I would say that around 75 percent of my work is ghost writing; writing for clients who take the credit for my work. Of course, I couldn’t survive without this income, but it does grate on me sometimes when some of my stunning work will never earn me the credit I quite obviously deserve (no laughing).
I recently wrote a studiously researched article on the science behind pink Viagra – the female version of the revolutionary drug for erectile dysfunction. Now, while I had no first-hand knowledge of the subject *coughs nervously*, I did get a certain amount of satisfaction from converting a huge amount of information into a concise and highly readable piece of copy.
I, of course, was paid handsomely for my work, and I went on my merry way to the next gig. But this got me thinking; how much of my engaging, thought-provoking and informative copy is currently gracing the Internet? What would it mean for my own portfolio and Google authorship profile had I managed to get my own byline on these pieces?
While there will always be clients who want anonymous copy or work directly attributed to them, there are a few things you can do to stay in touch with your finest examples of copy.
Ask for a testimonial
There will be times when your client simply refuses to attribute any credit to you – and why should they? Clients pay for copy, and it is theirs to do with as they wish. However, ask them to write a couple of sentences on the copy you provided. How did it provide value to their business? Your client may drop you a quick email of thanks – ask if you can use it on the testimonial page of your website. However, if the feedback you receive is anything less than glowing, you may want to banish it to the great hard drive in the sky.
Offer a discount
This tactic recently worked for me with a new satirical magazine. I have to be honest; the work I was providing was some of my best, and the thought of losing it was simply too hard to take. In fact, I was considering cutting ties with the client due to the pain it was causing me.
I called the client one day after writing a superb piece on Cockney wide-boy Jamie Oliver, and asked about getting my name against my work. I offered a 20 percent discount across the board, and I also offered to interact with his readers personally for no extra charge.
This may sound like a strange thing to do, but the website in question is about to launch with a huge marketing budget, and my profile as a writer will soar. A little extra work and a smaller fee may sound like to high a price to pay, but you need to keep the bigger picture in mind. How much work will I earn off the back of this particular writing gig?
Please don’t try this unless you have a great relationship with your client. However, by sneaking a few links through your text to your own Google authorship profile or website, you can at least earn yourself a valuable backlink for you efforts. Of course, asking for permission is always the best way to go. But not asking for permission will mean your client can’t say no. Tread with caution, however.
Show examples of your work privately
Speak to your client and ask if you can show the work you have provided as a ghost writer to prospective clients. Explain that it will not be posted on your website, rather sent as an attachment on an email. You can even include a link to the live text – a good way of sweetening the pill for your client. Most clients will say no, but even a few clients granting permission will be enough to give your portfolio a boost.
Offer to manage the site’s content yourself
I recently got a huge content gig after writing just two ghost blogs for a client in Germany. I submitted two excellent, highly researched pieces on healthcare; they received a paltry three reads in a week!
I explained to the client that if I were to have full ownership of the blog, along with its content and promotion, I could greatly increase the site’s traffic in only a few weeks.
Of course, I got the gig, and the site is getting 20,000 views every month – and rising. More importantly for me, however, I now have a body of work in a specialist subject with my own name attached to it.
Always have the big picture in mind
Working as a UK copywriter is akin to rolling a snowball down a snow-covered mountain. Your career will start very slowly, but as you start to amass a body of work, your fees will gradually increase. You will start to get referrals based on your track-record, and the work will start to knock at your door instead of you having to chase it.
Before you know it, your career will be a giant, white wrecking ball – destroying the competition and simply adding to your reputation as it hurtles down the career mountain.
You can tell I recently attended a personal development workshop, but I’m sure you understand where I’m coming from. Don’t simply forget about the ghost writing you do because you have given up your legal claim to it. If you can hold onto it in any way, you can use it to advance your career.