One of my subscribers tries to earn a living as a ghostwriter, but she’s had terrible experiences.
I got very touched by her story (you’ll read it in a moment), and immediately thought about two books that could help her. Then a new idea hit me:
Why not ask the authors of the books to help? I mean, these strong women, Tiffany Dow and Lina T, themselves work as ghostwriters, when they need some extra cash, and they have both established themselves as higher paid authors. If they cannot help this poor lady, nobody can. And they send me great answers – thank you, Tiff and Lina! You are both awesome ladies 🙂
Okay, here’s the poor woman’s own story. I bet that the answers can help you, too, if you want to become a ghostwriter and you don’t want to work for slave wages:
I’m a writer, so the only thing I’m selling/promoting is my talent. I signed up with Elance, this is a freelance site–but I find that they want to pay slave wages for a ridiculous amount of content in an equally ridiculous time frame. Some clients even try to scam work out of me without any actual payment commitment. I have gone back to college to become an official writer, as it were–and I should mention here that I am a 53 year old Female.
And now for the two wise replies from Lina T and Tiffany Dow:
There are people like the clients you describe everywhere. There are also top notch marketers with a nice budget out there too. There are also a third type of client – poor marketers who have been taught to go on and try to find the cheapest content they can, not realizing it’s going to screw up their sites.
You can’t blame Elance as the problem – I found all of my top clients there. They’re there. There are also people who post a bid with the “freebie mindset” and when I bid I would bid my usual higher priced bid, but also tell the person that my portfolio is full of examples (they were so good my clients didn’t care about paying more).
You sometimes have to educate the buyers by saying a bid like this:
“I know my bid is beyond your listed budget, but this is a topic I can write about very well – please see my portfolio where I have a document named ____. I think it’s important to invest in your site once, not buy cheap, uninspiring content that you eventually have to pay to have reworked again, so while I might be a bit more expensive, it’s only because I know the value of detailed research and creating something that will engage your audience and turn them into buyers, not just bounces on your site.”
I would also throw something specific about their niche in to show I read the project details (many freelancers don’t).
Going back to college won’t help you make more money. I made that mistake. You could have a PhD and it wouldn’t make a bit of difference in what people are willing to pay. All they care about is how good you can write (now if you need help writing, then classes might work – but unfortunately, professors and college style writing is NOT what online writing is all about, so clients won’t be impressed with that style).
My advice? Put up your own website and start learning how to market yourself as the go to ghostwriter. That way clients are coming to YOU, not you having to bid for their projects. And a portfolio of varied niche writing and a healthy ego do wonders for building a client base.
You can learn a lot from Tiffany Dow’s book and videos called “Ghostwriting Cash“. She’ll walk you through everything you need to get started as a ghostwriter, including how to set up a blog to promote your writing. Get it here: http://malka.im/e/ghostwritingcash
One thing to keep in mind about eLance is that it is a global marketplace where you are competing with people from all over the world for writing jobs. What sets you apart from most others is likely that you speak native English, so your sentences will have a natural flow and not be awkwardly phrased and will likely not need a lot of editing. The process that I follow points this out to buyers up front so that they understand that is the reason for my higher rates. Usually most experienced buyers know this and after one trial run, if you are able to demonstrate reliability, good buyers will be willing to pay for more quality work that is delivered when promised.
The key is building good relationships with your clients and really tuning into what they need and being responsive to their needs. This is what I have found to help me blossom long term relationships with my clients. Age is not at all a factor in this industry, outside of the fact that you have more experience to draw from and can probably write on topics a little better than someone half your age because you have a larger knowledge base to start with 🙂
Lina T shares a lot of great tips in her “Ghostwriting Blueprint to $2000/month“. It has just launched to the public (she was only selling it to her list earlier, where I grabbed it), and it’s short, to the point, and awesome. Get it here: http://malka.im/e/ghostwritingblueprint