Ghostwriting: The Ultimate Beginners Guide [2023]

Ghostwriting: The Ultimate Guide for Complete Beginners

When you hear "ghostwriter," you probably think of the guy behind Drake's best lyrics or the journalist who wrote Britney Spears's autobiography on her behalf.

Very few people have the skills (or time) to write well. So, there's always going to be a huge market for ghostwriting services.

But you don't need to brush shoulders with Hollywood's biggest who's-whos to tap into it. In today's article, I'll break down what ghostwriting means in today's world, how it's made me 7 figures, and how you can get involved.

What is ghostwriting?

Ghostwriting is writing for someone else without receiving any credit or acknowledgment. Today, that means writing blog posts, articles, social media posts, and books for people who lack the time or skills to do it themselves.

Anyone who needs help creating written content can (and does) hire ghostwriters.

  • Business owners and entrepreneurs
  • Celebrities and public figures
  • Influencers and social media personalities
  • Professionals in various industries (doctors, lawyers, consultants)
  • Authors and aspiring writers
  • Live speakers and performers

As a ghostwriter, your role is to take someone else's ideas and turn them into words. You're the invisible hand that brings others' thoughts to life on paper (or screen).

The ghostwriting profession has evolved… used to mean "writing a famous person's memoir so they can perfectly articulate their thoughts."

That still happens. But today's ghostwriting industry is a lot more extensive. And for that, you can thank the Digital Age.

Now, any place with written content is an opportunity for ghostwriters. In the last day, there's a 100% chance you've read something someone else wrote.

  • That post you read on LinkedIn? Ghostwritten.
  • The video your favorite YouTuber just posted? Ghostwritten.
  • This article you're reading right now? Written by a ghostwriter (see what I did there?)

There's nothing wrong with it. It doesn't make anyone any less authentic. If anything, you love their content because they hired someone to make it awesome.

Types of ghostwriting jobs

Although there tons of ways you can write for others, these are the best ways to make a comfortable living doing it:

Twitter ghostwriting

I run a Twitter ghostwriting business. I tweet for CEOs, entrepreneurs, and online personalities who don't have time to learn Twitter's algorithms or write several posts per day themselves.

Here's how it works:

  • They tell me what their goals are, what's working, and where they're having trouble.
  • I diagnose the issues, optimize their profile, and create a strategy.
  • I write out a series of short-form and long-form Tweets, threads, and replies.
  • They approve it, and I post them to their account at a cadence.
  • I execute the rest of their strategy, including DM giveaways, engaging with specific accounts, and responding to anyone who takes the time to tweet at them.

Below is a tweet I published recently:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">You kill your creativity when you edit while you write. <br><br>Editing uses the analytical part of your brain. <br><br>Writing uses the creative part of your brain. <br><br>Doing both is like stepping on the gas and hitting reverse. <br><br>Write first, edit later.</p>&mdash; Dakota Robertson (@WrongsToWrite) <a href="">November 29, 2023</a></blockquote><script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

If I hired you for ghostwriting work, you'd strategically post content like this to grow my Twitter account.

It's truly a relationship that keeps on giving: my clients are happy with increased engagement (and ultimately more business), and I remain their constant source of Twitter content.

Linkedin ghostwriting

LinkedIn ghostwriting is like Twitter ghostwriting, but for LinkedIn's platform and growth algorithms. For those who have a more professional (B2B) audience, LinkedIn is the place to be.

I've grown my own LinkedIn presence by doing the following:

  • researching my audience on the platform
  • publishing original, thought-provoking content like posts and slideshow-like carousels targeted at them
  • engaging with relevant content creators in my niche
  • creating content a calendar and growth strategy

As a LinkedIn ghostwriter, you'll do the same for yourself. Then, you'll sell your content-creating and social media growth skills to others as a service.

Here's something I posted the other day:

Again, if this were your ghostwriting job, you'd publish content like this under my name.

Blog writing

Every company has a blog. They need it for SEO, thought leadership, and lead generation purposes. And those who prioritize it are 13x likelier to see a positive ROI on all their marketing efforts.

When you ask Google a question like, "How can I sell better?" you'll come across blogs like this:

90% of the time, the guy (or gal) who "wrote" it is different from the person who wrote it.

As a blog post ghostwriter, you'll write articles for high-traffic websites that already have an audience. You'll write about topics related to their products and customers' interests.

Depending on how you structure your copywriting rates, your clients will pay you per word or a flat rate.

YouTube script writing

If you're trying to make money as a creative writer, scriptwriting is your jam.

Accounts like this work with YouTube ghostwriters to find creative new ways to engage their audience:

And businesses like this need to publish YouTube content to rank for certain keywords, cover topics their target customers are interested in, and increase brand awareness:

In Hollywood, freelance writers (for TV and movies) get paid per page or per project. And if they're good, it's a lot of money.

As a YouTube scriptwriter, you'll do the same thing. You'll write scripts for YouTubers who don't have time to plan out their content or put words on paper themselves.

You might also take your scriptwriting skills to TikTok and Instagram Reels to help brands run ads like this:

Ghostwriting books

Can you believe this guy...

...wrote this book?

Of course, he didn't write it without heavy guidance and oversight.

A book ghostwriter will work with the “author” to plan out their book, outline it, and draw out all the content. Then, they'll write it, edit a few rounds of revisions, and publish it for them.

It's a tough market to break into because of self-publishing and the need for an agent.

You 100% need a personal brand and decades of experience as a prominent freelance writer, journalist, or marketer to be successful here.

If you're a versatile writer with connections in publishing (and/or a killer book idea), ghost-writing books is definitely lucrative.

Why do business owners need ghostwriters?

Well, for one, the internet happened. As online content became more and more vital to businesses and brands, the demand for high-quality writing skyrocketed.

And the cat's out of the bag with this one. Everyone and their mother knows the most successful businesses and entrepreneurs are active online. That's where 99% of organic business opportunities come from.

Today's entrepreneurs are busy people, though. Writing honestly takes forever. And copywriting skills don't come naturally.

That's why they hire professional writers to:

  • consult with them to understand their vision and writing style,
  • research their audience,
  • and translate their vision into top-notch content that aligns with their brand.

Over time, a ghostwriter establishes their client's voice (or plays into it) and helps them build authority in their niche.

With growth on their respective platforms comes brand awareness, sales, and business opportunities.

So, as a ghostwriter, you're literally the fabric of their (digital) existence. Pretty valuable if you ask me.

Can you make money ghostwriting?

The short answer is yes. You absolutely can make money ghostwriting. And thousands of people do, though it's one of the most undersaturated copywriting niches.

Now for the long answer...

Wherever there's value, there's money. So, to be a successful ghostwriter, you have to add value several magnitudes greater than your rate.

As an example, here's a minimum-impact job that justifies $200:

  • writing an email landing page for a small coffee shop in your hometown

Here's a high-impact job that justifies $2,000:

  • writing that exact same landing page for Starbucks

One will do a few hundred in sales. One will do a few hundred thousand.

Scarcity is another critical factor in how much you can charge. That's how I've been able to charge my clients between $3,000 and $12,000 per month for my ghostwriting services.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">1 weird thing that helped me charge between $3,000 and $12,000 a month as a ghostwriter: <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Dakota Robertson (@WrongsToWrite) <a href="">June 3, 2023</a></blockquote><script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

And, of course, the value is there. If their Twitter brand eventually leads them to 10 new clients, an M&A transaction, or new business opportunities, it's definitely worth paying a few grand for.

How to Become a Ghostwriter

1. Pick a type of ghostwriting.

Before you can start landing ghostwriting gigs, you need to decide which type of freelance writing you want to get into.

For me, this was easy. I was a Twitter addict to begin with.

But you might love...

  • LinkedIn if you're already familiar with the platform from your corporate job
  • blogging if you spend lots of time reading and researching online
  • scriptwriting (YouTube) if you've always been into making films but suck at being on camera
  • book writing if you're a creative writer

2. Grow your own account.

Before I launched my Twitter ghostwriting service, I grew my Twitter account to well over 100,000 followers.

Once you know which platform you're going to go with, start writing under your own name.

  • Publish on your own blog
  • Build your own Twitter or LinkedIn audience
  • Create your own video scripts

Before you can offer ghostwriting services, proving you can actually grow an account will give you the confidence you need to sell them. Plus, you'll be a walking case study.

3. Choose a niche.

You need to follow two things when picking a niche:

  • The money
  • Your interests

My interests in business, entrepreneurship, startups, marketing, and personal development all fit into Twitter ghostwriting.

They also fit into my clients' narratives. So ghostwriting for them is a natural fit.

Find your "natural fit."

4. Build skills.

It's tricky to standardize "what to do" here because each platform will require completely different expertise. However, I will say this: it takes more than writing skills.

To put it simply, follow these steps:

  • Learn how to hack the algorithm, be it Google, YouTube, LinkedIn, or Twitter
  • Follow high-performing content creators in your niche
  • Save their best content to a swipe file
  • Study their frameworks and writing process
  • Reverse engineer their content and apply it to your situation

5) Land your first client with an irresistible offer.

Landing your first gig as a freelance ghostwriter is an exhilarating experience. I remember it like it was yesterday.

There are a few things that will help you here:

  • Low risk (what if it doesn't work?)
  • Scarcity (are you in high demand, or can anyone book a call?)
  • Social proof (have you done this before?)
  • High potential reward ($X for $XX,XXX in sales)
  • Low effort (will you handle everything?)

To land your first client, create an irresistible offer that meets these criteria.

6) Get them killer results.

Obviously, you need to do a good job. But it goes beyond that.

Writing one viral tweet for your client's account could make you the $15,000 they couldn't have made otherwise.

The money is in getting them measurable results (revenue, followers, etc.), not just making them sound good.

I go more in-depth on this entire concept in another article: How to Become a Ghostwriter

How to find clients


Inbound is usually haphazard. But it's the best because you don't need to funnel tons of time or money into it.

  • Organic referrals from friends and happy clients
  • A private referral program for your network
  • Your own social media posts
  • Your website or blog

Once you get results for a few clients, you can post their success stories, like I do for my coaching students:

When I publish content like that, I always get at least 3-5 interested potential prospects in my DMs.

This is why I say you should build your own brand first. If you have a decent following, you can kick back, relax, and cherry-pick from the clients who reach out to you.


Outbound is deliberate and scalable, but takes some work.

  • Find your target prospects
  • Use Apollo to find their email (or, for socials, just use their @)
  • DM or email them
  • Be simple, personal, and direct

To some degree, you can automate this process. But, I strongly recommend you personally reach out. It's just so much more authentic, and it will make getting clients 10x easier.

Who is Dakota?

I show you how to build a high-paying creative business without doing work you hate.

Don't be a potato. Sign up to my free newsletter.
Join 11,000+ based individuals who are receiving actionable content on writing, business, and content creation every week.

Our latest posts