Ghostwriting 101: 5 Proven Templates To Help You Write For Business Leaders

Nicolas Cole

Ultimate Guide Table of Contents

Over the past 4 years, I have ghostwritten more than 2,000 articles for startup founders, C-level executives, Silicon Valley investors, and more.

Want to know a secret?

I use the same 5 templates every time.

Template #1: The mistakes & the lessons

What’s the fastest way to provide value to someone else? Point out the CAUTION signs and tell them where to go instead.

All great business writing follows this same format:
  • Decision
  • Outcome
  • Mistake
  • Lesson

I have ghostwritten for founders in every industry ranging from biotech and pharmaceuticals to sports nutrition to productivity software to enterprise sales. The details of the stories change each time, but the arc is always the same.

Help people learn from your mistakes, and you’re seen as the authority.

Template #2: The frameworks

“Want to solve X? Follow 1–2–3.”

Every great business How To article or thread can be reduced down to this simple formula.

  • Name the problem
  • Pinpoint actionable steps
  • Celebrate outcome

Voila. You’re now a “business thought leader.”

The difference between aspiring writers and professional writers, or aspiring leaders and professional leaders, always comes down to the individual’s ability to clearly communicate information. And the single most effective way to communicate information is to put it inside a box.

Boxes are easier to remember, organize, and store in our minds.

There’s a reason why “frameworks” are so enticing and sticky.

Template #3: The future — here’s why

Business readers love speculating about the future.

So, to position yourself as an authority, speculate.

  • Where is the future of your industry headed?
  • Why? What’s your thesis?
  • Cite 2–3 studies/stats

Hoorah! You did it.

There’s something about speculating about the future that puts you in a position of power. It usually doesn’t even matter if you end up being right or wrong—the simple fact that you’re willing to share what you THINK communicates authority, leadership, creativity, and confidence.

Template #4: Category POV

Master-level business writers don’t hammer away about the brand.

They educate readers on the category.

  • Share what’s wrong with the old category
  • Name & Claim new category
  • Describe the outcome after moving from old to new

In Category Pirates, we call this moving people “From-To.” You are helping them become conscious of all the problems they are currently experiencing, and then you’re educating them on all the ways those problems cease to exist over here in this new and different category.

You’re moving them FROM where they are TO where you want them to be.

Template #5: Myths

Everybody loves “insider information.”

Your domain expertise is an opportunity to pull the curtain back and share what’s REALLY going on.

  • What do most people think, but get wrong?
  • What does the world NEED to know?
  • What does this knowledge unlock?

For example, years ago I wrote an article titled, 5 Myths About Exposure I Learned By Writing 400+ Columns For Inc Magazine. This was an “insider information” sort of article, because I was telling readers, “Hey, I just went and did all this work—and now, I’ve come back bearing news.”

Readers love this stuff.

I have been ghostwriting for business founders, executives, and investors for years.

300+ industry leaders, thousands of articles, tens of millions of views.

Chances are, you’ve read something I’ve written online — you just didn’t know it.

I am also working on putting together a Ghostwriting 101 curriculum inside the Ship 30 for 30 membership vault. If you’re interested in becoming a ghostwriter yourself, I encourage you to join the next cohort and start practicing your Daily Writing Habit!

And if you enjoyed this article, I encourage you to follow me over on Twitter—where I write short-form articles & threads about Online Writing.

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