Here’s the one truth every successful ghostwriter understands: We are the pain management pros of the writing world.
Thought I was going to say something more profound? Consider this example.
“Lydia” is a therapist with a thriving practice. Her clients tell her, “No one has ever been able to help me the way you have.” They say, “I thought therapy was a scam until I came to you.” They say, “You ought to write a book.”
Lydia nods and thinks, I’d love to write a book. She sees the way the Dr. Phil’s of the world have turned basic ideas into multi-million dollar platforms. Even better, her ideas are unique. She has great client success stories to tell. She should write a book. Or a blog. Or a weekly column.
In my experience, though, most Lydias never start those writing projects. Or if they do, they don’t see them all the way through to completion. Why? Because of the painful process of writing, editing, submitting and publishing.
That’s where ghostwriters come in.
The great news for ghostwriters is that the Lydias of the world turn the adage, “No pain, no gain!” on its head.
Lydia already sees the benefit of a well-written book, blog or article. She knows that great content will act like fertilizer on her growing brand. We don’t have to sell her on product.
What she wants is all gain without the pain. She wants assurances that we’re going to help her reach her goal faster, more easily, and with a greater guarantee of success.
In my experience, there are three sources of pain for my ghostwriting clients: time, skill, and industry know-how.
In fact, one of the first questions I ask prospective customers is this: What’s preventing you from writing this project on your own? With that information in-hand, I’m already several steps down the road to winning their business.
Here’s a glimpse of what I mean.
Pain point #1: Time (Or, “I’ve had this idea for years.”)
More than any other issue, clients like Lydia lack the time needed to write. They have big jobs and growing families. They’re too busy living the life they want to write about to sit down and get typing.
When I know that the client’s main obstacle is her lack of time, I can build a customized proposal that stands out because of its value, rather than just its price. I can say …
- If you hire me, you will regain X number of hours per day because you’ll no longer have to spend it writing.
- I can reduce your content time to market by [(current development speed)-(my development speed)].
- Hiring me now reduces the risk that competing messages or ideas will enter the market before yours do.
Pain point #2: Skill (Or, “If I were capable of writing this on my own, I would have done it by now.”)
Clients who fall into this category aren’t necessarily unskilled writers, and many of mine vary widely in ability.
This type of customer will, however, be the first to admit that he hates to write, or doesn’t know how to organize his thoughts, or has trouble maintaining a discipline.
As one customer put it, “If I were capable of writing this on my own, I would have done it by now.”
Customizing a proposal with a “skills” management bent looks something like this:
- Hire me to do the stuff you don’t like — the writing and organizing and editing — while you remain focused on what you love: sharing your expertise.
- It’s my job to make you stand out by developing a written voice that’s as dynamic as your brand.
Pain point #3: Industry know-how (Or, “I don’t even know where to start.”)
Many clients come to me and admit they don’t know the first thing about how to get something published. To which I respond, “Have you written anything yet?”
Most often, the answer is no.
Clients with big ideas tend to be big idea thinkers — they know what the goal looks like, but they’re not overly interested in reading the maps to get there. That’s our job. And we freelancers are especially good at easing this type of pain because we navigate “the system” every day. We have to know it to profit from it.
To ease a client’s “process” worries requires little more than confirming your skills as a navigator.
- You have great ideas, and I am expert at distilling complex concepts into a single, compelling message.
- You have a worthwhile story to tell, but it needs to be packaged correctly to reach your [audience].
- I like to develop long-term relationships with each client so that I can see you through from pitch to published.
Time, skill, and know-how ⏤ none of us has a perfect balance of all three across the spectrum of our professional lives. That’s why I’ll never fire my bookkeeper; I’m terrible with receipts, and she thrills at organizing them.
But I do like writing. I like bringing ideas to life on the page. And I like to be the one offering a moment of relief to my clients, a respite from the pain they experience when doing what I love.
Anyone who’s ever rifled the medicine cabinet for a bottle of Excedrin knows the value in that.