Breaking Down The Ghostwriting Business Model

“You will never plough a field if you only turn it over in your mind.”

—Irish Proverb

A Lucrative Option for Writers

Becoming a ghostwriter can be a lucrative business model choice for freelance writers. People have ideas but don’t know how to go about writing them down or do not have the time. The ghostwriter’s work is getting those ideas into a written format.

There are four main types of ghostwriting projects:

  1. Web copywriting
  2. Non-fiction articles, short ebooks, and books
  3. Fiction
  4. Memoir

Each of these ghostwriting subgenres provides opportunities for writers to get paid to translate ideas into written words. Each stresses different writing and communication talents. Eventually, you’ll find the niche that suits your personality and work ethos.

The Benefits

As a ghostwriter, you use your writing talents and get paid well. If you enjoy writing as a way to earn money, ghostwriting pays you well for your skills. The benefits for writers are multiple.

  • Startup costs are minimal. You need a computer, internet access, and a way to communicate with clients.
  • Ghostwriting pays well. Without a byline, you can increase your fee by 15% – 20% above regular freelancing fees.
  • Book projects give you one big project focus, so you aren’t juggling project time.
  • Flexibility. Within the constraints of a deadline for a project completion date, you can work any hours from early morning to late at night. You can arrange a time to spend with family and friends but still get work done.
  • Develop relationships. Your relationship with influencers in your industry can develop into repeat business and referrals. You will also gain insights into how big names work and think.
  • Solo work. If joining teams and communicating with coworkers isn’t your fit, ghostwriting gives you the opportunity to work alone in the environment you choose.

Ghostwriting allows you to work with ideas and people that can be exciting and financially rewarding.

The Drawbacks

Before you decide that ghostwriting is the perfect low-cost startup business model for you, make sure you are comfortable with the drawbacks.

  • Give up your ego. Your name is not attached to the finished work. Your writer bragging rights are forfeited. When your work is successful, it can be painful seeing them get the credit for your work.
  • Your portfolio is limited. Most ghostwriting agreements come with a nondisclosure agreement, so you are limited in how you show off your work. You can list a project as a book and the subject matter, but can’t include actual writing samples. Depending on the client, you can ask to include samples in a portfolio in your Nondisclosure Agreement.
  • It takes time to build a business. Your clients may not want to share that someone else wrote their text – you. They are often hesitant to make public recommendations about your work.
  • You need to be facile with writing styles. One client may want “just the facts” presented logically. Another may want an emotionally packed language. Know your writing style comfort level to accept work that you can perform well.
  • Social skills. Many ghostwriting projects require back and forth with the “author.” You will need to accept editorial suggestions gracefully or educate them on why a certain method makes a book stronger or more engaging for readers. If you like hiding away in your writing cave, working with people can be challenging.
  • You work alone. No socializing or impromptu lunches with coworkers. You may feel isolated.

Carefully consider your personality and writing style(s) before you choose to ghostwrite as a solopreneur venture.

A Writer’s Option

If you enjoy writing and are comfortable communicating with others, ghostwriting can be a solid way to bring in a steady income. As a ghostwriter, you enjoy a flexible schedule, rewarding fees, and a personal sense of accomplishment. When you are comfortable with the parameters, ghostwriting is a viable, low-cost entry, business model.

Listen to the full interview to Zara Altair

The Four-Week MBA had the opportunity and honor of interviewing Zara Altair to know all the inside out of ghostwriting:

If you have questions, need ghostwriting services, or you aspire to become a ghostwriter you can connect with Zara on LinkedIn. You can also follow Zara on Zara Altair Writes.

Also, if you think we should cover other topics or have ideas for a podcast session feel free to pitch it at or leave a comment below!

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