How Ghostwriting Kick-started My Writing Career

Ghostwriters and the ghostwriter contract have gotten a bad rap. Images of over-worked scriveners dance in many of our heads. After, all if there’s one thing we writers crave, it’s credit for what we write – which translates into by-lines, right?

I’ve always written, from early grade school onward. When my children were young I volunteered with various civic and social organizations, such as the local chapter of the League of Women Voters, to help with publicity and other writing. I’ve probably written more press releases than I can count, as well as promotional brochures and articles, and even a bit of advertising copy for my then-website and those of a couple of friends.

All of this, of course, was good experience. I was able to use these, as well as the folks who had worked with me, as references to eventually get accepted by sites such as Triond and Associated Content, where I got my start (with a by-line, I might add).

Lessons Learned: If you’re first starting, don’t underestimate the value of unpaid, volunteer (ghost) writing. Do a good job with them, respect their deadlines (a must!) and use them as a future sample or reference for the jobs that do pay.

When my ‘day job’ in giftware sales started to slow down a few years ago, thanks to the sluggish economy, I saw the handwriting on the wall, and started writing in earnest.

My first efforts were with sites like Triond, Associated Content and the Examiner, where it was nice to have a by-line, but the pay wasn’t what I’d hoped to see. Maybe it was time to trade one for the other?

Eventually, I found work through a content site, oDesk, signing a ghostwriter contract to produce various content pieces for clients earning an average of $2.00 – 4.00 grand total for a 400-word article. Over time, I gained more experience, increased my rates – and soon priced myself out of the market!

Lessons Learned: Keep a ‘day job’ or some other source of income while you gain experience and consider ghostwriting to get valuable experience.

After several months with oDesk , I was accepted for a ghostwriting position for hourly pay with the large educational content site Remilon. Nice break, but hourly was too low to live on. However, all those assignments, research, editing, and revisions (their editors were pretty strict too) added up to a respectable body of work after just a few months that I could now send out as samples to other companies.

Last fall, I found WriterAccess; applying was one of the best career moves I’ve made, with so many opportunites for professional growth!

Lessons Learned: Get acquainted with time-saving data bases relevant to your specialty or work

Network both informally and through writers’ groups and websites, for new opportunities.

Let everyone know about what you do.

Finally, persistence pays off. ‘Ghost’ now, guest later. Good luck!

Mary S is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.


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