How to Become a Ghostwriter [and Make >$150 Per Article Ghostwriting]

Become a Ghostwriter

If you possess writing skills and are looking for ways to earn extra money (like these 52 ideas), ghostwriting is a great option.

Whether you work as a freelance writer already or you’re thinking of making the leap straight into ghostwriting, you should know that many people and businesses (including this one) will pay writers to ghostwrite content for them.

In short, to become a ghostwriter (and make decent money – more than $150 an article like I do), you need to:

  1. understand the type of work ghostwriters do,
  2. know where to look for jobs,
  3. start networking with other writers,
  4. establish your own writing platform, and
  5. just start writing!

Sound interesting? Let's dig into more details to help you become a ghostwriter.

What is Ghostwriting?

Ghostwriting is simply writing content for someone else under their name.

It's a form of freelance writing (learn more about that) where you don't get credit for your work. But you do get paid.

Ghostwriting can be lucrative if you develop a good reputation as a writer.

Why would someone hire you to write for them? Wouldn’t it make more sense for them, if they are claiming credit for the writing, to just write themselves? Ghostwriting clients usually fall into two categories:

  • People with a message to share, but don’t possess the necessary writing skills to convey their message.
  • People who are too busy to write everything themselves, but want good content.

People who hire ghostwriters come from all walks of life and business, including:

  • CEOs
  • Financial Advisors
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Celebrities & Athletes
  • Companies with Blogs or Content on Their Eebsite

Copywriter Marie Morganelli from Precise Words recently started ghostwriting for a prominent female athlete:

“She is a good writer herself but is pressed for time and so needs someone to write blog posts for her that she approves and posts on her site.”

Editor's Note: PT here. I sometimes ask my freelance writers to partially ghostwrite a piece where I have some opinion and knowledge on the subject, but I want them to dig deeper into the details and bring those to the article. I usually write the intro and outro and they provide much of the facts. This is used quite often on review pieces. I always edit the writing and give it my final approval before I attach my name to it, however.

Is Ghostwriting Legal or Ethical?

There are two questions most frequently asked when exploring ghostwriting as a career: Is it legal and is it ethical?

To answer the first question, yes, it is legal. There is no law that says you can’t have someone else write on your behalf.

Think about content for a businesses' website. Someone, whether a company employee or an outside party, writes content that the company claims as their own voice. Ghostwriting is very similar.

Is Ghostwriting ethical? Ultimately this is something you as a freelance writer will have to answer for yourself. You are in control of whether you say yes or no to a writing gig.

I have a few ghostwriting clients and generally, they provide structure for articles or blog posts through notes, rough outlines, bulleted lists or even a discussion over the phone.

Clients have a lot of input into what I write and also have the ability to edit and approve articles before they are finalized and published.

How is Ghostwriting Different from Freelance Writing?

Although ghostwriting is freelance writing, the fact that you are representing someone else with your writing makes it different.

Holly Johnson from Club Thrifty does a lot of ghostwriting for financial advisors and online entrepreneurs who don't have time to write their own content. Over time she's learned the art of becoming someone else’s voice online:

“Ghostwriting is very different since you're writing in another person's voice. I study up on someone's tone and writing style before I attempt to write content for them. I believe that having that skill has made me a better writer when it comes to my own writing.”

Related Podcast Episode: Taking Your Freelance Writing Business to the Level

What Kind of Writing do Ghostwriters Get Paid for?

Ghostwriters can get paid for just about any form of writing. Early Morning Money’s Amy Beardsley has been ghostwriting for years and has seen it all:

“About 90% of my ghostwriting is for blog posts. When I first started, most of my ghostwriting was in the real estate business. More recently, though, it's been focused on small business, student loans, and personal finance. I have ghostwritten books and am in the middle of a “beginner's guide to cryptocurrency” book for a ghostwriting client right now.”

Ghostwriters can earn money writing online content, like blog posts, website copy, ebooks, and even social media posts. Jobs can also consist of traditional print writing like books and memoirs, advertisements, informational PDFs, newsletters, direct mail marketing letters and more.

Ghostwriting possibilities are endless.

Editor's Note: My recent review of PeerStreet was written with the assistance of a ghostwriter – some of the specifics of the account, the company, and some of the pros and cons were writen by the ghostwriter.

How Much Money Can Ghostwriters Make?

Ghostwriters can make great money depending on the specific writing jobs they land. Generally ghostwriting pays better than traditional freelance writing. Because their name isn’t attached to the writing, some writers charge more to compensate for losing an opportunity to showcase their work.

Another reason that ghostwriting tends to pay more is because potential clients are looking for someone who can capture their thoughts and clearly communicate them to a larger audience. Clients want someone they can build a long-term business relationship with so their voice remains consistent. They are willing to pay for that consistency.

For most of the blog posts I’ve ghostwritten, I’ve earned between $150 and $500, depending on word count and amount of research required.

How much do more experienced ghostwriters make?

Marie: “It varies so much! I do my best to listen to the client and try to meet their budget wherever possible. It can occasionally be as low as $100-150 for a short piece that isn't too research heavy, or $300 and up for longer or more detailed pieces. There's lots of wiggle room.”

Amy: “My first ghostwriting gigs were for peanuts. I used a job site called TextBroker.com and got paid super-low rates, like $8 for a 500-word article. From there I decided no one would know I've never done this before if I don't tell them–so I worked on my confidence and started charging 10 to 15 cents a word right out of the gate.

For blog writing, I still have a few 10-cents-a-word clients, but most of them are in the 20-30 cents per word range. And for books, I charge a much higher rate of 50 cents to a dollar per word.”

Holly: “I charge the same rates for regular content in my own name and ghostwritten content. It's the same amount of work for me, so why not? I typically earn between $300 and $1,500 per article depending on the amount of research required, the word count, and other factors.”

Want to hear from home freelancer sharing what they make? See this list of freelancers that make more than six figures.

Where can I Find Ghostwriting Jobs?

Starting out, you can find ghostwriting jobs through job boards like Pro Blogger or Upwork. They are competitive and generally don’t pay much, but help you get writing practice.

You should have a LinkedIn profile as a writer. Make sure you list ghostwriting as one of your skills. LinkedIn Profinder is another source for finding writing gigs.

Another great way to find ghostwriting jobs is to attend events and conferences within your niche.

If you write about technology or growing a small business, events for those fields will be full of attendees who are potential clients. FinCon, the conference founded by PT, has an environment specifically designed to help writers and potential clients connect.

If you are serious about becoming a ghostwriter, find a conference or event that aligns with your area of expertise and skill set.

The two ways I have found to be most effective for landing work as a ghostwriter is through word of mouth and networking with other writers.

If you earn a reputation as a great writer, your clients will tell others. They have their own networks of colleagues, friends, and other people who may be looking for someone like you for writing services.

I can’t tell you how many writing jobs I’ve had because the client either learned about me from a friend or they saw my work on their friend’s website.

Get to Know Other Freelance Writers

You may see other writers as your competition and in a way they are, but there is plenty of work to go around. As you network, you will see that most writers are generally helpful and want to see every writer succeed.

Join Facebook groups for freelance writers or within your writing niche.

Follow other writers on social media and take time to read, comment, and share their posts.

I’ve successfully landed several writing jobs this year because other writers shared job leads. Sometimes they had too much work on their plate. Other times it wasn’t the right fit for their skill set or the pay didn’t fit their rate.

Establishing a relationship with other writers gave me access to writing leads I would have never found on my own.

How to Become a Ghostwriter (Next Steps)?

Holly urges writers to not forget about writing their own content too. “Try to get as much work under your own portfolio as you can before you seek out ghostwriting work. People will be more comfortable hiring you if you have a broad portfolio under your own name. Also, make sure you maintain your own writing presence even if you're ghostwriting on the side.”

Since you can’t take credit for ghostwritten work, you need to put together a portfolio of work that has your name attached. Your portfolio can be something found on your own website’s “hire me” page (see mine as an example here) or simply a pdf or google doc that has links to your writing. Potential clients will want to see samples of your writing before hiring you.

Take low paying writing jobs to start building a portfolio. If you struggle finding writing gigs, look to guest post on other websites and blogs. Sometimes it takes a while to get some traction as a writer, but all the groundwork will pay off.

Ghostwriting can be an excellent source of extra income to supplement your full-time career. It’s also a great part-time job for stay at home parents looking to help their family financially. Many writers have been able to quit their jobs and become full-time freelance writers, including ghostwriters.

Ghostwriting has its challenges like any other profession, but I've found it be a nice addition to my other writing work.

Are you looking to get into ghostwriting? What's the biggest challenge you are facing?

About Kevin Payne

Kevin Payne is a freelance writer from Cleveland, Ohio and the family travel and budget expert behind  Family Money Adventure. Follow their family adventures on Facebook and Twitter.

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