I am a freelance ghostwriter. Lately, I’ve been putting in a bit of effort to test my ability as a novelist. For the most part, I complete writing assignments for clients ranging from animals to travel. However, it’s not like I started out as some prodigy. It took a great deal of time and effort to build myself up to the success I am now. So, how did I start my writing career?
My Steps for Cultivating a Writing Career
I’ve always had a knack for sitting in front of a keyboard. Most of my most prominent jobs involved data entry in some form. But there was always a small part of me who loved to write…even in 7th grade.
This is a breakdown of how I became successful as a writer and fully capable of supporting myself working from home.
Starting Slow While Working a Full-time Job
Lesson 1: Don’t quit your day job. You may find days when there just isn’t writing work available, and you’ll miss the paycheck.
My writing career technically started in January of 2012. I needed a way to supplement my income as I was only making $8 per hour at the school district as a network technician. A big drop from what I was making owning my own computer shop – but that’s a story for another time.
I began using Textbroker and WriterAccess simultaneously when I got off work each day. I was only adding between $10 and $20 per day, but it was at least enough to put gas in the truck to go to work and buy food for the family.
From my experience, you’re not going to start off making an incredible amount of money. This is especially true if you’re new to freelance writing. My skills were a bit lacking and I was only able to accept a couple jobs per day. Luckily, I had my other full-time job to pick up the slack.
Absorbing Criticism from Editors and Clients
Lesson 2: Thoroughly examine critiques from various editors and clients. You may find a pattern of information that will greatly help your writing style.
As I know that I am not the best writer in the world, I pay close attention to criticism from both my editors and clients. While some of the critiques were simply asinine, most of it was invaluable to help hone my skills.
It’s important to understand the difference between criticism and trolling when you’re a freelance writer. A critique will explain why your piece needs work and not simply say that you, “suck.” If you can’t tell me why it’s no good, then you’re really not worth paying attention to.
Like I tell everyone I try to help in a career, “You can’t please 100% of the people 100% of the time.” While critiques are important, realize some people are just going to hate your stuff for no real good reason. It’s the ones who are happy with your writing that you need to worry about.
Researching and Learning My Trade
Lesson 3: Continue to learn. Never assume you know enough to get by. The more knowledge you have, the more likely you’ll make a significant amount of money.
There is no such thing as knowing enough. I am big on education in any form, which is why I’ll be taking a Master Class in writing as soon as I have a few extra bucks to spend. No matter if you’re a freelance ghostwriter or a cashier at a gas station, learning everything about your job makes you more valuable.
People tend to pay more for professionals who are exceptional at their jobs. And it all begins with understanding how to be a better (insert job title here). In my instance, it was learning all I could about writing in AP style English while studying the industries for which I write.
I’ve never had formal training as a writer. In fact, I went to college for graphic design/computer animation – for all the good it did me. But that doesn’t stop me from learning more. The Internet is full of information, and you can teach yourself quite a bit by spending some time researching topics in Google…which is what I did.
Expanding My Workload with Teams and Other Systems
Lesson 4: Diversify and explore opportunities. Don’t simply rely on a single outlet for clients when there are so many available on the Internet.
One of the things that made me the most money between 2012 and 2016 is the number of teams I belong to in Textbroker. These teams pay more than the open order pool, and many of them are ultra-easy to write for. There were days when I could easily clear more than $150 inside of six hours.
In one project, I was making $50+ for an hour worth of writing once per month for over a year. Although this doesn’t sound like a lot, consider I also write for about 40 other teams at the same time.
On days when he workload was low, I would switch to WriterAccess or Fiverr.com. I’ve made a bit of money from all of these systems, and it helps keep me busy when the workflow on one is low while clients are plentiful on another.
Started Blogging and Marketing Myself on Social Media
Lesson 5: Practice makes perfect. You can start a blog of your own for free at WordPress.com. If you’re working to be a novelist, you can always practice at Wattpad.com and gain a following of avid readers.
For the most part, a writing career isn’t going to just happen; you have to make it happen. I started Writer Sanctuary to try and help others like myself who wanted to learn more about writing from home. It also gave me a platform to hone my skills as a writer.
Think of it like training for my profession. While an athlete may workout intensely in the gym, I put words to websites for the same reason: to perfect my abilities.
Acquiring a Client from LinkedIn
Lesson 6: Market yourself well. If you’re serious about being a freelance writer, you need to get your name out there. No one is going to hire you if they don’t know you exist.
I use social media to connect with others while trying to drive traffic to my websites. It’s also helped secure a retainer from a major web hosting company. The client found my profile on LinkedIn and contacted me directly.
I don’t usually put a lot of effort into marketing myself as I should. There’s no doubt I would have more work available if I did. However, I do enough to keep the bills paid.
Building on a Good Schedule
Lesson 7: Devise a good schedule that works with your lifestyle. However, keep in mind the golden periods of the day when work is abundant. And make sure you keep yourself from diversions…like YouTube and Netflix.
One of the most important parts to succeeding while working from home is developing a good schedule. A lot of people like the idea of not having to work a set schedule from home. But in reality, it’s not very effective.
For one thing, most clients who are looking for writers work proper business hours. Which means night writers miss out on a lot of jobs. I am speaking from experience. My workload increased exponentially when I moved from writing at night to during the day.
Expanding My Abilities as an Author
Lesson 8: Always look to expand yourself in any way. Don’t be content with making enough to pay the bills.
Strive to achieve your dreams and find ways to grow yourself in a writing career if that’s what you want.
This year I have made the most money since becoming a freelance writer. However, I want to be more than just a ghostwriting blogger for clients. Now that my workload is starting to stabilize, I can start putting in the efforts to be something I’ve dreamt about since I was 12…a novelist.
In a way, I’ll be starting the above list all over again to become a successful author. Of course there will be a few changes, but as a general plan, it’s almost perfect.
Like ghostwriting, I’ll be starting off slow in a new writing career as an author. I have my full-time job pulling in enough and I’ll start writing in my off hours. Eventually, I may be as successful as a novelist as I am a freelancer.
Building Momentum for Greatness
It can be difficult to get the moment going in a writing career. It all starts with being determined to learn and start putting in the effort to succeed. Once you build that moment, though, the rewards can build up as your ability gains strength. Like a hurricane of words and grammar, you can quickly build power on an ocean of clients.