The Single Biggest Reason Ghostwriters Fail

Sitting around, waiting for the phone to ring is the worst thing ghostwriters can do. (Photo credit: Pexels)

For many reasons, demand for ghostwriting services is rising. In fact, I’d say it’s the perfect storm, formed by the ongoing need for online content, the rise of the thought leader role, and the pure lack of time.

Businesses, executives, doctors, attorneys, consultants, politicians, website owners, advertising agencies – you name it – all need material created and written to establish and enhance their authority. They need everything from blog posts to articles, white papers, case studies, and books. And they don’t have the time to invest in creating them on their own.

The work is out there

So if there is so much work, you may be asking, why are any ghostwriters failing?

The truth is that the ghostwriting industry is like a bell curve. You have a lot of ghostwriters in the center doing just fine. You have some who are above average who are raking in the dough. And you have others who are below average who are struggling or getting out of the business.

Why the disparity? Why isn’t everyone making gobs of money?

It has to do with how ghostwriters approach the challenge of finding work.

The single biggest reason ghostwriters fail is that they expect work to fall in their laps. They sit by the phone waiting for a potential client to call, or they check incoming emails every five minutes on the chance that a prospect has reached out to them. They are reactive.

Take action daily

And the truth is, very few ghostwriting projects ever just fall into someone’s lap. Successful ghostwriters are proactive – they do all they can to identify and get in front of potential clients, or to be introduced to them, in the hopes of one day being offered some work.

Some of the best actions you can take to find ghostwriting work include:

  • Scheduling regular coffee dates with people you can learn from. Depending on who you’d like to work with, get introductions to people who can help your career and then sit down to learn more about them. These can be moms from your kids’ school, members of your BNI group, or colleagues you don’t get to socialize with enough. Make the time.
  • Offering to speak to the types of people you’d like to work with, who are members of area trade associations, civic organizations, professional societies, and other groups. Public speaking positions you as the expert. You just need to get up and talk about what you do.
  • Becoming active in groups. Join writers’ groups, organizations your target clients belong to, volunteer with causes that are important to you, go to local town meetings – make connections.
  • Creating a website to make it easy for clients to find you in their hunt for a ghostwriter. Hire a professional designer to create a site that will impress those who visit.
  • Connecting on social media. Yes, social media can be a time suck. But spending a few minutes every day to share a recent article you wrote, to share a report you read that you thought colleagues might enjoy, or to offer a tip that could help someone else helps you form relationships that can result in work down the line.
  • Entering awards programs. Being able to call yourself an award-winning writer can set you apart from the pack.
  • Networking with influencers. Agents, editors, PR pros, and attorneys are all people who frequently work with folks who have a need for a ghostwriter. How about sending them a targeted letter of introduction to make them aware of your services.
  • Registering with job site Yes, many have work that pays a penny a word. You don’t want that. You do want to keep an eye out for the occasional lead that helps pay the bills and may get you in front of a client you’d be proud to work with.

There are dozens of other actions you can take on a regular basis to connect with others and develop a reputation as a ghostwriter. The key is to do something every day that improves your visibility with your target audience.

Whatever you do, don’t sit back and wait for your phone to ring.

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Marcia Layton Turner


  1. Dennis Briskin on March 29, 2017 at 8:08 pm

    Highly sensible and clear. Takes devotion and commitment . . .
    to oneself.

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