and a diligent approach, these tips should help you to turn ghostwriting into a successful and productive business. Handled correctly, it can be an extremely rewarding way to spend your time professionally.


Have you worked as a ghostwriter? If so, please let us know in the comments section below.


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