Since signing up for LinkedIn in 2014, Mumbai-based Prabal Lakhotiya, like many other professionals on the platform, primarily used it to search for jobs. But in 2020, following the Covid-19 outbreak, the engineering graduate began spending more time on the professional-networking site.
Despite not holding an MBA, he had developed a knack for selling products and services from working for nearly a decade in sales departments of companies like German luxury carmaker Audi. So, when he came across a post by a freelancer about the latest fad in town— ghostwriting ghostwriting ghostwriting Ghostwriting refers to writing articles, blogs, or other forms of content, on behalf of a person who is then credited as author. content for founders and C-level executives on LinkedIn—he quit his job.
In December 2021, he launched a LinkedIn growth and personal-branding agency, Gliped. It is one of the dozens of agencies in India that help early-stage startup founders, established entrepreneurs, and ‘thought leaders’ build and manage their personal brand on LinkedIn by tapping into the growing network of ghostwriters.
And they mean serious business. “Brands are realising that instead of paying Rs 10 crore (~US$1 million) to a celebrity to do an endorsement, it makes more sense to spend Rs 10 lakh (US$12,000) on brand-building of their own executives,” says Lakhotiya.
Ghostwriting is emerging as a lucrative career in the country, with thousands of young communication professionals freelancing as ghostwriters and content strategists for multiple clients. Depending on the number of posts, they charge CXOs anywhere from US$400 to US$1,000 a month.
Juggling clients across sectors and geographies, ghostwriters are earning up to Rs 7 lakh (~US$8,500) a month. Experienced professionals who switched to ghostwriting are making 10X of what they were making as content writers or bloggers.
“Unlike content writing or copywriting for a brand, ghostwriting on LinkedIn is seen as a more high-ticket item,” says Varun Khadri, who obtained a bachelor’s degree in journalism and communications from Bengaluru-based St. Joseph’s University earlier in 2022.
The idea of building personal brands caught on when the likes of Ankur Warikoo, founder and former chief executive officer (CEO) of hyper-local online platform Nearbuy; Kunal Shah, founder of fintech CRED; Aman Gupta, co-founder of consumer electronics company boAt; and Vineeta Singh, co-founder of luxury beauty brand SUGAR Cosmetics began gaining popularity on LinkedIn. They posted regularly, engaged massively, and gathered hundreds of thousands of followers—even more than their companies.
Now, more and more founders and CXOs want to take the same path on the business and employment-oriented platform. To be sure, it’s not an exercise in vanity.
“Today, a company’s brand is closely related, if not synonymous, to the brand and identity of their founders or executives,” points out Pooja Chhabria, APAC head of creator management at LinkedIn.