Why a Writer Should Consider Ghostwriting

ghostwriting Jul 15, 2022
Here's why a writer should become a ghostwriter. Someone with a ghost sheet over their head typing on a keyboard.

by Cris Yeager


Ghostwriting has been around since the beginning of the written word, and as long as there have been authors, there have been ghostwriters. However, it wasn’t until more recently that technological advances allowed ghostwriting to become an industry in its own right rather than simply a task given to an aspiring writer by an established one who needed some extra work done. But are writers actually short-changing themselves by ghostwriting?

A ghostwriter is a writer who’s paid to write content that will be signed with another name, most commonly an author’s name. It's not uncommon for high-profile celebrities or politicians to hire ghostwriters to create autobiographies for them because they don't want their public image tarnished by an unpopular opinion or unfavorable personal experience. When writing articles for magazines or newspapers, publishers often require that journalists sublimate their voice and style so as not to clash with the publication's house style.

How do writers get their way around not shorting themselves as ghostwriters? Simple. Establish yourself as a writer first. 

In the beginning
Ghostwriting can be surprisingly straightforward. As a first step, you will need to look for work and know how to pitch your services. Look for clients who fall into mainly these three categories: 

  • Someone whose business has expanded so much that they cannot keep up and must outsource some of their writing to freelancers.
  • An individual who may have insightful ideas or an exciting story to tell, but has difficulty organizing them on paper.
  • A company or firm that specializes in ghostwriting for which you can write.

You are not allowed to disclose your identity as the author under any of the circumstances listed above. Does it sound unethical? Sure, it sounds that way at first, but once you see the broader benefits of ghostwriting, you may change your mind.

Ghostwriting benefits
Ghostwriting can teach you a lot about marketing and promotion since you'll need to be able to sell your client's work effectively. Perhaps you will be able to work on some interesting projects that you wouldn't otherwise have access to. It can also help you build your portfolio and expand your writing samples. Working with different clients allows you to gain experience and learn how to manage expectations. Making extra money this way can be a great side job or become a steady income. Learning to capture different voices is the ultimate gift to any writer and how to write in those voices can make you a more versatile writer. 

Writing for money: Ghostwriting is usually motivated by money. The pay is much higher than freelancing. If you want to grow your reputation as a writer, you cannot ascribe your words to your identity anymore. Is this a disadvantage? No. It's actually the opposite. To compensate for this loss, you can charge a higher fee, in addition to learning and enjoying writing about various topics. Especially the subjects you would not normally write about.

Client relationships: After doing a satisfactory job for a client, your client will often request your services again for future work. As a result, you'll get more writing assignments while being paid a higher rate. Plus, no one doesn't need a little extra cash. 

Working with experts: Ghostwriting involves working closely with your clients. Getting to know an established person informally and learning about their thought process can be advantageous. Even when you don't realize it, your subconscious is active and helping you learn.

Expanding knowledge: Ghostwriting allows you to explore and write about a wide range of topics — subjects that you may not have encountered otherwise. This is a great way to enhance your knowledge. You can also improve your writing skills by examining other people’s words for clarity, voice, etc. Furthermore, ghostwriting offers the opportunity to work on projects that you might not be able to do as an independent writer or entrepreneur.

Ghostwriting disadvantages
While there are many advantages to ghostwriting, there are also some disadvantages that writers should be aware of before they decide to take on such work. Additionally, since the work is being done for someone else, the writer will not have any creative control over the project and will have to follow the author's instructions. In most cases, the author (the client) controls all ideas while the writer (ghostwriter) expands those ideas into reality.

No given credit: Many people believe it is unethical since a writer should be given credit for all the work they do. It is widely perceived as ghostwriting as you are passing off someone else's work as your own. When your work is secretive, finding work isn't as difficult as it sounds. 

Looming deadlines: It is impossible to work at your own pace. Deadlines need to be met, and if you are not meeting them, you are building a bad reputation. It is all the more difficult to meet them due to the extensive research required. Okay, so it sounds like more work, but aren't you getting paid more? Yes.

Ready to get started?
If you’re thinking about becoming a ghostwriter, there are many reasons why you should give it a try. Ghostwriting can be very rewarding, both financially and creatively. Being able to write well is one of the most important skills you can have, no matter what field you’re in. If you can write well, you’ll always be in demand. Ghostwriting is a great way to flex your writing muscles and try out new genres or styles of writing. It can be very satisfying to help someone else tell their story, especially if it’s a story that needs to be told.

With all of that said, beginning your journey into ghostwriting shouldn't be as scary as you once thought. Get it started! Check out our advice in the blog!