Finding Work as the Secret Agent of Writing: Ghostwriting

ghostwriting Feb 04, 2022
The words

 by Mary C Long


Being a ghostwriter can feel akin to being in the CIA, at times – except being in the CIA might be easier. At least you always know where your paycheck is coming from. Of course, ghostwriting is less likely to kill you. 

How do you get work when you can't tell anyone about what you do?

The entire point of ghostwriting is to be unseen and unnamed. Most places for whom you write will not want anyone to know that they are even using ghostwriters, let alone you specifically. So how do you get additional work when you can’t talk about the work you’ve done? Here are a few tips to help on that front.

Build your portfolio
Get yourself out there. In addition to keeping up with your own blog (which you should definitely be doing), write bylined pieces anywhere they will let you. Scratch that – write for anyone that will give you true exposure. There are plenty of reputable webzines and blogs that will allow you to guest write, with your name attached. On the flip side, avoid content mills like the plague. There’s not enough return on your time investment.

You’re better offering your services to nonprofits, for example, who will love you for helping within their limited budget. You won’t get paid by these types of sites, but you’ll benefit from their traffic and readership. Also you’ll be able to say, “I’ve been published on,” when people ask where they can find your work. Speaking of…

List the places you’ve been published
Even if you can’t say which specific articles you’ve written, do list somewhere on your blog or website the places where your work has appeared, especially if they are high-profile. If you’ve ghosted a piece published on the Huffington Post, then you want to list them. You won’t be able to point to the specific piece (just link to their home page), but people looking for a ghostwriter understand how ghostwriting works. Which leads us to…

Relationship building
Word-of-mouth is going to be your best friend, so be sure that you not only do good work, but are easy to work with and leave a lasting (good) impression on each client, even if you don’t plan to ever work with them again. Ask each client if they’d be willing to provide you with a reference. Not everyone will, but a few good ones will be enough. Bottom line: you never know where your next job is coming from, so don’t burn any bridges.

The bottom line
It won’t happen overnight, but if you create enough work to show that you can actually write, eventually you’ll find people who will pay you to do it – whether publicly, or as a ghost.