What is a Ghostwriter? How to Make Good Money Writing

“What is a ghostwriter?” At a recent writer’s breakfast workshop on book writing and publishing, a writer asked me this.

The topic came up as I was giving examples of alternative publishing options to.

What is a Ghostwriter

My example, in this case: ghostwriting.

“What is a ghostwriter?” The workshop attendee asked. “Is it when you change names in your memoir to avoid disclosing someone’s identity?”

This was a new concept to the workshop attendees. As I thought about the term I realized how weird it is. I mean, it kind of sounds like some sort of niche mystery writer. The answer is much less sexy, sorry.


Wondering if ghostwriting is right for you? There are four decisions every writer needs to make before they get started marketing themselves and their services online. They’re foundational to your writing life.

To help you figure this out, I’ve created a free worksheet and you can grab it inside of my resource library!

Pop your email address in the form below, confirm your subscription to my email list and I’ll send you the password to my free resource library. Once you’re in, navigate to the writing section and look for the worksheet titled “Four Decisions Every Writer Needs to Make.”

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What is a ghostwriter?

When people outside the industry think of writing I think they imagine a standard person-writes-book-and-puts-name-on-it.

But when you enter the wonderful world of professional writing you realize there are SO MANY MORE OPTIONS.

Sure, writing a book and putting your name on it is a thing. A big thing.

And the easiest way to explain ghostwriting to someone who things of the writing life as limited to authoring a book is this: a ghostwriter is someone who writes a book for someone else.

They provide the service of writing a book and then release the rights to that book to the person who hired them to do it.

What does this mean?

When you write a book for someone else it means you get paid once and they sell the book as their own. They put their name on it. They take all the credit. And they get all future money for it.

And it’s totally above board, don’t worry. Sure there are other arrangements ghostwriters make with their clients.

Sometimes the book will say “so and so with so and so,” which indicates the it’s the first person’s story but the second person put it together and did the writing.

And sometimes the writer does receive royalties.

Quite often these are collaborations with an editor and done for people who are celebrities, politicians or CEOs.

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Other Types of Ghostwriting

I look at ghostwriting as any writing you aren’t credited for. And there are so many times where this makes sense.

Some examples:

  • Website copy
  • Product descriptions
  • Social media posts
  • Podcast show notes

It doesn’t really make sense to have a byline on things like this. And you maybe you don’t think about this type of writing as professional writing but it is.

The label for this type of ghostwriting is something like business-to-business writing or even professional writing. In essence, you’re hired to write for a company and once your contract is completed they own the copy and you get paid.

Makes sense, right? Do you still wonder what is a ghostwriter?

Another type of ghostwriting is taking one form of media and transcribing it into written form. You aren’t coming up with the ideas or doing the research, you’re just repurposing it.

It doesn’t make sense to have author credit because, well, you didn’t write it. Not really.

I could keep going but I think you get the idea.

The great news about ghostwriting is often it is better paying than writing for credit because people understand what you’re giving up and compensate you for it.

Other helpful articles

"What is a ghostwriter?" The easiest way to explain ghostwriting to someone who things of the writing life as limited to authoring a book is this: a ghostwriter is someone who writes a book for someone else. They provide the service of writing a book and then release the rights to that book to the person who hired them to do it.

One more thing. I think you’ll enjoy my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

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"What is a ghostwriter?" The easiest way to explain ghostwriting to someone who things of the writing life as limited to authoring a book is this: a ghostwriter is someone who writes a book for someone else. They provide the service of writing a book and then release the rights to that book to the person who hired them to do it.
"What is a ghostwriter?" At a recent writer's breakfast workshop on book writing and publishing, a writer asked me this. The topic came up as I was giving examples of alternative publishing options to.
A writer asked me what is a ghostwriter. It came up because I suggested it as an alternative to traditional publishing and it was a new idea for attendees.

5 Popular Digital Marketing Tactics You Should Retire Immediately

If you’re doing business online then you know you need an arsenal of digital marketing tactics in your marketing plan.

But which ones should you use? Which ones work? And what about the kind of smarmy ones…if they work, should you use those too?

5 Popular Digital Marketing Tactics You Should Retire Immediately

There have always been slimy marketing tricks, way before Internet times, and I think those of us with any scruples know enough to stay away from inauthentic tactics.

But in this crowded space—and so many different voices recommending this or that approach—sometimes it’s tough to tell what’s a good idea and what will get you shadowbanned.

While we’re all searching for that magic silver bullet that will solve all of our marketing and promotion problems, there are some things you don’t need to worry about doing any more. And a few you shouldn’t have been doing in the first place.

Freelancer Positioning Worksheet

Executing a solid marketing plan comes down to understanding who you serve, what makes you different in the eyes of your ideal client, why that difference matters and what you do.

If you can get solid here, your marketing will flow from there.

I’ve put together a worksheet to help you figure this out. You can grab the free download in my resource library. Just pop your email address into the form below and I’ll email you the password, then go to the freelancing section and look for “Freelancer Positioning Worksheet.”

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Digital marketing tactics that don’t work

Here are a few common digital marketing tactics that may do more damage than good to your brand.

Buying likes and followers

Online popularity feels like a numbers game. And in many ways, it is.

So it stands to reason you’ll be tempted at one point or another to purchase social media followers and/or engagement in order to give yourself a boost.

I think we can all agree this is scammy. Like, super inauthentic. As well, brands and organizations are becoming wise to this digital marketing tactic. It doesn’t take much digging to discover a bloated account these days.

Social media platforms are also cracking down on this behaviour, deleting inactive accounts that could be used for this purpose.

Even though it’s the long, slow, gruelling road, you’re much better off growing your followers organically through engaging content or by using paid advertising. Or both.

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Bulk-mailing promotional emails

Now, I’m not talking about sending mass emails to a nurtured email list you’ve cultivated over time.

Those people have opted into your list and have decided they’d like to hear from you.

But some people think it’s OK to randomly add people to their email mailing list who haven’t given them their explicit consent.

Not cool. And, in fact, not legal.

But even if you have consent, while sending out promo email after promo email might seem like an effective strategy, you’ll find most of these end up in people’s junk folder.

Why? Because many spam filters are triggered when more than 200 recipients receive the same email. This is particularly likely to be the case when emailing strangers.

If you’re pitching or querying editors or sending letters of inquiry to businesses, you’re far better off sending personalised emails rather than mass mailing strangers.

Yes it takes more time, but it’s going to get you much farther in the long run.

digital marketing tactics

Keyword stuffing

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a strategy that can help you gain visibility on search engines and increase leads.

However, there’s a LOT of bad advice on SEO out there and one tactic called keyword stuffing is particularly icky.

This happens when you cram and jam a particular word or phrase you want to rank in search engines for into your web page without any regard for how the copy reads. It’s written for robots, not humans.

That’s backwards.

Repeat after me: We write for humans first, robots second.

Aside from making your pages basically illegible and unreadable, this honestly doesn’t help your ranking either. The robots have caught on to this tactic and when they spot it, your site ranking does in fact take a hit.

One way to avoid practicing smarmy SEO is by investing in an SEO company. A good SEO company knows the rules and works to incorporate keywords naturally.

Overusing of pop-ups

People use pop-ups because they work. Yes they’re annoying, but they work!

However. You can overdo it.

The big idea here is you want to engage your website readers but not annoy them. So yes, you do want to employ some “notice me” tactics but in a polite way.

Use a polite pop-up.

For the best outcome, I suggest triggering pop-ups after visitors have been on your site for a while or just before they leave your site.  

Publishing fake reviews

Reviews are SO important these days. Whether it’s books or drop-ship products, reviews can definitely make or break a sale.

So I understand why it may be temping to bolster your review ranks with a few planted captions.

But…don’t do this. If you get caught there are sometimes big consequences. Even when there are authentic reviews from your friends and family, those reviews can be taken down by sites as they can’t prove you didn’t pay or prompt them for a positive review (it’s rare, but it has happened).

It’s tough out there, but don’t take short cuts.

Having positive reviews will help you to build the trust, but you want to make sure that these reviews are from genuine past clients. Customers are way more savvy than many of us realise and will likely spot a fake review anyway.

If you're doing business online then you know you need an arsenal of digital marketing tactics in your marketing plan. 

But which ones should you use? Which ones work? And what about the kind of smarmy ones...if they work, should you use those too?

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

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If you're doing business online then you know you need an arsenal of digital marketing tactics in your marketing plan. 

But which ones should you use? Which ones work? And what about the kind of smarmy ones...if they work, should you use those too?

Steal this Simple 3 Step Evergreen Content Ideas Strategy for Writers

One of the hardest things about being a working freelance writer is coming up with content. Which is why you need an evergreen content strategy.

Trust me on this, it will change your life.

Evergreen Content Ideas for Bloggers

Writers who want to build an online platform know they should be producing content. Maybe a blog or something similar.

And in theory it makes sense.

A blog is an excellent way to showcase your skills as a writer and advertise your services. In reality things are a bit trickier.

  • What do you write about?
  • How do you balance writing for yourself/your site with writing for clients?
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This is where an evergreen content strategy comes in

Evergreen content can be described as the foundation of your blog—and this surprises many people for a couple reasons.

First, because it’s hard to comprehend how timeless articles can stay relevant over time.

Second because hardly anyone has heard of it.

How can evergreen content be a foundation when I’ve never heard of it before!?

I know! But I’ll explain everything and you’ll never wonder what to write about on your website again.

Brainstorm Ideas for Writing Worksheet

Do you find brainstorming ideas a total nightmare? I have a process for that! Check out the worksheet and free training in my my resource library.

This is a free training but you’ll need the password—just pop your email address into the form below and I’ll send you it to you. Once you’re there, navigate to the writing section and download the “How to Brainstorm Ideas for Writing Worksheet.”

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*Back to the training*

First I’ll talk about what evergreen content is, then I’ll explain how to come up with ideas in a way you can balance with your freelance writing workload.

What is evergreen content?

“Evergreen” is jargon but the word makes sense—think of evergreen trees, they keep their needles year-round and the needles maintain their green colouring thus, ever-green.

Evergreen content works the same way, it stays relevant year-round and answers questions people are asking years after it was written.

Why you should employ an evergreen content marketing strategy is because this timeless, relevant information will deliver a consistent stream of leads to your website month over month.

It takes a bit of time and effort to set up but once you have the wheels in motion this approach will allow you to spend your mental energy on your freelance clients while your website works in the background.

evergreen content ideas

How to come up with ideas

The best way to come up with ideas is to know your audience. In a freelance writer’s case, your audience is your ideal client.

Think about who you serve and what problems they’re trying to solve. Your website or blog content should solve those problems and answer common questions. The more questions you answer the stronger your foundation.

Here’s what you need to do when coming up with evergreen content ideas:

  • Get clear on who you’re talking to (your ideal reader) and what you offer (what’s your goal? What are you trying to achieve?)
  • Decide what your topics are
  • Put everything into a calendar template.

To systemize these ideas (and actually get them written) you’ll need to take your ideas and build a content calendar with them.

Of course we could go a lot deeper when talking about creating evergreen content—there’s SEO, keyword research and virality to consider.

But for today we’ll stick with the concept of evergreen content and building a strong online foundation as the base of your freelance writing business. When done well it’s a beautiful thing.

Bonus: here’s a helpful post on what type of posts work best for evergreen content from Thirteen Thoughts.

One of the hardest thing about being a freelance writer is coming up with content for your website, which is why you need an evergreen content strategy.

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

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One of the hardest thing about being a freelance writer is coming up with content for your website, which is why you need an evergreen content strategy.
One of the hardest thing about being a working freelance writer is coming up with content for your personal website and digital platforms, which is why you need an evergreen content strategy. Trust me on this, it will change your life.

Ready to Query a Book? Tough Love to Know When You’re Ready

On this long and winding road called the publishing journey there’s the question of when to query a book. The answer isn’t too mind blowing but it comes up enough that it’s worth covering.

When to query a book

The answer of when to query a book is different for fiction and non-fiction, and there are different answers within non-fiction as well. Here are the basics.

When to query a book: fiction

If you’re querying a fiction book it both needs to be 100 per cent finished and revised/edited. In other words, your book needs to be complete.

One pub tip I read from an agent read she shouldn’t be the first person to read your book. Good advice!

When to query a book: non-fiction

This is a bit trickier to answer but I’ll try. The best advice is to check out the agent or editor you’re querying and see what their requirements are—because it seems like all non-fiction agents/editors want similar yet different things.

If you’re writing memoir or narrative non-fiction then your manuscript needs to be complete before querying (same as fiction).

However, if you’re writing prescriptive non-fiction then you do not need to have a finished manuscript before querying.

elevator pitch templates

By the way, are you stumped for how to put together a pitch about your book? I’ve created two elevator pitch templates as a free download to my resource library. They’re versatile and can work for any project.

This is a freebie you’ll need a password to access the library itself. You can get the password by popping your email address into the form below.

Once you’re in the library, navigate to the “freelancing” section and look for “Elevator Pitch Templates.”

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I’m pleased about the prescriptive non-fiction rules because it’s what I’m writing but I’ve learned you still need to have the book figured out and, like, thought through because you need an amazing book proposal should you get past the query stage.

And another hitch with prescriptive non-fiction is you need a significant platform in order to get an agent or editor. I know. But you just do.

Since learning this I can see many reasons for holding off on querying even if you’re manuscript or proposal is ready.

Because getting an agent or editor isn’t the only moving target in this adventure—there is so much more to consider.

So. We’re all excited and just want to query the heck out of our books. But I challenge you to ask yourself if you’re really ready.

Is your manuscript ready? Is your platform ready? Are you ready?

If you have considered these questions then you know when to query a book.

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Extra credit: What are the best times to query a literary agent? from Writer’s Digest

More about non-fiction publishing

On this long and winding road called the publishing journey there's the question of when to query a book. The answer is changes for fiction and non-fiction.

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

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On this long and winding road called the publishing journey there's the question of when to query a book. The answer is changes for fiction and non-fiction.
On this long and winding road called the publishing journey there's the question of when to query a book. The answer is changes for fiction and non-fiction.

Why Building a Network with Freelancers Will Help You Grow Your Business

The best marketing you can do is network with freelancers. A bold claim, I know. But I stand behind it. Building a strong network will help you grow your freelance business.

Network with Freelancers

Why building a network with freelancers will help you grow your business

If the idea of traditional networking fills you with fear and loathing, allow me to present a different way.

Think of networking as making friends with like-minded freelancers and treating them well instead of attending awkward events with strangers and trying to pass out business cards.

Doesn’t my way sound better?

In order to network with freelancers you have to avoid thinking of other freelancers as your competition. It’s easy to slip into a scarcity mentality and view every gig as something another freelancer can steal but the truth is there’s more than enough work for everyone.

The freelance life is tough enough as it is, and isolated.

Make friends with other freelancers and see what you can do to help and support them. It will make a huge difference to your own business.

But maybe this still doesn’t make sense. I understand.

When you haven’t experienced the amazing give-and-take of a true network this approach seems counter-intuitive. I’ll give a couple examples from my last year of freelancing to help you understand.

Freelancer Positioning Worksheet

By the way, I’ve created a worksheet to help you work through why you write/freelance and it knowing these things will help you make connections while you’re networking! Just pop your email address into the form below and I’ll send you the password for my free resource library. When you’re there, navigate to the freelancing category and download the “Freelancer Positioning Worksheet.”

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Example one

I attended a webinar through one of my professional networks, Canadian Media Guild Freelance (now the Canadian Freelance Guild) on how to price your work. As part of the training, the presenter asked if the attendees would share our hourly rate with each other. She said freelancers have to stick together and talk with each other about their rates, how they charge, how they put projects together…and more.

But we’re so afraid to share.

Maybe we’re charging too much! Or maybe we’re not charging enough! Maybe we’ll reveal how much we don’t know if we say anything!

Here’s the truth: you’re stronger when you ask questions and share with one another. Imagine how empowered you’d feel about your pricing if you knew what others charged and could stand behind your quotes with confidence!

Network with freelancers

Example two

I have a friend who is just getting started in her freelance career. Earlier this year I taught a series of workshops and she came out in support, which I appreciated.

A few months later we met up and she shared a bit more about what type of work she was thinking about pursuing. So you’d better believe when a colleague asked me if I knew anyone who was looking for work in exactly what my friend had said she was looking for I referred her first.

Now, this may seem like an obvious choice but think about it. I know lots of freelancers. I could have referred any number of equally talented, qualified, available people for the gig.

So what made this friend stand out?

Well, for one she supported me at one of my events without expecting anything in return. And for another we stayed in touch and she shared what she was looking for. So when the opportunity arose, she was at the top of my mind.

Would you like free writing tips? Sign up for my weekly tips & tricks, from one writer to another at robynroste.com/writing-tips.
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Helping others helps you (aka network with freelancers, it’s good for business!)

Get it? Helping each other benefits everyone.

Share what you learn with each other and help each other out when you can. Referrals are the freelancer’s bread and butter so keep your freelance friends close. Listen to them, support them, ask them questions, and refer them when you have an opportunity. Introduce them to people you think they’d benefit from knowing and grow your network one by one.

And, hopefully, they’ll do the same for you.

Other networking tips for freelancers

The best marketing you can do is network with freelancers. Building a strong network will help you grow your freelance business. A bold claim, I know.

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

* indicates required
The best marketing you can do is network with freelancers. Building a strong network will help you grow your freelance business. A bold claim, I know.
The best marketing you can do is network with freelancers. Building a strong network will help you grow your freelance business. A bold claim, I know.