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How To Make Money As A Ghostwriter

Updated on February 28, 2014

The Thrill of a Byline

Listen, I get it! I’m a writer, a professional freelance writer as well as an author, and I understand the thrill of seeing your own byline on a published article. I have sold articles to magazines and I was one proud Papa when I saw my name in print, so I understand the allure….but….

There is money to be made in the ghostwriting business, and if it is money you are after you would be foolish not to at least consider ghostwriting.

What is ghostwriting?

“A ghostwriter is a writer who writes books, articles, stories, reports, or other texts that are officially credited to another person.” Thanks to my friends at Wikipedia for that definition.

In other words, you do the writing, someone else gets the glory, and you walk home with money in your pocket.

Local businesses may need your services
Local businesses may need your services | Source

The Opportunities Are Endless

The common belief among many novice writers is that ghostwriting only applies to writing a book for another person, but that belief is dead wrong. Most businesses today hire ghostwriters to do their blogs for them. Many magazines hire ghostwriters, as do government institutions, nonprofit institutions, etc. It is a big world out there, both online and in traditional publishing, and there is a limited number of writers who have the ability to craft meaningful copy. In other words, if you can write well then you will never be short of opportunities to make money.

What kind of money are we looking at? That depends entirely on your skill and your work ethic. Yes, there are content mills out there that pay very little. I began my writing career working for such content mills making ten bucks per article. It is horrible pay but for many writers just starting out it is the only way to gain experience and build a platform.

Once you get established, however, rates will typically be anywhere from $20 per hour to $75 per hour and up. This writer has reached a point in his career where he refuses to work for ten dollars per hour. I do not say that because I think I am some elite writer who is above such nonsense; I say that because an hour of my life is worth more than ten dollars, and yours is as well, so please do not devalue your work just for the sake of making a buck.

Where Do You Find Jobs?

They are everywhere if you look for them. Companies like Textbroker and Elance are good sites to check out. I prefer to find my own jobs the old-fashioned way: I go out and look for them. I contact businesses and I pitch my abilities as well as pitch what I can do for those businesses in terms of increasing their business. I make it known that the dollars they spend on my writing will equate to profits for them. I get turned down a lot, but I also find that nugget occasionally that is willing to pay for my expertise. The companies I write for have been with me for over two years; I have a working relationship with them. I know what they want and I deliver on time.

Local governments need ghostwriters
Local governments need ghostwriters | Source

Should You Just Write About Things You Know About?

This is a tricky question. For those starting out I would suggest that yes, you look for ghostwriting jobs that you have some expertise in. This will increase your comfort level and the articles will be easier for you to write.

However, experienced ghostwriters are more than willing to leave their comfort level and write about topics they in fact know nothing about. My first ghostwriting job was writing blog entries for a real estate company in Los Angeles. I chose that job because at one time I had a real estate license and I knew the jargon and the business. That job, by the way, has grown considerably. That same company now has branch offices in four other major cities and each branch has their own website that requires my writing abilities.

From that job I eventually branched out into other areas. Today I have customers in the salvage yard business as well as home security. With the plethora of information on the web, it is not hard to do the research and learn what you do not know, so don’t shy away from a job simply because you know nothing about it.

When you write for someone else you become them
When you write for someone else you become them | Source

Learn to Write with an Appropriate Voice

This is important so pay attention: ghostwriting means you must capture your client’s voice. You are the client and the client is you. When ghostwriting you take over the persona of your client, so you need to get to know who you are writing for. Ask questions of your client. Find out what is important to them and who will be reading your writing. My normal style of writing….my normal writer’s voice…does not work in the world of business, so I need to adjust accordingly. Let me show you by example; here is a portion of an article I wrote for a real estate firm:


  • Decide on the amount you can afford to spend on your new home. As a rule of thumb, look at a home that costs two or three times your gross income.
  • Make a list of the features you desire in your new home by priority; also make a list of features you do not want. This will help an agent in the selection process.
  • List neighborhoods in Las Vegas that are desirable to you by priority. Consider schools, facilities, recreational areas and ease of transportation.
  • Find an agent intimately familiar with the Las Vegas market and have that agent begin to find suitable homes according to your list.
  • If at all possible, sell your existing home before making an offer on any new home; this will strengthen your position when making an offer.
  • Ensure that you have enough money to cover down payment plus closing costs. Closing costs will run between 3-6 percent of the home price.
  • Check your credit reports and status before making an offer so there are no problems regarding financing.
  • Organize all documentation such as pay stubs, bank statements, etc so loan application goes smoothly.
  • If possible get pre-approved for a loan; this is different from being pre-qualified and again will strengthen any offer you make.

Anyone who has ever read my work knows that this is not my normal voice, but it is the voice of my customer and that’s all that matters. They are, after all, the ones paying for the article.

Some Final Thoughts

Times are tough. You don’t need me to tell you that. Many writers are just scraping by, and many more are questioning their sanity regarding their career choice. Writing is not easy, but it is definitely possible to make decent money as a ghostwriter. Swallow that pride, toss aside the need to see your name in a byline, and go out and find some ghostwriting jobs. With a little hard work and perseverance, you can probably find enough jobs to pay your bills right in your own community.

That way you’ll be making money while you wait for a publisher to buy the rights to your novel that is sitting on the shelf.

2014 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”


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