Ghostwriting is a reliable, steady way to increase your income, while improving your skills as a writer and a journalist. By creating content for a client who lacks the time or the skill to do so themselves, you’re responsible for an in-depth understanding of their speaking tone, thorough interviews, and of course the production of the final piece of work.
To add to the intensity and seriousness of ghostwriting, the root word “ghost” directly implies that you must complete the job while remaining out of sight and that whoever you are creating content for gets to use their own byline.
To do the job properly, you have to ask questions—many questions. The only way to write for someone is to understand who they are and what their message is as well as you possibly can. Only through a rigorous interviewing process can you truly create the proper writing to do the job successfully. To help you out, here’s a list of the 5 questions you need to ask before ghostwriting for a client.
1. What’s the Tone?
Though tone is not necessarily the most important quality to capture, it is the one that will most effectively lead you down the right path. Clients are likely getting ghostwriters for hire, because they have a problem with the nuances of writing, such as tone. Clarifying the tone with your client will help you to provide the service they’re paying for.
Failing to properly clarify the desired tone can leave you high and dry after you’ve already created a mass of content. Even if you’ve already written 50,000 words and captured every technical detail the client wanted, if the tone is off, the entire piece is unusable.
Tone informs everything. Understanding the client’s tonal intention can make the entire process run a lot smoother and it will minimize the need for catastrophic rewrites.
2. Who’s the Audience?
Assumedly, the piece you’ll be writing is meant to be read. It’s probably even meant to be read by a particular group. Understanding whom your piece is meant for is critical to writing anything at all.
You wouldn’t write the same way for a corporate audience as you would for the layman. You wouldn’t use the same vocabulary, turn of phrase, or perspective for every audience imaginable. Your job as a ghostwriter will likely be to convince or at least communicate with a client’s customers, fans, or peer group. Thus, in order to properly capture the client-audience relationship, you’ll need a firm grasp on exactly who the audience is.
3. Who Are You?
You also need to thoroughly understand who the client is, what they do, and why they are the one “writing” this piece. As mentioned, your job is to write as if you are the client themselves, so understanding the client will be as essential as understanding yourself.
A doctor wouldn’t write about a medical procedure the same way a patient would, and as the ghostwriter you have to understand the relationship your client has with the subject matter. What’s their perspective on the subject? How are they involved with subject? What’s their relationship to the audience? These are all important questions whose answers will be critical to your writing process.
4. What Do You Know Already?
These last two questions are more for your benefit than the client’s. You need to know how much of the content your client has already decided on. This includes keywords, data, or other such information the client wants you to include.
Do they know that they want the piece to read as story? Would they prefer that it reads as an editorial piece? Does the content hinge on a specific figure or character? Knowing what the client has already decided for themselves will help you understand what decisions you have left to make.
5. What Do You Need to Know?
This leads us to our final question: “What do you need to know?” This question will help you decide what kind of research you need to conduct and what creative decisions you still have to make.
Asking the client what they do not know is as important as understanding what they do. Your job as a ghostwriter is to fill in the blanks in a client’s content, and this question will help you discover such blanks.
“Ask and so you shall receive” is an aphorism that tactfully applies to the ghostwriting process. The only way to know how to move forward is to understand as much as possible what is pre-existing or pre-determined. Asking your clients questions is the only way to guarantee that you provide material they like and get the money you deserve.