She’s also become a good friend through first our online relationship which has been enhanced by lunch when once a year she comes to San Diego to walk for cancer.
As freelance writers, we love exploring a new market – one with a wealth of opportunity.
Ask yourself –
- Do you love writing articles?
- Do you have a niche or specialty?
- Do you hate the push and pull of queries?
Corporate ghostwriting for trade publications might be your ticket to nirvana.
The Right Stuff
Before you explore this market, you should make sure that you have the right stuff for a corporate ghostwriter.
1. The Voice Behind the Face
I have a healthy ego. Frankly, I’ve been surprised that I took to ghostwriting.
- There is another person’s name on the byline
- Any praise goes to that person
- You are the voice behind the face
If the above bothers you, ghostwriting is not for you.
I remember the first time I saw an article I’d written in print. It did not matter that it had another person’s name on it.
I knew I wrote it – I took pride in that.
2. Finding the Voice
One of the most challenging – and the most fun for me – is finding the voice of your client.
You are representing your clients’ ideas, their passion. You need to elevate your listening skills to their highest level.
- Ask the right questions
- Let them tell their story
- Stir up their passion
Listen for what I call their sound bites - the phrases and expressions that sound like them.
3. Partner for Success
You want your client to succeed.
Your role is not one of a recording device – interact with your client.
- Question inconsistencies
- Offer ideas for expressing concepts
- Ask why it matters
Ready for the Trade
My niche in the healthcare industry is ideal for corporate ghostwriting for trade publications. My clients are healthcare organizations, insurance brokers/consultants and healthcare providers.
One of the things they all have in common is how busy their executives are. Look at any industry and you will find the same thing with the senior executives of those companies.
And that’s how you grab them. You also play to their ego.
- You know how busy they are
- You can help get their message out
- You help establish their role as an industry expert
And they get all the credit.
What executive doesn’t like to hear that?
The No-Pitch Trade
Trade publications love articles from industry insiders.
As a writer, you don’t send the queries to the magazine. If you pitch an idea to anyone, it’s your client. However, I find that most of the time my clients have an idea for the article.
Your client may go directly to the magazine with an idea for an article or use their PR firm to do it. It’s a very easy sell. About the only time magazines reject the idea is if the topic recently appeared in print. Even then, they’ll consider a different spin on it.
The Inside Pitch
There are times when you want to pitch an idea, especially if your target is a prospect you are trying to convince to hire you.
Here are some ideas for doing that.
Use trade magazines’ publishing calendar. Many of the trade publications develop a calendar with themed topics. For example, an insurance magazine may cover the voluntary product market in its spring publication, corporate wellness programs in the fall, etc.
If you know your client or prospect specializes in that area, send them an email stating you noticed XYZ Magazine is featuring corporate wellness programs in their fall issue. As your targeted company has an expertise in that area, question if they considered the opportunity it presents for them to demonstrate their expertise. Explain how you can help.
Review your target’s website and communications. The key to a successful partnership is knowing what your client does well. Review their website, published articles, and social media communications. Then appeal to their expertise.
It’s great if you know the different trade publications in the industry, but it is not essential. Ask your client or prospect what publications they subscribe to and start there.
Like any article for a magazine, make sure the theme fits the magazine and targets its readers.
For example, I have an ongoing ghostwriting assignment for a trade publication that targets insurance brokers. Any discussion about the insurance industry is from their perspective. Sometimes I have to remind my client she is not writing for her client – the employer who sponsors employee benefits.
There are several benefits from corporate ghostwriting.
- It generally pays more than articles with your byline
- New assignments often come to you instead of you sending queries
- It often leads to other kinds of work like white papers, case studies, etc.
If you have the right stuff to be a ghostwriter, demonstrate your value to busy executives, and can talk the talk of their business, then corporate ghostwriting for trade publication may be your dream job.
Have you done corporate ghostwriting? If so, what do you like about it?
Anything you don’t like?
Cathy Miller is a freelance business writer with over 30 years of professional writing experience from small businesses to Fortune 500 customers. Cathy started her own business in 2008, providing all forms of online and print business writing.