Is Ghostwriting Bad for Your Freelance Writing Career?


Freelancers have passionate feelings both for and against ghostwriting. Some say that ghostwriting is dishonest, and they suggest it will sink your career. Others take great pride in their ghostwriting work and in the relationships they build with high-quality clients.

Ghostwriting can be a good source of income, especially in your early freelancing days. Whether you continue as a ghostwriter depends on your goals for your writing career. In the end, whether or not you take ghostwriting work is a highly personal choice. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of ghostwriting work.

Ghostwriting: An Overview

Many English and liberal arts majors take classes that lead to writing careers. Then, they discover upon graduation that getting published takes time. In addition to being good writers, they have to demonstrate expertise in different fields before blogs and magazines will publish articles under their bylines.

To generate income while they establish their reputations, many beginning freelancers turn to ghostwriting. Ghostwriting work tends to be plentiful, especially in the digital age of content marketing and blogging. According to The Raven Blog, ghostwriting work typically fits one of four categories:

  1. Anonymous author. With these projects, you write materials, like Web copy or generic blog posts, that aren’t credited to an author.
  2. Their ideas, their words. With this arrangement, a client provides ideas for a manuscript or project. You listen and take notes, or you edit a client-created rough draft to transform those ideas into high-quality copy.
  3. Their ideas, your words. A client provides a transcript or an outline for a project. You turn those rough ideas into good prose.
  4. Your ideas, your words. You develop an outline for content, and you pitch your ideas to the client. Then, you develop the project and submit it for approval. The client publishes it under his or her byline.


Pros and Cons

Ghostwriting comes with both advantages and disadvantages for freelance writers. One advantage is that ghostwriting can provide an immediate source of income. It’s also easier to enter into ghostwriting arrangements when you don’t have many clips. As long as you can demonstrate your writing ability by providing samples, you can find ghostwriting work.

Another advantage of ghostwriting is that you can build your expertise behind the scenes. For instance, if you’d like to solidify your knowledge of a subject before seeking out byline publication opportunities, you can learn on the job as a ghostwriter. You can also build a great referral network while you’re ghostwriting. Even without bylines, your current clients can help you find work by referring you to their friends and colleagues.At the same time, ghostwriting does have its pitfalls. These disadvantages include:

  • Poor pay rates. Many ghostwriters who are just starting out are desperate for work, and they accept extremely low pay rates just to put money in the bank. As a result, they have to write a huge volume of work just to make ends meet, and they end up burning out and flushing out of the profession.
  • Lack of credit. A strong referral network will lead to future ghostwriting jobs. Unfortunately, when ghostwriters don’t choose good clients, and they build no clips, they have no leverage when they’re looking for future writing opportunities.
  • Frustration. Some people enjoy the anonymity that comes along with ghostwriting. Others feel deeply frustrated that they’re not getting credit for their work.
  • No clear niche. A lot of ghostwriters take work wherever they can get it, and many take pride in their ability to write in multiple styles. At the same time, some fail to develop expertise in a particular niche, and they don’t develop their own signature writing style.

Should You Do Ghostwriting Work?

If you crave anonymity and prefer to avoid direct criticism for your work, ghostwriting can become a satisfying way to make a living. Check out Gotham Ghostwriters and the Association of Ghostwriters to learn more about the profession and to find ghostwriting work.

Ghostwriting might not be good for you in the long term if you want to develop a platform — and get recognition — for your unique writing voice. You can take ghostwriting work for the money, but look for ways to get your byline out there. You’ll be happier getting credit for your work.

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2 responses
  1. Andrew Avatar

    I used to work as a journalist for five years and then I started freelancing that consists of various writing gigs. The ones that are most lucrative and provide a steady stream of working include ghostwriting.

    As long as you keep taking assignments that do highlight your name then ghostwriting is only positive.

  2. Coco Avatar

    Ummmmmmmm… this a app

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