Do You Need A Portfolio To Get Ghostwriting Clients?

Dickie Bush and Nicolas Cole
June 18, 2024

One of the questions we get asked the most about getting new ghostwriting clients is:

“How can I get new clients if I don’t have a portfolio or can’t show my other ghostwriting work?”

It’s difficult to show prospective clients the ghostwriting you’ve done for other people. Many clients don’t want you to reveal they have a ghostwriter, so sharing your work or a testimonial is tricky and could land you in hot water with your existing clients.

But after years of ghostwriting, we’ve learned these 3 lessons which mean you don’t need a portfolio of work or testimonials to land your next writing project:

Lesson #1: You can still write about ghostwriting.

Just because you can’t talk about your clients doesn’t mean you can’t talk about your services and the kind of ghostwriting you provide.

To this day, Cole still gets warm leads from his X and LinkedIn content because he talks about ghostwriting. People want to work with him because he shows he understands how to ghostwrite for industry leaders. Once you start talking about your process and how you work with clients (without mentioning names!) you’ll be able to do the same.

And this is something you can always do, no matter your level of experience.

Lesson #2: Testimonials aren’t as important as you think.

Whenever you’re talking to prospective clients and they ask for a testimonial, just say “Because of the nature of ghostwriting, I can’t share specific names with you—however I can tell you that I’ve ghostwritten for [include relevant experience like: some of the largest enterprise technology companies in the world.]”

Every time we said this, the prospective client was satisfied.

And this is because asking for testimonials is something clients think they “should” do:

  • It shows they’re doing their due diligence
  • They want to know you’re a competent writer
  • They want to feel they’re making the “right” decision for their business

Using a badge of authority (“I’ve worked with large enterprise technology companies”, for example) satisfies all of the above. Most people are more accommodating than you might think.

Lesson #3: Your work will speak for itself (and generate referrals).

After working for a handful of clients, testimonials and your portfolio won’t matter.

Finding high-quality writers to work with is hard. So if you go above and beyond for your clients and do excellent work, then they’ll start referring you to people they know need a writer. Industry leaders love making introductions to talented people who can help their friends.

And this will continue to snowball as you work with more and more clients.

So how do you prove that you’re an “all-star” ghostwriter before working with a client?

There are 3 ways to prove you’re a talented and credible ghostwriter.

Method #1: Do free work for new clients.

Doing free work for potential clients has almost infinite upside.

  • For the client, there’s no risk: you’re doing work for them that won’t cost them a cent (in fact, it will make them money).
  • For you, you’re showcasing your skills. If your work flops, then you know you need to improve. But if your work is good, then you’ll have shown the client that you can do what you say you can do.

Either way, with a small amount of time and effort, you win.

Method #2: Write about the industry you ghostwrite in.

This is the most obvious (but overlooked) way of demonstrating your knowledge.

  • If you work with YouTube creators, write about creating content on YouTube
  • If you work with productivity course creators, write about the last productivity course you took
  • If you work with clients in B2B FinTech payment startups, write about B2B FinTech payment startups

Part of your warm content strategy should be to talk about the niche you ghostwrite for, so that when potential clients view your profile they instantly say “ah, ha! This person knows what they’re talking about.”

Method #3: Create the asset you sell to your clients (and show it works).

You are your own case study—and this will eliminate so much doubt for the client.

You should be actively creating and demonstrating the power of the assets you ghostwrite for clients:

  • If you ghostwrite newsletters, write and grow your own newsletter.
  • If you ghostwrite LinkedIn content for audience-building then write LinkedIn content to build an audience
  • If you ghostwrite Educational Email Courses to build an email list, then build your own list with Educational Email Courses

This instantly removes the need for a portfolio because you can point to your asset and prove that it’s working in the “real world”.

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