The biggest reason freelancers shouldn’t become ghostwriters

Brandon LazovicOctober 11, 2017

Ghostwriting is often one of the first jobs that freelancers get before they find a full-time, permanent position in their subject field. Many writers are drawn to the ghostwriting because they’re great writers who can effectively put a client’s thoughts and ideas together into a cohesive and wonderful piece. They also need to make a living and the world of writing is crippling when it comes to finding paid work. While it might seem like a good way to put underutilized writing skills to use with monetary compensation, there’s one big reason freelancers shouldn’t become ghostwriters: they aren’t attributed for their work.

My reasoning doesn’t necessarily apply to writers who are employed to ghostwrite for supervisors and executives at a company, but to the writers seeking opportunities to make money writing single assignments. The money might be tempting, but it’s easy to be taken advantage of if a writer doesn’t know how to negotiate a good fee, or receive compensation based on single articles rather than by volume.

To gain more work and make more money in the world of freelancing it’s important to build relationships and present a portfolio. Freelancing can be fun at times, but no one freelances for the pay, with many writers taking unrelated day jobs to provide stable sources of income.

Referrals are very important for freelancers, but they can also apply for assignments by presenting their portfolio to sell clients on their expertise. At the end of the day ghostwriters are at the mercy of their clients for referrals because they don’t have portfolios—they sold attribution for compensation. Some clients will generously share contact information with everyone they meet, but others forget the ghostwriter existed after the assignment is completed.

The money might be tempting in the short-term, but freelancers shouldn’t become ghostwriters because they receive no attribution or credit for their work, making it impossible to gain new clients on their own or pursue future job leads. At the end of the day, trading attribution for compensation isn’t worth it and anonymity kills any possibility of building a career.

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