Biz Tips: Becoming a Sought-After Ghostwriter Boils Down to This:

Biz Tips: Becoming a Sought-After Ghostwriter Boils Down to This:


Becoming a Sought-After Ghostwriter Boils Down to This:


Right now, there’s a growing need for ghostwriters.

Considering the simple facts that (1.) first-person content marketing is growing in popularity, and (2.) busy business moguls have less and less time to allocate to writing articles, publishing e-books, or posting to their company blog’s thought leadership column, the timing is ripe for anyone looking to build a career as a ghostwriter.

Yet, freelancers looking to do so typically don’t know where to start — which is somewhat understandable.

Obviously it comes down to whether or not you’re able to sell your skill of being able to capture someone else’s voice and translate that into written form.

But on top of that, not only do you have to prove your worth through actually writing high-quality content, you have to market your services as well — something that can be pretty tough bearing in mind that most of the people you’re marketing to aren’t going to openly admit they’re need for someone else to write their content for them.

So then comes the million dollar questions: how do you actually make it as a ghostwriter?

Believe it or not, the answer is pretty simple:

Land one client.

That’s it.

I see a ton of freelancers trying to market their skills on LinkedIn or posting openings on UpWork to land gigs as ghostwriters. It’s in approach that works for very few people. Again, potential clients don’t want to connect with someone who openly markets their services as a ghostwriter, because they don’t want others in their network knowing they’re using a one.

Ghostwriting is inherently a referral based business — plain and simple.

If you’re a freelancer looking to make a living as a ghostwriter, you need to find somebody already within your network who needs help facilitating written content.

If you can prove your worth to at least one person within your network, I guarantee you start to make a name for yourself as a ghostwriter.

Let me provide a brief example.

I work closely with Nicolas Cole — author, entrepreneur, and founder of Digital Press.

Early in his career, Cole was able to take the leap from his day job at an advertising firm to a full-time self-employed position as a freelance ghostwriter.

But his career as a ghostwriter didn’t come from job-postings or marketing his services as someone who can help facilitate first-person content.

Instead, Cole was approached by someone within his network who came across his Inc. column, and asked if Cole could help him write first-person material.

Cole accepted the challenge, proved his worth, and started writing for several other clients within a matter of months — all of whom came as referrals from the guy who approached him initially.

At this point you’re probably asking:

“But how do I even land a client in the first place if I’m not marketing myself as a ghostwriter?”

Truth be told, there’s no secret formula.

But, there are a couple of things you can do to put yourself in the best position to attract your first customer:

  • Up your online writing presence. This is a non-negotiable. If you want to build a career as a ghostwriter, you have to build a name for yourself as a writer. Your best bet is publishing on Quora and Medium. You can write about whatever you want, but if you’re looking to attract a client in a specific industry, write about that industry more often than not. Look to get your material republished in a couple of publications to add to your credibility. And if you can, apply for a column at a major pub.
  • Look for people within your network who could benefit from first-person content. Odds are, you’re connected to someone — be it in your personal sphere or on LinkedIn — who could benefit from publishing first-person content. While you’re upping your online writing presence, look for that person. Once you’ve got a bit of a portfolio under your belt, prepare to reach out with a value proposition.
  • Work on your sales skills — but be willing to write a piece or two for free. At the end of the day, landing any gig comes down to your ability to sell. Establishing a strong online presence is a great start, but unless you can convince someone they need your services, they’re not going to buy in. Once you know your value proposition, practice your sales skills. Know what pain points your potential prospects are dealing with — likely lack of exposure — and speak to how you can help solve those pain points. Don’t talk so much about how great of a writer you are, but more about how you can capture their voice and are willing to give them a test run for free to see if it’d be a good fit.

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