I’ve been a freelance writer and editor for over 13 years now. In that time, I’ve done a bit of everything. By far, one of the most lucrative and consistent gigs I’ve had is ghostwriting blog posts for corporate executives.
Here’s the process you can follow to get those gigs:
KNOW WHY THEY NEED YOU
Before you can convince a company to hire you as corporate ghostwriter, you have to remind them why a corporate blog is important. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of reasons to have an active executive blog –
Corporate executives are the faces and names that represent their respective brands. Their content matters: 62% of millennials say that online content drives brand connections, but they’re disappointed in the content available from their favorite brands.
When Chief-Whatever-Officer for Corporate Brand X produces regular blog posts, with real personality and expertise, they provide that missing content. They can emphasize and promote brand values while providing an identity which with people can connect.
The Individual Benefit
From an individual perspective, producing regular content is one way for executives to distinguish themselves and be seen as industry leaders. There are no guarantees in this job market, even in the C-suite. When you use your writing skills to share an executive’s insight and perspective, you help ensure continued career opportunities for that executive.
Executives are busy, of course. Writing a blog post every week or month is often the last thing they want to take on. That’s where you come in. You’re a writer. You understand the industry. You can help build the bridge from brand to market, and from “just another executive” to an industry thought leader.
Identify Your Key Industries
Start by finding industries you know well enough to write about fluently. You don’t have to be an industry expert. You do need to know enough that you’re not googling basic industry terminology. Lack of industry knowledge will reduce your chances of getting that ghostwriting gig and will increase the amount of time you have to spend on each post. In this case, the old writing rule to “write what you know” is a good one to follow.
To find industries, look at all your past experiences. You don’t have to have writing experience in an industry; any experience will do. Did you work in retail? Did you study agriculture? All of your past experiences are relevant; they give you starting points. From that starting point, you can build additional industry knowledge and connections.
Review your past writing work, as well. Your topical specializations relate to at least one industry, possibly more. One of my specializations is personal finance. From that specialization, I landed work ghostwriting executive blog posts for two different financial corporations.
Find the industries you’ll target; this list of Industries at a Glance is a good starting point. Then do some reading on industry publications to see what issues are trending.
Show Your Capabilities
To get the ghostwriting gigs, you need to prove two things. First, you need to show that you can write. Second, you need to show that you understand the industry and its market.
List the experiences you have that you’re using as industry connections. Look at your education, work experience, internships, volunteer work, and writing work. Then compose a paragraph that summarizes your writing chops and your industry knowledge. This is how you get your foot in the door.
Write a Generic Query
Save time by writing one generic query letter that you can customize for different companies. You want to cover three important points in your letter.
First, explain why having an active executive blog is important. Feel free to use the research I used, above. It’s good stuff, and it’s real. Corporate executives know that brand loyalty is a huge issue. It’s already on their minds. Your job is to connect your proposal with their desire for increased brand loyalty.
Second, explain why you’re qualified to ghostwrite the executive blog. You might mention (briefly) that blogging can take a lot of time. You’re reminding them of their pain. Then pop in your paragraph detailing your writing and industry expertise.
Third, explain your proposal. Make this brief and clear: “I’d love to discuss ideas for your executive blog with you.” You don’t need an agreement or a contract at this point. You need contact; ask for it. “Please email me back or call me at the following number…”
Find Your Marks
Now it’s time to do a little research. You want to find corporations within your industry that don’t have an active corporate blog. This requires some online footwork. It’s a great activity for those times when your brain is too tired for actual writing, but you still want to be productive.
Start with lists of companies by industry. There are many available: try Wikipedia, Nasdaq, and Ranker. You can also go through industry publications, industry association websites, and trade journals for potential companies.
Search until you find companies with inactive, neglected, or defunct corporate blogs. These are the people who need you. For each company you find, do a little bit more homework. Find the name and contact information of the correct person to contact. This may be the CMO, a marketing manager, or even a content director. Come up with 3 to 5 blog post ideas specific to this company’s corporate blog.
Now you’re ready for to make contact!
Contact, and Follow Up
Customize your email template for each company you’re going to contact. Check and double-check! Make sure you’re spelling the contact’s name correctly. Make sure you’ve made the email specific to the company. Make sure you’ve included those customized post ideas.
Then send the email. And don’t expect anything in return. You’ll probably need to follow up to get a real conversation with a real person.
Wait 3 to 5 business days, then send a follow-up email. Make it short, sweet, and courteous:
“Hi, Contact Name. I emailed you several days ago about writing content for your executive blog. I see it’s not being regularly updated. I’m a professional writer with industry experience, and I have some great ideas to get the company blog going strong.”
End with an easy request for something specific:
“I can give you a call later this week to discuss. Do you have time on Wednesday?”
“I’d be happy to discuss further via email or Skype; which would be best for you?”
“I have some relevant examples of other work I’ve done; would you like to see them?”
By asking a direct question that is easy to answer, you make it more likely that they’ll respond and begin a conversation. That’s all you need. Once a conversation begins, you can win them over with more insights on what a corporate blog can accomplish and how you can help them make it happen. Then it’s just a matter of setting rates and expectations.
I’ve been paid anywhere from $75 to $350 each for ghostwritten blog posts. Generally, the more technical and detailed the material, the higher the price. If you’re setting up a long-term agreement, you can offer lower rates. $150 or $200 per post is great if you know you’ll have a regular stream of those each month. You can negotiate on all points of the ghostwriting contract: will you come up with topics, or will they? Will you source images, or will they? Every additional service you provide adds value, so adjust your prices accordingly.
Will you get responses from all your queries? Definitely not. That’s okay. One executive ghostwriting gig gives you even more credibility when you query the next potential company. As you build experience, you’ll find it easier to get those corporate doors to open.
- The Art Of Ghostwriting By Rich Mintzer (or so I say)
- Ghost-Blogging: A Career for the 21st Century – Michelle Kulas
- HOW TO MARKET YOUR GHOSTWRITING AND WRITING SERVICES by Claudia Suzanne
- Blogging For Money By Kelly Wilson
- THE GOOD LIFE OF GHOSTWRITING by Claudia Suzanne
Annie Mueller is a freelance writer and editor, avid coffee drinker and book reader, author of The Real You, and generic beach bum. She lives with her husband and four children in Puerto Rico. Her current project is a nonfiction writing course for people who want to write more words, faster.
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