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Ghost Writing: Working With Your Client

The following guest post was written by Joshua Danton Boyd. The author’s views are entirely his own and may not reflect the views of FreelanceCopywritersBlog.com. If you are interested in producing a Guest Post for this blog, please get in touch with your ideas.

For several years, we’ve been writing about every aspect of copywriting, marketing, social media and what it means to be a professional copywriter, but one thing we’ve not discussed is ghost writing – well, let’s set that straight.

Ghost writing can often mean having a very interesting project on your hands. This can be especially true if you manage to land the job of writing a particularly juicy biography. The thing is that the smoothness and difficulty of the project will Ghost writingrely heavily on whom you’re writing for. A good relationship with your client is key to great ghost writing as, in most cases, they’re the ones with all the information and it’s their story you’re telling. Mess up with them and the writing will be in trouble.

Preparation is Key

You need to do as much prep as you possibly can before starting off on the project. Meet with the client in person if possible. It’ll make it easier to get to know them and understand exactly what they and their job are all about. If you can’t meet in person then a video chat will be the next best thing. The more meetings you can have the better. Every time you discuss the job at hand it will take better shape in your mind and it will all seem a bit clearer. Ghost writing often starts seeming dark and a bit muddled, so the sooner you shed some light the better.

It’s important to keep in mind that this isn’t your book/article or whatever. You’ll have the urge to slip into the style you usually use when writing under your own name. This is another positive of good preparation and regular meet ups. It will help you get into the mind of your client and write in the way they want you to. They will almost certainly have an idea of the way they want things to be portrayed. It’s your job to express that properly.

Continuous and Clear Communication

Once you have all the information you think you need, you might be tempted to just knuckle down and get that first draft finished. This can be a big mistake. The longer you go without talking to your client the further removed you’ll get from their tone and input. You need to be keeping in touch regularly even if it’s just a phone call a couple of times a month. This means you can keep the client up to date on how you’re doing and to make sure they don’t want to give you any extra info.

If you get stuck with a certain part then that part should now become your priority. If you start saving up problems for the next time you talk to your client you’re going to have issues with just writing the thing. Not knowing what to write means you’ve either lost the direction you were going in or you have missing data. This needs to be fixed before you go any further. Do not be afraid to tell your client when you’re in trouble.

Also, always encourage your client to come to you with any extra details or memories that may pop into their heads. Some will do this automatically and bombard you with constant email updates, while others may be shyer and feel like they’re badgering you. Be sure to make it clear to your client from the start that the more information you have, the better. Tell them that even if it might not be useful it will still offer extra insight which is hugely valuable.

Remember That You Are the Writer

Obviously, this is the client’s project as such and therefore they do have a great deal of input, but that doesn’t mean you can’t exercise some force. You have been hired for a reason. Whether it’s due to your employer being unable to write anything with even a hint of quality, or that they don’t have time, they have bought your service. The reason you offer this service is because you are good at it. This means at times taking charge and being able to say, “I’m the writer and I’m saying that won’t work.”

This can be hard and a little nerve-wracking. Your client is essentially your boss and, if they wish, they can get rid of you. It is all about knowing how to deal with the person paying your wage. Don’t ever shout them down and disregard their input. Always consider it and discuss it properly with them. Never just say no, you will always need to explain why fully and clearly. Even if their ideas aren’t worthy of a five year old’s attempt at a novel, you still need to show them some respect.

In the end though, you need to retain some control of this project. You want it to be the best it can be for yourself and for your client. Be firm and remember; you have the expertise, skill and experience. Do not be afraid to speak your mind in something of a forceful manner. If you allow your client to take complete control you’ll end up with a messy, incoherent jumble of words with little structure. It is their input you are after, not their direction.

Joshua Danton Boyd is a copywriter for the online accounting firm Crunch and the company forming service Go Limited.