Introducing a New Series on Freelance Ghostwriting

For close to two years I’ve been revamping my writing business to focus more on ghostwriting. This change in strategy has done amazing things for my career. It’s made me fall in love with freelancing all over again and helped me develop a focus, security and stability that I’d felt was lacking before. Like many freelancers, I’d always dabbled in ghostwriting. But I didn’t really target these higher profile projects in which I play a strong, yet invisible hand.

I know that some of you won't understand this next part---but that's okay because I'm really writing it for those of you who will. In 2011, I began to feel burned out (drained, really) by the demands of bylined writing and what I find to be the taxing environment of social media. This feeling made me realize something about myself that I’d never been able to admit, which was that I didn’t want to be on the front page of any magazines or newspapers. I didn’t want to do interviews, have a platform, promote my work, court more social media followers or maintain my Klout. I simply wanted to write. Don't get me wrong, I was proud and excited when major outlets such as The New York Times or PBS linked to something I'd written, but the stress of the attention was not something I was comfortable with. It's also the reason that I'd lose enthusiasm every time I'd start a blog that began to gain popularity.

Ghostwriting allows me to do what I want to do and what I do best without the overhanging fear of the limelight eventually hitting me. It allows me to play a vital supporting role in building the success of business owners, insurance agents and financial advisors while getting them the media attention, clients and exposure they want and need.

My love for ghostwriting isn’t just about the pleasure I get from being a part of someone else’s success. It’s also about a particular writing challenge that I love: finding the voice of my client. When I write as myself, I write with my own voice—an overly adjectified, made-up-worded, sardonic twang. But that voice isn’t appropriate for many of my clients, which leaves me the freedom to develop the one that is. Ghostwriting is like acting. I slip into the role of another person and I present their thoughts, their strategies and their ideas to the public in the unique way they want these things communicated. It’s amazing the response you get when you hit that perfect note and the client feels completely at home within your prose. I know this sounds corny, but it’s freakin’ magical.

Over the next few months I’ll be doing a series of weekly posts on ghostwriting. If you have any particular questions that you’d like to see answered (and don’t worry, I already plan to cover the issue of clips), please leave them below and I’ll make sure to work them into the rotation.

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Yolander Prinzel is the profit monster behind the Profitable Freelancer website. She has written for a number of publications and websites such as American Express,, Advisor Today, Money Smart Radio and the International Travel Insurance Journal (ITIJ). Her book, Specialty Ghostwriting: A New Way to Look at an Old Career, is currently available on Amazon.

22 thoughts on “Introducing a New Series on Freelance Ghostwriting”

  1. Ghostwriting was my break into freelancing…I had only written revenue share articles up until a couple years ago when someone approached me about helping with some overflow work by ghostwriting…after a few months the person I was ghostwriting for decided to stop writing in that niche and forwarded my name to the editor…I have had increasing work at higher pay since, and it is under my name now. I am picking up new clients who have started to recognize my name.

    I did ghostwrite a 15k word e-book a couple months ago and it has been my largest paid project so far.

    I guess I am still hoping to build my name recognition…I will look forward to the day I am so burnt out on publicity that I will relish ghostwriting again.

  2. That’s awesome–and with a name like Toad Sticker, you’ll build that recognition in no time 😉 Seriously, though, I am an extreme introvert, so it really doesn’t take much for me to get burned out. I hope you have a much longer ‘attention fuse’ and can bask in the glow for a good long while!

    • Yes I really should use my name…but this has been my screen name for 15 years on all my forums…Sigh…holding on to the past can keep you from your future…hey! did I just write something profound???

      • I think you may have 😉 If you’re interacting in forums as a way to get new clients, I’d definitely change to your real name/business name and maybe just use Toad Sticker for personal stuff–but that’s just me. There aren’t always right or wrong approaches to everything.

  3. I fell into ghostwriting from the very start, Yo. I’d love to say it was strategic on my part; however, the truth is it was probably more an accident than planned. That, and the fact I like to eat.

    I’m with you 100%, Yo. I love ghostwriting. I still get a thrill seeing my words in print. The fact that there is some other person’s name on the byline does not bother me a bit.

    I also was a ghostwriter for a short ebook. Have you ventured into ghostwriting books as well as other projects? What kind of projects do you do on a regular basis?

    I’m looking forward to reading your series, Yo.

    • I feel the same way, Cathy–it’s so fun to see where the words end up! I do a little bit of everything but mostly non-fiction book projects–which is where my heart really is.

  4. Wow I think that’s brilliant idea. Can I request something? I think you can explain about writing biography/memoir. Because I think that field is very good and rare.

  5. I love ghostwriting! I find it rewarding to help others write the story they want to show and tell to the world. Of course, I just don’t ghostwrite. I also consult on the branding, marketing and PR and social media. I offer a complete package.


    The math captcha, while super simple, made me think this morning. 🙂

  6. I’ve only done a little ghostwriting over the years but really want to expand my services, so I’ll be sure to read your posts about ghostwriting.

    Also? Worst Captcha ever. It made me do math!

    • Awesome, Paula—I hope the series helps! Also, let’s push Jenn into switching to a spelling captcha. Oooh, or a synonym captcha! No–wait, a cinnamon captcha! I WANT COOKIES.

  7. Amen. Finally, someone who admits that fame isn’t why we write. Yo, great post! I’m with you — I’m not so ego-centric that I have to OWN each word I type. Sure, it’s nice to have books and articles published, but it’s not essential that I grab all the credit all the time. In fact, I like your attitude — we get to write while helping someone else see his or her vision come to fruition. There’s nothing wrong with that.

    Can’t wait to

  8. I’m so happy I came across your article! I feel exactly the same way about technical writing, which is makes up a fair amount of my day-to-day workload. I’ve definitely struggled, though, with whether I’m somehow failing by easing up on my pursuit of by-lined magazine work. I went to college for magazine writing, spent several years as an on-staff editor, and worked my tail off chasing by-lines as a freelancer. But when I stumbled into freelance tech writing, I found an outlet for my writing with a fraction of the stress.

    Tech writing is still challenging and creative (albeit in a different way), and I’ve got stability now that I never would’ve dreamed of, doing magazines full time. Now, I have the freedom to pursue the by-lines I *really* want, without the pressure of making each and every pitch count towards my bottom line. This is definitely on my (long) list of Things I Wish Someone Had Mentioned When I Was In J-School. 🙂

    • The Internet is a weird place. On one hand, it has all this potential to make individuality more acceptable—but what seems to actually happen is that we’re all expected to want the exact same career and experience as our contemporaries. As a result, our level of success gets measured against someone else’s personal yardstick. It’s silly, really.

      If you enjoy what you’re doing and it doesn’t stress you out, I can’t possibly see how you’d be failing.

      • The only thing I’d add to that in the context of a freelance career is:

        “If you enjoy what you’re doing and it doesn’t stress you out and it allows you to reach your professional and financial goals without causing any harm, I can’t possibly see how you’d be failing.”

        Not having a by-line doesn’t actually hurt you. It can make you more attractive in certain types of freelance writing where the client needs things to remain more generic authorship-wise. But other things, like working for content mills or other shady companies, can hurt you in that the association can negatively impact your professional image in the eyes of other, and often better prospects. Plenty of people might be happy with the work and they might not be stressed over it. But if it’s unlikely to help them reach their long-term professional or financial goals, and if it does anything to harm their later prospects, I certainly couldn’t call that “succeeding.” But maybe that’s just me. Ghostwriting is a completely different animal of course, and I don’t think Kelly taking non-by-lined work is a sign of “failing” as a freelance writer. Sometimes that’s simply what works best.

  9. I like a lot this comparison of ghostwriting to acting — ’cause they are very similar indeed!

    And, you know what I like most about having to adopt a different “voice” for a client? It’s that I can “save” my true “voice” exclusively for my own writing.

    • That’s a great point, Helene. I also love the ability to sometimes play devil’s advocate with myself when I work on a book that doesn’t necessarily reflect my own personality or opinion. Because it’s something that must be done carefully and you HAVE to be able to truly understand and appreciate the POV of your client in order to give it the sincerity a project deserves. It’s actually made me a lot more patient and understanding about certain issues.

  10. I would love to know the nuts and bolts of started in ghostwriting. How do you land your first client? Are there any online groups I should join?

  11. Great article, Yo. And I’m looking forward to reading your series. Like you, I was burned out from writing articles, including wrestling sources to answer my questions. I’ve been freelancing for the past 12 years, but I’ve branched into ghostwriting in January 2013. And I agree with you. I’d rather help a lawn care or landscape business achieve success rather than seeing my name on a clip–even though I do continue to write some trade magazine articles until I can build up a client list that sustains my budget.


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