There are two tracks you can take with ghost writing. You can pursue the traditional track where you primarily write speeches and books. Or you can take the new track–the internet. Starting with the internet is a good way to move toward the traditional track. It allows you build a reputation. And it allows you to make a living at the same time. Here are some of the things I’ve tried and learned since I started ghost writing.
The Best Advice for a Starting Ghost Writer
1) Start small
Don’t expect to start earning the big money right from the start. You have to prove your ability to write. The internet is the perfect place to do this.
Start with SEO articles. The demand is constant. Expect to earn minimum wage starting out, roughly $8.00 for 500 words. It will only take a few jobs well done, before you can start charging higher rates.
In order to make this work, you need to pick up a few jobs where you aren’t looking for a long-term relationship. Look for a job on oDesk or Elance that is a one-off deal. Do a really good job and secure positive feedback.
After 2 10-article jobs, you can experiment with increasing your fees by 25 to 50%. Continue to take smaller jobs that aren’t looking for long-term relationships, unless you are able to produce quality 500 word articles in 1/2 an hour. Then you may be content with a rate of $10 to $12 per article in your specific genre.
2) Pick a genre
If you focus your writing on a specific genre, you may find producing content takes less time. This hasn’t worked for me, because even though I write frequently on ghost writing, I’m constantly researching to ensure I’m presenting the latest information.
Where picking a genre can benefit you the most is in helping you to build client confidence in your ability to handle their subject well. The genre can be something you already know something about, or it can be an area that you want to become an expert in. Once again, articles create an opportunity to show your ability to write within a genre. This can then open doors to other writing jobs.
3) Develop a portfolio.
As you complete jobs, add them to a portfolio. You can display it on your website, which is one of the many advantages of having a website for your business. If you don’t have a website, try putting it on a site such as oDesk, VWorker or Elance. Give potential clients reason to have confidence in your work.
4) Never work without money up front
Whether you are writing articles or a book, never start work without some evidence that the person who has hired you is serious about the project. On oDesk, some jobs are fixed price and some are paid by the hour. The hourly jobs are essentially guaranteed, so you can start work once you’ve been hired. But fixed price jobs can be risky, so always ask for an advance, and never deliver the final deliverable until you’ve been paid.
When you are starting out, make the advance payment comparable to the amount of expertise you have already demonstrated through your portfolio. If you can’t prove your skills, then request a small trial job. This lets your client develop some confidence in your ability to deliver what you promise. Your eventual goal is 50% to 100% up front.
I’m still working toward my goal to enter the traditional track, though my motivation to do so isn’t as strong as it was when I started. I’m finding that the internet is a good steady source of ghost writing income. Just the four tips above have helped me become successful. They could help you as well.