4 ghostwriting opportunities with high earning potential
There are so many types of ghostwriting, from speeches, to blogs, to books and more. Unfortunately, not all of them are lucrative, and some are so annoying they aren’t worth the cash. However, there are a few that tease the balance between paying plenty of cash and being relatively easy to do or optimize. We’ve identified four that hit that balance perfectly.
What is ghostwriting?
In short, ghostwriting is producing content that will be published under your client’s name. Usually, you interview someone to garner their insight or learn what they have to say, then write the content. From a process perspective, you often sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) and sign away your claim to any intellectual property (IP) over the content you create.
Many different types of people hire ghost writers, including politicians, athletes, influencers, and CEOs. They usually do so because they are too busy to write their own content or they aren’t strong writers and need the background support.
4 top-paying freelance ghostwriting gigs
As a ghostwriter, you have to look at factors that will affect both profitability and your overall well-being, such as how much time you have to spend interviewing a subject or if you can optimize your process internally. If you get paid a lot but need to spend hundreds of hours on a project, it’s likely not going to be worth it. Conversely, some gigs may not pay a lot of money for each piece of content, but there’s a lot of volume and you can run through the task quickly, which means it’s still profitable.
As a ghost-blogger, you’ll produce thought leadership articles or interviews for your clients. They will often publish this on their own blog, and it could be part of a brand-building campaign for the company itself or an executive within the organization.
Since you’ll need high quality interviewing skills and need to match your client’s tone perfectly, you can make anywhere from $200 to over $2,500 per article. Where this becomes really profitable is considering an hourly rate.
Here’s how the math works:
- Sample rate: $500 for a 1,000 word blog.
- Interviewing: 30 minutes.
- Outlining and drafting: 2 hours.
- Revisions and edits: 30 minutes.
- Total time: 3 hours.
- Hourly rate: $166.
To make $100,000 in freelance revenue, you’d only need to be writing 4 blogs per week at $500 each. That works out to about 12 hours per week of client work.
2. Script writing for movies and TV
Famous producers, directors, and writers regularly hire a team of staff and freelance writers to bring their visions to life. And it pays well: freelancers can expect to earn around $75,000 for a feature film, about $4,000 for a 1 hour TV episode, or about $2,200 for a 30 minute TV episode.
From an hourly perspective, it can work out very nicely:
A feature film could take up to 6 months. Assuming full-time work (40 hours per week), that’s an average rate of $78 per hour.
A TV episode—whether 30 min or 1 hour—could take anywhere from 1-2 weeks of full-time work (40 hours). That works out to an hourly rate range of $27 to $55 for a 30 minute episode and $50 to $100 for a 1 hour episode.
While these hourly rates are a bit lower, there’s more opportunity for consistent work that can really increase your profits. If you get hired on a long-running show, you could be pulling in $1,000 to $4,000 per week for years at a time.
Songwriting is perhaps the highest pay-per-word, since you can earn $10,000 to $20,000 or more, and the average song only contains between 200-500 words. However, don’t think that songwriting is easy just because it’s short. Creating a catchy hook, moving verses, and a chorus people want to sing along to is no small feat.
While the upfront pay to write a song is decent, the real money comes from royalties if the song becomes a hit. Songwriters don’t make a lot of money per stream or radio play, but a number one song on the charts can generate serious cash. For example, singer Jessie J started her career as a songwriter. When she wrote Miley Cyrus’ hit Party in the USA, she later remarked that “it paid my rent for 3 years.” Not a bad payday.
4. Books and autobiographies
Writing books and autobiographies for famous people is another lucrative ghostwriting gig. Hourly, book ghostwriters can earn anywhere from $30 to $300. But the real cash comes in the size of the book. You can command $15,000 to $35,000 for a shorter book (around 120 pages) and anywhere from $25,000 to $65,000 or more for a longer (250 page) book. But this is just the beginning: some experienced book ghostwriters for big celebrities earn over $100,000 per book.
On top of the creation itself, chances are you will also need to work with publicists, literary agents, and other members of their team—all while signing iron-clad NDAs that could cause you serious legal trouble if breached. This can cause significant stress for you as the writer, which is one of the reasons it’s a high-paying gig.
Where to find ghostwriting gigs
If you’re trying to find ghostwriting work, check out these marketplaces:
Like any other form of freelance writing, ghostwriting is a business. You don’t just have to find clients and then do the work—you also have to handle admin and invoicing. While the admin side of freelancing can be annoying, you gain the flexibility and freedom that you simply can’t get with full-time employment.