Editor’s Note: This post first launched in May 2016; however, in an effort to keep you supplied with the freshest and most current information possible, we’re now dropping the remix. Enjoy!
It’s no secret that BlogMutt’s success has been built on a foundation of great writers. Writers just like you!
Over the years, we’ve found that while freelance writing tests the skills of even the most seasoned and talented writers, it’s ghostwriting that pushes those tests to the limit. Writing for yourself and writing for (and as) someone else are two very different things, and there’s a learning curve that even naturally great writers must overcome to succeed as a ghostwriter.
If you’re just getting started as a writer for business blogs, consider these three tips for adapting your natural writing talent to ghostwriting.
1. Embrace the research process.
Whenever you take content writing jobs, you’ll be engaging with a wide variety of topics across a wide range of industries, many of which you may know little about. And while you don’t need to be an expert in all of these areas to be successful, you do need to be a great researcher.
Don’t overlook this point.
Being a great writer won’t compensate for a lack of knowledge, and the customer can almost always tell when you don’t actually know what you’re writing about. So, when you’re approaching a new topic, take some time to familiarize yourself with the business, their industry, and the specific topic you’ll be writing about.
Remember, part of your job is to present yourself as an expert. While you don’t have to become an actual expert in every area, there are several steps you can take to sound like an expert. Sort of a fake-it-till-you-make-it situation.
- Read professional articles that discuss the topic. The more authoritative, the better. But first sort your research by date to ensure that you’re geting the freshest information. A true expert would never base conclusions on outmoded data.
- See what’s happening in the news. While current events make for great blog posts, you’ll have to be balanced here. Too much reliance on up-to-the-minute information can quickly make your work seem dated.
- Look for case studies, research, and statistics that are supported by evidence. This adds authority to what you’re saying, even if you, yourself, are not an authority.
Your attitude here is critical. Try to see research as an investment rather than a chore. After all, the research process is an opportunity to explore new ideas/industries and learn more about ones you’re already passionate about. What’s more, you’re getting paid to do it!
2. Learn to write in someone else’s voice.
Perhaps one of the trickiest aspects of ghostwriting is learning to write from someone else’s perspective. Every business you write for will require a different “voice” and will be targeting a different audience. And in order to write for different customers successfully, you’ll need to learn to adapt.
To play off the last point, you’ll need to do a bit of research about your customer in order to be successful at mimicking their tone and style. Read through their previous blog posts and the other content on their website, and ask yourself these questions:
- What kind of language do they use?
- Do they use certain types of slang or jargon?
- Do they use a lot big words and complex sentences, or do they keep it simple and concise?
- Who is their audience?
- Is their tone conversational? Friendly? Professional? Casual?
- What are some catch phrases or buzzwords that appear over and over again on their website or blog?
- How do they talk about their own business? What’s the messaging like?
The voice of your customer might be very distinct or it might be more subtle. Focus on breaking down their content and seeing what stands out to you.
Note: If you have access to a style guide or audience persona from the customer, use it!
3. Try to detach yourself from your writing.
At the end of the day, blog-writing jobs are just that.
They’re not an extention of you or a demostration of your creative genius. Your job is to get the customer what they need—professional, well-written content. And though writing can be a deeply personal thing, it’s important to try to detach yourself from the content you ghostwrite.
You will face criticism from customers, and you’ll devote your time and energy to writing pieces you’ll never publicy receive credit for. Those are hard pills to swallow, but don’t choke on them.
Just remember two things:
You are providing an important service. You’re giving a written voice to people and businesses who don’t have the writing chops to provide it for themselves; therefore, all freelance writing job opportunities that come down the pike are fresh chances to prove your worth. Your talent and passion for writing are helping someone grow their business, and that’s something to feel good about!
It’s not personal. Every writer isn’t a good fit for every customer, and the feedback you receive from them is strictly business. The more you allow yourself to detach from your writing (as hard as that may seem) the easier it is to celebrate the successes, accept the failures, and keep on writing.