Spray-painted word Ghostwriter on wall

Many well-known public figures don’t write their own books. Many web designers, big name brands and small businesses don’t write their own content either. That’s where a ghostwriter comes in.


What is a ghostwriter?


A ghostwriter is paid to write – but their name doesn’t appear on the completed work.

The advantage for the client is that they pay the ghostwriter for their writing skills and their time and the ghostwriter produces a better, or more timely, piece of writing than they could achieve themselves. The ghostwriter is happy to be compensated for their time and effort and in return they give up their rights to be acknowledged as the author of the work. In the case of published work (novels, newspaper and magazine articles), it might be that the ghostwriter is credited in some way: “as told to” or “in collaboration with” might appear somewhere in the small print of the acknowledgements but seldom on the cover. You might have come across the term in connection with best-selling autobiographical books but it also applies to the world of business.


What is a business ghostwriter?


A ghostwriter producing copy for businesses is a slightly different beast from the one who writes autobiographical material for sporting or Hollywood superstars. While the subject matter might be a bit less glamorous, it can still be crucially important. Communicating in just the right way can change the way a potential client views your business. Will they buy from you if your blogs are poorly written or badly out of date? Possibly, but they might head over to your competitor instead.

In the world of business, some blogs and white papers are written in-house and others are outsourced to qualified, experienced ghostwriters. You won’t learn the names of these craftsmen and women but you’ll appreciate their skills, especially if that end-of-year financial report is readable and the account of a charity’s special event is gripping.


What skills and benefits does ghostwriting involve?


The ghostwriter needs a range of skills: in order to accomplish the task successfully they need to be able to:

  • Take on the tone of voice and character of the company
  • Research the client’s business sector and make the final copy factually correct
  • Contribute valuable insights, making it worth the reader’s while to engage with the copy
  • Be authentic and credible – enhancing the reputation of their client
  • Devote themselves to just this one task, with no distractions, until it is complete and handed over.


How to work with a ghostwriter


If you’re short of time, a ghostwriter can completely take over the task of content creation your blog, white paper or ebook. No more waiting until someone has time to produce the text.

An alternative, which involves you, the client, more is to co-author the piece. You would write bullet points or an outline & the ghostwriter would complete the project. Either way, ideally you build a relationship with the writer, so that they know your business almost as intimately as you do. Empowering the writer means they are much more autonomous and you won’t need to spend time editing and checking their work. another time-saver is choosing a writer who knows your sector well – whether you’re seeking a wedding blogger, or someone to write about specialist holiday accommodation rentals, for example.


Spray-painted word Ghostwriter on wall
Ghostwriter graffiti
Image © CheekyUFO on Flickr


What’s my experience?


I began by writing PR and marketing copy for clients or clients of clients and slowly but surely entered the world of the ghostwritten blog. I’ve been lucky to write for some wonderful enterprises. Some are beautiful and famous wedding venues, for whom I’ve written blog accounts of real-life weddings, as well as informative ‘how to’ and ‘top 20’ style blogs. Sometimes my little grey cells are taxed by writing financial blogs, revealing what’s new for investors and how best to use asset finance to benefit your business. You can see that these examples are very different and I enjoy the challenge of exploring different writing styles, as well as the varied subject matter. For me, the joy of getting to know my client and their work is matched by the satisfaction of lightening their burden. The lack of ‘glory’ associated with being an anonymous ghostwriter is a small price to pay.


When you gonna call a ghost writer?


If you know of a reliable, creative writer who can take the burden of regular writing off your shoulders, while you carry on with running your business, the answer to this question should be, “all the time”! By forming good working relationships with a writer, they can get to know your business almost as well as you do, anticipating your viewpoint and working autonomously as a member of the team.


Good working relationships


As an experienced ghostwriter, I’m keen to form productive relationships with other creatives, both here in Gloucestershire and further afield. If you are a web designer who constantly faces delays because you’re waiting for the client to come up with copy that should have been delivered by now, get in touch. Often all it takes is a few carefully chosen words and together we can be hitting deadlines every time. If this sounds like you, please connect with me on LInkedIn or give me a call: I’d be delighted to  hear from you.


Sue Kelso Ryan copywriter logo

I very much enjoyed working with Sue Kelso Ryan while she was writing copy for a new website and I’m delighted with the end result! … I would highly recommend Sue and indeed, I hope to work with her on further projects in the future.

Dr Mike Crisp – Jan 2016

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