How to Make Money as a Ghostwriter

By Alyciah Beavers

Published:

Side Hustles

Alyciah Beavers

Alyciah Beavers

Writer & Career Coach

If you have a way with words and a passion for storytelling, ghostwriting can be a lucrative avenue to explore in the world of freelance writing. Whether you’re an experienced writer or someone starting freelance, it can be an ideal way to make money and gain more writing experience. Here, we will answer some of the questions, such as what ghostwriting entails, how much ghostwriters earn, and how to become a ghostwriter.


What is a Ghostwriter


A ghostwriter is a professional writer who is hired to create written content on behalf of someone else without receiving public credit for their work. Public figures, celebrities, authors, and business professionals are some of the people who mainly use ghostwriting services. The majority do not have the time, writing skills, or expertise to write a book, article, speech, or other written material themselves, and that is why they source these services.

The primary role of a ghostwriter is to capture the client’s ideas, voice, and message and then transform them into polished and cohesive written content. This can include writing novels, autobiographies, non-fiction books, blog posts, speeches, corporate reports, and more. Ghostwriters work closely with their clients to understand their goals, style and intended audience, and they often conduct interviews and research to gather information.


How Much Do Ghostwriters Make?


The earnings of ghostwriters can vary widely based on several factors, including experience, writing skills, the type of writing project, the client’s budget, and the complexity of the work.

There are a few pricing models that are commonly used by ghostwriters, depending on the nature of the project and the preferences of both the writer and the client. Here is a breakdown:

  • Rate Per Word: Ranges between 10 cents and $4 per word. It often applies to blog articles, book descriptions, manuscripts, and web content. Luckily, as the ghostwriter, you have an opportunity to negotiate your rate. Some people will only charge per word if the entire project is below 50,000 words.  In book-related projects, you will charge an average of 35 cents per word, while marketing content is, at times, a little bit higher than this.
  • Hourly Rate: Most ghostwriters charge between $35 and $140 per hour, and this often applies to editorial posts and consultation assessments. You can also charge per hour if you are working on a critique, a review, or advising authors.
  • Per Project: If you are working on a high project, the best way is to negotiate for a flat fee. It ranges between $2,000 per project to $70,000. In most cases, this happens when you are working on a manuscript or writing a book proposal.
  • Royalty or Revenue Sharing: In some cases, ghostwriters agree to work on a project for a reduced upfront fee or even for free in exchange for a share of the royalties or revenue generated by the published work. This model is common in book ghostwriting, where the ghostwriter may receive a percentage of book sales.

Make sure to discuss and agree upon the pricing model with your client before starting the project. It must align with the project’s unique needs, anticipated outcomes, and the worth of your writing services. Maintaining clear pricing ensures a fair and transparent collaboration.

How to Quote For a Project

When creating a quote for any writing project, these are a few things that can make this process smooth and efficient:

Look At the Primary Factors

Consider the time it will take to work on the project, the number of words, and whether there is any existing material to assist. Ensure that the materials you find during your research are usable since, in clinical and scientific writing, for instance, technology is constantly upgrading.

Discuss Revisions

You might encounter demanding clients who might constantly ask for revisions. Set the rules down from the start, which could be after two or three revisions; the clients should pay some extra charge. It helps in mitigating such problems and ensuring that when the client asks for correction, they are of genuine concern.

Market Demand

Market demand can have a significant impact on the cost of ghostwriting services, just as it does with any other product or service. When there is a high demand for ghostwriting services and a limited supply of experienced ghostwriters, prices tend to rise. Conversely, when the demand is low, or there is an abundance of ghostwriters available, prices may decrease.

Experience

Experience can have a significant impact on the cost of ghostwriting services. Experienced ghostwriters typically have a higher level of skill and expertise in writing, which can result in a higher quality of work. Clients often seek out professional ghostwriters because they can produce polished and engaging content. As a result, these experienced ghostwriters can command higher fees for their services.


How to Become a Ghostwriter


Becoming a ghostwriter involves honing your writing skills, establishing your reputation, and navigating the publishing industry. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to become a ghostwriter:

Identify Your Niche

Determine your areas of expertise or interest. Specializing in a specific niche, such as self-help books, business articles, or memoirs, can help you stand out and find clients more efficiently. It is easy for clients to connect with you as they already know you will handle their work diligently.

Build Your Writing Skills

Focus on improving your writing skills by reading extensively, writing regularly, and seeking feedback from peers or mentors. Consider some of the professional development courses you can take to sharpen your skills.

Additionally, familiarize yourself with various writing styles, genres, and formats, as ghostwriting opportunities can span a wide range of topics. Learning and evolving as a writer will help you secure more lucrative and high-profile ghostwriting opportunities.

Build a Portfolio

Create a portfolio of your writing samples to showcase your abilities to potential clients. Include a variety of pieces that demonstrate your versatility as a writer. Consider writing for your blog, guest posting, or offering your services for free initially to build your portfolio.

Network

Networking is crucial in the world of ghostwriting. Attend writing conferences, join writing groups, and connect with authors, agents, editors, and other industry professionals. Also, utilize online platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and writing forums to communicate with potential clients or collaborators.

Research the Market

Study the ghostwriting market to understand the demand for your niche and the rates for ghostwriting services. This will help you set competitive pricing and see what others are doing in this field.

Freelance Platforms

Register on freelancing websites such as Upwork, Fiverr, or Guru to find ghostwriting gigs. Be prepared to bid competitively and showcase your skills in your profile. Once you build a rapport with clients on these platforms, it becomes easier to attract new clients and also get recommendations outside the platforms.

Pitch Your Services

Reach out to literary agents and publishers, or authors who may be in need of a ghostwriter. Determining if the author needs a ghostwriter can be tricky but there are some different signs that may suggest an author could benefit from such assistance. These signs include a lack of time, a desire for support, or the simultaneous management of multiple projects.

Make sure to craft personalized pitches highlighting your skills and relevant experience.

Negotiate Contracts

When you secure a ghostwriting project, negotiate the terms of the contract, including payment structure, deadlines, confidentiality agreements, and the extent of your involvement in the project.

Deliver Quality Work

Fulfill your responsibilities as a ghostwriter by writing engaging, well-researched content that meets or exceeds the client’s expectations. Maintain open communication with your client throughout the project to ensure you are aligned on the vision and direction of the work.

Respect Confidentiality

Ghostwriters often work on sensitive or private projects. Maintain strict confidentiality and professionalism at all times. Ensure that you do not discuss what you are writing about with other people who are not directly involved in the project.


Key Considerations and Challenges of Being a Ghostwriter


Being a ghostwriter can be a rewarding career, but it comes with its own set of considerations and challenges. Here are some key aspects to consider, along with solutions to address these challenges:

Anonymity

  • Challenge: Lack of public recognition can be demotivating.
  • Solution: Find satisfaction in the craft of writing and focus on the financial rewards. You can also seek non-ghostwriting writing projects to build your portfolio.

Variety of Topics

  • Challenge: Writing on unfamiliar topics can be challenging.
  • Solution: Research extensively, ask clients for relevant materials and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Develop a system for quickly learning about new subjects.

Income Variability

  • Challenge: Unpredictable income can make financial planning difficult.
  • Solution: Build a network of reliable clients, negotiate contracts that offer stable income, such as retainer agreements, and save during high-earning periods to cushion lean months.

Quality Control

  • Challenge: Maintaining consistent quality across projects can be difficult.
  • Solution: Create a style guide for each client to ensure consistency. Revise and edit meticulously, or consider hiring an editor if it’s within your budget.

Client Communication

  • Challenge: Misunderstandings with clients can lead to dissatisfaction.
  • Solution: Establish clear lines of communication from the beginning. Regularly update clients on your progress and seek feedback to ensure you’re meeting their expectations.

Legal and Ethical Issues

  • Challenge: Ghostwriters may encounter legal and ethical dilemmas. For instance, ethical dilemmas arise in ghostwriting when writers work on content that promotes views or ideas they disagree with or find morally questionable. Ghostwriters can encounter legal challenges like contract disputes, copyright and ownership disputes, as well as defamation concerns.
  • Solution: Familiarize yourself with copyright and intellectual property laws. Be transparent about your role as a ghostwriter with clients and adhere to ethical writing practices most importantly researching the content and ensuring the authenticity of the content.

Writers’ Block

Writer’s block can be a frustrating and challenging experience for ghostwriters, just as it can be for any writer. Ghostwriters face unique pressures, such as working on someone else’s project and trying to capture their voice and ideas. Here are some strategies to help overcome writer’s block as a ghostwriter:

  • Understand your Client’s Vision: Before you start writing, have a thorough discussion with your client about their expectations, the project’s goals, and the tone they want to convey. Understanding their vision will provide you with a more precise direction.
  • Detailed Outline: Create a detailed outline of the project before you begin writing. This can serve as a roadmap for your writing and help you stay on track. Break the project into smaller, manageable sections or chapters.
  • Write Without Editing: Don’t try to perfect every sentence as you write the first draft. Focus on getting your ideas down on paper, even if they’re rough. Editing can come later. Perfectionism can often be a cause of writer’s block.
  • Set Realistic Goals: Set achievable daily or weekly writing goals. Sometimes, just knowing you need to write a certain number of words or pages can motivate you to start, even when you don’t feel particularly inspired.
  • Freewriting: Set aside some time for freewriting. Just let your thoughts flow onto the page without worrying about structure or grammar. This can help you uncover new ideas and get past mental blocks.
  • Take Breaks: Sometimes, taking a short break can clear your mind and refresh your creativity. Go for a walk, meditate, or do something unrelated to writing to recharge.
  • Work on a Different Section: If you’re stuck on one part of the project, try working on a different section or chapter. You don’t have to write linearly. You can always come back to the challenging part later.
  • Seek Feedback: If you have a good working relationship with your client, consider discussing your writer’s block with them. They may have insights or suggestions that can help you overcome it.
  • Use Prompts: If you’re struggling to find the right words, use prompts or writing exercises to kickstart your creativity. There are many writing prompt generators available online.
  • Set a Routine: Establish a writing routine that works for you. Consistency can help you overcome resistance and make writing a habit.
  • Professional Help: If writer’s block persists and is affecting your ability to meet deadlines, consider seeking help from a writing coach or therapist who specializes in creative blockages.

Conclusion


You can make good money by choosing ghostwriting as a part-time job. It could range from 10 cents per word to over $70,000 per project. The goal is to identify your niche, create your portfolio and build on your writing skills.

However, remember that there will be challenges like ethical dilemmas and writer’s block. Understanding how to overcome these challenges makes it easy to perfect your writing skills. Try to understand how ghostwriting works if you are new in this industry, as it is an opportunity to find both financial reward and creative satisfaction in this unique profession.

Related Articles:


Alyciah Beavers

About the Author

Read more articles by Alyciah Beavers