Risks Are Everywhere

10 Risks You Need to Be Aware of as a Freelance Ghostwriter

Last Updated on by Michael Brockbank

You have a lot of opportunities on the Internet as a freelance ghostwriter. Before you get started though, you need to be aware of the risks.

In most situations, you’re not going to have a lot of the protections you would have working for a company in a traditional job. These issues can easily put your financial future in great peril.

Risks You Need to Understand as a Ghostwriter

Freelance work has a lot of potential, but it comes with a darker side that makes success difficult. You need to have a full grasp of what you’re getting yourself into before committing. Otherwise, it could become a very rocky road.

Did you know I have a book on Amazon about freelance writing? It’s the story of how I got started using content mills like Textbroker and became the success that I am today.
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1. Work is Not Guaranteed

Although writing opportunities are quite plentiful online, don’t assume you can jump in and make a good living. It might take some time to build momentum and a strong client list before you can replace a full-time income.

This is why it took me more than a year to quit my job at the school district. I needed to make sure I could make more money as a writer than as a network technician. Once I started to get serious about writing, I found it to be far more beneficial for my situation.

If you want to keep busy, you’ll need to diversify. For instance, don’t just use Textbroker to look for work. Sign up for many other services and check the workload on all of them every day.

Collect as many clients as you can and explore a wide range of possibilities for writing.

2. Some Clients Try to Scam

Online Scams

Over the past few years, I’ve only had a very small number of people try to scam me out of work. That’s because I usually write using content mills that protect a ghostwriter by mitigating the risks.

Here are a few ways you can protect yourself from scamming clients:

  • Research the client in Google and see if other writers have filed complaints.
  • Don’t give out your writing without accepting payment. Perhaps give them a paragraph-long taste of the project first.
  • Use a comprehensive and proper legal contract for jobs.
  • Keep backup copies of the work if you suspect anything odd.
  • Use retainer contracts as often as possible. This means you’ll be paid if there is work or not.

This doesn’t mean that every client is going to try to rip you off, though. In fact, the vast majority of people who approach me just want content for their websites and magazines. Be mindful scammers are out there.

3. Sites that Steal Your Money

One of the biggest issues I’ve come across in recent days are websites that try to steal your money. In fact, there is one currently sweeping through Facebook that guarantees a high income for writers.

I can’t remember the URL off-hand, but it essentially wants you to pay for being on a list.

Legitimate work-at-home ghostwriter jobs will never ask you for up-front pay. In fact, it should be the other way around. For example, my retainer pays me two weeks in advance.

This is one of the reasons why I like content mills so much. While you won’t make as much money directly, you don’t have to worry about paying someone to work.

Never trust a site that “guarantees” a certain amount of money. There are simply too many variables that come into play to say you’ll make a specific amount.

4. Clients Who Pay Late

Losing a Client

One problem you may face often is a client who is late to pay. This has happened a few times to me in the past, and it kind of messed up my weekly budget. The best thing you can do is to create a budget that doesn’t rely on payments from the here-and-now jobs.

This can help a ghostwriter reduce the risks of not bringing in enough money to pay the bills.

Now, I’m not saying that all clients who pay late should be avoided. Sometimes their budgets are a bit askew as well. In one instance, my client couldn’t get a PayPal payment to me for two weeks because the system had issues.

This was also apparent when working with Textbroker that particular week.

What happened is that PayPal revamped its system and screwed up a lot of automatic payment systems. This wasn’t the client’s fault.

Be understanding, but avoid being gullible. If a client repeatedly pays past the promised time frame, it may be worth considering moving on or making new terms of your arrangement.

5. Accepting Pay Less than Your Worth

One of the most common problems I see nowadays are people who accept payments far below their worth. This is quite common in any market as people will drop their prices in the hopes to make a sale.

What happens is a saturated and cheap market that makes it difficult for anyone to make money.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t give clients a deal, but be mindful of your worth. Accepting jobs at a fraction of your value because you simply want the money sets a precedent.

That client may discuss your costs with others who may assume you’ll offer the same cheap services.

What winds up happening is that you’ll be inundated with work that you don’t make a lot of money on compared to a full-time job. This makes freelance ghostwriting less profitable in the long run.

6. Your Personal Schedule

Time Management

It’s not just clients who can deliver great risks to your success. You can also play a part in your own downfall if you’re not paying attention. Having a good schedule is one way to avoid having financial problems in the future.

Too many people believe they can work when they want and make a good living. While in some instances this may be true, it all depends on optimal client timing.

From my perspective, I make far more money during normal working hours because most of my clients are businesses and corporations based here in the United States.

When working from home, you have to balance your time a bit better especially if you have children. In some situations, you may even feel overwhelmed as people rely on you more for chores and such because you are home.

The end result is a haphazard workday where you don’t get much professional writing done.

7. Your Mentality for Professionalism

As a freelance ghostwriter, you need to exude a certain level of professionalism. Like any other business in the world, being unprofessional means less income from customers.

In reality, a ghostwriter without the proper mindset risks maintaining a sustainable workflow.

I know a lot of you want to work from home in your pajamas. In fact, that’s a commonly used advertising technique for many websites. However, there is something to be said about dressing the part.

I sit at my desk each day wearing the same clothes I would if I was working for a company. For myself, it keeps me in the mentality that I am a professional. It’s especially useful since I also conduct video conferences with clients on occasion.

8. Easy to Burn Out

Writer Burn Out

This is perhaps one of the greatest risks to freelance ghostwriting: burnout. If your heart isn’t into writing content, you can easily find yourself dreading the work. And if you quit your full-time job because of writing, you could compound the problem.

This is why I suggest ghostwriting as a second part-time job. Give it a few months to determine if it’s something you’ll be interested in doing full-time before quitting.

In fact, I know a lot of writers who simply write part-time to make a few extra bucks each week.

Just like any job, burnout can be quite a problem. I’ve had a few moments when I was getting tired of writing the content for some clients. However, this is my passion and I explored different ways to overcome burnout.

9. Managing Taxes and Insurance

Another set of severe risks to a ghostwriter is managing taxes and insurance. As a freelancer working from home, you’re most likely not going to have access to the same “benefits” a corporate job offers.

You’ll have to take care of these elements yourself.

A good way to avoid these kinds of risks is by setting aside money each time you’re paid. For instance, I instantly move cash when I am paid into stocks and ETFs that are low risk. This helps save for tax time and gives me a cushion in the event I need to go to the hospital.

Try to set aside 10% of your income from each payment to a savings account of some kind. The last thing you want to get in the mail is a letter from the IRS stating you owe a ton of money.

10. Your Effort Dictates Success

waking up to work

Last, but certainly not least, is your own level of effort. The amount of effort you put into any job is going to dictate how successful you are. Freelance ghostwriters working from home have to be more vigilant at work otherwise there is no pay.

It’s not like a regular job that gives you an hourly pay regardless of how much work you do.

This means you need to constantly be working on ways to improve your abilities or income. For me, I diversify systems, blog, and find other avenues that center around writing to enhance my experience.

By using a variety of methods for making money online, I greatly reduce the risks of not bringing in enough business as a ghostwriter.

A lack of effort or interest will surely affect how much you make each week. If you’re not feeling like writing today, realize that is one day you’ll be without pay. It’s easy to look at the clock and see how much time has passed when playing games or watching YouTube, so keep yourself professional each day.

Be Mindful of the Risks as a Ghostwriter

Don’t get me wrong, being a freelance ghostwriter has been a phenomenal experience. I’ve met some of the most amazing people while creating content. While it is quite risky to write full-time, it’s not impossible to be successful if you know what you’re getting into.

Michael Brockbank
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