A day in the life of a ghostwriter

Image of voice sound waves

One of the most gratifying things about being a creative ghostwriter is that it definitely contributes towards your continuous ‘lifelong learning’. While I specialise in key sectors, there’s nothing more exciting than being sector challenged, rising to the task when you only have a layperson’s knowledge around the core subject. It’s head down and focus for some intensive research!

But moving away from your comfort zone also pays off professionally. These assignments often translate into long term client relationships. It’s then really satisfying when – once established – all your client needs to do is jot down a few lines, along with an opinion on the subject matter, and off you ‘incognito’ go.

Beware Virtual Rabbit Holes

Take one of last week’s assignments. Subject matter: The economy. Oh no, I hear you say, how dull – we all know the outcome is grim. Turns out it’s not. Well it is for the next couple of years, but you’d expect that when we’ve been at war with a pandemic as our ruthless enemy. 

So my starting point was four fairly fleshy bullets and an opinion – these particular ones are carefully crafted, as you’d expect from an economist. Before you know it you’re reading opinion pieces in the FT, Bank of England bulletins, McKinsey Executive Briefings and following #America2021 project.

I do sometimes have to take advice from my conference speaker self as to how important time management is as I burrow deep into a myriad of intriguing virtual rabbit holes.

Managing Ghost Expectations

The majority of my clients simply want their voices heard. An illustration of their expertise and extensive knowledge, but without the obvious sales push, although it’s subtly there of course. Others believe in magic, that somehow by commissioning a creative writer they’ll get instant results. And well they might; indeed some have, especially when they offer high value sign up incentives.

Regardless of intention, it’s about targeting with a voice that resonates with those you’re trying to engage. Going viral gets attention, but it needs to be the right attention. Better to attract a few interested parties who are genuine buyers, than thousands who just ‘Like’ something doing the virtual rounds, but then becomes a one-hit empty wonder. Don’t forget you only see the successful ones…there are thousands (upon thousands) of daily posts that miss the mark.

Woman aiming an arrow at a target

How does your client know it’s worth the investment? 

There is no silver bullet, but there is a silver lining.

It’s a dual investment between two professionals: one on each side, both equal in their areas of expertise. As a ghostwriter I don’t need to be an expert in the sector, my clients have all the in-depth knowledge required. My task is to craft words – specifically targeting the chosen audience – using my client’s voice and ensuring that when the assignment is completed, the words, tone and overall content is accessible to all.

Naturally you can’t charge for all the initial work you put in (nor for the copious amount of research some assignments require for that matter). But if you’re going to do a great job, it’s crucial you understand your client, their market, their objective, their purpose, their life! 

You also need to understand the way your client prefers to communicate with you. You can’t make the communication rules – unless you’re prepared to adapt to their ways, it won’t work. This doesn’t mean anything goes, it has to be workable and this past year has meant a fluid transition from Teams to Zoom, from WhatsApp to FaceTime, even Skype; all this alongside good old fashioned snail mail and telephone, albeit mobile.

But it’s worth it; from tentative beginnings great relationships are born. It’s about having mutual respect for each other and loads of laughs along the way.

Oh and in case you were wondering. Opinions on recovery in the UK by leading economists is pretty much unanimous. GPD in 2021 will start the journey and reach pre-pandemic levels in 2023.