You want to make money as a writer, right?
You’ve told everyone on Facebook (including your weird aunt) that you’re available to write. You’ve been writing guest post after guest post to showcase your talent and get your name out there. Maybe you’ve even landed a few jobs already. (Good for you!)
But then a potential client emails you with the question, “Do you offer ghostwriting services?”
And you’re stumped.
Maybe you’ve heard of ghostwriting. Maybe you have some idea what a ghostwriter is. Or maybe you wonder if it involves ouija boards in some way.
You don’t want to look like an idiot by emailing back to say, “Err… what do you mean?”
That sounds like a good way to send your potential client running for the hills.
But don’t worry — I’m about to tell you everything you need to know about ghostwriting, starting with…
What IS Ghostwriting?
You might already have some hazy ideas about ghostwriting. When I first heard of ghostwriting, I thought it was just used for celebrity memoirs.
It turns out memoirs are just the tip of the iceberg. Ghostwriting is everywhere — from independent authors using Kindle Direct Publishing to popular bloggers using WordPress.
So what is it?
When you ghostwrite, you let someone else put their name on your work. That is, you don’t get any credit — at all.
Typically, the person who commissions the work will own the copyright, which also means they can modify or republish the work in any way they see fit.
So why would someone hire a ghostwriter? Are they too lazy to write their own stuff?
Not necessarily. People hire ghostwriters for many different reasons, but the most common ones are:
It’s nothing new, either: ghostwriting has been around, in one form or another, for centuries.
To give you a better idea what being a ghostwriter may involve, my own ghostwriting has included:
As you can see, ghostwriting has a spectrum from something akin to an editing relationship to writing a piece from scratch.
And it’s growing in popularity.
The demand for ghostwriters is so high it’s now taught in schools — California State University, Long Beach offers a Ghostwriting Professional Designation Program led by Claudia Suzanne.
Of course, I’ve only ghostwritten for blogs.
Authors like Roz Morris have written whole books as ghostwriters, which is a far more involved process that includes extensive interviews with the client.
But Why Would You Let Someone Else Take Credit for YOUR Writing?
Assuming you want to build up your own brand as a writer, why would you want to be a ghostwriter?
After all, you won’t get any of the credit. Your name won’t appear anywhere on the piece, and you probably can’t tell anyone you wrote it.
So why do so many writers ghostwrite, and why do so many love it?
Well, because there are major benefits:
Benefit #1: Being a Ghostwriter Pays Exceptionally Well
One huge reason to be a ghostwriter is money. Ghostwriting tends to pay better than regular freelancing.
After all, having your name attached to your words is valuable for you as a writer. When you have a byline, you can use that piece of work to showcase your talent, build your reputation, and potentially attract new clients.
So it’s appropriate (and standard practice) to increase your fee to compensate for the loss of these advantages.
There’s no exact rule of thumb for how much extra you should charge for ghostwriting over regular freelancing. Personally, I tend to increase my fee by about 15%–20%.
On top of that, once you’ve established a ghostwriting relationship with someone, it often results in ongoing work for you. Most people want their writing to be consistent, so it makes sense to stick with the same writer.
In other words, you have consistent work at a higher rate than usual. That’s quite a plus, isn’t it?
Benefit #2: Ghostwriting Lets You Develop Closer Relationships with Big Names in Your Field
As a ghostwriter, you’ll normally work quite closely with your client. You may be privy to their rough notes or mind maps, or you might interview them on the phone or in person.
Chances are, you’re also focusing your ghostwriting on a particular area of expertise (especially if you’re writing for a blog).
This means you’ve got a brilliant opportunity to get to know and be affiliated with someone well-established in your field.
You’ll find that you get valuable insights into the “behind the scenes” of a top blog, or you get a clearer idea of how a big-name author works and thinks.
This may be eye-opening! It could give you some ideas for how best to move forward with your own business when you start your own blog.
And as you build up closer relationships, or even friendships, with your client, they might share your other work on social media, bringing you a lot of extra traffic. (Several of the people I ghostwrite for have supported me in that way.)
If you ever need a favor or need some advice, there’s a good chance they’ll be very happy to help.
So much of blogging success depends on getting a helping hand from other bloggers — particularly those with a large audience and a great reputation in their field.
Ghostwriting brings you into close contact with exactly those people.
The Counterpoint: Why You Might NOT Want to Be a Ghostwriter
There are a couple of big concerns that writers have about ghostwriting:
“But surely that’s not ethical?”
“But why should they benefit from my hard work?”
“But what about building my platform?”
These are real, valid concerns. And for you, they may be deal-breakers.
So let’s dig into them.
Objection #1: “When You’re a Ghostwriter, You’re Helping Someone Fool Their Readers — That’s Unethical”
When you’re a ghostwriter for someone, they pass your words off as their own.
Which begs the question…
The authors who hire ghostwriters certainly think it is! But not all writers or readers agree. Many feel that some types of ghostwriting are more ethical than others.
For instance, think about these two scenarios, which are on opposite ends of the ghostwriting spectrum:
Personally, as a reader, I’d feel comfortable with situation #1. The thoughts in the e-book belong to the blogger, but the ghostwriter has helped shape them.
Situation #2, however, seems a lot thornier. As a reader, I’d feel cheated by that.
I’m buying the e-book because I want the blogger’s expertise — not that of a ghostwriter I don’t know.
If you’re thinking of ghostwriting, you have to make up your own mind about what is — and isn’t — ethical. Where would you personally draw the line as a ghostwriter, if at all?
For more thoughts on the rights and wrongs of ghostwriting, check out Patty Podnar’s post Is Ghostwriting Ethical?
Also, Amanda Montell’s Your Favorite Influencers Aren’t Writing Their Own Content—These Women Are is quite eye-opening about some of the less ethical practices in the ghostwriting world.
Objection #2: “It’s Too Painful Watching Someone Else Get Praised for YOUR Work”
It may sound silly, but not getting recognition for your writing can be quite painful — unbearable to some.
I have to admit that, as a writer, it can sometimes sting a little to see a blogger receive lots of lovely praise for a post that I wrote every word of. And I’m not alone; many writers find themselves missing the attention and craving the recognition.
It’s no fun watching someone bask in glory that should be yours.
But think of it this way: All that praise is a sign you did a great job. You can be proud of that, and you can feel confident you’ll get hired again!
Also, as ghostwriter Roz Morris points out in an interview with whitefox, it’s not just ghostwriters who go unnoticed by readers:
There are many unsung heroes in the creative industries, and ghostwriters are only one of them. Editors can also make a huge difference to a book and are rarely credited.
So, if you can’t stand watching someone else take the praise, that’s okay. Many writers feel that way. But maybe we should also keep things in perspective.
Objection #3: “Ghostwriting Keeps You from Building Your Platform”
Even if you’re okay with someone else getting the praise, you may still oppose the idea of letting them take credit.
Some writers feel that, to become a successful freelance writer, you need to take credit for every powerful word you write and create an impressive body of work with your name on it. They believe that ghostwriting is essentially a waste of time.
After all, when you’ve got a bio (or at least your name) on every blog post you write, each of those posts helps raise your profile. You’ll be bringing in new readers and potentially new clients through your work — without any additional marketing.
This is essentially the argument that Demian Farnworth puts forward in The Brutally Honest Truth About Ghostwriting:
The first thing every writer should ask is this: What do you want to accomplish as a writer? Is building a personal and visible platform important to you? Will it help you in the long run? If you have to ghostwrite to make ends meet, fine. But beat a hasty path out of the business as soon as possible. It’s your turn to run the show.
I certainly think it’s worth putting some serious thought into how best to make ghostwriting work for you. It might be that you want to solely focus on your own platform (heck, you might even hire ghostwriters of your own, some day down the line!).
But there’s no shame in taking ghostwriting jobs to generate a steady income while you build your platform. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. You can do both at the same time.
Ghostwriting takes some focus away, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing.
By the way: We’ve created a handy visual summarizing this post that you can share and embed on your own site. Check out the image below (click to see a larger view):
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How to Become a Ghostwriter
If you’ve been nodding your head while reading this post, you’re probably wondering…
“Okay, but how do I become a ghostwriter?”
The same way you become a freelance writer.
Here are the keys:
#1. Build Your Content Creation Skills
If you want to be a ghostwriter, you have to learn how to create quality content. What’s this mean? It means:
Nothing will impact your ability to earn real, tangible income as a ghostwriter more than your ability to create amazing content.
So, if you don’t know how, learn.
Further Reading: Check out our resource How to Write a Blog Post – The Ultimate Guide. Once you’ve mastered the basics, read How to Create Content People Will Still Remember in 5 Years’ Time.
#2. Learn the Ins and Outs of SEO
If you can create content that will rank on Google, clients will pay you.
Heck, they’ll throw money at you.
So how can you help your content rank on Google? By learning all you can about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and applying what you learn to the content you create.
Further Reading: Don’t know SEO? Brian Dean has a great guide that will help you learn the basics of SEO fast.
#3. Build an Awesome Portfolio of Sample Content
Ideally, you’ll have three levels of portfolios:
But when you’re just starting out, you need to focus on the first level:
A portfolio that proves you know how to create a decent piece of content.
If you don’t already have your own blog or website, create an account on a free blogging platform like Medium.
Two or three sample posts are enough, and you can get started right away.
#4. Find Your First Paying Client
In the early days, finding those first few clients will be difficult.
Even with solid content creation skills, SEO know-how, and a great portfolio proving you know how to write, finding paying clients without word of mouth and referrals won’t be easy.
Here’s what you’ll need to do:
It’ll be a slow process at first, but once you get those first few clients you’ll be set. Do a great job, make your clients happy, and referrals will happen.
Further Reading: Bookmark this giant list of content marketing agencies. It’ll come in handy.
Ghostwriting 101: A Quick Recap
We’ve covered a lot, so let’s review:
Will You Give Ghostwriting a Try?
Ultimately, ghostwriting can be a little divisive.
Some writers feel — passionately — that readers deserve to know exactly who wrote the words they’re reading. Others feel building your platform is too important to let someone else take credit.
But ghostwriting is a good way to make money as a writer.
And it doesn’t mean your platform is off the table. You can be a ghostwriter and have a writing career under your own name. Many writers, including me, simply use ghostwriting as a way to supplement or support their writing passions.
Personally, I think it’s worth it.
Only you can decide whether it’s right for you.
About the Author: Ali Luke blogs about the art, craft, and business of writing at Aliventures. If you’re interested in going further with ghostwriting or any type of freelance writing, check out her epic post: Freelance Writing: Ten Steps, Tons of Resources.
The post Ghostwriting 101: How to Get Paid Big Bucks As a Ghostwriter appeared first on Smart Blogger.
It’s okay to admit it.
That deep, dark secret you don’t want anyone to know.
That thought which keeps you up night after night.
You want… to rule the world!
You want to dominate your industry and be the envy of all. You want the house in the Hamptons and the spoils that go with it. You want two appetizers with your entree.
But you’re afraid.
You’re afraid of what others will say when they hear about your dream. You’re afraid it will seem too big — too crazy. Just like you’re afraid of what the waitress will think if you order onion rings and chicken tenders.
You’re afraid because you don’t know where to begin. You don’t know how to go from where you are as a blogger to where you want to be. You don’t know how to get from here to there.
The good news?
Just like eating an elephant, you don’t do it all in one bite.
World domination — or any major blogging goal — is a journey you take one milestone at a time.
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Why Bloggers Need Meaningful Milestones
When you break large tasks into small, manageable ones, what once seemed big and scary isn’t as daunting.
Renovating your entire home? Start by painting a room. Training for a marathon? Walk to the end of your driveway. Want to start a rock band? Get a guitar and start practicing.
Blogging isn’t any different.
Your journey as a blogger is filled with incremental milestones. They start small, gradually increase in size, and culminate with you owning sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads.
Want 10,000 subscribers? Start with 100. Want to quit your job? Focus on making your first sale. Want to be Jon Morrow’s best friend? Get him to notice you.
These milestones comprise your bucket list. They highlight what you’ve already accomplished, what you’re striving toward next, and what still lies far ahead of you.
To help you in your quest, here are the 21 major blogging milestones (and how to reach each one).
Ready? Let’s dive in.
#1. Starting Your Blog
You’ve been talking about doing it forever.
You’ve been reading blogs like Smart Blogger, Blogging Wizard, and Be A Better Blogger for months.
You’ve been planning, scheming, and daydreaming about starting a blog for so long that people have started to worry about that glazed look in your eyes.
So don’t you think it’s time you finally did it?
#2. Writing Your First Blog Post
Bloggers blog. It’s what we do.
So once you’ve setup your blog on WordPress, Medium, or wherever, it’s time to make this whole “blogging thing” official.
It’s time to write your first post.
#3 Getting Your First Tweet
Getting your content shared on social media for the first time is a big milestone.
Each time your posts are tweeted, pinned, or liked, your content is exposed to new readers.
These new readers are potential email subscribers. Potential customers. Potential allies in your quest for world domination.
#4. Receiving Your First Blog Comment From a Stranger
It finally happened.
The moment you discover someone other than your mom is reading your blog.
Your first comment from a stranger.
It’s the first sign you’re engaging a real audience (not just friends and family).
The first indication your words are striking a chord with readers.
The first evidence you have what it takes to succeed.
#5. Gaining Your First Email Subscriber
“The money is in the list,” says every blogger (even if nobody has asked them).
It’s cliché, but it’s true.
Email subscribers are far more likely to read, share, and engage with your content than someone who simply follows you on Twitter or “likes” you on Facebook.
Email cuts through the noise.
A person might receive a few dozen emails in a day, but they’ll receive several hundred (or more) tweets from their followers.
If you want to reach the top of the blogging mountain, you must build your email list.
And it all starts with that first subscriber.
#6. Getting Your First Backlink
Search engines love backlinks — they help them discover how pages are related, and in what ways.
Landing a high-quality link from a relevant website is great for SEO and results in more search engine traffic flocking to your website. And who doesn’t want that?
When a website links to yours, it’s effectively telling Google, “This dude is cool. He’s with me.”
Want to rule the world? You need Google to think you’re cool.
#7. Reaching 100 Visitors in a Single Day
In your blog’s early days, visitors are scarce. Occasionally, you’ll wonder if anyone is reading your blog.
But slowly, little by little, your numbers creep higher and higher.
And then it happens.
The day your blog reaches triple-digit visitors. The day your hard work begins to pay off. The day you get your first taste of power.
Intoxicating, isn’t it?
#8. Receiving Your First Piece of Fan Mail (Well, Email)
This is strange.
You receive an email from a stranger, but it has nothing to do with male enhancement or an unexpected inheritance from overseas.
It’s an email from a reader. And she’s telling you how much she enjoys your blog!
Your first “kudos” email from a reader is a big milestone for bloggers, and those who go on to rule the world receive many of them.
(Mine may or may not be printed, framed, and hanging from the walls of my office.)
#9. Getting Your First Negative Blog Comment
After weeks of praise, attaboys, and well-wishes, you receive your first negative comment.
You try to laugh it off by making a “these are where the tears would be if I could cry” joke, but it doesn’t work.
You’re confused. Hurt. Maybe a little angry. (Plus, your spouse quickly reminds you of the time you cried like a baby watching Field of Dreams.)
Don’t let it get you down. As you gain in popularity, criticism is inevitable.
Consider it a badge of honor — every popular blogger receives negative comments.
It’s proof you’re on the right track.
#10. Landing Your First Guest Post
Sooner or later, you’ll discover that commenting on other blogs and making friends on Twitter will boost your traffic only so far.
You need to reach new audiences.
As the marketing crowd would say, you need fresh eyeballs on your content.
In other words, you need to write a guest post.
#11. Getting Featured in Your First Interview or “Expert Roundup”
When people see you repeatedly mentioned on other sites via interviews and roundups, their perceptions of you change.
Yesterday, you were just an attractive guy or gal oozing talent but drowning in anonymity.
Today, you’re a freaking rock star.
You’re no more knowledgeable than you were moments earlier, but suddenly your powerful words carry more weight with readers. That’s because someone they trust just called you an expert (or treated you like one).
To reach world-leader status, others must view you as an authority. They need to consider you an expert in your industry.
Participating in interviews and roundups is a great way to make that happen.
#12. Hitting Your First 100 Email Subscribers
After having single- and double-digit subscribers for what seems like forever, you finally reach 100. One hundred individuals decide they want updates from you.
These first 100 subscribers are arguably your most important.
They’re the ones who found your blog in its early days.
They’re the ones who decided to follow you before you were popular.
They’re the ones likely to be your biggest supporters as you rise through the ranks and vanquish kingdoms.
#13. Seeing a Post You Wrote Go Viral
Wow. That was unexpected.
One of your posts takes off. It goes viral, as the kids say.
At its simplest definition, a viral post is one which has a life beyond your own promotion of it. As such, it gets considerably more clicks and shares than your typical post.
And, as a result, your blog receives a nice (if temporary) bump in traffic.
Even if it’s short lived, a viral post means more eyes on your content. And that’s just what a prospective world ruler wants.
#14. Getting Mentioned or Followed by an A-list Blogger
When Bob the bellhop from Bolivia mentions you on Twitter, a small handful of people will see it.
That’s even better.
When you’re mentioned or followed by an A-lister, it means much more than a small bump in traffic.
It means you’ve made it onto the radar of someone with influence.
#15. Hitting Your First 1,000 Email Subscribers
Now we’re talking.
Around the time you hit the 1,000 subscriber mark, your emails begin to carry more weight.
You’re able to generate traffic for new posts simply by emailing your subscribers.
You can begin making real money from your blog.
As a rule of thumb, you should be able to make at least $1 per subscriber each month — more if you really know what you’re doing.
#16. Successfully Selling Your First Product or Consulting Session
You tried your hand at sponsored ads. Maybe you even had a little success with them.
But eventually, you aim higher.
You decide to offer your skills as a coach or consultant.
Or maybe you decide to create your own digital product because you like the idea of unlimited income potential.
Whatever the route, the desire is the same: to pad your wallet with twenty dollar bills.
#17 Reaching 1,000 Visitors a Day
When you reach 1,000 daily visitors, your blog will be perched at a level many bloggers never see.
Your blog has momentum, which means your email list starts to grow on its own.
You’re selling more products and services.
Your social media shares are increasing too, which is bringing even more new visitors.
Your hard work is paying off. “Soon,” you say to yourself before laughing maniacally.
#18. Reaching 100,000 Visitors in a Month
When you reach 100,000 visitors in a month, you’ve reached a level of success most can only dream of.
At this level, practically anything you try can be lucrative.
#19. You Hit 10,000 Email Subscribers
As Jon Morrow likes to say: 10,000 subscribers is the “magic number.”
With 10,000 subscribers, publishers beat down your door to give you a book deal.
With 10,000 subscribers, you could make a full-time living as a coach or consultant.
With 10,000 subscribers, you can easily sell a course you have created.
In short, earning a six-figure income from your blog is entirely realistic when you have 10,000 subscribers.
It’s arguably the most important blogging milestone.
#20. Finally Earning Enough Money to Quit Your Day Job
It’s the dream of most bloggers.
Being able to quit your job and blog full-time means you’re able to quit the rat race. It means you can set your own schedule, pursue your passions, and spend more time with your loved ones.
It means you’re the boss.
#21. Achieving World Domination
You did it.
They said it wasn’t possible, but you made it happen.
The world is your oyster. You’re the master of your own destiny.
And it’s all thanks to your blog.
Now it’s time to take a vacation. Maybe even move to paradise. Heck, you earned it.
So What’s Your Next Big Blogging Milestone?
You realize they’re yours for the taking, right?
The house in the Hamptons?
The sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads?
They’re all out there… just waiting for you.
They’re waiting for you to decide, “Today is the day I’ll make my dreams come true.” They’re waiting for you to stop reading and start doing.
So, don’t just sit there.
Work out where you are on the list and what you must do to hit that next big milestone.
And let’s do this thing.
Because the world isn’t going to rule itself.
About the Author: Five years after first writing this post, Kevin J. Duncan’s dreams of quitting the rat race, blogging full-time, and world domination came true when Jon invited him to join the Smart Blogger team as our Blog Editor.
Never give up, folks. Never, ever give up.
The post 21 Blogging Milestones on the Path to World Domination appeared first on Smart Blogger.
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