Ghost blogging has become an increasingly popular way for people to monetize their content and connect with readers online -- but why does it exist at all?
The term "ghost" refers to bloggers who don't update their sites regularly or put out new posts. Ghostwriters have been around forever as a means to publish books without having to write them yourself (the most famous example being Stephen King's book It). But now anyone can set up their own site using platforms like Tumblr and Medium and host articles there instead. This method allows writers to be more flexible when creating their stories while still allowing others to read and enjoy their content.
If you're interested in learning about ghost blogging, we've got some tips and tricks on getting started below. We'll also explore exactly how ghost blogs make money so that you can decide whether or not they fit your needs.
Anyone can create a website these days, including those who aren't professional web designers. This gives us many options to help support ourselves financially without any coding skills whatsoever. But just because you can doesn’t mean you should try to. If you already have a full-time job and/or family obligations, chances are good that you won’t want to give up everything else to focus solely on building your blog. You may find that ghostblogging isn’t right for you until later down the line after you’ve built momentum by keeping your regular schedule.
That said, many successful ghostblogs are run by full-time staff rather than part time freelancers. So if you feel passionate about writing and sharing ideas with other people, then maybe ghostblogging will suit you better. The key is to pick something that feels fun and comfortable to you. Just remember that you shouldn't expect to earn very much money from ghostwriting alone unless you plan on becoming a full-time writer.
One thing to note here: Many companies use ghostwriter contracts exclusively designed for fiction authors. These contracts tend to include clauses regarding copyright ownership, royalties, and payment schedules. They usually require the author to retain exclusive rights to future sales through traditional channels, such as Amazon Publishing. While these contracts might seem fair enough to creative types, nonfiction writers often disagree. For instance, even though ghostwritten memoirs can bring in big profits, ghostwriters typically only receive 10% of royalties versus 20% to 30% for traditionally published works. That leaves 70%-90% of the profit going to the publisher.
So if you choose to pursue ghostblogging, you need to do thorough research before signing anything. Make sure you understand what kind of contract you’re agreeing to sign, which includes whether or not you actually own copyrights to your material. Also consider where you intend to sell your product(s) once you launch. Will it be self-published directly onto Kindle or elsewhere? Or would you prefer to go with a company like KDP Select? All of these factors could impact your bottom line significantly over time.
For more information, see our article discussing ghost blogging agreements.
There are several different methods you can use to get started setting up a ghost blog. One option is to simply copy someone else’s existing template and customize it according to your preferences. But since templates are readily available online, this is probably not a great idea for beginners. There are plenty of free themes that allow users to change colors, fonts, images, etc., and you can always add custom widgets later. A lot of ghostwriters recommend starting with a blank slate and designing your blog yourself from scratch, however. Here are two common DIY approaches for doing so:
1. Use CSS to Change Colors, Fonts, Images, and Other Elements
CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets, meaning that HTML code determines elements' color schemes, font styles, image backgrounds, margins, spacing, etc. Instead of trying to learn all the various tags necessary to accomplish certain tasks, you can rely entirely on CSS selectors to style specific parts of your page. In short, you'd essentially design each element separately using basic principles of visual hierarchy.
To learn more about CSS, check out our beginner’s guide to CSS. To use this approach, you’ll first need to install a plugin called Divi Builder. Once installed, you can drag and drop prebuilt blocks into place to build pages. Blocks come with preset designs (e.g. header, sidebar, footer), but you can edit them to match your tastes. Alternatively, you can opt to download readymade layouts via the Divi marketplace. Keep in mind that both of these solutions involve significant technical knowledge.
2. Create Your Own Theme Using Themify
A simpler alternative to installing third party plugins, you can utilize WordPress customization tools to build a completely unique look. With a bit of practice, you can easily swap out standard headers, background photos, menus, sidebars, buttons, icons, and more. Best yet, you can combine multiple themes together to produce endless combinations.
While you certainly don't need experience working with PHP or CSS to employ this strategy, it requires familiarity with editing.css files and understanding the file structure used by WordPress themes.
In addition to earning income from ad revenue, you can also generate passive income from subscriptions, donations, affiliate marketing, sponsorships, and sponsored reviews. However, most ghostwriters agree that the easiest path to financial success involves selling digital copies of their products.
Since ghostwriters don’t post updates frequently, they must provide compelling value in order to attract followers. Some popular ghostblog topics include personal development, health, relationships, business, spirituality, motivation, and creativity.
Another important consideration is choosing a niche that matches your interests. When you establish a strong connection with your target audience members, they’ll likely keep coming back to your blog again and again.
Here are four potential sources of income that ghostbloggers commonly tap:
Affiliate Marketing - Most websites offer links to related products within their archives, making it easy to promote other brands without taking extra steps. Affiliates pay per click ads based on the number of clicks received, and you never have control over the placement of banners or advertisements. Unfortunately, affiliates don’t generally offer higher commissions than publishers themselves due to lower production costs.
Sponsored Reviews - Companies sometimes sponsor individual reviews of their products. Though not ideal for everyone, this type of arrangement offers greater flexibility than relying solely upon affiliate programs. Sponsors reward reviewers handsomely for positive feedback, and ghostwriters are able to negotiate terms tailored specifically to their needs.
Subscriptions - Since ghostbloggers rarely interact directly with subscribers, offering access to premium content provides a reliable source of recurring income. Popular subscription services include Patreon, Ko-fi, Gumroad, PayPal Subscription, and Merch by Amazon.
Donations - Donating portions of your proceeds helps ensure that ghostbloggers continue to thrive long after you stop contributing personally. Services such as Patreon and Ko-fi charge monthly fees in exchange for providing increased visibility.
WordPress is a content management system (CMS) that lets individuals and organizations quickly create high-quality websites. As one of the world’s leading open source software projects, WordPress powers millions of active sites worldwide. Its popularity stems largely from its robust feature set and ease of use, along with thousands of customizable features available under the hood.
Because WordPress utilizes PHP programming language, all themes must follow strict rules laid out by core developers. On average, WordPress themes take anywhere from 24 hours to weeks to develop, depending on complexity.
Ghost themes differ slightly from standard WordPress themes due to their lack of interaction with end users. Without updating their site manually, ghostwriters must entrust their content to automated publishing systems such as RSS feeds, auto responders, social media scheduling apps, email lists, newsletters, and similar tools.
Due to the absence of direct interactions between visitors and editors, ghost themes tend to operate faster than typical WordPress counterparts. Plus, since ghostwriters are responsible for managing their own SEO efforts, they have more freedom to experiment with layout configurations compared to regular WP admins. Finally, since ghost themes are fully coded, they tend to perform better across devices and browsers.
"Blogger?" "Ghost?" What does it mean when your favorite website is called both things at once? Well, it's complicated and there are so many different types that it would take an entire article just for us to explain them all. But today we'll be talking about something simple -- blogging software platforms designed specifically with bloggers' best interests in mind. That means we're going to talk about ghost blogs.
A ghost blog (or ghostwriting platform) refers to any site which doesn't allow users to post content directly on their own domain name. Instead, user-generated content must go through someone else before appearing online. The company behind the ghost blog will then have exclusive ownership over whatever appears on said domain, including comments and posts. So why bother using a ghost blog instead of simply posting under your own name? There are several reasons, but the main reason people choose ghost writing services is because it gives writers more control over where and when their work shows up. It also allows companies like Facebook and Google to avoid legal liability when hosting third party material.
So how exactly can these sites make money? And how hard is it to set one up yourself? Let's dive into the world of ghostblogs!
No, you cannot make money without selling. If you don't sell anything, you won't make any money, plain and simple. However, as far as making money goes, creating a ghostblog isn't too difficult of a process. In fact, most of the time it only takes two minutes. Here's how it works...
1.) Registering a Domain Name - You should probably start by registering a domain name. A good way to find out whether a certain domain name is available is to use GoDaddy's Whois Lookup feature. This tool lets you search public records databases across the globe to see who owns specific domains. Once you've found a desirable domain, register it right away. Don't wait around until after you launch your new blog!
2.) Hosting Space - Now that you've got your domain registered you need somewhere to host everything. There are tons of cheap web hosts out there. We recommend SiteGround since they offer unlimited bandwidth and disk space, plus great support, for $6 per month. Of course, you could always try Amazon Web Services, Heroku, etc., but those tend to require a bit more technical knowledge. As long as you stick to our recommended provider and follow instructions properly, setting up your first blog shouldn't take much effort. Just remember to keep backups handy, though, in case things get buggy along the way!
3.) Installing WordPress - Assuming you followed step #1 above, installing WordPress should be pretty easy. Most providers give you access to automatic updates, meaning WordPress itself will download and install updates automatically. Additionally, some even provide plugins that let you update themes and other parts of WordPress easily. For example, Bluehost provides a plugin which simplifies theme management, while SiteGround offers an app to change colors and fonts among other features.
4.) Setting Up Your Blog Theme - After you finish updating WordPress you'll need to select a template. While not strictly necessary, having a nice looking theme helps attract readers and increase engagement. To find a suitable theme check out WPMUDev or DiviCafé. These websites help you pick out templates based on popular designs and color schemes. They also show off hundreds of free themes created by others, so you can preview them without paying a dime. Finally, here are three awesome resources for finding high quality Wordpress themes:
5.) Deciding On An About Page / Bio Section - Next you need decide what kind of information to include on your page. Generally speaking, you only need an about section, a bio section, and maybe a contact form. Contact forms are essential in order to build relationships with potential customers. Since you aren't going to generate traffic via organic methods you absolutely need to drive traffic to your landing pages. One method you may want to consider is adding social sharing buttons to each post/page. This will encourage visitors to share your stuff with friends and family.
6.) Adding Content - From now on, every piece of content you add to your blog needs to go through either a publishing service or your writer. Publishing services such as Fiverr are excellent tools for generating fast results. Simply tell the service what type of content you'd like written, and pay between $5-$15 for 500 words of copy. Alternatively, you might hire freelance writers on Elance or oDesk. Writers on these sites typically charge between $0.01 - $0.10 per word depending on skill level. Either option is fine for basic content creation. But for longer pieces of work, hiring a professional writer is usually preferable due to higher standards and better formatting skills.
7.) Social Sharing - Now that you've finished the important tasks associated with launching your own ghost blog, you can sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor. When you write articles for publication, think about how you plan to distribute them. Typically you'll submit them to publications, syndicated news agencies, and directories. With a ghost blog you can skip the middleman altogether. All you have to do is link the original source whenever possible. This increases exposure dramatically, especially since social media shares greatly boost visibility. Also, don't forget to publish copies of your published work on your blog itself. Make sure to add a note saying something like "Original Published At [Insert Date] By [Your Full Email Address]" next to each article. This ensures anyone reusing your work gets credit and boosts credibility.
8.) Promoting Your Blog - Obviously, getting your blog indexed by Google and Bing is crucial. Thankfully, there are plenty of solid SEO techniques for boosting rankings. Basically, focus on building links, increasing authority, and utilizing keywords.
9.) Generating Revenue - Now that you've built up enough followers, visitors, and revenue, you can begin monetizing your blog. There are dozens of options, ranging from affiliate marketing, advertising, sponsored reviews, and more. Take your pick and figure out how you want to generate income.
Now that we covered the basics, let's look at how these platforms make money.
In short, they earn money in one of six ways: adverts, subscriptions, sponsorships, donations, affiliates, royalties, and direct sales. Some platforms offer multiple sources of income while others focus primarily on one area. For instance, HubPages earns its money from advertisement clicks, referral fees, and sponsorships. Similarly, Squidoo lenses earn money from advertisements and referrals. Other areas of concern include display ads, ecommerce stores, and premium memberships.
Of course, earning money from ads requires lots of visitors, otherwise known as eyeballs. Unfortunately, there's no real magic formula for drawing massive amounts of traffic, but there are certainly strategies you can employ to improve clickthrough rates. Try driving targeted traffic to your site by submitting related articles to EzineArticles, republishing your work elsewhere, sending emails to relevant mailing lists, or buying PPC ads. Whenever you run promotions or giveaways, ask readers to fill out surveys or sign up for newsletters.
Another strategy is to utilize social media networks to promote your blog. Share interesting articles with friends and family, and watch the hits roll in! Social media is particularly effective considering how large audiences consume content nowadays. According to research conducted by BuzzSumo, 71% of internet searchers head straight to Twitter when researching topics. Furthermore, 72% of respondents used Pinterest to discover products or services. Instagram has even gotten into the game recently, boasting 2 billion photos viewed monthly.
For maximum impact, combine natively generated content with paid promotion. Natively generated content includes content posted by editors on behalf of authors, whereas promoted content comes from outside sources. Paid promotion involves promoting your product using various tactics, such as guest posts, tweets, retweets, LinkedIn endorsements, image/video sharing, and forum commenting.
Finally, if you ever reach the point where you're ready to quit your day job, congratulations! Hopefully you learned enough to open your very own ghost blog. If not, feel free to read more guides on starting a successful business.
Some notable names in tech that started out as ghost blogs include Dropbox, Reddit, Tumblr, SoundCloud, Netflix, Spotify, Airbnb, and Tesla Motors.
Yes. Whether you're running a personal blog or a corporate brand, you can definitely turn your passion project into cash cow. However, as discussed earlier, running a successful blog depends heavily upon attracting sufficient numbers of interested viewers. Without them, you won't have many opportunities for success. Fortunately, monetization is easier than ever thanks to thousands of alternative approaches.
One recent trend gaining popularity is microtransactions. Micro transactions refer to small payments made to creators rather than advertisers. Examples include Patreon, Ko-fi, Flattr, Giveaways, and Coinsharing. Platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo have adopted similar practices, allowing contributors to donate however little they wish to particular projects.
Ghost blogging is about monetizing your passion by turning it into something profitable and sustainable with little effort on your part. It's not hard to see why some bloggers choose to go ghost -- after all, there are so many options available! If you're looking to earn from your site but aren't sure where to begin, here's everything you need to know about ghost blogging.
How does ghost blogging differ from regular blogging? What sets them apart? The answer lies in their very nature. A "regular" blog offers content that's regularly updated while a ghost blog provides information only when asked (or sometimes even then). While traditional blogs have an editorial calendar which dictates what gets published each week, ghost blogs are written specifically to be read at specific times. They also don't require much maintenance once set up. This means more time can be devoted to other projects without having to worry about updating posts. On top of that, because most readers will only come across these websites through search engines, ghost blogs often offer higher clickthrough rates than typical blogs.
In short, ghost blogs are easy-to-manage sites that focus on one area of expertise. They tend to rely heavily on guest writers instead of maintaining a full staff, and therefore provide less value as general resources. In comparison to standard blogs, ghost blogs are focused on providing information rather than opinions. Ghost blogs can range anywhere from informational businesses like Pat Flynn's Smart Passive Income (which focuses primarily on affiliate marketing) to hobbyist hubs like Tastefully Simple (a food blog), and anything else in between. Here's our overview of ghost blogs and how they differ from regular blogs.
There are three main types of revenue streams you could choose from: advertising, sponsorships, and selling products/services. We'll take a look at each type and explore how they typically play out on ghost blogs.
Advertising: Advertising refers to any form of income generated from advertisements placed on your website. Because ghost blogs' audiences generally find them via search engines, advertisers pay per impression -- meaning they place ads on your page against others who've shown interest in similar topics. Advertisers may also purchase ad space directly within individual posts. For example, a local baker might decide to advertise his bakery's location on a post discussing new recipes.
Sponsorships: Sponsorship involves getting sponsored gifts or services in exchange for publicity. Some people use sponsorship deals to support lifestyle choices such as travel or charitable causes. However, since ghost blogs cater towards niche interests, sponsoring someone isn't always appropriate. Sometimes, companies will sponsor particular posts based upon subject matter. For instance, a company dedicated to making better coffee might sponsor a post highlighting their latest product offering. Other examples include companies whose target market aligns well with the theme of your blog, such as fitness brands sponsoring health-related posts.
Products/Services: Selling products or services differs slightly from advertising and sponsorship. Rather than receiving compensation for promoting a brand or service, ghost bloggers sell items themselves. You can either create physical goods yourself (such as jewelry, clothing, etc.) or encourage users to buy digital downloads such as ebooks, programs, videos, and more. Many bloggers turn their passions into successful side hustles.
The best way to determine whether ghost blogging would benefit you is to ask yourself two questions: 1) Do you enjoy writing? 2) Are you passionate enough about the topic? If the answers are yes, we recommend exploring your options further.
To start a paranormal blog, first decide on a name. Keep it simple yet memorable, and try to avoid using words related to your field such as "ghost," "paranormal," or "psychic." Next, pick a domain name (for example, http://www.themysteryofjaneisland.com) and register it before opening a hosting account. Finally, sign up for Google Analytics, WordPress, MailChimp, or another analytics platform. Most platforms allow you to track visitors automatically, although occasionally you may need to manually add tracking codes. Once you have these tools installed, you can continue setting up your blog.
If you'd prefer to skip ahead, check out our beginner's guide to starting a blog for beginners. Otherwise, let's move onto creating pages. First, open up Notepad or WordPad and write down ideas for different sections of your blog. Think of categories or themes you'd like to cover, as well as unique features you hope to highlight. Then, separate those thoughts into actual articles. Don't forget to leave room for images, links, and formatting. Afterward, upload your documents to your host server. Depending on your technical knowledge, you can now customize your design. There are tons of great templates available online that you can modify and change however you wish. Alternatively, you can hire someone to help you build your own custom template.
You should next consider adding relevant plugins to keep your reader engaged. Plugins refer to small pieces of software that enhance user experience in various ways. Commonly used ones include commenting, RSS feed management, social media integration, image galleries, and security systems. Of course, you must balance this feature with usability and aesthetics throughout the process. To save yourself time later, we highly suggest bookmarking popular plugin repositories such as WPMU DEV or WP Bakery. Note that you shouldn't install too many plugins at once because doing so can slow down your website unnecessarily. Generally speaking, stick to one or two core plugins such as Jetpack Security and All-in-One SEO Pack.
Lastly, sit back and wait until your webpages fully load. Now, scroll around the screen and think of potential problems that arise while browsing your site. Try to address these issues beforehand, especially the ones pertaining to accessibility. Accessibility refers to ensuring that everyone can navigate safely on your webpage without encountering barriers. These barriers might occur due to a lack of color contrast, poor layout, missing alt text, broken images, or inaccessible navigation buttons.
After planning, building, and testing your homepage, it's finally time to post. Before publishing a single word, though, remember to proofread your text thoroughly. Mistakes made during editing simply won't show up in searches unless they contain special characters. Moreover, spellchecking apps are handy additions to ensure quality control over grammar, punctuation, and spelling. And lastly...don't panic if you accidentally publish early! Just head straight to your dashboard and delete the offending article.
Once you've got your initial plan together, sit tight and watch the money roll in!
Yes. But that doesn't mean ghost blogs are low cost or devoid of effort. Like any business venture, ghost blogs require upkeep and attention. Fortunately, ghost bloggers can maintain minimal costs without sacrificing quality thanks to several automated tools. One good option is hiring freelance contractors to handle certain tasks. Although outsourcing takes extra time away from coding and posting, it allows you to spend more energy focusing on growth strategies. Additionally, you still reap benefits from high traffic numbers, increased engagement, and improved credibility. Another thing to note is that ghost blogs are rarely forced to close shop permanently -- unlike traditional blogs. With that said, you should expect to put in a considerable amount of work in order to gain success.
Another important aspect to mention is that ghost blogs serve a purpose beyond generating passive income. Namely, they're meant to educate and entertain curious minds. Therefore, ghost blogs strive to produce original content that keeps viewers intrigued. As long as you remain true to your passions and stay consistent, you stand a chance at growing an audience interested in learning more about what you love to talk about.
Finally, keep in mind that ghost blogging is just one method of earning residual income. Although it's certainly viable, it's not necessarily right for everyone. If that's the case, be sure to review other ways to generate passive income from home.
Absolutely. Personal blogging has become increasingly common among millennials, and many individuals use it as a medium for expressing themselves. Whether you're sharing experiences about dating, traveling, religion, politics, or something else entirely, chances are most people care about hearing stories firsthand. Plus, it gives you complete freedom to express yourself however you feel comfortable.
Unfortunately, there are plenty of reasons why personal blogging fails miserably. Chief among them are lackluster content creation habits and lack of self-discipline. Thus, it's crucial to follow proper guidelines outlined above if you hope to succeed. Also, please bear in mind that ghost blogging tends to attract a younger crowd, so you'll likely receive fewer comments compared to a regular blog. That being said, if you manage to strike the right tone and develop a loyal following, you can potentially profit off of your blog's popularity.
Now that you understand how ghost blogs operate, wouldn't you agree that it sounds pretty cool? Or maybe you already run one. Either way, we invite you to share your insight with us below.
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