You might have marveled at how your favorite internet celebrities and influencers are able to produce such large quantities of digital content seemingly effortlessly, consistently displaying super-human levels of productivity to maintain their online media presence.
Perhaps you’ve been discouraged thinking you would never be able to match such high levels of productivity, and consequently fear you might never be as successful. Well, your favorite influencers aren't writing their own content.
According to reports, ghostwriting for social media stars and other internet influencers is the new it-career, and some millennial women are charting the way in this frontier.
Millennial women ghostwriting for internet influencers
In 2012, twenty-two-year-old aspiring writer Faith Xue had just graduated from USC when she was offered a job as Assistant Editor at Los Angeles-based media company EQAL. The job description was vague, but it seemed like the perfect gig so she took it.
No sooner had Xue began her new job than she found out she had unwittingly become a ghostwriter, responsible for authoring blog posts, Facebook statuses and tweets for a slew of famous bloggers, all under their names. "I had no idea what I was getting into," she tells MarieClaire.com.
For Zara Lisbon, a 27-year-old novelist, she has made her living for the past two years writing full-length books under social media stars' names. Lisbon says her literary agent introduced her to ghostwriting and pitched her to influencers' creative teams. In the beginning, Lisbon didn't know internet celebrities even had books—now, she's written three books for them.
And freelance ghostwriter Kelly Burns has lent her skills to half a dozen bloggers over the course of six years. Burns recently accepted a full-time position at an influencer marketing startup.
Ghostwriting – an open secret in the A-list world
Ghostwriting is not new. The practice has always been something of an open secret in the celebrity world. But as people’s definition of "celebrity" has evolved from red-carpet types to social media stars, the community of celebrity has expanded. So too has the scope of ghostwriting. Now ghostwriting may involve not just print books, but also the smart Quora answer or intimate Instagram post you see online.
However, the expanded scope of ghostwriting for some of the internet’s biggest stars is a slippery path. Both internet publishers and influencers know the idea of ghostwriting doesn't always sit well with fans. It raises question of authenticity. How can your message be authentic and genuine when someone else writes your content? This is why ghostwriting for internet celebrities is still such a secretive business.
"All bloggers I've worked with are very protective of their voices and being genuine to their followers," says Burns. Ironically, for most influencers, appearing "genuine" means not acknowledging their ghostwriters at all. "They refuse to divulge because it's so taboo." Some internet stars go further and insist they did all the work on their own when they didn’t, totally negating their authenticity.
Is ghostwriting for internet stars a viable career choice?
Despite shady practices linked with this job like making up stories about influencers in their biographies, ghostwriting for internet stars is becoming something of a booming career choice for would-be young writers. It could be safe to assume the opportunities for these ghostwriters will flourish.
The reason ghostwriting for internet stars is likely to flourish (at least behind the scenes) and establish as a serious viable career option is because it's a strategic win for all parties involved. With ghostwriting bloggers can grow their brands, up-and-coming writers cultivate their skills and experience, and fans and followers get consistent content from the digital stars they love.
If you are an aspiring influencer, you may also find comfort knowing that no one is as extraordinary as they appear online. It takes a team of people to keep the one-man-brands operating. And who knows—maybe, over time, fans will come around to accepting influencer ghostwriting even if it may not all be “authentic” as stars get all the praise while the woman with the pen moves quietly in the shadows.