The What, Why and How of Using a Ghost Writer for Thought Leaders


What is ghost writing?

Today’s thought leaders are publishing more than ever – here’s why they might be using a ghost writer.

Often, you may want to promote your own brand as a thought leader as well as providing content for your law firm. Whether you’re the founding partner or a sole practitioner seeking to get a foothold in the industry, expert content can help put your name out there.

Even if your own writing skills are excellent, there’s a time factor that can’t be ignored. CEOs are busy people, and  If you’re to establish yourself as a thought leader, you can’t churn out shallow copy: articles need to be intelligent, well researched and add something new to the conversation.

This is where ghost writing comes in. Unlike firm content, which is typically not bylined at all, ghost written pieces appear under the name of the CEO or other thought leader. Ghost writers are skilled in learning your ‘voice’ so that the article sounds authentically like you. Articles are designed to be published on your LinkedIn profile or personal blog as well as the firm website so that they help build your personal brand.

Is that ethical?

It’s important to note that ghost writing doesn’t mean that the content isn’t yours. You’re the leader that people want to hear from, after all. But not everyone has the ability, time or desire to craft beautiful sentences that encapsulate exactly what you’re trying to express. That isn’t a reflection on how good you are at your day job any more than your ability to cook would be. Think of ghost writers like stylists: they’re not changing how you look, they’re just making you look your best.

How to make it work for you

For that reason, you’ll get the most from your ghost writer if you prepare to work with them. That means making time to meet with them in person or over the phone so that you can share some of your thoughts. If they’re skilled at their job, they’ll quickly pick up your personality and voice from that meeting and be able to reflect it in the finished product. Be prepared to answer some searching questions. A ghost writer isn’t there to antagonise you, but they may challenge your initial statements to try and bring out deeper insights, just as a skilled journalist would.

Personal anecdotes and reflections are really helpful in helping to establish that unique element to the work. Think about how your lived experience has helped you develop the insights you’re sharing. When you’re speaking to the ghost writer, bring those insights into the conversation. It’ll make the post stand out from the crowd and give you a stronger sense of ownership.

Who owns the work?

Ghost writers don’t get a byline on the published pieces, and agree not to use the work as an sample for their portfolio. Generally speaking, the work then belongs to you. Be aware that ghost writers may not be able to share previous examples of their work with you, because they are bound by the same confidentiality clauses to their previous clients. Ask your potential ghost writer for samples of bylined work instead, from which you can gauge their writing skills.

Once you’ve developed a relationship with your ghost writer, they’ll be able to pick up your thoughts and run with them. There’s no need to let a packed schedule get in the way of developing your audience!

Tanya was admitted to the South Australian Bar in 2006 and practiced for several years in large and boutique firms before starting her own business in legal content writing and editing. Her areas of expertise include contract law, property law, personal finance and personal injury. She relishes the challenge of taking even the most intricate judgement and making it accessible to the interested reader.

Tanya is based in Adelaide. You can contact her by email at tanya@legalwriters.com.au or by telephone at +61 400 972 354.