Bjarne Viken is a ghostwriting lead specialist who helps clients earn $100,000+ a year from LinkedIn.
Hailing from Kongsberg, a quaint mining town in Norway, as an adult Viken moved to Australia after life in Scandinavia became too repetitive.
“When you come from a small place, you want to escape,” Viken says.
Through a series of opportune coincidences, Viken discovered that there were entrepreneurs and well-known figures who wanted to publish their stories in a book format.
Consequently, Viken then learned that there were many ghostwriters itching to secure consistent and profitable work.
For context, in its simplest form, a ghostwriter is a person who writes a book for someone else.
Many professional athletes and celebrities hire ghostwriters to share their stories, and while most of these scribes are creative and possess the requisite skills to produce works of art, many ghostwriters unfortunately struggle with salesmanship and marketing their skills to prospective clients.
In turn, Viken founded a business designed to connect ghostwriters with public figures and business owners.
At first, putting the two parties in the same room, metaphorically (through LinkedIn), was easy.
But deals weren’t getting done, which made Viken start asking more questions, and through those efforts he learned that many ghostwriters, while capable of authoring high-quality art, didn’t know how to market themselves and sell their services.
That’s why today, in addition to putting ghostwriters in front of potential clients, Viken also devotes time to training ghostwriters how to sell.
The results are dependent on each ghostwriter, and how much time and energy they’re willing to invest in their craft, but Viken doesn’t partner with just any writer wielding a pen.
“When I first start working with ghostwriters, I start by having conversations regarding what they want,” Viken mentions.
“I do this because before I even talk about going into business together, I need to see if there is a fit. My business is not only about selling, but it’s also about determining if a client and I can mutually benefit each other.”
If Viken and a ghostwriter can cultivate a good relationship, then Viken reviews their LinkedIn profile to determine what can be done to optimize the individual’s page.
Assuming a ghostwriter is amenable to editing their LinkedIn profile, then Viken offers a complimentary seven-day trial where he employs his software to connect that ghostwriter with potential clients.
“I want the ghostwriters to see firsthand that there are people who are interested in speaking with them about their services,” Viken says.
“If after seven days a writer wants to continue working together, then I sell them a six-month package for $1,500 per month.”
In this package, ghostwriters receive ongoing outreach with prospective customers, biweekly strategy sessions with Viken himself, and access to a mastermind group of ghostwriters across the United States.
“One of the biggest challenges that a lot of ghostwriters face is that they don’t have a community of people that they can talk to,” Viken reveals.
“I bring them together, and that has a lot of unforeseen benefits, in the sense that it allows them to bounce ideas off each other and even collaborate on certain projects.”
For $1,500 per month a ghostwriter is unlikely to find a lead generation service that offers as much value as Viken’s does, especially when one considers that Viken serves as a competent business coach for those who need guidance creating and implementing a sales process.
“When I talk with ghostwriters, sometimes I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut,” Viken says with a laugh.
“If someone tells me about the areas they are struggling with, I want to help them by offering solutions, and I do this by trying to help ghostwriters identify what they’re really good at, and then to stop doing everything else.”
Viken explains that most profitable ghostwriters would be wise to focus solely on writing, and then outsource all their weak points to third-party vendors.
To do that, self-sufficient ghostwriters should establish an hourly rate for their services, and from there they can appropriately delegate tasks without compromising the financial integrity of their business.
But for the ghostwriters who haven’t built a steady stream of income, inking more deals is the quickest way to grow, which is a huge reason why Viken’s six-month package is so valuable.
“The first thing I advise ghostwriters to do is change their perception of sales,” Viken says.
“For example, too many ghostwriters focus on selling potential clients a service, so instead of doing that I work with them on how to identify a client’s problem, and then how to figure out a way where they can solve that issue.”
In his six-month package, Viken shares his sales system with ghostwriters, where he first shows them how to schedule short introductory calls with inquiring customers.
During these initial conversations, if things are going well, Viken then mentors ghostwriters on how to offer an accompanying strategy session where the aim is to sell a small item, usually a document or PowerPoint, albeit at a modest price.
“The goal with this is to charge a very low price so that the client gets a lot of value, at little cost,” Viken says.
“This is effective because you want to improve the perception of your services, and you want them to do business with you. The simplest way for you to get people interested in doing business with you is by focusing on giving early in the sales process.”
Part of that focus on giving that Viken mentions includes incorporating specific language into a pitch, such as “would it be of value to you if…?”, and then allowing the customer to figure out if the approach being offered best suits their needs.
“Notice how I’m asking the question. I’m not pushing a meeting. I’m simply trying to gauge if there is something where I can insert a value proposition,” Viken emphasizes.
Still, some ghostwriters are uncomfortable with having to be the steward of information for potential clients.
To combat this anxiety, Viken urges his ghostwriters to stop thinking of themselves as salespeople, and more as a physician who is attempting to diagnose issues by asking questions, and then exploring solutions.
Viken adds that his methodology has been statistically proven to work.
From a purely analytical perspective, his data indicates that 2 out of 10 prospective clients set up strategy sessions.
Of the 20% who elect to book a strategy session, 50% of those people will move forward with a paid first engagement.
If all this seems daunting for ghostwriters who would rather author content instead of sell, keep in mind that there are alternative ways to deliver value to clients before entering a virtual meeting room.
One route involves becoming a published author who already has credibility within the marketplace.
Another avenue includes creating online content visible to the general public, whether that is through blogs, YouTube videos, or social media.
With the online content, ghostwriters can then include links to their work on their Calendly page, so when future customers go to book a call, they can also familiarize themselves with a ghostwriter’s oeuvre.
“The key thing with that is you want to create content designed to educate your customers before you even have an introductory meeting,” Viken says.
Viken also suggests making it more difficult for potential clients to set up a time to meet on Calendly.
This can be done by asking a variety of pre-screening questions before someone can book a call so that ghostwriters can discourage people who are not serious about a project from wasting their time.
“Money is important, for sure, but time is just as valuable in this business. You only have so many hours to be effective,” says Viken, who estimates that most ghostwriters only have about 2-4 hours per day of time when they can be intellectually engaged, and if that time is being spent on fruitless conversations with blithe clients who are unlikely to move forward, serious momentum can be lost.
“As a ghostwriter, you’re not being hired for what you can do with your hands. You are hired for what you can create with your brain and your imagination.”
Ultimately, whether a ghostwriter opts to double down on selling during Zoom calls, or creating an online brand that attracts business, it’s essential that they showcase their expertise in a way that is conducive to building relationships and educating their target demographic.
“The more that people learn about you and what it is that you do, the more that others will come to you because they need help, and they see you as the trusted source of information,” Viken says.
“It’s a lot easier to sell to those types of people, and at that point you are also able to charge a premium.” QS
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