Discovering Your Client’s Voice while Ghostwriting

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Devin Harper
Devin Harper
Discovering Your Client’s Voice while Ghostwriting

Writing for an array of clients is my biggest challenge as a content marketer for one simple reason; I make a lousy chameleon.

Let me ask you a question. How is it possible for a single writer to assume the voice of 15-20 clients competing in different verticals? Not only do you have to sound competent in a lot of different industries, your writing must reflect their voice!

I want to go over some things that have helped me improve my ghostwriting skills for some of my clients. I say some, because I have a long way to go before I sound just like a personal injury lawyer, a bodybuilder or an organic farmer who sells worms online.

Discover Each Client’s “Tells”

I’ll never become a true ghostwriter like Claudia Suzanne, but I’ve learned one thing from her that has shaped me into a better writer.

Claudia refers to a writer’s speaking style or personality as their author’s “tells”. I’m an Idaho native and enjoy my own fair share of foolhardy expressions, so if there’s anyone who inherently falls short of the art of ghostwriting, it’s me!

Everyone has “tells” that tell tales of their personalities, and it exudes from your writing in myriad ways. Your job as the writer is to find out what they are so that you can enhance the quality of communication and impact of the message. And if there’s one thing you need as a link builder or guest author, it’s impact.

Do Your Homework

Unless you know your client very well, the chances of you getting the voice right in your preliminary drafts are very slim. To discover your client’s “tells” and choose the appropriate writing voice, you must do your homework.

One easy way to go about this is reading their brochures and other marketing materials. However, writing samples aren’t always readily available or may not be very impressionable for that matter.

A more effective approach would be a phone interview with the owner. Ask for their permission to record the call via Google Voice so you can go back and gain an enriched perspective of their style.

Find out what makes that business unique. Listen to their story. Pay attention to their natural speaking style to grasp their personality. Some people speak in short, punchy sentences that are full of color and exaggeration while others rely on long sentences packed with explanation.

Would an academic writing style fit them? Are they dry or energetic? Are they serious or sometimes funny and random? Asking yourself questions like these are an important step in choosing a befitting writing style.

Enhance Your Vocabulary

People use characteristic expressions that are often unique to them. Even in a case where you have 5 clients in the same niche, their “tells” are different. Their expressions are different. Their stories and passions are different and it will be evident as you dive in and do your research.

Pay close attention to your client’s buzz words. Every culture has buzz words, albeit annoying. These words may be regional, generational or simply unique in nature. Also gather industry slang or buzz words that you may not be aware of. These terms may help you develop a more strategic approach to your writing.

Ask For Feedback

After you think you’ve gained a sense of what their voice is, send over a draft and ask them to specifically critique your writer’s voice. You will probably find that most clients are generally easy to work with and are happy with a hybrid voice. Others may rake you over the coals if their voice is not maintained with accuracy.

Repeating this process over and over is one of the best learning tools. It will give you experience to draw upon and increase your confidence as a ghostwriter.

In Summary

The goal of a ghostwriter isn’t to entirely remove yourself from your writing, otherwise content generators would put us writers out of work. It’s about combining your craft with their voice. The final product should be content in which your client is uniquely visible.

Remember that your clients all have uniqueness. Putting in some extra time to discover what sets them apart will enable you to detect your clients “tells” and preserve them in your writing.  It will result in better relationships and opportunities for repeat business.



Devin Harper

Devin Harper

Director of Outreach

Devin Harper is the Director of Outreach at Nifty Marketing, a local SEO agency. PR and link outreach is his ... [Read full bio]