Entry #9: Ever Wondered if Ghostwriting was for You?

December 2, 2017

Holy smokes. November was complete insanity people. Complete insanity. I had two contracts on Upwork that were both due at the same time. I received the jobs within the first two days of the month and committed to having them BOTH finished by November 30th. Book number one was a fun one to write and was 50,000 (50K) words. The second was a bit larger and was the first full on erotica novel I’ve ever written. So it was a bit of an experience for me, and it rang in at a whopping 70K words. So in 30 days I wrote 120K words.

Errmmm. What the FUCK.

Needless to say my brain feels like mush now and I have the white imprint of a word document burnt into my eyelids. I can’t believe I managed to get it all done. It was a shit ton of work. But you know what was really rewarding about it? No? Well sit tight, Imma tell you. Maybe go grab a coffee or something. Then we can pretend we’re two people sitting with each other and I’m letting you in my ghostwriting secrets. Okay, they’re not ‘secrets’, but I just want to share my experience over my first year as a ghostwriter. Maybe it will help some of you figure out if this is something you want to have a go at.

Today, November 30th 2018, is the exact one year mark since I quit my day job. In other words, one year ago today I walked out of a place that was sucking the life out of me while many of my family and friends fretted that I was making a terrible decision. I was probably only a few weeks to a month away from a decent promotion at the job I left. That promotion would have led to other promotions. I wasn’t bad at my job. In fact, I was a leader within my region, and I had a reputation. I was well respected and my name had only positive associations. I’m not tooting my own horn here, I’m just trying to explain to you that just because everyone else thinks it’s a right fit doesn’t mean it is. I hated it. It was destroying me.

So I quit. It was the best thing I ever did. Now, 365 days later, I am closing out the month having earned more money in a month than I ever have. Yes. I am making more money now writing from home for my clients than I was in my telecommunications salary/commission based sales job.

I remember when I landed my first contract on Upwork. I had sent out tons of proposals to different jobs and didn’t have high hopes of landing anything. I kept my spirits up by referring to my bible: Pinterest. I’m sorry, but I get everything I need from there. Advice, guidance, recipes, decorating tips, character names, plot ideas, exercise plans I don’t use, sex tips, etc. I’m just saying. Sorry for the TMI (no I’m not). Anywho I didn’t have extremely high hopes that Upwork would work for me. But Pinterest articles assured me that it took time to really get going on freelancing sites. I kept this in mind as I waited, and waited, and waited.

[p]Then, a few days later, someone took a bite and offered me a Skype interview. I almost peed my pants right then and there. He had read the sample I wrote and LIKED it. How crazy. I was a basket case of nerves in the hours leading up to the Skype call. It went really well. He offered me the gig, and four days later I was writing my first novella. It was a small project, only 15K words. It was a genre I was unfamiliar with and I had nothing on my profile to show that I was a competent writer. So I charged him barely anything. For writing 15K he paid me $50. Upwork takes a 20% cut. So, as you can see, I wasn’t making much money. But I made sure the work I delivered was excellent, thoroughly edited, and what he was looking for. I offered to edit and revise anything he wasn’t happy with. This is still something I do with all my clients whenever I submit something. Very important. They’re paying you for a service. Take it seriously. Make sure you’re giving them exactly what they want.

So this client wrote me a glowing review because he was so pleased with the content I wrote for him. In my future proposals I started offering to do jobs at half the cost of the client’s proposed budget. I explained that I understood that they were taking a risk on a new writer with no reviews or history of work to prove that I knew what I was doing. This strategy was well received. I landed more and more jobs. I kept my rates low. Lots of people told me I was doing myself a disservice. I didn’t care what they said. This was my business, and I was going to build it how I wanted.

What were my rates, you ask? PENNIES, YO. I charged $0.003/word. But you know what? Every client tipped me. Each and every one. So have faith in people. If they think you deserve more than what they are paying you they will more often than not step up to the plate and pay it forward. If they do not consider the fact that maybe you have some room to improve. Acknowledging this and seizing the opportunity to be a better writer is something all good writers do. Take the feedback. Chew it. Swallow it. Use it.

I worked over the course of a year with dozens of clients from all over the world. I learned new things from each person and improved my writing as I went. Seriously peeps, even though I’m writing for other people it still serves me. I’m honing my craft and getting paid to do it. You don’t get better at writing unless you write. Plain and simple. And in 2017 I wrote 17 full sized novels (all averaging between 50K-80K words). Toss in some short stories and outlines for other clients, and you have yourself a very busy schedule.

If you can balance it all and motivate yourself- this is important- then ghostwriting might be for you. I have the freedom to make my own schedule, but I also run into issues where I’m behind on a deadline and I have to miss out on things I was looking forward to. It’s part of life. Luckily I’m at a point where the people I surround myself with get it. They want me to write because they know my business is taking off. They support me. Find yourself those people and never let them go… no matter how much they struggle ;)

Now, a year later, my rate is much higher than when I started on Upwork. I’m not going to discuss it, because I think that’s tacky, but I also want to say this: what you are earning is an ever changing rate. I know it’s cliche, but if this is something you really want, you’ll make money at it. It’s not easy, I can tell you that (120K words in a month is not a walk in the park), but it’s satisfying because I’m making a living doing what I love. Your sheer will and drive to be successful is what will earn you money. Watching Netflix doesn’t pay good. Trust me. I hit some roadblocks and binge watched a lot of shows. It only ended with me being angry at myself for not taking my work seriously. Cue vicious cycle of guilt here.

And another perk is being able to tell people who thought I was going to fail that I’m doing better than ever. Petty? Definitely. But still satisfying as fuck.

I hope some of this helped you. I know it was a bit of a ramble and maybe didn’t hold any of the ‘juicy secrets’ you were hoping for. But that’s just it. There aren’t any secrets. If you want to try your hand at ghostwriting head on over to Upwork (or other freelancing sites, whatever suits your fancy), and create a profile. Apply to jobs. Take yourself seriously. BE PROFESSIONAL. You are representing your brand with every single thing you do on that platform. Be professional even when you don’t want to be. This is critical people. If you think you can do it give it a shot. I’m with you. It’s so worth it.

Much Love my writing friends!! Talk soon! XOXO - Rebecca

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© 2017 R.M. Jamieson