It is a task that will no doubt haunt many a writer. How do you turn that occasional ghostwriting gig into something that actually pays the bills? Technology has opened up many doors. Web content, ebooks and blogging all benefit companies and brands by increasing their Internet presence. A talented mind can put that trend to work by living life as the best ghostwriter around.
Why would any self-respecting storyteller allow someone else to take credit for their work? Ghostwriting is actually a time-honored tradition. It allows politicians, celebrities, sports figures and other mainstream names to write a book or blog without looking like illiterates.
In 2001, Hillary Clinton found a publisher interested in her memoirs, but lacked the skill and time to pen the book. That lucky ghostwriter walked away with six figures.
Is It Worth It?
That depends on what you hope to accomplish. Hillary made millions on her book; the writer’s pay was a pittance in comparison. Ghostwriting is a symbiotic relationship, but the name on the cover sells the story.
It is also a strategic career move. Ghostwriting can be a source of income while you pen the great American novel or hone your skills. It is often the first opportunity a novice has to work with real editors. You learn a lot about style and grammar that way.
Tips to Get You Going
Practice, practice and then practice some more. Being born with a vivid imagination does not make you the best ghostwriter around, but practice will. You can start by setting up your own blog. For example, a gamer might blog about the latest releases or a programmer can review new applications on iTunes.
- Take advantage of grammar and spellcheckers. They are learning tools. Pay attention to the corrections and avoid making the same mistakes in future work. If you are struggling with grammar or style, take classes to improve. Your brand is dependant on your skills. You need to fine-tune them to move ahead.
- Apply to content brokerage sites. These companies bring clients to your door, but they will test your skills before adding you to the pool of writers. The pay is not the six-figure income that you might get writing for Hillary, but it is a start. As you build a name for yourself in the industry, the pay will increase.
- Set up a business website and build a portfolio. This gives you tools to bring in more clients. Choose a few areas of expertise and stick to them when setting up your sample articles.
- Get used to pounding the virtual payment looking for projects. The best ghostwriter will tell you bringing in new business is a large part of making money.
At first, you may end up writing a few free pieces to get going, but as you establish yourself that will end. Ghostwriting is a springboard that can turn into a career that makes you your own boss.
Darla F is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.