• Andrew Dickerson

12 Ways to Use Your Skills to Become a Freelance Ghostwriter and Work for Yourself

In Today's World, there is often far more demand for a product than any one person can handle, especially in the digital world. Ghostwriters, illustrators, service based freelancers, local freelancers, and many other ghosts are in high demand. Websites are fighting over ranking on search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing, daily. Musicians are trying to put out new albums twice every year.

Authors attempt to write an entire book series in a year to publish on Amazon. One person simply cannot handle that much of a workload and keep up with the demand. If the demand isn't met, then they are throw off their own bandwagon, never to be heard from again, unless they go on "Dancing With the Stars".

Mozart was a ghost. He wrote pieces for his wealthy countrymen before he himself became the incredible talent we all know and respect hundreds of years later. Famous artists and illustrators have/had ghosts do the work they put their name on going even further back. If you go see a movie that has become famous, the script was likely written by someone no one will ever hear of.

Social media profiles aren't piloted by the people you follow. They likely pop in every now and again, but they likely never post anything. Trump is believed to be the only exception. Tom Clancy only wrote a percentage of his books because the demand was so high that ghosts had to step in and keep producing.

Being a ghost is hard work. It also means that you'll never receive the recognition for the work you did. You must be willing to accept that as part of the job. You will also be required (in most cases) to sign an agreement called an "NDA" or Non-Disclosure Agreement. This means that you cannot tell anyone that you wrote a specific piece, drew a picture, painted a painting, wrote a script for a movie, or whatever it is that you did for that client.

Once you take payment for your work, the client buys that work, and the right to that work. You no longer own anything. So, it makes sense that you don't go boasting about how you wrote the new hit movie when you don't own the rights to it. There are serious legal ramifications if that agreement is broken.

Some people already use that skill at their regular job, like being a video editor, or scriptwriter, and do it on the side for their own clients.

Before you say, "they shouldn't do that", let's make sure we all understand that every plumber, electrician, carpenter, computer repair expert, or anyone else with a useful skill does the exact same thing. If you think they aren't working in the off-time for better pay, you're crazy. Being a ghost is basically doing that "off-time" work all the time.

So, how do you become a successful freelancer? That is a great question. There is a sure way to get going with your own freelance business, but it is going to be different for everyone. I will list the 12 steps to take to get started, get clients, and start making money. (without having to go to AA)

1. Know Your Skill(s)

If you want to be a freelancer, you'll need a skill to shop, otherwise you aren't giving anyone a reason to hire you.

Being a "general freelancer" isn't going to cut it. People want experts. If you aren't a master of something (or at least in the process of mastering a skill) you are setting yourself up for failure. If you don't have a skill to market, don't quit your 9-5, and get some certifications, qualifications, or at least learn what you want to focus in.

2. Know Where to Shop Your Skill(s)

You have a skill that people want? Great! Now what? People need to know you are available for work. Putting up pull-tab fliers at your local gas station isn't going to get you very much work. If your skill can be done online, then digital marketing is what you should focus on. That means finding websites that will help you find work.

You can try Upwork or Fiverr. These sites let you make a profile and even match you with clients who need your skills. Using social media and having your own website isn't a bad idea either. I use Wix. It is a super easy website builder to use, and it doesn't cost a thing, but I upgraded because of what I needed. It still isn't expensive at all for the easy-to-use features and tools.

3. Getting Clients

Reeling clients in is obviously good, but how to you get them to give you, a complete stranger, a big chunk of money in exchange for your services? Some people find this bit pretty easy. Others struggle with online people skills. Either way, you should be fine, because what you are going to do is open a Word document, and type up a job proposal. This proposal should be somewhat universal for your targeted client base. If you are a writer, highlight how you are experienced in writing about several niches, including theirs (obviously), and what training and education you have. If you fall a bit short in those categories, try and highlight the good qualities you do have.

Remember, it is a job interview, and that proposal is your resume. Often, when you are just starting out, closing the deal with clients is going to be tough.

Once you submit that proposal, they don't just wire you the money. You will have to go through some scrutiny before they decide to hire you. Make sure you keep in good communication with your prospects, because they will take the next candidate, if you don't respond in a timely manner.

4. The Best Freelancer Gets the Job (Usually)

Being a beginner ghost means getting passed up for a lot of great jobs that you know you'd excel. I can't say what goes through every client's mind when they hire a freelancer, but usually it has to do with experience, quality, and proof of an honest, good career. If you choose to be on those sites mentioned above, you will have a rating that is based on what your previous clients think of you and your work. If that rating is low, you are obviously going to have a harder time getting good jobs.

Regardless of your situation, whether you're a veteran or a beginner, do me and everyone a favor, and DON"T GIVE UP!

You are a freelancer. That means you have a skill that people need. You make the world go 'round! Just because a client took someone else that bid far too low on a hard job doesn't mean that you suck. Strategy is everything. If you find that you can't get jobs, take a step back, and look at what's going wrong. Adjusting your client base, your services offered, or how you are proposing that you be hired, could be the difference between a $5 paycheck or a $5,000 paycheck at the end of the month.

5. Study Your Competition

If you blindly go out there and put your services on display, not knowing that the person next door has the same services, but at a lower price, you are going to fail. Sometimes, it is hard to know what the competition is doing. Do your best to do some research as to what services are being offered and what the average prices are for those services. You can get a good idea by what people charge hourly.

The popular freelancer sites have a paid option (of course they do...) where it will give you the edge over the competition by displaying the bids on a certain job.

The lowest, highest, and average bid range will give you a good idea on how to bid for that work. You can also use analytics websites (most are free) to spy on the competition. You can simply insert their URL into the site and it will figure up the data you need. Remember to think locally, not globally.

6. Don't Settle for Low Pay

You are an expert in your field. Or, at the very least, well on your way to becoming an expert. Those clients put those jobs up because they either don't have the know-how, don't have the time, or both. Regardless, their desperation for hiring a freelancer is to your enormous benefit. Always take that into consideration when bidding for jobs. Don't bid super low, because clients will think you are just there to give them bad work for little money.

Almost every client will pay more for the best freelancer. And, if they don't at first, you have the power to negotiate, and convince them as to why hiring you is their best bet.

A good way to do that is to put some numbers out there for them. Numbers don't lie. If you put some facts and statistics in your replies that they can't argue with, you can be confident that you've got the job in the bag, all you have to do then is accept the offer.

I have had clients up their budget for a particular project significantly because of my experience and favorable rating (which sits near 100% all the time-can't win 'em all).

7. The Freelancer Salary is Different Than Normal Jobs

When you bid for an hourly job, don't take whatever the minimum wage for your state or country (if that exists where you live) into account. None of that matters to us freelancers. Again, those clients want experts. Experts get paid far more than entry-level positions at any company in any place.

Honestly, on average, a freelance writer will make more than if they were working with a newspaper or other company like that.

With a company, there is overhead, overhead everywhere. Salaries in normal business job settings are going to be much lower because of it. If you are consistently making $8/hr using your skills as a freelancer, something has gone wrong, and you need to contact me immediately so I can help you fix it. If you truly have something that people need, they are going to have to pay a good, living wage to have it, that is just the bottom line.

8. Don't Get Bullied Into Bad Contracts

If you get into a contract that is lob-sided, you can't just terminate that contract, and you'll have to just see it through. I have heard so many freelancers complain about terrible clients and awful jobs that they must endure every day of their lives, and I'm over here like, "why?" Why would you do that? Why would you take a job from a person that is going to be looking over your shoulder every step of the way, changing the terms of the contract, or even worse, not paying you when it's finished. Those things should happen like, once a year, not all the time. I understand that you are just trying to get work done to put food on the table, but taking bad jobs and working with bad clients means something is wrong with what you're doing as a freelancer.

Don't let this scare you. Bad clients are new to hiring freelancers. They treat you like they would a big box store associate. They want to micro-manage everything, change things because they honestly don't know what they want, and will then blame you for the process stinking up the room.

That is not how things work. If you have a client like that, the best thing to do is either finish the work and move on, never to work for them again, or to end the contract and take the loss.

It isn't a huge loss when you end the contract, because the time you get back, so you can work on something else to make up for lost income. If you freelance from a popular site, you'll have the chance to leave a review, and it will hurt their chances of hiring freelancers in the future when you explain how terrible they were.

9. What are the Best Freelance Jobs?

Finding work shouldn't be a problem. The freelancer market is booming, and it is only going to get bigger, because it's always going to be cheaper than hiring a person with a big, fancy degree that wants $400,000 a year. Before you say, "well those college graduates should get paid what they are worth", please understand that you don't need 7 master's degrees to be a ghostwriter. Honestly, if they are wanting to be a ghostwriter, they should have thought of that before going a million dollars into debt. The best jobs are the ones that are long-term, high-paying, and obviously the easiest to do.

My specialty is writing, so the jobs I look for are ones that need 60 articles a month that pay a lot per article and have options for bonus' or other incentives. Just one contract like that can pay all your bills for the month. Sometimes, the work is so easy, that you can get it done in 1-2 weeks, leaving 2 weeks a month for you to do whatever you want.

Personally, I book myself full every month. I stay up till 2a.m. and wake up at 8a.m., sometimes before. If you can get just 5 contracts that are good paying like that, you can come away with several thousand dollars per month.

Those jobs are probably far away when you are just starting out. I'm not going to lie, you will have to do some garbage jobs in the beginning.

That is just the way it works. You'll have to do articles and blogs for $5 a piece. Clients like that don't need a large volume either, so you are trying to balance twenty clients per month, which can be tricky. Just do your best to find the highest paying work that will take the least amount of time to accomplish. In this phase of your career, it's going to be quantity over quality, but that will soon change.

10. Don't Be Overconfident in the Beginning

To reference the person with the big, fancy degree wanting to become a freelancer, they will almost always set themselves up to fail, because they get into the game wanting far more money than what the work is worth. I have seen so many freelancers quit and go work a miserable 9-5 because of it. Soon enough though, "freelancer regret" sets in, which means that you should have slowed your roll, and focused on providing great content, not making millions in one day.

Remember that regardless of your background, experience, or qualifiers, you will be new, and no one will trust you with big contracts that their job rides on. I have proven myself over the last 6 years to hundreds of clients. They will choose me over a new freelancer every time, regardless of what they boast. They know with me, they will get exactly what they want at a fair price, with little to no supervision. I always give the client more than what they expect. The same can't be said for the fancy-pants freelancer. Or maybe it can, no one knows, that is the deciding factor.

11. Start Small, but Think Big

Don't take on a bunch of work in the beginning that you won't be able to accomplish. If you are turning in work late, or having to loosen up on the quality because of time constraints, then you need to hit the brakes a bit. Keep a journal or a digital copy of your work. That means write down the project, due dates, who it's for, and how much you are getting paid. Keeping separate documents on each client or account is even better. You can keep track of copies of invoices, messages (in case of a dispute), and other vital information. Don't worry, you won't need much space at this point, a desk drawer will be just fine to throw some files in and stay organized.

When you first start being a ghost, you are still going to be working your day job, and there's no if's and's or but's about that. Do not quit your job before you are established! Once you are confident that you can make as much as you are currently making consistently, then you can make the leap. By consistently, I mean at least 6 months, if not a year, of consistent work that proves itself that it is there to stay.

Just because you get a job, doesn't mean that the job will be there forever. Companies get bought, they close down, they change directions, or they simply don't need your services anymore. That happens. You could lose all your contracts the day after you quit your job.

That is a possibility that we all have in the back of our minds every day. Although, if you use these words to guide you through the beginning of your career, you won't fail, unless freelancing becomes illegal or the internet ceased to exist. I wouldn't have too much anxiety that something catastrophic like that would happen. Unless the zombie apocalypse went down.

12. Build a Website and Social Media Profiles

Having a place for customers, prospects, and affiliates to see what you do, how you can help them, what you can partner with them on, is crucial to becoming legitimate and respected. Online businesses pop up every 5 minutes, most of them are scams, so you have that working against you. Most people don't trust a reputable online source, as they shouldn't, because of the scumbags out there who take money for nothing. (see: cyber security blog)

But, you can use a nice website builder to make a site that looks nice and professional to help build your reputation. Using Wix is a great way to go. There is also Weebly, Yola, Squarespace, Strikingly, Voog, and Ucraft, just to name a few. I find that Wix is easiest to use, but the other sites are perfectly fine to use, it just depends on what you need and want. Wix is a drag-and-drop format, so that makes it super easy for me to not only build the site, but update it every day as well. And, it's free. Doesn't get much better than that.

Social media is also very important. Whatever you build on your site, you should share on all your social media platforms. People use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkdIn, Pinterest, Youtube, Tumblr, SnapChat, Google+, Reddit, and Whatsapp to name a few. There are more out there, but these will do you just fine, especially in the beginning.

And, don't worry about posting to all the sites all the time. Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter accounts are more than enough to reach out to who you need to. This method reaches the most people. Not only a large amount of people, but the right people, because of your targeted friend list. It is basically free advertising. Make sure you engage with people who are interested in your services. Don't become a ghost on your social media profiles!

Once you regard these 12 tips on how to become a freelance ghost, you will get the award for bestest, most awesomest beginner freelancer ever in the whole world! Money will be flying out of wazoo's and computers everywhere. Seriously. There is a lot of money to be made out there. More people are hiring freelancers, so the time to jump on the train heading towards awesometown (they hand out money to new residents) is now.

Take your skills to a whole new level, make more money, and possibly even start your own small business with other freelancers. The possibilities are limitless. Use that powerful, creative imagination to come up with ideas that inspire you to think big.

All it takes is one viral blog, video, article, drawing, or other works. Once people start talking about you, that is when the money will start to flow, and you'll be living in Beverly Hills before you know it. (Or, maybe not, OK, probably not, but you get my point)

These 12 tips to becoming a freelance ghost will ensure your success. It is easy to fail at being a ghost, but it is also easy to succeed. The hard part should be is when you take the leap in transitioning to full-time ghosting, and how big you want to get. If you want to know more about becoming a successful freelancer, click here. Dickerson Digital Marketing will always be the ghosting headquarters.