You may or may not know by now that in addition to being a kick-ass copywriter I’m also a fantasy author, with a penchant for Gothic horror. As such, when people ask me what kind of writer I am and how I make a living I like to be suitably cryptic and tell them (in a wonderfully soft and spooky tone), “I’m a ghost.”
Of course what I actually mean is that I’m a Ghostwriter.
I’ve been working as a ghostwriter since 2011, but it was only in 2016 that I began openly advertising my copywriting services, and started taking on work that wasn’t quite so spectral. By that, I mean I started to write for other people under my own name, in addition to my ghostwriting.
Now that I’m out of the phantom closet, so to speak, a question I get asked an awful lot is, “What is a Ghostwriter?” This is generally followed by, “And how can I use on in my business?”.
So, what exactly is a Ghostwriter?
At a very basic level a Ghostwriter is a professional writer who pretends to be you.
They write stuff. You put your name on it. People are (for the most part) none the wiser.
There are a few exceptions to this. For example, when celebrities like Katie Price (AKA Jordan) start churning out novels, there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that they are written by a professional Ghostwriter. She knows it, we know it, she knows we know it, but it’s all about the brand, and she will have had input and shaped the outcome so everyone just kind of ignores it.
In exactly the same way, most people are aware of the fact that the President of the United States (whoever it may be), and most other high level politicians have professional speech writers. They tell their writers what they want to talk about, and the writers make it sound good. (Sidebar: this is the reason everyone should stop having a go at Melania Trump for ‘stealing’ Michelle Obama’s speech. She didn’t. Her speech writers did! I highly doubt she was aware it was heavily plagiarised when she gave it.)
Celebrities and politicians aside, for the majority of people who choose to use a Ghostwriter, the world at large is unaware they have done so. Blog posts, articles, papers, books, and a plethora of other written material is produced under the name of people who didn’t actually write a word. Ghostwriters are so-called because they are unseen.
They are the invisible hand, wielding the pen, while you take all the credit.
And they’re quite happy with that situation.
Ghostwriters are not – for the most part – resentful of the fact they don’t get credit for what they write. Most of them (myself included) write a lot under their own name. Some are painfully shy and can’t stand the limelight. They love to write, but hate people knowing they were the one that wrote all that especially awesome stuff. In other cases the Ghostwriter doesn’t have the contacts or platform needed to actually get published under their own name. By working in partnership with someone else they get to see their work in print, and enjoy all the validation that comes with that, while spending their time doing what they love: writing.
Writers love to write. And while some are towering egotists who do it for the fame and fortune, and others have a perfectly healthy ego but like to be acknowledged, many do it simply because they love to write.
Credit is irrelevant.
In short, a Ghostwriter is someone who is very proficient at writing, who will write whatever you ask them to (within reason) and allow you to take full credit for it. They will never disclose that they worked for you, or that the material they wrote for you is theirs.
There’s a code, of sorts, a bit like lawyers and doctors, a confidentiality clause: if you hire a ghost, you get a ghost.
Nobody but you will ever know they’re there, unless you choose to tell people.
How can you use a Ghostwriter in your business?
There are many, many ways a Ghostwriter can benefit your business…
If you’re looking to write a business book, but don’t know how, don’t have the time, or don’t have the inclination, a Ghostwriter will write it for you. They will discuss it with you at length, ask a great many questions, go over any existing written material you have, help you decide on a theme, a structure, and the content. Then they will scurry away to their typewriters and return in a few months with a draft, which they will refine with you until you’re completely happy with it.
You will then publish your own book, and nobody will ever know you didn’t write it.
If you’re looking to publish some longer, research-intensive articles, a Ghostwriter is the perfect solution. Many (like me) are academically trained to a very high level and know how to research and write in a formal style. If you’ve never been taught how to do this, there is simply no way you could. It’s also incredibly time-consuming, and if you’re not that way inclined, tedious. Quality and style are also major factors in high level and academic articles. There is a certain degree of professional language, referencing, and structure that is expected. A good Ghostwriter will know how to write academically styled papers, as well as how to take on a reporter style, less formal styles, and how to blend these different styles together.
Here’s a truth bomb for you: a lot of the blog posts you read online aren’t written by the people named in the byline.
A lot of them are, but a lot of them aren’t, and there’s really no way to tell unless you happen to be privy to the intimate details of a business, or the person claiming to have written the posts. The majority of businesses have at least one writer on staff once they reach a certain size and stage of development. Many have one (or more) right from the start – this is especially true of businesses whose main form of marketing is their content. It may be on a freelance or part-time basis, or it may be a full-time position. Whether they post under their own name, the company name, or the name of the CEO and other members of staff is anyone’s guess. In most cases it’s a combination. You will often find that a company has one or two writers who produce everything, but that the content itself appears under the names of all the major players in the business.
Just because someone’s name is on it, doesn’t mean they wrote it.
If you love writing, if writing is your zone of genius, then you should absolutely write your own blog. But if you aren’t great at writing, hate blogging, or simply don’t have time, save yourself the stress and hire a ghost to write it for you.
Product Descriptions and Web Copy
How long have you spent agonising over the wording of a sales page, your About Me page, or the descriptions of your products and services?
How much money could you have earned doing what you do best, in all that wasted time?
Think of all those websites you covet. They have perfectly polished sales copy, witty descriptions, and an About Me page that makes you desperate to work with that person.
I’ll lay odds that the person in question didn’t write their own About Me page. Some people do – they’re gifted at writing, prefer to do it themselves, or can’t afford to pay a copywriter. But a lot of people hire professionals for these elements of their copy because they are so important.
Writers come in different breeds. Like dogs. We’re all one species but we can be radically different. We’re poets and novelists, bloggers and researchers, we write jokes, or political speeches, or stand up, or eulogies. Some of us write sales copy. Some of us write web copy.
My poetry is dire. I suck at speeches. I couldn’t write a eulogy to save my life (no pun intended), and although I can write sales copy and web copy, I don’t like doing it.
I love writing fiction. I love blogging. I love researching and writing longer articles and academic pieces (at some point I will get around to finishing my PhD thesis). The reason I don’t offer sales copy or web copy on this site is that I don’t like doing it, and I don’t do it as well as other people. This is so true that I fully intend to work with another pro at some point, and have her write my sales copy for me.
Why would I pay another writer to write my copy when I’m a copywriteer myself?
Because it’s a different kind of copy, and we all have our strengths, we all have our zone of genius. Sales copy isn’t mine. If it isn’t yours, hire someone (not me!).
Another element in my business that I no longer do myself are my newsletters. This isn’t because I can’t, or don’t like doing it, it’s simply a matter of time. I have a lot to do. Newsletter are time-consuming, and my skills are simply better spent elsewhere.
A Ghostwriter is there for all the things you don’t have time for…
When it comes to Ghostwriters and what they can do for you, it boils down to this: where writing is concerned they can do all the things you don’t have time for, but need or want for your business.
If you don’t have time for it, if it isn’t you zone of genius, if you don’t want to do it, or it simply isn’t a priority, give it to a Ghostwriter.
Don’t worry, we’re a friendly bunch…
Isn’t it a bit…dishonest?
The short answer to this is NO. It’s not at all. Quality writing, whatever form it comes in, is ESSENTIAL to business. It’s the core of any business to have professional copy, but if your business is content driven, it’s even more important. Hiring a professional to write for you, whether you choose to acknowledge them or not, is the hallmark of a great CEO, it’s in no way dishonest.
You can’t do everything. If you try you’ll go mad. Delegating is the key, but your brand may not lend itself to having a features writer in the public eye. You may have a personal brand that’s built entirely around you, or a brand name that everything is published under. A Ghostwriter is the perfect solution. You get to delegate any written work you can’t or don’t want to do yourself, but your brand remains intact. If you’re looking to raise your own personal profile, having a Ghostwriter makes even more sense – there’s a reason politicians have professional speech writers. They’re busy running things and passing laws and doing whatever it is that politicians do. They don’t have time to write complicated speeches on top of that, and even if they did, a lot of them can’t write.
Some of them can’t string a spoken sentence together without a teleprompter, let alone get it down on paper!
Just as politicians are busy governing and celebrities are busy making a spectacle of themselves for money, you are very busy.
You have a whole business to run.
If you want that business to run as efficiently as possible, and be the best it can possibly be, you need to make absolutely certain your written content is TOP NOTCH. There is nothing dishonest about wanting the copy and content you produce to be quality. It’s in the best interests of your clients, and it’s still your copy and content.
[Tweet theme=”tweet-box-shadow”]You decide what a #Ghostwriter writes they just #write it. It’s your message, voice, stories, experience & expertise.[/Tweet]
Looking to hire a Ghostwriter? My services are 100% confidential…