The world of content creation and ghostwriting is booming today with industries large and small unable to keep up with content demands. Enter the LinkedIn ghostwriter who is now commanding rates formerly unheard of. In this post originally published on Business Insider we discuss how you can earn up to $700 (or more) per hour as a ghostwriter.
When Samantha McKenna left LinkedIn, where she was head of enterprise sales, in 2019, she wanted to tackle the challenge of running a business of her own. But the Washington, DC-based executive didn’t stray far from the social-media platform where she’d broken sales records and been a key company leader.
McKenna dove into the world of sales training and content strategy, which included ghostwriting on LinkedIn. She’s since built her company, #samsales Consulting, into a 13-employee operation with 120 clients, and charges $695 an hour for her services.
“Ghostwriting came naturally as I’ve always been passionate about writing and soon realized that I had a knack for articulating what others were thinking but couldn’t quite get on paper,” McKenna told Insider.
McKenna and her company are part of a burgeoning community of agencies and freelance writers around the world quietly working behind the scenes as ghostwriters for CEOs and other executives who publish content regularly on LinkedIn. As LinkedIn has evolved from a destination for digital resumes to a content hub with more than 810 million members across 200 countries and territories, executives have become eager to amplify their personal and professional brands on the platform. Becoming a LinkedIn influencer is now seen by many as an effective way to boost your standing in your field, as well as your career prospects.
LinkedIn declined to comment on the practice.
“The effectiveness of LinkedIn content has gone way, way up in recent years,” said one executive at a content strategy agency, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect client relationships. “It used to be a place to post your job experience and hope that recruiters reached out to you, and now it’s a place to really show off your expertise through the content you’re creating and the things that you’re posting.”
Ghostwriting is an age-old practice, but LinkedIn ghostwriting has seen a boom in demand
Ghostwriting is nothing new. These clandestine writers-for-hire work on everything from high-profile autobiographies to executive op-eds for media publications.
But a dozen people involved in the space, including executives at content strategy agencies, freelance ghostwriters, and LinkedIn influencers, told Insider they’d seen a significant uptick in demand for LinkedIn ghostwriting in the last few years, with agencies and individuals sometimes charging stratospheric fees for their services. Pricing varies widely, although generally ranges from $2,500 to $10,000 a month. But the most in-demand LinkedIn ghostwriters command between $500 to $700 an hour, which puts these writers squarely in the same pay bracket as some high-powered attorneys.
Agencies typically employ former journalists or copywriters as ghostwriters on their teams. But freelancers hail from a wide variety of backgrounds.
Tara Horstmeyer, an Atlanta-based freelancer who works full time on ghostwriting for LinkedIn influencers, left her job at a payments recovery company to focus on freelance ghostwriting. She said that business was so good at one point that she was juggling 11 clients at once last November.
“I was crying uncle,” said Horstmeyer, who said she now has a waitlist of clients clamoring to work with her.
Horstmeyer charges $2,500 a month on average for five posts, which can take as little as 30 minutes to write, but can also take up to several hours, depending on the amount of research and interviewing required. She also works with the client to determine a broader content strategy.
“You may research, and you may be spending all this time working with the client on their strategy, on their outlines, on their angles, on their topics, on their thoughts, and getting their words down,” Horstmeyer said. “The more time you do that up front, the less time you’re going to need to actually write the post.”
Jenna Schiappacasse, a Washington, DC-based client service and business development professional worked as a ghostwriter for LinkedIn content for executives in the legal space from 2018 to 2020. She charged either $250 an hour or $1 to $1.25 per word depending on whether a post required more in-depth research.
“I found it to be a very healthy supplemental income, and I’m sure if I didn’t have a full-time job on top of it, I would have been doing it around the clock,” Schiappacasse said. “I could have turned it into a pretty decent living.”
Thought leaders hire ghostwriters because they don’t have the time or they can’t quite hack it as writers
Anthony J James, the CEO of Trinity Consulting and a LinkedIn influencer with nearly 4 million followers, enlists ghostwriters for LinkedIn because he doesn’t have enough time to write all the content himself. He pays his ghostwriter around $800 per article for posts between 800 and 1,200 words.
“If I had more time on my hands, I would absolutely be writing more,” James said. “There’s time saving that I get from using a ghostwriter that also knows and works in my industry vertical. That’s the key.”
It’s not an entirely hands-off process for James, who reviews written drafts from his ghostwriter and offers feedback, resulting in about two revisions per post.
Tech public relations firm Crackle PR, founded by Parry Headrick, has worked with clients including Google, Oracle, Softbank, and Spotify in the past, although the firm hasn’t performed ghostwriting for them. Crackle PR typically charges around $5,000 a month for its LinkedIn ghostwriting services, although its rates can climb to $10,000 a month to ghostwrite for up to six executives at a company.
While Crackle PR teaches its clients how to develop a content strategy — including how to write a “scroll-stopping headline” — in many cases, those same clients decide they just want to outsource the writing.
“They just say, ‘you know, I don’t have the time for this,'” Headrick said. “You guys know what we are talking about from a messaging standpoint.
Can you please just kind of help calendar out a steady cadence of posts that speak to the industry we serve and that aren’t too self-serving for our company to try to show some thought leadership on the platform?'”
Expect demand for ghostwriting services to increase as more creators join LinkedIn
LinkedIn has made significant efforts to court influencers over the last 18 months. It has offered more features for creators, built out a creator manager team to recruit influencers onto the platform and coach them, and has launched a creator accelerator program. It’s a big bet by LinkedIn that it can build on its momentum as a work-related content platform.
“Now you’re seeing NBA players on LinkedIn, NFL players on LinkedIn,” said Ash Jones, the founder of the UK personal branding agency Great Influence. “MrBeast has just joined LinkedIn … The work they’re doing with bringing other influencers onto the platform from different walks of life and the focus they’ve got with creators is really encouraging.”
If creating LinkedIn content becomes an essential element of job growth, expect demand for ghostwriters to continue to soar.
“It’s becoming a crowded platform,” James said. “So mixing it up … You now need lots of different forms of content, whether it’s short form, long form, video, images. It’s about keeping the content stream exciting, fresh, new, and different, but still demonstrating that thought leadership. Ghostwriting is definitely not going to go away.”
Originally published on Business Insider
Join the HIVE and get access to exclusive content, writing opportunities, creator trends, news and special reports>>>ENTER THE HIVE