The gig economy is thriving. According to Statista, around 69 million Americans earn a living by working independently, with this number expected to grow to 86.5 million by 2027. And ghostwriting is a popular choice for many freelancers.
Ghostwriting is the process of writing books, articles, blog posts, speeches, or other forms of copy under someone else's name. Ghostwriters commonly write on behalf of celebrities, politicians, business people, and experts who want to share their insights and experiences with the world.
If you have decent clients and charge good rates, then it can be a lucrative gig. And to make sure it's as profitable as possible, efficiency is key.
As a ghostwriter, one of the most time-consuming parts of the process is listening back to recordings of your interviews with your author. The constant stopping, starting, and rewinding is frustrating and, quite frankly, a waste of time. And every freelancer knows that time is money.
That's where transcription comes in.
In this guide, we'll share tips on how to use transcription to make your ghostwriting project more efficient, more productive, and more profitable.
1. Record your client interviews
Interviewing your author is the most important part of the ghostwriting process. It's how you find out everything you need to know about the project, their specific requirements, and their insights and experiences. The more you can get out of your client during the interview process, the easier it will be when it comes to sitting down and writing.
To ensure you don't forget anything, make sure you record every interview on your phone, laptop, or dictaphone so that you can listen back to it - or better still, transcribe it.
Check out our guide on how to interview someone for an article for more tips.
2. Get a transcription of the interview
The next step is to transcribe the interview. There are several ways of doing this. The first is to do it yourself, listening to the recording and manually typing it up. Needless to say, this is a very time-consuming process, which doesn't help in terms of efficiency.
The second option is to pay a human transcription service to do the work for you. The downside of this is that it's expensive - an hour of audio takes approximately four hours for a professional to transcribe, and the average price is 75 cents to $1.50 per minute. That works out as $45-$90 per hour of audio transcription.
The third - and best - option is to use an AI-powered transcription service like Transcribe, which is much faster and cheaper than the alternatives. Our PRO services cost just $10 a month for 5 hours of transcription time, which works out as just $2 per hour, and since the process is automated, you'll get a transcription of your podcast within minutes of uploading the recording.
Here's more information on how to transcribe an interview.
3. Use it to get the gist of the story
Once you've got the written transcript in front of you, you can skim-read it, search for specific moments and themes, highlight key points and phrases, and start to piece together the general gist of the story.
By the time you've done this, you should have a good feel for the piece, and a good idea of how to structure your first draft. Make note of any questions that crop up along the way and any gaps in the story, and depending on what you've agreed, you can plan another call with your client or get in touch with them via email.
4. Make sure you understand your author's voice
As a ghostwriter, your job is to put your own voice to one side (for the most part), and channel the voice of your client into your copy. Use the transcription t get a good sense of their tone, the language they use, and signature words and phrases that are part of their vocabulary - highlighting anything that stands out to you.
There might be certain words and phrases in there that you would never normally use, but it's these details that will make the writing seem genuine, especially to readers familiar with the author.
5. Write a first draft
Using the transcription and any additional notes you've made, start to work out the structure of your ghostwriting work. Think about the different chapters, subheadings, and sections you're going to include, and add key points from the transcription into the relevant sections.
The structure of your work won't necessarily be the same as the structure of the interview - the way we think and speak isn't always logical and in order, so it's your job to organize your client's thoughts in a clear and articulate way.
It'll quickly become clear which sections are shaping up nicely and which are a bit thin. Go back through the transcript to see if there's anything else you can add in, otherwise make a note of areas that require extra research or further information from your author.
Add a draft introduction and conclusion, check that there's a smooth flow from start to finish, and then...
6. Take a break
After all that hard work, you deserve a break! Of course, you might need to get back in touch with your author or do a bit more research yourself, but otherwise, it's important to take some time out from your ghostwriting project so that you can return to it with fresh eyes.
Then when you're ready...
7. Write a second draft
Now that you're raring to go again, go back through your first draft with a fine tooth comb. Check your grammar and spelling, double-check that it includes all the important points from the transcription, and make any necessary edits. At this point, you want to get it as close to publishable quality as possible.
8. Take another break
Before you send the copy through to your author, it's a good idea to step away from your work again and have a brief pause. Sleep on it, if you can, and if you're still happy with your work the next day, send it to your client!
9. Edit until complete
Depending on the length of your project, there may be a fair few stages of feedback and edits. Every time you speak to your client on the phone, in person, or via video call, make sure you record your conversations (and transcribe them), as you may get some extra gems to feed into your work.
Written By Katie Garrett