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How to Become a Ghostwriter: Detailed Guide for Beginners

So, you want to know how to become a ghostwriter? 🤔

You want to step into someone else’s shoes and use your writing skills to bring their ideas to life?

Well, you’ve come to the right place.

Below, we talk about ghostwriting and explore the essential steps to get started. We also discuss everything you need to know, from how to hone your writing skills, to what you need to do to attract the right clients.

📚 So, read on to learn more about this exciting career path.


What is a ghostwriter?

Ghostwriting on a piece of lined paper with a pen

Before we can guide you on how to become a ghostwriter, it’s important that you understand what ghostwriting entails.

Let’s start with a dictionary definition.

According to dictionary.com, a ghostwriter is “a person who writes one or numerous speeches, books, articles, etc., for another person who is named as or presumed to be the author.“

So, in simpler terms, ghostwriting is about writing material for someone else without receiving public credit for it.

For example, if you ghostwrite a memoir for a client, your job will be to tell your client’s story and capture their voice and ideas. And you’ll do so while remaining anonymous and relinquishing all authorship rights.

Common types of ghostwriting opportunities

👉 There are many different types of industries where you can thrive as a ghostwriter. You can write:

  • Blog posts and articles
  • Ebooks
  • Autobiographies
  • Speeches
  • Fiction books
  • Online course material
  • Video scripts
  • Film and tv screenplays

As you can see, pretty much any text can be ghostwritten.


Why become a ghostwriter?

Our article on how to become a ghostwriter would be incomplete without discussing the benefits of choosing this route.

When most writers start their careers, they want to tell their stories. They may also dream about receiving accolades for their work.

But, as you know, with ghostwriting, that’s not possible.

So, why would anyone want to put their time and energy into writing something for which they won’t receive public credit?

👉 Well, there are a few reasons:

Good pay 💸

As a ghostwriter, you’ll need to have the ability to adopt another person’s voice, tone, and style. Some ghostwriting jobs involve confidential information and may require you to be professional and discreet. And as discussed, you will not receive public credit for all your hard work.

The combination of these factors is why ghostwriters get paid higher rates.

So, how much do ghostwriters make?

According to Reedsy, experienced ghostwriters can earn anything between $40,000 to $70,000 for a book-length project, while beginner ghostwriters fall in the $20,000 to $30,000 bracket for a memoir [1]. On smaller projects like articles and web content, ghostwriters typically earn $0.15 to $4 per word.

Let’s compare this to reports showing that freelance writers typically charge between $0.10 to $1 per word [2].

The difference in earning potential is definitely a large drawing card.


Write on interesting topics 💡

Ghostwriting using a laptop

One advantage of becoming a ghostwriter is the opportunity to explore and write about fascinating topics you might not have considered writing about before.

Remember that as a freelance writer, you’ll most likely have a niche and you may develop your own “voice“ or style as a writer.

On the other hand, as a ghostwriter, your job will be to capture the voice and ideas of different clients, each with their unique experiences and expertise.

This means that on one project, you might focus on business. On the next, you might find yourself writing about finance, then history, self-help, and beyond.

This constant exposure to different fields can help you expand your knowledge and develop your writing skills.


Improve your writing skills 🤹🏻

As a ghostwriter, you have the unique opportunity to sharpen your writing skills.

You get to work with different clients in industries or topics you may not be familiar with, and still manage to tell their stories effectively. You might be writing in the formal tone of a business exec on one project, and then convert to a conversational style of a memoirist on the next.

By continually practicing and fine-tuning your ability to mimic various styles, you develop versatility and enhance your writing skills.

You’ll also get the opportunity to work on your editorial skills. As you won’t be writing from a personal perspective, you may focus some time on editing the work and learning how to tell stories effectively.


How to become a ghostwriter: Step-by-step guide

Now that we’re clear on what ghostwriters do and some of the incredible benefits of this career path, let’s get into how to actually get started on this journey.


Step 1: Become a freelance writer ✍️

The first step on our list of how to become a ghostwriter shouldn’t come as a surprise. Before you can start reaching out to clients, it’s important that you’re confident in your writing skills. Freelance writing can help you achieve this.

Starting as a freelance writer allows you to develop a portfolio, work on your writing skills, and work with clients, all of which are important for this career path.

In addition, freelance writing enables you to establish a network, which can lead to potential ghostwriting opportunities (we’ll discuss this point in more detail a little later).


Step 2: Work on long-form content 👨‍💻

There are many reasons why working on long-form content is a great way to prepare yourself for becoming a ghostwriter.

  • It allows you to showcase your ability to sustain a consistent writing style and voice over an extended work.
  • Extensive projects need you to be disciplined, focused, and maintain reader engagement from beginning to end. This translates to ghostwriting, where capturing and maintaining the client’s voice and creating engaging content is essential.
  • Working on long content lets you dive deep into a specific subject matter. You’ll have to do a lot of research, organize your information, and present it all in a coherent and engaging way. As a ghostwriter, the ability to research and handle complex topics is valuable.

Step 3: Read a lot 📰

If you want to learn how to become a ghostwriter then you need to read a lot as can be seen in this image of a man reading on his laptop

This point doesn’t just belong in our guide on how to become a ghostwriter. Reading extensively is a fundamental part of becoming a good writer.

But how exactly does reading help you become a better ghostwriter?

  • It exposes you to different writing styles.
  • You gain a lot of knowledge about different industries, cultures, and perspectives.
  • It also gives you the opportunity to explore different character development techniques, narrative structures, and other essential elements of writing a good story.

It’s difficult to put a specific number on how many books you should aim to read in a year. This, of course, depends on the amount of time you have.

Some people read a book a month, while others aim for one book every couple of months or every quarter. Whatever you choose, as long as you expose yourself to different writers on a regular basis, you’re on the right track.


Step 4: Write in different styles and voices ✏️

We’ve already touched on the importance of versatility in our guide on how to become a ghostwriter.

👉 Here’s a closer look at how to practice writing in different voices and styles:

  • Experiment with writing exercises that involve emulating various voices and tones.
  • Continuously read and expose yourself to different writing styles.
  • Study and analyze diverse authors to understand their unique styles and tones.

By actively practicing and immersing yourself in different styles and tones, you can develop the adaptability and flexibility needed to excel as a ghostwriter.


Step 5: Write your own book 🖨️

Above, we highlighted that working on long-form content is important. But that can be screenplays, how-to guides, anything that’s more than 1,000 words.

However, fully committing to completing a 40,000 to 80,000 word project is something else.

👉 It forces you to:

  • Understand the entire process of writing a book. From brainstorming and outlining, to editing and revising.
  • It demonstrates your commitment and discipline to see a whole project through.
  • It allows you to work on your own writing voice. This can help you lay a strong foundation as a writer, which you can use as you adapt to different styles.

There are many ways that writing a book can benefit you, which is why it’s the last (but not least) step in our guide on how to become a ghostwriter.


How to market your ghostwriting services

By now, you should be clear on how to become a ghostwriter. But you’re not the only one who’s interested in this career path. So, how do you make sure you market yourself effectively and attract clients?


Create your own website 🚧

Having a website allows you to establish an online presence. It also gives you some credibility. A potential client can just head straight to your site, read up on you, check out your writing samples…the list of benefits is endless.

You can hire a professional to create a simple website for you. If that’s not possible right now, that’s okay because you can also go about it the DIY route.

Thankfully, you don’t have to be a tech whiz or know code to be able to create a beautiful website these days. Many platforms like WordPress are very intuitive. Check out our comparison of Ghost vs WordPress for help choosing the best platform for your website.


Guest post 🖱️

Guest posting is when you write a blog or article that is published on someone else’s blog for free.

It helps you market your services, you get to reach a wider audience, and you can add the article to your portfolio.

But guest posting doesn’t always work. Some people try it out and it doesn’t help them market themselves.

👉 So, how can you guest post effectively? You’ll need to:

  • Research and identify reputable websites and blogs to pitch to.
  • Understand their audience and tailor your content accordingly.
  • Make sure you follow their content guidelines.
  • Include a brief bio and link back to your own website.

Cold pitch ⚙️

Cold pitching is one of the most effective strategies to gain writing clients. So, we couldn’t leave this point from our guide on how to become a ghostwriter.

In a nutshell, it involves reaching out to individuals and businesses that can benefit from your services, even if they haven’t placed a job ad or expressed interest in getting a ghostwriter.

👉 There are many ways to cold pitch. Here are a few tips to help you land your ghostwriting client:

  • Personalize your pitch. A pitch sent to the CEO of a tech company cannot be the same pitch sent to a historian who may be interested in your services. Personalizing your pitch can be addressing your potential client by their name, referencing an article they may have recently written, or touching on any new relevant industry topics they might be interested in.
  • Send them the most relevant writing samples. This is important, so they can gauge if you’ll be able to capture their unique voice properly.
  • Keep the pitch short and to the point. Studies show that the average person receives 100 to 120 emails per day [3]. That’s a big number! And sending a long and elaborate email to an already cluttered inbox isn’t a great move. You want to keep your pitch short and straight to the point so that in just a few seconds after opening your mail, your potential client will know who you are and what you can offer them.
  • Follow up politely. If you haven’t heard anything from your potential client in a week after sending your pitch, don’t be afraid to follow up. People get busy. They might have seen your email and wanted to respond but just forgot to. So, follow up and encourage them to review and consider your pitch.

Reach out to existing clients 🧑‍💻

Did you know that your current clients can actually be the perfect place to start your ghostwriting journey?

Just think about it – they already know you, are familiar with your writing skills, and may be able to trust you as a ghostwriter for them.

For this point, all you need to do is send out a friendly email letting your existing clients know about your new services as a ghostwriter.

The email can be something along the lines of:

Hi [first name].

Hope you’re well. Just thought I should reach out to let you know that I’ve expanded my writing services by adding ghostwriting. I know that as a [their job] you may struggle to find the time to write your own [course material/scripts/etc.], so I’d be happy to offer you my services. Let me know if you’re keen to chat and please feel free to pass this information to anyone you think might be interested in my ghostwriting services. Keep well.

This is a great way to let them know that you’re open to ghostwriting opportunities and if they personally don’t need them, it might encourage them to pass your information to someone who might.


Final thoughts on how to become a ghostwriter 🚋

Becoming a ghostwriter can be a rewarding career path, offering lots of advantages and opportunities for growth. By choosing ghostwriting, you’ll not only unlock higher pay rates, but you’ll also have the chance to learn and write about different fascinating topics. Follow the strategies we discussed in this tutorial so you can get started on your new career path.

Now that you’ve learned how to become a ghostwriter, you should check out our guides on how to create a content calendar and the content creation process to help you improve your writing even further.