For as long as there have been books, there have been ghostwriters. The gist of it is, you pay someone else to write for you and publish their work under your name. If you’re a freelance writer, you’ll run into a lot of people looking for ghostwriters, so you need to know how to approach that type of work.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with freelance ghostwriting jobs , but it makes a lot of writers nervous. After all, we live and die by our writing credits. However, ghostwriting can be incredibly lucrative and it can open up a lot of doors to interesting jobs if you know how to get into it.
For this article, we’ll talk about how ghostwriting works when it comes to freelance writing. Then we’ll teach you how to approach that type of work as a freelancer. Let’s get to it!
An Introduction to Ghostwriting as a Freelancer
Ghostwriting gigs are very common when it comes to freelance writing. During the years I’ve spent working as a writer, I’ve penned hundreds of articles, but most of them under other people’s names. My experience isn’t unique, either – a lot of prolific freelance writers get a lot of work because they’re comfortable with ghostwriting.
Usually, ghostwriting gigs tend to pay a bit above average, which is an obvious plus. There are, however, plenty of downsides to the practice, such as:
- Not getting a writing credit to your name.
- Needing to adapt your writing to your client’s style (which you should already be doing).
- You don’t get to build a reputation in whatever field you’re writing for.
For me, the biggest downside of ghostwriting is that, in most cases, you don’t get to add those pieces to your portfolio. I’ve written a lot of articles I would love to show off, which I don’t have the rights to under some contracts.
Even so, ghostwriting can be a very lucrative niche for freelance writers. If you’re lucky, you’ll find clients who like your style so much it can lead to long-term work relationships and plenty of referrals. After all, the more talented you are, the better it’ll reflect on them since you’re writing under their name.
If you take a look around some of the most popular writing boards, chances are you’ll find a lot of freelance ghostwriting jobs, so give them a chance. However, before you start pitching clients, let’s talk about how to make sure you approach ghostwriting the right way.
How to Approach Ghostwriting Jobs as a Freelance Writer (3 Tips)
In theory, ghostwriting freelance jobs work just the same as regular gigs – you pitch a client, get hired, do the job, and get paid. However, in practice, you need to shift your approach a little bit. Let’s talk about what that means.
1. Discuss Portfolio Usage Rights
As I mentioned before, the main downside of ghostwriting is you usually cannot use those pieces as part of your portfolio. However, that might not always be the case depending on your client. That’s why before you start typing, you always need to have a discussion about usage rights.
Here are the two basics you should go over with clients for ghostwriting gigs:
- Can I link to that piece from my portfolio?
- Is it OK if I use you as a reference for other clients?
Some clients won’t feel comfortable with disclosing their ghostwriters so if they don’t budge on number one, don’t worry. You may still get to use them as references, or at the very least, ask for a testimonial you can put on your portfolio.
Keep in mind, though – clients aren’t under any obligation to contribute to your portfolio. If someone doesn’t want you to use them as a reference or to leave a testimonial, don’t sweat it. Take the gig if it’s a good opportunity and you can always find more ways to improve your portfolio later.
2. Negotiate Special Rates for Ghostwriting Work
One of the reasons I like ghostwriting freelance jobs so much is they usually pay better. That’s because most people who look for ghostwriters want to showcase their expertise. In other words, they can’t hire freelancers who can’t string a coherent sentence together. They need specialists and those come at a premium.
If you find ghostwriting gigs that pay below your base rate per word, run far away. Ideally, you only want to take ghostwriting gigs that pay a bit more, to offset the lack of a writing credit.
In most cases, I recommend high balling your rates a little bit when you start talking with potential new clients and that goes double for ghostwriting. That way, you have plenty of room to negotiate while still coming out ahead.
3. Have a Rock-Solid Contract
As always, having a contract in place for new jobs should be a given. If you’ve been freelancing for a while, you probably already have a template that you use with clients. However, with ghostwriting gigs, you’ll need to add a couple of new clauses to that trusty old contract, including:
- A clause discussing usage rights
- Possibly a non-disclosure agreement concerning the work you do
- Your updated rate per word
That second one can be a big deal depending on what type of job you’re up for. Freelance ghostwriters who work with books, for example, usually have to sign those types of non-disclosure agreements. That can be a bummer, but if you’re working at that level, you’re getting paid well, so it balances out.
The primary takeaway here is that no single contract will work in every situation. Having a freelance work template is good, but you always need to ensure you modify it depending on what each new job entails.
Ghostwriting can not only be very lucrative, but it’s also one of the coolest-sounding jobs you can have. If you’re a freelancer, you shouldn’t shy away from ghostwriting gigs. However, you need to make sure you always have some work you can show in your portfolio under your name. Otherwise, landing jobs, in general, will become a lot harder.
As far as how to approach freelance ghostwriting jobs, keep these three tips in mind and you’ll be golden:
- Discuss portfolio usage rights.
- Negotiate special rates for ghostwriting work.
- Have a rock-solid contract.
Do you have any questions about freelance ghostwriting jobs in general? Let’s talk about them in the comments section below!
Image credit: Pixabay.