Have you ever dreamed about helping a famous actress write her life story? Are you okay with writing behind the scenes and not receiving acknowledgement for your work? Do you enjoy research and are able to adapt to another person’s style of writing or speaking? Then becoming a ghostwriter may be something you could enjoy doing from home.
What Exactly is Ghostwriting?
Despite its name, ghostwriting is not about writing ghost stories. Believe it or not, I actually had a guy ask me this when I told him I did ghostwriting from home.
Ghostwriting in its simplest definition is writing for someone else as if you were that person. In other words, you will not be able to use your own byline or get any acknowledgement for your writing, because you are writing as if you were that that person.
They will get credit for your literary work (book, article, essay), but you will receive financial compensation.
Your job as a ghostwriter is to take on the voice, style, and personality of the person for whom you are doing the writing.
Why Would Anyone Hire a Ghostwriter?
The main reason anyone would hire a ghostwriter is time. The individual wishing to hire a ghostwriter does not have the time to actually write the literary piece.
Other reasons are:
- The individual lacks the writing talent or basic mechanics of writing.
- The individual is too close to the topic to write about it.
- The individual isn’t certain which parts of the literary piece are important or worth mentioning.
What Are Some of the Challenges of Ghostwriting?
The main challenge of ghostwriting is to be able to adapt to the current style of the person to whom you are providing the service. Questions to ask yourself before agreeing to ghostwrite for anyone are:
- What is the current literary style or voice of the author, celebrity, politician, etc. needing the service?
- Will I be able to capture his/her way of speaking on paper?
- How passionate or knowledgeable is he/she on the topic?
- What are the goals or objectives for having this piece written?
- What are his/her beliefs and ethics regarding the topic?
- How much value or worth is riding on this literary piece?
- How long does this piece need to be?
- What is the final deadline for this project?
What Skills Do You Need to Get Started as a Ghostwriter?
Obviously, you will need good writing skills as far as grammar and spelling are concerned. You will also need to possess excellent interviewing and researching skills as you plan how to approach this topic and the direction or slant the literary piece needs to take.
Many times the ghostwriter is able to pick up ideas or details in the interview that would initially have been left out if the celebrity or the individual was left to do the writing on his/her own.
What Kinds of Things Can You Write as a Ghostwriter?
While everyone has probably heard of celebrities wishing to publish their autobiographies, biographies or memoirs, you are not limited to just these.
Many times an editor or author will work with a ghostwriter as a third party brought in to do the initial writing or at least assist with it. Other pieces that you can ghostwrite on a variety of topics include:
- non-fiction books of all types
- fiction books of all types
- e-books on various topics
- online and offline articles
- blog comments or other opinionated pieces
How Much Can You Earn as a Ghostwriter?
Just like all freelance work, it will vary from client to client or from company to company. I’ve seen ghostwriters making as little as $9 an hour to as much $800,000 for a 300-page non-fiction book. So, be prepared for that.
Where Can You Find Work as a Ghostwriter?
Now since I have you all excited about becoming a ghostwriter, where can you find work—especially working from home? Some places to start are:
Textbroker – Read Textbroker Review – Textbroker is always hiring article writers to write for clients on a wide variety of topics. Here you will be paid so much per article based on the number of words in the article. You can increase your star rating here over time and begin earning more per word once you gain a lot of experience.
BKA Content – Read BKA Content Review – BKA Content is similar to Textbroker in many ways. You sign up as a writer and then choose the articles you want to write. And like Textbroker, these are ghostwritten articles.
Craigslist – Private clients can sometimes be found on Craigslist. I would recommend searching in some of the Craigslist sites for bigger cities and using “freelance” and “freelance writer” or “freelance writing” as my keywords. However, be very careful you don't get scammed. If anything feels fishy to you, don't contact the poster.
Facebook Groups – If you're not using Facebook for finding freelance or other work, you're missing out! And there are Facebook groups out there now for people in every industry to help them find work. Here are just a few I found that are for freelance writers looking for work:
Association of Ghostwriters – This and other industry-related websites that are geared more towards just ghostwriters are a great source for networking and finding clients. You can join for a fee and sign up as both a ghostwriter or a speaker.
Local community organizations – Organizations such as the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) and American Legion or any local historical society are often looking for ghostwriters (many times as volunteers, but sometimes paid) to write war stories, or help aging veterans write about their heroic deeds or battles.
And sometimes they will try to sell these works to publishers or simply pass the stories down to their grandchildren.
Contena – Tons of writing opportunities, including opportunities for ghost writers, are listed at Contena. There are literally thousands of freelance jobs posted, most of which are high-quality and well-paying.
Contena is not a free job board to access, though. To get 10% off any membership plan, use coupon code ways2earn at checkout.
How Does an Interested Individual Get Started With Ghostwriting?
Even though you may not have been a ghostwriter before, you may have engaged in copywriting, resume writing or speech writing. All of these are similar to ghostwriting, so it is sometimes just a matter of being able to sell yourself by convincing clients that this is something you can probably transfer into doing.
You can always start with one of the bidding sites such as Upwork and begin there by building your portfolio. Another idea is to volunteer to write for a local community organization, such as one of the ones mentioned above, and gain additional experience that way.
Not Sure What You'd Write About as a Freelancer Ghostwriter?
If you're not sure what you'd write about/specialize in for your ghostwriting career, consider grabbing a copy of Gina Horkey's FREE list of 200+ writing niches to consider! That should definitely get your wheels turning.
Whichever way you decide to launch your freelance ghostwriting career, you can do it. You may not get your name in print, but you can get inside the heads and hearts of some very special people needing to tell their stories. All that, and you get to work from home!
This post originally published on February 20, 2015. Updated and republished on May 31, 2019.