how to become a ghostwriter

This is a definitive guide on how to become a ghostwriter. In this guide, you will learn all that it takes to be a ghostwriter and make money freelance writing. 

So if you are looking forward to starting a freelance writing business as a ghostwriter, this will be your ultimate guide. 

Just briefly, this guide will cover: 

  1. What is a ghostwriter 
  2. Why should you become a ghostwriter 
  3. How much do ghostwriters make
  4. How do ghostwriters get paid
  5. How to become a ghostwriter 
  6. How to market yourself as a ghostwriter 
  7. Ghostwriter jobs 

Let’s cut to the chase. 

What is a ghostwriter – what does ghostwriter mean?

A ghostwriter is a person who writes pieces, such as articles, blog posts (though these two have merged over the years to mean the same thing), web content, SEO content, email campaigns, etc. but not credited for his or her writing efforts. 

So instead of publishing these pieces under your name, they are printed under someone else’s name – could be your client or the company name. It is also important to note that you cannot use any of these writings elsewhere, unless with the approval of your client. 

However, it would help if you strike a deal with your client to convert the ghostwritten pieces into pdf and showcase them privately to potential clients who may need writing samples from you. This would not affect your clients in any way if they were already published. 

Why should I become a ghostwriter? 

What sense would it make to dive into ghostwriting business if you won’t get credit for your efforts? Maybe you need to look for any other lucrative freelance writing career and push ghostwriting into a bottomless pit. 

While this is what every beginner might think about ghostwriting, what they don’t know is that ghostwriting is one of the most demanded freelance writing opportunities right now. Additionally, ghostwriting jobs attract better pay because you don’t get credit for your writing services. 

Are there two categories of ghostwriting? 

There are two categories of ghostwriting – ghostwriting for beginners and ghostwriting for experts. As I said, ghostwriting attracts higher pay, but this may not be the case for all ghostwriters. 

The expert ghostwriters are likely to charge more as compared to beginner ghostwriters. And this is because of the tons of experience they’ve garnered as ghostwriters. Usually, these experienced level freelance ghostwriters find their ghostwriting gigs through pitching. 

On the other hand, beginner freelance ghostwriters usually find ghostwriting jobs on freelance platforms, such as Upwork. And the reason why I say that jobs found on such platforms are ghostwriting gigs too is that ghostwriters on these platforms never receive any credit for their work. 

I had to clarify this because experts in the industry get beginner freelancers confused on who is a ghost writer because they tend to make beginner writers feel like what they are doing on freelancing platforms such as Upwork is not ghostwriting. 

So the difference between these two categories of ghostwriters is the level of experience and ghostwriting rates. Otherwise, if you are working for anyone as a writer and never get credit for your work, you are a ghostwriter, whether or not you command higher rates. 

How much do ghostwriters make? 

As I mentioned earlier, ghostwriting services differ by the rates freelance ghostwriters charge. More experienced ghostwriters can charge up to $2,000/ project, depending on your client and years of experience. 

For example, ghostwriting for a celeb or an industry expert will earn you more than writing for just a broker-client on a freelancing platform, such as Fiverr or Upwork. 

On the other hand, beginner freelance ghostwriters can charge as low as $5, depending on the clients they fetch. So the bottom line is that there are no specific rates for ghost writers jobs, but the experience level and who you work with influences how much you get paid as a ghostwriter. 

How do ghostwriters get paid? 

There are many modes of payment ghostwriters can choose from. If you decide to work with direct clients, then you could agree to get paid via PayPal, wire transfers, Payoneer, bank transfer, among other payment means. 

The same will apply if you are working on freelance writing platforms, such as Upwork and Fiverr. All you will need to do is add a payment method, such as your bank account, PayPal account, where you can withdraw your earnings once it matures. 

This far, I believe that you now know what a ghostwriter is, reasons why you need to consider becoming a ghostwriter, how much ghostwriters make, and how ghostwriters get paid. But how do you become a ghostwriter? 

How to Become a Ghostwriter 

When you do a simple Google search, there are probabilities that you’ll come across quite confusing steps of how to become a ghostwriter. In my opinion, I feel like there is more that has been left on these posts. So without further ado, let’s look at the steps to becoming a ghostwriter:

1. Create your writing sample

how to become a ghostwriter

The first thing you should do if you are serious about starting a ghostwriting business is to create a writing sample. Like any other job, ghostwriting will also require you to have samples you can present to potential clients. 

So how do you create ghostwriting samples? 

There are many ways you can create a ghostwriting sample – from the crystal ball technique to using the skyscraper technique by Danny Margulies and Brian Dean, respectively. 

The crystal ball technique is where you create a writing sample based on a job posting requirement and present it to your client as a writing sample. This method is most effective when using freelance platforms like Upwork to get ghost writing jobs. 

On the other hand, the skyscraper technique is based on a proven SEO strategy by the founder of Backlinko, Brian Dean. The ideology behind this technique is that you want to create a writing sample by targeting specific terms called keywords, in line with what Google considers worthy of ranking on page 1. In other words, you create your article by following the structure of the top-ranking articles on Google, but now make it more in-depth. 

To create your writing sample, I prefer that you use a sample job posting with phrases, such as ghostwriter needed and carefully analyze the job description to know what the client needs. You can get a sample job posting on freelance writing job boards, or freelance platforms like Upwork.

2. Become a freelance writer on freelancing platforms

become a ghostwriter

Once you have your writing sample ready, it’s time to job hunt on freelance marketplaces, such as Upwork. I highly recommend that you start your ghostwriting journey on Upwork. 

Upwork has become strict these days, and not just anyone will get approved to be part of the awesome community. So you need to make sure that your application to join Upwork is on point and that you have listed all the relevant skills you have. 

While this is not the 100% guarantee that Upwork will approve your account, there is a 100% technique that I have proven to work – the 2-step account creation. Now, with this technique, all you have to do is start by creating a none-writing profile. 

You could opt to create an engineering freelance account, a legal consultant account, or a machine learning account. The reason why you should choose any of these categories is that Upwork has a deficit in these areas. 

Start by researching data science (machine learning) or whatever you choose to have an idea of their job description, then rewrite this as your overview. Once you have crafted your Upwork overview, go ahead and start filling your application to join Upwork. 

Finally, you need to know that Upwork allows you to change your Upwork profile anytime you wish. So once you get approved, adjust your machine learning profile and begin sourcing for ghostwriting jobs for beginners. Take note to include as much information when filling your application.

3. Learn from your clients 

becoming a ghostwriter

Sourcing for the right ghostwriting jobs for beginners will help you land a few ghostwriting gigs. Learn as much as you can from your clients. I know some shitty clients are just hard to learn from, but try and only work with experienced clients. 

When I started writing on Upwork, I was lucky to have met some of the best clients. These are clients who run reputable tuition agencies in Singapore, former senior employees from Coca-cola and kindergarten owners in countries such as Malaysia. 

These clients gave me an insight into the new way of content marketing; they corrected me whenever I made mistakes, and this helped me create my blog. 

Be free and human with your clients while maintaining professionalism at the highest level. Work with the client step by step, keep updating them regarding how far you have gone with their project and they will always be happy to correct you politely when you make mistakes.

4. Improve your freelance writing skills

Learning never stops and trying out new ideas should help you up your game in the freelancing space. Take freelance writing courses, read from reputable blogs like Backlinko and acquire more knowledge. 

Additionally, keep practicing by writing daily. Developing a writing habit improves your writing skills. While there is no standard amount of words you should write every day, you can have a schedule and maybe start with 500 words, then increase the limit gradually.

5. Start a freelance writer blog 

ghostwriting jobs for beginners

Starting a freelance writer blog is just an extension of bettering your writing skills. Having a blog will help you improve your writing because you will have to update the blog with fresh content regularly. 

To start a blog, you first need to choose a niche you’d want to write about. It could either be parenting, health, relationships, technology, etc. Once you have selected a niche, brainstorm a domain name. A domain name is your blog name, and I prefer you choose a domain name with a .com extension—for example, yourdomainname.com. 

There are a couple of ways to settle on a domain name. You could name your blog by considering what you are passionate about. For example, Jon Morrow named his blog SmartBlogger, which means this is a blog for passionate bloggers. Also, you can decide on your domain name by mentioning the value people will get when they read from your blog, for example, beabetterblogger.com. 

Once you have a domain name, it’s time to choose your hosting company. I prefer that you choose Bluehost as your hosting provider because of the many features it offers users. Bluehost will provide you with a free SSL certificate, free domain name and excellent customer support through their quick and easy customer live chat. 

I use Bluehost as my hosting provider, and honestly, they are an excellent hosting service as compared to other hosting providers I have used in the past. (Ouch! I don’t want to mention names) . 

So that marks the end of our steps to becoming a ghostwriter. By now, you should have landed a few ghostwriting and gaining experience as you work with more clients, but how do you market yourself as a ghostwriter? 

Get started with Bluehost.

How to Market Yourself as a Ghostwriter

Even while you have landed a few ghostwriting jobs, you must promote yourself and let potential clients know that you are a ghostwriter for hire. This way, you can end up adding more high-paying clients on your client’s list. So how do you market yourself?

1. Guest post on relevant blogs 

Guest posting on blogs helps you get more attention and people can know that you are a ghostwriter. But make sure to include a killer author bio that states that you are a ghostwriter for hire. This way, potential clients interested in hiring you can do so. 

There are a ton of “write for us” blogs, such as FreelancerFaqs, The Write Life, The Elephant, Digital Health Buzz, among other publications that accept submissions. 

Before you guest post on blogs, you will need to write a pitch to the platform’s editor through a pitch story idea. You, therefore, need to research what the blog is about, what’s the most shared post on their blog to increase the chances of your pitch story being approved. 

You should also know how to get editors’ email, but don’t worry about that because I’ll cover it in the next section – cold emailing.

2. Connect with industry influencers on Twitter/ LinkedIn 

The next way you can promote yourself as a ghostwriter is by connecting with industry experts on social media platforms, such as Twitter and LinkedIn. 

It is essential to take note that building relationships go a long way than just spamming people using a follow for follow hashtag trend. 

What you can do instead is to be as helpful as possible by posting valuable and actionable advice on your walls. 

If you must follow anyone, make sure you are following only the people in your industry. And whenever someone within your industry follows you, show them love by following back. 

Below are the Twitter freelance writing accounts you should follow: 

3. Leave captivating comments on blogs 

Leaving comments on other blogs has been considered old school, but it still works when done the right way. Please, for chrissake, don’t leave spam comments, such as “nice post,” “excellent post,” and so on. This means that you did not read the post and therefore, are trying to secure a no-follow backlink or seeking unnecessary attention. 

Instead, read the post, digest it and leave a meaningful comment that will spike curiosity. Maybe, leave a comment by explaining how the post was timely because you were previously making some mistakes before you came across the post.  

5. Participate in Facebook groups 

how to become a ghostwriter

Facebook groups are also great. But you need to be more careful these days with what Facebook groups you join. I don’t like too promotional groups, where it’s like people are on a marathon promoting their products. 

I have seen this on most Facebook groups, which I have left to give me time and only focus on the groups that matter to me. That said, below are some of the groups that will help you grow as an online savvy – from freelance writing to virtual assistance. 

When you get approved to join the above mentioned Facebook groups, please be courteous and helpful. Don’t spam people and don’t get promotional. There are specific days in these groups when you are allowed to promote your products or services. 

And that marks the end of how you can market yourself as a ghostwriter. So how do you score expert ghostwriter jobs? I mean those that pay way better as compared to the freelance platforms, such as Upwork? 

How to Score Expert Ghostwriting Gigs as a Ghostwriter

1. Cold emailing

Cold emailing is considered one of the most effective ways to land freelance writing jobs, including ghostwriting jobs. Sadly, most have failed terribly with cold emailing. Many people give up within the first two weeks of trying cold emailing. 

But it’s not because cold emailing doesn’t work. It’s just that most people are now implementing it the right way. For example, instead of finding prospects on your own, you hire a data mining freelancer, who may not even know your specific goals. 

However, cold emailing can be a goldmine if practiced the right way. First, you need to decide on your preferred niche. You can do this by researching the most profitable niches on Google while also taking care of what you can comfortably handle. 

The Process

Once you have chosen your niche, you will need to identify the prospects you want to reach out to. There are several ways you can identify prospects. For example, you can do a simple Google search “your niche+companies”. With this tactic, you will end up with something like “eCommerce industries.”

Once you identify your prospects, make sure that they value content marketing and that they have active blogs. You can do this by hovering through their website pages and checking out their most recent post. 

The next step is to find the most relevant email addresses for those in charge of content in whatever companies you have chosen. There are a few email finder tools I have tested and proven, such as Snovio, Skrapp, Hunter, Voila Norbert, Findthat.Email, Lusha, among others. 

Finally, write your pitch email. When writing your article pitch, make sure that you keep it short and go straight to the point. Your headline should be relevant and be able to capture the reader’s attention. For example, “content at company x.” Also, make sure to personalize your email by including the person’s name.

2. Job boards 

While job board jobs will not pay you as high as gigs you land through cold emailing, they surely can be a great addition to your ghostwriting gigs marketplaces. There are a ton of job boards – both paid and free. 

Free job boards tend to be crowded by many freelancers and therefore may not present you with the best opportunities. However, you can still land a ton of ghostwriting gigs if you surely know what you are doing. 

Paid job boards, on the other hand, are not as crowded as compared to free job boards because you will have to pay a monthly fee, which many freelance writers won’t consider. If you consider yourself an expert and don’t want to spend a lot of time competing for jobs on free job boards, subscribing to a paid job board would help. 

That said, below are some of the job boards you can try out: 

Free writing job boards

Paid writing job boards

You Can Make Money Ghostwriting 

You must be wondering what the difference between a ghostwriter and a freelance writer is? And is the process of becoming one the same? 

The steps involved in becoming a freelance writer is pretty much the same as becoming a ghostwriter. The minor difference is what you will call yourself – a ghostwriter for hire or a freelance writer for hire. 

Also, you need to know that the phrase a “freelance writer” is the umbrella name for any remote writing gig. So don’t confuse the two. 

I’d Like to Hear From You

Now that you know the exact steps how to become a ghostwriter, what’s your next plan? Have you tried ghostwriting before? Did you find it confusing to differentiate between freelance writing and ghostwriting? And did you know we have two categories of ghostwriting? Let me know in the comments below. 

44 thoughts on “How to Become a Ghostwriter: The Definitive Guide”

  1. Avatar

    I’ve always been rather intrigued by the idea of ghostwriting. Both novelists and biographers are expected to “get inside the head” of their protagonists, so I see why a conscientious professional writer, whether from a fiction or non-fiction background, find ghostwriting a creatively fulfilling business – and a very interesting one too.

      1. Avatar

        Hi Denzil,
        Can a person paid via paypal kenya from foreign freelance jobs where you are paid by foreign currency subsequently get his/her cash through m-pesa linking?
        My attempt to connect with Equity Kenya is proving a headache at the moment.
        Thanx.
        MOJA

  2. Avatar

    The piece is informative indeed. Thanks a bunch for shedding some light about how to get approved on Upwok. Indeed ‘my passion matters’ kindly hold my hand to perfect my writing, Denzil.

  3. Avatar

    Thanks for the informative piece, though I’m not a ghostwriter, but a freelance new blogger. I took an article writing course earlier in the year, but I only plan to monetize my blog.

  4. Avatar

    Hi Denzil,

    I was wondering how I can share ghostwrites I wrote for my clients, actually I was convinced that it is impossible. The idea to convert them to PDFs and ask for the client consent to share is an eye opener to me. I never thought it was possible.

    As for email finder tools, thank you. I was thinking of hiring a Data Miner to find emails for me but after sharing the ones you have approved, It’s going to save me some dollars.

    I cannot say much but trust me this post has come to my rescue.

    1. Denzil Otieno

      Sure. Most clients will be more than willing to share their writings as samples, once they have published them. For the email finder tools, they work pretty well. I have found prospect emails using the same tools. So go ahead and start creating your prospect list now.

  5. Avatar

    The difference has come out so clearly, even though this being my first time to interact with such writing vocs.A good piece for beginners indeed

  6. Avatar

    Hello Denzil,
    I must say your piece is timely. It’s almost as if you were reading my mind!
    Thank you for such an insightful piece.You have answered all my concerns,and gone an extra mile, too.
    This information is all I needed to flex my muscles in the direction of my area of interest.
    Already implimenting each and and every point you’ve put forward.
    Thanks.

  7. Avatar

    This is quite informative, my brother. I have always desired to be a ghost writer. Please , could you offer help on online marketing?

  8. Avatar

    Hi Denzil,
    Thank you for such an elaborate article on ghostwriting. Would you please write an article of Copywriting.

  9. Avatar

    So I’ll spend a considerable amount of time and effort curating high quality content and expect no accolades from those who’ll consume it? No credit?
    But I’ll receive some bucks from my client. That’s enough for me.
    For accolades, kisses and hugs for my work, I’ll get it elsewhere.
    Great work Denzil. Ghostwriting well understood now.
    Thanks.

    1. Denzil Otieno

      Exactly the point, Samuel. That’s why I said that you should charge what’s worth your time because you’ll get no credit for your writing efforts. If you’re a great writer who has got credits elsewhere, you won’t mind not getting credits for ghostwriting jobs.

  10. Avatar

    Hi Denzil,
    Thanks for informative piece of work. Now I understand what it means by being a ghost writer and how to market myself. Thanks again for email search platforms. May you be blessed for holding up others hands to grow in this area of freelancing.

  11. Avatar

    Thanks Denzil for the post. I have known exactly who a ghost writer is. Must I have a niche? I do general writing as far as I can handle the gig.
    Could you please expound upon socia media platforms such as LinkedIn and twitter, how to market yourself, and any other thing that would help?

    1. Denzil Otieno

      Hi Olive, it is important to have a niche, but you should have written a ton of pieces before settling for a niche. Generalizing at first will help you know what you can comfortably handle and what you cannot. For the question of getting social media clients, I don’t subscribe to that belief. Social media to me, is a waste of time and makes you vulnerable to cons. I’d advise to go directly to where jobs are, rather than spending a whole day trying to participate in every social platform, trying to please a “ghost” client.

  12. Avatar

    Hello

    You read my mind buddy 😂 This is the best piece I read today. I would consider this like an eye opener. I think I should invest myself into Self improvement niche unlike trying everything that shows. You’ve shed quite some light here.

    Thank you

  13. Avatar

    I love the fact that you’re reinventing how things are done in this industry.
    You share from your heart, and you don’t hold anything back that can help a budding writer out there find their feet. It’s no wonder your blog is picking up with such massive speed.

    Today’s topic couldn’t have come at a better time. I started writing back in 2014, but by 2014, I still wondered what someone meant when he said that he’s a ghostwriter (lol). Like you put, there’s a lot the self-proclaimed industry gurus aren’t telling aspiring writers.

    Your definition of the term is simple yet to the point. Also, your idea of seeking approval from the client to pdf their previously completed projects and use them as samples is worth trying.

    Thanks so much for sharing.

    1. Denzil Otieno

      Hello Godfrey,

      We have reputable bloggers, quite experienced and we appreciate them, but we must be honest: aspiring freelance writers need fresh ideas and not the old school techniques that no longer work.

      If you visit a blog that’s three and above years old, they only speak about the tactics that worked back then without updating what’s actually working now. It’s no wonder many start their freelance writing biz only to give up.

      If you picked up a few ideas from this blog post, that’s my joy. And like I have promised myself, I will continue putting up content that my readers will find useful.

  14. Avatar

    This was quite helpful. Majority of writers don’t know what a ghostwriter is, but this article has made it a lot simpler to better understand what kind of service a ghostwriter offers.

  15. Avatar

    Hi Denzel,

    I have enjoyed reading this enlightening piece. Great to know there’s a way I can share my client work- if they agree. Thought this was a no-no. It has been real frustrating to know you have a ‘sample’ that is just perfect for your proposal but can’t use it. Thanks again!

    The detailed info on ghostwriting is very welcome too. Kudos for the great work you are doing. I enjoy reading your posts. There are always nuggets to pick.

    1. Denzil Otieno

      Hi Rachel, there has always been a way you can use these samples, otherwise nearly everyone would not have a sample. I’m also glad you have been able to pick a few insights from my blog.

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