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How to Become a Ghostwriter: A 4-Step Guide for Aspiring Writers

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Are you capable of turning thoughts and ideas into interesting, creative, and informative content?

Do you have an eye for good grammar, well-structured sentences, and thought-provoking topics?

If you answered yes to those questions, you have the potential for a fulfilling and lucrative career in ghostwriting. Many people have considered writing for a living, but most never try because they don’t know where to start.

That doesn’t have to be the case for you, though. In this guide, we’ll lay out some simple steps on how to become a ghostwriter.

We’ll also discuss how much it costs, how long it takes, and how much you’ll earn from this career.

An Overview of Ghostwriting: A Primer

Ghostwriting is a broad and versatile field of writing which involves producing literary work under another person or entity’s name.

Leaders, celebrities, and organizations hire ghostwriters to transform their opinions, stories, news, and expertise into published content.

The role of a professional writer can involve producing books, blogs, articles, scripts, speeches, and even social media posts. Ghostwriters provide value for entities who don’t have the time, interest, or ability to tackle these writing projects themselves.

One thing to consider about this career is your obligation to maintain confidentiality about working for a credited author.

Contracts typically involve getting paid to write publications but receiving little to none of the credit upon their release.

The scope of ghostwriting can also include identifying a target audience, conducting interviews, examining research studies, and editing drafts.

Good ghostwriters have the ability to articulate an author’s authentic voice and write in changing styles and tones.

How Much Do Ghostwriters Make?

Ghostwriting can be a profitable career, especially if you’re an experienced ghostwriter with multiple clients and large projects.

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveal that the median annual wage for writers, including ghostwriters, is $69,510.

Self-employed ghostwriters’ earnings can fluctuate, as they usually charge per blog post, per project, or at an hourly rate.

According to the freelancing platform Upwork, ghostwriters’ hourly rates range between $20 and $45.

Ghostwriters who have niche-specific knowledge or work in particular industries earn higher than average.

For instance, selling books is lucrative, and a highly-trained book ghostwriter can earn around $40,000 for a 30,000-word publication.

What You’ll Need to Become a Ghostwriter & Associated Costs

Here are some of the tools and resources you’ll need to kickstart your ghostwriting journey:

  • Education and training: A degree in English or creative writing isn’t required for ghostwriting. However, background knowledge in research, marketing, and writing can help you thrive. Ghostwriting courses and training can cost $0–$500.
  • Ghostwriting credentials and portfolio: Ghostwriting certifications and samples of your best work boost your credibility and demonstrate your ability to potential clients. You can get language or content writing certificates online for $50–$100.
  • Equipment and Internet connection: You’ll need a conducive writing environment to produce high-quality content. If you’re working from home, use your most comfortable table and chair. Ensure that you have a reliable computer and internet connection.
  • Writing and editing software: Writing tools and applications can help you produce polished, professional, and error-free content. Monthly subscriptions can cost $25 upwards, but free versions are also available.
  • Ghostwriting agency or platform: Joining a ghostwriting agency or a freelance platform can help you land your first gig or writing job. Most platforms have no membership fees, and all you have to do is sign up for a free account.

How Much Does It Cost to Become a Ghostwriter?

Becoming a ghostwriter can cost as little as $0 if you use free ghostwriting tools and equipment that you already own.

You’ll incur an additional $625 or more if you enroll in courses, collect certificates, and subscribe to applications.

If you’re serious about ghostwriting and plan to earn a degree, the total cost will be around $60,000–$240,000, depending on the institution.

Is It Hard to Become a Ghostwriter?

As with all worthwhile pursuits, it takes a fair amount of training and dedication to become a great writer.

You often have to find your own work, so the ability to market yourself to potential clients is essential in this competitive industry.

Your outputs must always match the client’s specifications in addition to being well-researched, up-to-date, and engaging.

You also have to put in the hard work of adapting to different voices, perspectives, and industries.

Other common challenges of ghostwriting include understanding technical jargon, meeting tight deadlines, and receiving client criticism with grace.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Ghostwriter?

There’s no specific timeline for becoming a full-fledged ghostwriter. The entire process can take anywhere from two weeks to six months.

You’ll first have to decide where to get the knowledge and skills required for the job. Enrolling in an in-depth ghostwriting training course lasts several weeks, but you can also learn through self-paced online tutorials.

Landing your first ghostwriting client usually takes 1–3 months. If you want to speed things up, joining a ghostwriting agency or publishing company is a great way to gain valuable experience.

Establishing credibility as a good ghostwriter and growing your business can take over a year.

How to Become a Ghostwriter in 4 Simple Steps

Follow these steps to achieve success at your first writing job and beyond:

1. Develop Your Writing Skillset

To become an in-demand ghostwriter, learn to reflect the author’s voice, experience, and personality in your writing.

For instance, content for a celebrity, a politician, and an athlete should each have their own distinct writing style.

Another way of enhancing your skills would be to expose yourself to various forms of content. Get acquainted with the tone and structure of fiction stories, screenplays, speeches, and blog posts, among others.

Research techniques, fact-checking procedures, and content marketing strategies are also worth adding to your writing skillset.

In addition to producing short-form content, you should also learn to write long-form projects like memoirs and novels.

2. Get Work Experience and Build a Portfolio

Work experience as a beginner writer can come in many forms. You can self-publish books, submit articles for magazines, or guest post on blogs.

Guest posting is the act of publishing your work on another person’s website to gain exposure and credibility.

Becoming a freelance editor can open up ghostwriting opportunities and expand your circle of contacts. Narrating is also an option and a way to get your foot in the door of audiobook publishing companies.

The goal is to practice your craft, receive vital feedback, and establish a strong record of your achievements.

3. Market Your Ghostwriting Services

Take advantage of social media and inform everyone of your availability as a ghostwriter for hire. Pitch your services to existing clients, authors, acquaintances, and even family members.

You can also offer services to startups, entrepreneurs, and small businesses.

Consider joining platforms for online writing jobs and websites for freelance writers to expand your reach. Attend ghostwriting conventions and publishing industry conferences to network and exchange contact information.

Remember not to take rejection too seriously. When a prospective client refuses, accept the decision, express gratitude for their time, and locate your next potential client.

4. Gain More Clients and Grow Your Business

Once you’ve secured several clients and scored some positive reviews, it’s time to think long-term. Consider investing in a domain name and an attention-grabbing website to add credibility to your business.

Remain committed to producing high-quality work, and don’t stop learning and perfecting your craft. Continue marketing yourself to bigger clients and more complex projects, and consider whether hiring new staff will be worth it.

If possible, avail the services of a lawyer to review your contracts and relevant paperwork to protect your business from legal issues.

Reasons to Consider Becoming a Ghostwriter

Still not sure about starting a ghostwriting service? Here are several reasons why a career in the writing industry is worth considering:

  • Flexible working hours and location: Ghostwriting allows you to write wherever and whenever you want, as long as you meet deadlines. Say goodbye to strict schedules, long commutes, and physical offices.
  • Unlimited growth and development opportunities: Expand your horizons by mastering new writing techniques and specialized topics from different industries. As your experience and expertise grow, so do your client base and earning potential.
  • Freedom to work independently or collaborate with a team: Do you write better on your own or within a group? Get the chance to take on projects that correspond with your personal working style.
  • You get paid to be creative: Stretch your imagination and let your creative side shine through your ghostwriting while earning a steady income in the process.

Frequently Asked Questions

Before you take on your first ghostwriting gig, check out the answers to some common queries about this career:

Can Anyone Be a Ghostwriter?

There are little to no barriers to entry if you want to become a professional ghostwriter. 

However, you need to learn valuable marketing, content creation, and writing skills to excel in this field. Writing experience, a strong portfolio, and networking abilities will also be helpful in your journey.

Is Ghostwriting in Demand?

The demand for ghostwriters has recently surged, with rates for ghostwriting work also increasing.

Skilled writers are essential in today’s digital economy, with companies, celebrities, and experts continuously needing to produce quality content.

As long as there’s a need for relevant, educational, and original content, ghostwriting will remain in high demand.

Similar Gigs to Check Out

You don’t have to limit your writing career to a particular topic, industry, or writing style.

Feel free to explore these other types of writing to find the best fit for your skills and interests:

Wrapping Up

Becoming a successful ghostwriter is rarely an overnight process. It’s the result of time spent mastering your craft, marketing your abilities, and building a top-notch portfolio.

It also takes tons of practice to create content that satisfies your audience and meets the client’s standards.

If you ever find yourself needing some guidance on how to become a ghostwriter, make sure to look back on this complete guide.

Don’t hesitate to share your thoughts in the comments and share this article with other aspiring ghostwriters!

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