How to become a ghostwriter from scratch

In an increasingly fast paced world where people are getting too busy to write and share their own stories, finding ways to become a ghostwriter could be your own contribution to help busy authors get their stories written, published and shared with the world. And of course, get paid in return.

For writers like myself who have engaged in ghostwriting, over the years, I found that, one good thing about ghostwriting is that it gives you the opportunity to get other people’s stories out there, enrich the scholastic or literary discourse on the subject matter and still get paid for it.

Embarking on a ghostwriting journey as a beginner can be quite demanding for starters without any idea on how to get started. But in this guide, I’ll be walking you through on all the key steps you’ll need and important things you’ll have to keep in mind, in the following paragraphs.

One of the key skills you’ll need as a ghostwriter is writing skills. You practically can’t become a ghostwriter without getting some really good writing skills. Because, how can you write without writing?

It is always a lot easier for professional writers, to delve into ghostwriting compared to non-writers. In fact, some ghostwriting clients are always going to reach out, only after the see your work.

So, there’s absolutely, a need for some decent writing skills if you want to succeed in this endeavor.

However, every ghostwriter did not start out as a professional writer. Most professional ghostwriters today started from the scratch, learning every detail about the craft, while they learned to write.

As someone without adequate writing skills, instead of giving up on your ghostwriting aspirations, you can learn how to write by signing up for writing courses to garner the basic skills.

As soon as you’re confident about your writing, you can focus on writing, creating content and sharing them with audiences across whatever platforms you deem fit, including the social media, as you build on your skills.

With time, you can then get to try writing in different genres, subject matter etc. until you gain more expertise. And then eventually, you can write and publish your own books.

I know this might sound a bit demanding but it can also be fun all the way. And outside learning, you can also offer freelance writing services along the way as soon as you feel you have a decent skill to get started.

Before you become a ghostwriter, one of the key things you need is a clear understanding of what ghostwriting is all about.

For example, you want to keep in mind that as a ghostwriter, you’ll mostly be writing books on behalf of other people without taking credit for it. And this will demand that you understand and capture your client’s preferred writing style, tone of voice, perspective etc. so the book can give a feel like it’s actually written by your clients.

And for this to happen effectively, you’ll have to collaborate closely with your clients to have a clear idea about their vision, goals, target audience, purpose of writing the book and then translate these into a compelling content that will capture the audience as expected by your client.

Oftentimes, getting here might take a little while. Like it might demand you spend some time interviewing, talking to or just getting the perspective of your client. And even at that, at intervals, you’ll have to double-check to ensure you’re still on track.

Just like any kind of writing, there are so many areas or niches you can excel in as someone writing for other people. But, before you become a ghostwriter, you want to be very sure about your preferred writing niche.

For example, while there are so many niches out there, the majority of these niches are grouped into three sub areas, the niche you’re passionate about, the profitable niche and the niche you have a professional expertise in.

There are instances where you may be lucky that the niche you’re passionate about is the same as the lucrative and profitable niche where you excel at. In that case, you want to go for the niche right away.

But there are also situations where you’ll have to choose between going for a niche you’re passionate about, a lucrative niche that can bring in the cash or the professional niche where you’re trained or experienced to handle.

Choosing your niche helps you in defining your audience from the onset | Photos by Karolina Grabowska

If you ever get to this point, you have to take out time to choose what works for you, based on your own goals and the expectations you have for your career as a ghostwriter. This is very important.

Ghostwriting is all about writing for other people, getting their thoughts, ideas and communicating them in the same way your clients would wish to communicate them to their audiences.

As someone journeying to become a ghostwriter, one of the first things you can do to garner firsthand experience is to actually find ways to write for other people, free.

This is very crucial because only then can you understand clearly what it entails and possibly gather some work for your portfolio.

For beginners with zero experience, you might use the opportunity of writing for others to gauge if ghostwriting is really what you should do or not. It’ll also give you the chance to understand a lot more about the niche, its demand and what you should expect to experience.

Also, beyond using this time to learn ghostwriting, finding ways to write for others could present to get you some jobs for your portfolio, reviews and content for storytelling. You can key into this, especially, ghostwriting free of charge initially before launching out fully.

Furthermore, this expedition will also give you an idea on the preferred freelancing niche you should go for, based on what’s worked for you.

PS: Instead of writing a few ghostwriting gigs free, you can also charge very low fees although in most cases, writing for free is more preferable.

Now that you know what’s working for you and you’ve already decided on your area of expertise, the next step on your journey to become a ghostwriter is to build your portfolio.

Ghostwriting is a highly professional venture that demands a lot of expertise from practitioners. And it can also be very discriminatory as clients will always have options and the chance to choose from a multitude of professionals.

So, if you want to be taken as a professional ghostwriter that knows their onions, you want to present yourself as such, from the get go.

Starting with branding, create a brand that supports your work and aspirations. A strong branding that will demonstrate to anyone, who you are and the things you can achieve for them, at a first glance.

Get yourself a website and create a portfolio showcasing your writing samples and demonstrating your ability to adapt to different writing styles and topics.

PS: Personally, I believe one of the strongest ways to prove yourself as a ghostwriter is to write and publish your own book. Doing this can be very helpful to you, from a branding stand point.

Instead of launching out as a ghostwriter from the beginning, you can start out as a writer and even offer freelance writing services.

Doing this gives you the opportunity to offer some freelance writing services and other version of ghostwriting, other than writing a book, while still learning the craft. And you can use this to deepen your experience while boosting your portfolio.

In addition to that, starting out as a writer gives you the chance to build a more solid portfolio and possibly, more diverse offerings for your clients.

Beyond planning to become a ghostwriter, to get very successful in this endeavor, you must learn how to promote yourself and get your brand out there for as much visibility as it can garner.How to Do Social Media Marketing for Small Businesses

Starting with social media, identify the leading platforms with the highest number of your target audience, get a handle on these platforms and begin to engage with your target audience using strategic content marketing and robust storytelling.

Outside the social media get yourself a website where clients can meet you online, see your work and get to interact with your content, from across the world.

Alongside these, engage in promotional services outside your owned platforms. For example, consider posting niche related content as guest posts on other websites with a decent number of your potential target audience.

In addition to these, you can also opt for paid promotional services using either the social media, Google Pay Per Click, other third party websites etc. these will be very useful in driving visibility for your brand, especially in the early days where you’re just getting started.

Outside these direct promotions, be keen on networking and connecting with your potential target audience like business CEOs, busy professionals, founders and cofounders etc.

Also, pay attention to engage in utilizing the wonders of strategic marketing and storytelling to create curiosity, build thought leadership and project your brand as expected.

Final Words

Whether you’re just about to start today or you just want to polish your brand, building a successful career as a ghostwriter is very possible, regardless of where you’re starting from.

While using these tips you read here can get you the needed headstart that will define your journey, you want to keep in mind that becoming a successful ghostwriter will take time, effort and work.

Also, as much as possible, be open to learning and don’t be shy to promote your brand when you finally gain the expertise. Also, while engaging with clients, have your rights and that of your clients defined before getting started.

And finally, you can become a rock star writer and learn the ground work that will set you up successfully by signing up for our writing course here.

Now, it’s over to you. What are your biggest fears when it comes to starting a career as a ghostwriter? Drop your comments below.

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Victor Winners

Victor Winners

A Nigerian trained Law graduate and British LL.M candidate, using his widespread experience in tech, law and innovation, to evolve cutting edge and growth driven solutions for brands and businesses in Africa and beyond. As a Law-trained tech expert, Victor brings in over 7 years experience working in the Digital Marketing, SEO, Web Development, Online Publishing, Social Media and Legaltech sectors, to create result driven content and innovative solutions to brands and businesses. Named as one of the top 50 Web Design Influencers Globally, Victor Winners started one of Africa's most widely read blogs on Digital Marketing and Strategy. With this platform, he has impacted the lives of over 2 million readers spanning more than 135 countries in 8+ years

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