What Is A Ghostwriter? (With Definition And Duties)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 18 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Companies, publishing houses and websites in various industries require ghostwriters to create content, including blogs, articles, books, songs, scripts and academic documents. Ghostwriting can be an appropriate career choice for writers interested in diverse subjects. If you have a talent and interest for writing and researching various topics to provide engaging material, becoming a ghostwriter might be an ideal career choice. In this article, we answer the question, "What is a ghostwriter?", outline their duties and responsibilities, list the career requirements of becoming one and review their work environment.

What Is A Ghostwriter?

The answer to the question, "What is a ghostwriter?" is that they are professionals who write articles, books, blog posts, speeches, newsletters and other content under someone else's name. These professionals allow clients to claim authorship for a payment. The credit for their writing goes to the client or the person who hired them for the ghostwriting job. As the content gets published under someone else's name, hiring managers expect a ghostwriter to write on a wide range of topics and literary styles.

Typically, ghostwriters keep their work confidential and do not share the content anywhere after receiving payment. Ghostwriters might work in music, politics, education and entertainment. Companies often use ghostwriters to write books, speeches, songs and articles. Some people might use a ghostwriter to create their autobiographies. Clients hire a ghostwriter to create short e-books about a specific technique they developed. Mostly, ghostwriters are self-employed professionals and find their clients on various websites to maintain a steady flow of income. People hiring a ghostwriter might not have the time or writing skills to create content.

Related: What Is A Content Writing Job? (Definition And Examples)

What Do Ghostwriters Do?

Apart from fulfilling the content requirement of their client, a ghostwriter completes many other job responsibilities, such as:

  • Formulating texts in accordance with prescribed formatting guidelines and editorial requirements

  • Adapting to the voice of the company and another person's writing style

  • Helping in editing and improving the writing

  • Submitting completed work using the requisite channel

  • Maintaining originality in the work

  • Organising researched material and selecting the most relevant information about a topic

  • Researching business-related topics to provide readers with an expert opinion on the subject

  • Talking to current clients on a day-to-day basis to understand their content writing requirement

  • Outlining, editing, drafting and proofreading the written pieces

  • Using creative expressions for items like blog posts

Related: What Does A Technical Writer Do? (With Job Skills)

How To Become A Ghostwriter

Use these steps to become a ghostwriter:

1. Read work from other ghostwriters

Writing skills develop when you get exposure to different kinds of literature. As these professionals write everything from popular contemporary literature to autobiographies, reading the work of other ghostwriters and writers can help ghostwriters excel in this career. Knowing the structural component of different writing styles can help you make a good story and prepare content that resonates with the target audience.

Being an avid reader helps you discover how other writers use techniques like word choice, parallelism and sentence fluency. To become a successful ghostwriter, you can read fiction and nonfiction, as both disciplines use similar techniques to engage readers.

2. Look for an internship or freelancing job opportunity

Freelancing can build your critical writing skills and gives clients a reason to hire you for a content writing job. Whether freelancing or working as an intern, you can write magazine articles, self-publish your books and create blog posts. The experience you build can help you write content your audience can understand. It also helps you learn how to structure content. Your work experience can build credibility and establish you as an experienced and resourceful professional. Freelancing opportunities and internships can give writers the resources to remain competitive.

Related: What Is A Freelancer? Definition, Skills And Popular Jobs

3. Write different styles of content

One of the top ways to become a ghostwriter is by writing different content styles. For instance, writing articles can help a ghostwriter learn how to pitch concepts and write in a tone and style different from a blog post. Some ghostwriters might primarily focus on fiction, while others might write specifically on short stories or novels. You can even start your blog and create blog posts regularly to show your expertise and skills. Also, the type of content a writer creates can help build their future.

For instance, a ghostwriter involved with writing speeches might write for motivational speakers or politicians. Skilled writers are adept at simplifying technical jargon into content that the average person can read and understand.

Related: What Is Content Creation? (Importance And Examples)

4. Build a strong portfolio

Having a portfolio is essential for proving your experience and skills. A strong portfolio shows why you are an ideal candidate for a writing job. It helps showcase your writer's skills and helps employers understand what skills you bring to the organisation. For example, when applying for a ghostwriting position that involves writing speeches, including a few excerpts to show your relevant experience. Similarly, a novel writer might excerpt or list novels they have previously written.

Related: How To Make A Portfolio: A Step-by-Step Guide

5. Practise writing in different voices

Writing in someone else's voice can be challenging and employers expect a ghostwriter to be proficient at it. Adapting to different voices increases a ghostwriter's chances of winning contracts in various industries. While a ghostwriter might use a professional tone for writing blog posts, they might require a formal style for creating academic documents.

Career requirements for ghostwriters

As a ghostwriter might work in various industries, there is no specific educational requirement to become a ghostwriter. Having relevant experience and work history can increase your chances to find work as a ghostwriter and provide new job opportunities. Some basic career requirements for becoming a ghostwriter are:

Education

Most ghostwriters have a degree in journalism, English or related areas. Often, a company might prefer a skilled professional in a field to write articles or blog posts. For instance, a chemical manufacturing company might prefer to hire an experienced chemical engineer to write content pieces over a ghostwriter who does not have experience in chemical engineering and related areas. Often, some ghostwriters might complete additional training in scriptwriting, speech writing, marketing and music composition to work in new markets and gain more clients.

Typically, a ghostwriter's educational needs depend on the industry in which they work and their target audience. For instance, a ghostwriter specialising in business material might have a relevant degree in business or related areas.

Related: 10 Content Writer Interview Questions And Answers

Skills

Apart from writing and editing skills, a ghostwriter requires specific skills to find clients and show their work quality. The ability to publicly market and display your portfolio and writing abilities is essential for this role. As most ghostwriters often manage their freelance business, these professionals require excellent time management and organisation skills. Some other skills for ghostwriters include:

  • Research: Strong research skills help these professionals identify valuable resources for a topic. The ability to use precise search terms can help find information to write a compelling and exciting piece.

  • Critical thinking: Ghostwriters use a variety of sources to create a new content piece. After understanding and analysing information from one source, these professionals elaborate facts and condense information to write thoughtful writing pieces.

  • Editing and grammar: Employers and target audiences expect these professionals to submit work without grammatical and punctuation errors. Editing primarily involves reading the content piece to evaluate whether the flow of the writer's thoughts makes sense.

  • Creativity: Ghostwriters require creativity to create content on various topics and for different industries. These professionals use their creativity skills to approach a topic from a different perspective and select the right words to make the content piece more interesting to readers.

Related: What Are Writer Skills? (With Examples And Tips For Improvement)

Ghostwriter Work Environment

Freelance ghostwriters can write from anywhere because they require a computer and internet connection to conduct their research and create content pieces. Many ghostwriters who are full-time employees of an organisation might choose to work from the home, office or public place. These professionals look for new clients and projects. Most ghostwriters work during regular working hours. Often to complete their work, these professionals might work evenings and weekends to meet work deadlines.

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