057 · Become a Ghostwriter, or How to Make Money Writing for Others?

For some people, writing is tedious and deeply boring. Fortunately, there are people who can help them: ghostwriters. So what exactly does this mean, and is there really a way to make money with this activity? That’s what we’ll see together.

What’s the definition of ghostwriting?

A ghostwriter is a writer who uses his or her writing skills to help others who, for various reasons, cannot write themselves. This term was chosen because the name of the real author (the ghostwriter) never appears anywhere (or rarely). So if you’re looking for fame and glory, this is not the way to go.

This ghostwriter receives instructions from a client who pays him for his services. These instructions include the main subject, title, style, number of pages to be reached, length of paragraphs, and other important points.

He may be required to write a variety of texts, such as:

  • a blog or press article
  • a product description for an online store
  • a summary or synthesis from various sources
  • a book of fiction, a biography, a short story…
  • a letter (of motivation, resignation, love letter…)
  • a script for a movie, a play or a short film
  • persuasive writing (copywriting)
  • an instruction manual
  • various web contents
  • a speech
  • a Curriculum Vitae
  • etc.

People usually hire a ghostwriter to write what they can’t write themselves. Either because they don’t have the talent to do it, or because they simply don’t have the time or even the desire.

The ghostwriter can sometimes have to rewrite a text already written. The workload is therefore often less heavy because he only has to rephrase sentences or just change some words. Moreover, since the research work has already been done, since all the required information is usually already included, this work can be done much faster.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of ghostwriting?

The main advantage of this activity is that you can work at home, or even while traveling. You are also free to accept orders or not: If you are sick or very busy, you can take a break! If you like to write, this is a really fun and relaxing job.

On the downside, I don’t really think there are any. Of course, you’ll have to respect the deadlines for the delivery of the content you’ve been ordered, but you’re the one who sets these deadlines, so you have to estimate them correctly. And if one day you realize that you won’t be able to finish the job before the deadline, kindly ask your client for a little extra time. He should accept without too much trouble, if he doesn’t have a deadline to meet.

What is the right way to write a good article or book?

That’s a great question, and I thank you for asking me 😁. In fact, I’ve already written a pretty comprehensive article on the subject. If you’re interested in this idea of becoming a ghostwriter and you don’t really have a clue how to write a blog post or news article, or even a book, feel free to go read it.

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Otherwise, in broad strokes, it’s first important to make sure you understand the topic you’re assigned, as well as the angle from which you need to address it. Sometimes the client will hand in their requests and recommendations with the order, but this is not always the case. You will sometimes receive rather laconic orders like “write me an article about cats”, without any further details (I’m not exaggerating). So don’t hesitate to ask for as many details as possible, even during the writing process if necessary.

In most cases, there will be research to do on the subject. This is to support your statements, to bring clarifications and other complementary information, but above all to avoid falling into avoidable traps and telling crap. It is necessary to consult a maximum of sources, to have a good overview, but also to always check their veracity.

This research mission is often entrusted to the ghostwriter, but sometimes the client can do it himself. This is an important point that must be negotiated beforehand since this research can be more or less time-consuming and therefore, influence the price of your service.

Then comes the moment when the writing of the structured text can begin: Put forward the important points without neglecting the details, follow the guidelines that have been given to you… Then, once your text is completed, read it again, even several times, to make any necessary corrections. You will then be able to submit your work to your client, who will be able to request certain modifications.

Microsoft 365 ad

How to learn before you start?

Before you start looking for clients, make sure you have acquired a minimum of ghostwriting skills. Clients pay for a service and therefore expect good quality work in return. If you decide to go ahead without being able to line up more than a few words correctly on a document, you’ll only accumulate problems and bad reviews. It is therefore essential to take the time necessary to learn the basics of this profession.

To do that, you have to start by reading—a lot of reading. Read press articles, blogs, books, and anything else that will help you understand and assimilate how to structure a text. And don’t always read the same authors, but rather vary the styles and genres because that’s the best way to progress. If you don’t like reading, you won’t like writing either, so don’t waste your time.

Then write. A lot, too. The best way to do this is to create a blog on a subject you like. You probably won’t get many readers, at least at first, but don’t be afraid to ask your friends and family for feedback on what you write. Creating a blog will help you learn, but it will also put you in the shoes of your future customers, which will help you better understand their demands and requirements. And if a blog seems too “ambitious” or difficult, just create a Facebook page or Tumblr to get started. The important thing is to write again and again because writing is an art that, just like mastering a musical instrument, is essentially learned through practice.

So, never stop practicing, reading great authors, learning and evolving. Mastering writing takes time.

Where to find customers?

The easiest way when you start is to use a microservices platform such as Fiverr. And if you want to know how to do that, you should know that by an extraordinary coincidence, I also wrote an article on this topic. 😁

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These platforms will allow you to find your first clients and also to perfect your writing as well as your style, to learn how the relationship between you and your clients works, in short, to become a real professional writer. You can then go to other platforms, which pay freelancers better, such as freelancer.com, UpWork, or even Fiverr Pro.

Another way to earn money is to join a team of ghostwriters. There are indeed many ghostwriting agencies on the web, so feel free to contact them to propose your application. Being part of these kinds of agencies is quite difficult because they are very demanding (prepare a strong portfolio), but once inside, you should have regular work and therefore a stable remuneration.

Otherwise, there are more “classic” ways to advertise: Put ads in online newspapers, communicate on social networks, create your own website, etc. In some cases, these means of communication are totally appropriate, but I don’t think they apply to this type of activity. But feel free to try it out, of course. Just keep in mind that the first reflex of a client looking for a ghostwriter is usually to launch a Google search, and that the first results to appear are (just after the Wikipedia page of the famous and very good movie with Ewan McGregor and Pierce Brosnan) precisely microservices platforms.

A woman on a beach, working on her laptop Many ghostwriters work at home, but others prefer a sunny beach in the tropics

Will artificial intelligence replace ghostwriters?

This is a question that many people ask themselves, and I am one of them. Well, I used to be one of them because I have since formed an opinion. I formed this opinion after reading some articles on the subject, but mostly by experimenting myself some AI writing tools, such as Rytr, Jasper and Writesonic.

The answer to this question is: no. At least not yet. Because, even if these AI writing assistants sometimes do as well, and sometimes even better than some inexperienced novice ghostwriters, the generated texts are, however, generally quite banal and flat.

So, of course, these artificial intelligences continue to learn (thanks to “machine learning”) and improve over time, but I sincerely doubt that they will ever be able to create texts of a quality that only humans, with their experience, their emotions, their creativity, their soul, can produce.

That said, these AIs will probably continue to gain ground and attract clients who just want content to fill their blog (and thus flatter the Google algorithm) or those who use it as a basis to rewrite behind.

Conclusion

Ghostwriter, editor, author… whatever you call it, this activity is great for anyone who is looking to earn money and loves to read and write. Of course, there is a learning curve when starting out, which can be even more or less long depending on the individual. But once the skills are acquired, you have a rewarding job that offers various advantages, as we have seen.

Today, the amount of written content has increased tenfold on various media (online and offline) in just a few years. The demand for talented ghostwriters from all walks of life is not about to dry up, despite the recent appearance of artificial intelligence-assisted online writing tools which, even with their prowess, will not match the marvel of human intelligence anytime soon.

EcoTips

Environmental and climate change issues are more than ever at the heart of the concerns of this 21st century, which is why I am proposing a few ideas that will enable you to limit the negative impact that the implementation of this idea could have.

These solutions that I suggest are sometimes largely insufficient to compensate for these negative impacts, such as carbon offsetting. Unfortunately, there is not always an ideal and 100% efficient solution, far from it. And if you have others, please do not hesitate to share them in the comments below.

Your main working tool is a computer. If you don’t already have one, opt for a portable model which, compared to desktop models, consumes much less power. And you don’t need a “jet fighter” since word processors are probably the least resource-intensive software to run properly. So a small configuration is more than enough, and it will cost you less.

If you already have a computer, keep it as long as possible, just upgrade it if you find it a bit slow (increase the RAM memory, opt for an SSD disk…) or reinstall the operating system. And if it breaks down, get it fixed. It won’t cost much in most cases.

Pros

  • You work at home or while traveling
  • A nice and flexible job
  • You decide the hours you work and who you work with

Cons

  • There is a lot of competition, but be good and you will find clients
  • You have to respect deadlines!
Disclaimer, please read this

Legal and administrative aspects of the ideas you'll find on Sweekr are rarely discussed because they vary greatly depending on the country you live in. I would advise you to check with your local adminitration before starting any business. Keep in mind that if you make money, the state will ask for "its share" in order to guarantee the proper functioning of schools, hospitals and other public services. Therefore, you will probably have to acquire a micro-entrepreneur status, or any other similar.

Please also note that there are currently NO affiliate links on Sweekr! This means that NO commission is charged when you make a purchase from any of the sites recommended here. Some links are optimized for performance testing only, and each recommendation reflects the opinions or evaluations of the writer of this article. And be sure you'll be notified if (and when) this situation ever changes.

This article could be completed or improved with your help. Feel free to leave a comment below if you have any question, a relevant remark, a feedback, additional information or spotted any error.Go to comments

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2 comments

    • I’m not so sure, no. ChatGPT is a nice tool to ask him a question, but I tested it to write a few paragraphs on a specific topic, and the result is good but too neat and soulless. A bit like the Writers AI I talk about in the article.

      Reply

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