Ghostwriting – the practice in which someone pays you to take credit for all the hard work you’ve done – is very common nowadays, especially in the content creation business. You have probably seen it countless times, but you couldn’t have noticed it – after all, someone is always signed as the author. It is also a fairly widespread business model – there are agencies out there that offer ghostwriting services.
The argument is simple – people, businesses, CEOs and bosses – they want to be seen as thought leaders, opinion makers and experts in their field. One of the ways to get there is to build a reputation through long-form blog posts, features and commentaries which will be published either on the company blog, or in reputable media online.
The problem is – high quality, long form articles are a pain to write. They require a lot of expertise and extensive knowledge on the topic, many, many hours of research, and the talent and the skill to shape all those information and ideas into coherent, easy-to-digest articles. These articles also need to follow certain SEO rules, and need to be optimized for social media so that they can easily be shared and interacted with.
Directors and CEOs often don’t have the time, or the knowledge to do all those things, and marketing managers are often too busy crafting campaigns to actually worry about writing things.
So, they hire freelance writers. You’d think it’s a win-win situation. No matter how much you pay the freelancer, it is still cheaper than having someone in-house, and on the other side – the freelancer will be more than happy to take a few hundred bucks to write up a story on any topic. However, ghostwriting has its good sides, and its bad sides. Depending on where you are with your career at the moment, and where you want to be in the future, you should seriously consider if you should accept such offers, or not.
Here are the three arguments why you should go for a ghostwriting assignment:
It is easier to get a gig
When you’re just starting your freelancing career, and you’re worried about earning enough to pay the bills and then some, you take pretty much whatever is offered. Luckily for you, ghostwriting gigs are everywhere and relatively easy to come across. Businesses will want to use their blog, and other digital media, to build their own reputation, and with time being short, they will often reach out for a ghostwriter. If you are already familiar with the field in question, then it’s even easier.
It pays well
Ghostwriting gigs are not paid any less than gigs where you are signed as the author, or at least they should not be. As a matter of fact, they should be paid even more, as not only are you selling the article, but you’re also working towards turning someone into a thought leader and an opinion maker. Don’t sell yourself short – you’re doing vital work for someone and that needs to be reflected in your bank account.
As long as the client is happy with your work, you’re free of criticism. This is probably the best and the biggest argument for ghostwriting. You get to assume the role of someone else, and don’t have to worry about your own ego, ideas or approach to a topic – you just write it as the client wants you to.
When asked about ghostwriting, writer David Jacoby wrote:
“Ghosting can be great because it gives us writers an opportunity to do what we do well, but take a vacation from the inner critic.”
Being a ghostwriter means you’ll take gigs from various industries, research and learn about a wide variety of things. By sticking longer with a client, you’ll get to learn pretty much everything there is about a certain industry. You will become what your client wants to be – an expert at something. And experts are always well-paid, meaning your future gigs in the same industry will be highly lucrative.
In a nutshell – it gives you freedom, pays well and it’s easy to get a gig. However, there’s that big ‘BUT’ hovering in the air…
You don’t get referrals
If nobody knows you wrote something, nobody will know just how good you are. This can make it a lot more difficult to find new clients, as the only thing you have for yourself is your word. Basically, you’re at your client’s mercy for testimonials, and unless they decide to share that information with your new potential client, there’s pretty much nothing to separate you from the newbies in the business.
From my experience, however, people tend to believe you when you tell them you’ve written something, even if you’re not signed as the author. I’ve never been in a situation where I’ve been asked to verify the truthfulness of my claims.
All in all – ghostwriting gigs are good. They are easy to come across, they can make you decent money and they will turn you into an expert at a certain field. However, you need to be able to realize when it’s time to start showing your name to the world. At the end of the day – if you really want a career as a writer, you need to stop writing in someone else’s name.
Image Credit: hobvias sudoneighm / las – initially / Flickr,