Writing for Others

By Jeremy Deighan


Another Writing Model

Thanks for checking out The Digital Product Blog. Today we’re continuing to talk about writing, but in a different way than we discussed last time. In the last two blogs, we have talked about using your writing skills to create digital products you can sell online.

Today, I want to focus on ghostwriting and content writing for others, which allows you to make money online using your writing skills, without creating your own products. This is a popular topic because it's a quick way to create income online. 

New Chapter Written on Typewriter
New Chapter Written on Typewriter

Now, to be clear, these kinds of writing work on more of a fee-for-service model than the sale of a digital product. But it's a really great way to get started because it provides you the opportunity to improve your writing skills and practice writing professionally. 

You can also generate money rather quickly doing this, and I'll explain how, because you don't have to worry so much about publishing, marketing and doing everything on your own. 

Ghostwriting

What is ghostwriting? Ghostwriting is when you write material on behalf of someone else, such that they receive the author credit for the work. There are people who write books or articles, who actually have someone else write all or part of the content for them. 

You may not know this, but there are many best-selling authors and books that utilize ghostwriters. Many people who have authored wonderful and popular books (fiction and nonfiction) have actually had one, two, or a team of people help them write these books.

Row of Books
Row of Books

Don't be fooled: when you see a name on the cover of a book, don’t assume that person wrote the entire book by themselves. Chances are--especially if the author is a celebrity or subject matter expert in something other than writing--they have had someone help them with the writing. All authors have help from editors, as well, whether they write the books themselves or not. If you are a strong writer with a good sense of voice, you could become a ghostwriter. 

For example, a friend of mine who loved to write didn't feel comfortable writing and promoting her own name, because it could be a conflict with the company she worked for. But she still wanted to write, and she was able to become a ghostwriter. She was able to get paid to write and create content, but that content got sent off to someone else who did the editing and publishing under their own name. 

Content Writers

The point is, there are people who will pay you to write for them. Ghostwriting is just one way to do this; there are all kinds of writers out there. For example, content writers write blogs, sales pages, website landing pages, marketing emails and other pieces for online businesses. 

Imagine I have a website where I'm selling a product, or maybe talking about a niche topic like guitars. (I always revert back to music because I feel like music can pretty much translate to just about everyone. I mean, who doesn't like music? And if you don't, bear with me and know that this concept translates to many different topics.)

Playing Guitar
Playing Guitar

So let's say I have a blog about guitar playing, and different types and styles of guitars. And I'm selling a product online. It doesn't matter what it is: it could be a guitar itself, sheet music, or maybe a course on playing the guitar. 

In this scenario, I might know that I need blog articles on my site to generate traffic, engage customers and bring me more leads. But my focus would be on running the website and getting people to buy my guitars or whatever I'm selling. I might be good at creating videos or sheet music, but not as strong at writing text. I could go out and find someone to write blog articles for me, so I wouldn't have to worry about coming up with content for my blog. 

In the guitar example, I would pay a ghostwriter to create some articles about guitars. I might provide some direction or even research basic information to give the writer. Or, if I hire a writer with their own expertise in guitars, I could tell them "Take these two guitars and write me a comparison article where you compare guitar A with guitar B." 

That person would do the research and write the article for me, and then I could post it on my blog under my name. The ghostwriter's name is never used because they are compensated for their time on the front end, but the content is owned by me, the customer. That writer makes money and gains professional writing experience. And I'm happy because I didn't have to write, but I got the content I needed for my blog. 

Breaking into Ghost or Content Writing

For me personally, I'm okay as a writer, but I don't love writing. So I have someone else help me with the writing, and there are many business owners who have the same need. 

This is a great industry to get into if you love to write but don't want to use your name publicly. Or maybe you're just starting out and want to practice writing, but you don't have a topic or a website yet. You can become a writer to support someone else’s brand. There are several different ways you can go about doing this.

Reach Out Directly

One, you can start by researching websites of interest, and people you might want to write for. Let's say (as in the example above) that you love music and you're into guitars. You love talking about guitars, and you love writing. But maybe you don't have your own guitar website or your own products, and you're new to the online community, or you don't know where to start. Start by researching websites about guitars, or whatever passion or niche you're interested in. 

Once you’re familiar with the landscape and the writing conventions, you can reach out to the people who run your favorite websites and say, "I'm a writer, and I know a lot about guitars, could I write some articles for you?" You can submit a proposal to write five or ten articles for a certain price, for example. Remember there are people on the other end of these websites, and they may need help. You can reach out to them. Just put it out there and see what happens. 

Marketplace Freelance Sites

Another option is to use a marketplace website to facilitate this interaction for you. For instance, there are sites like Fiverr.com, or Upwork.com, or freelancer.com. These websites allow you to create an account and set up a profile as a writer. You can even specify if you’re a content writer, blog writer, copywriter, ghostwriter, etc.. Then potential clients post jobs or projects, and you (the freelancer) bid on the job by submitting a proposal, resume and/or samples of your work. 

So back to our example of the guitar website. Say I need some articles written but don't know who to hire. But I have heard of a website called freelancer.com. So, I could create a job proposal on Freelancer and I submit something like, "I need five articles written about guitars, and I'm going to pay $200." 

As the content writer or ghostwriter, you would have a profile up on that same website. You might see this job posting for five articles for 200 bucks, and decide to bid on that job. And if I accept your proposal, you become a professional writer. 

What's great about these marketplace websites is that they handle a lot of the transactional things like payment processing. They do take a percentage of the transaction, but it's worth it to be able to go through this platform and start making money right away. 

Contests 

I actually won a design job through a contest website. I mentioned in one of my first installments that there was a guy who was making Blender tutorials (3D animation software). I happened to see him post on Twitter one day that he was hosting a contest for a t-shirt design. I'm kind of a designer by trade, and I thought, I'll try it out and see if I can make a design for him. 

The contest was run on a site called 99designs.com. I signed up and submitted my entry for his t-shirt design contest. And I actually won! It was pretty amazing because I looked up to this guy, and he ended up picking my t-shirt design. Later on, he was selling a product and I got to see that t-shirt in his video. It was pretty cool. 

99designs Contest Winner
99designs Contest Winner

Even though it was a contest, 99designs works the same way as Fiverr, Freelancer or Upwork. He posted a need, and I fulfilled that need through this website. These websites all facilitate you doing the creative work, while they handle the transactions. You can do the same thing as a writer. 

So you can connect with clients on Fiverr, Upwork, or Freelancer... and I'm sure there are other websites geared toward writing, too. If you love to write but don't know where to begin, go check out those sites and try building a profile. You may even find jobs that you can write for today, and start making money immediately. 

I hope this gives you a good sense of content writing and ghostwriting for other people. Again, it's more of a service than a digital product. But as I said in a previous installment, I'm going to talk about a lot of different things in this blog, even beyond the main focus of digital products. 

I hope you’ll check out those resources if you're interested in writing for others--either as a career or as a stepping stone to creating your own digital products to sell.

I hope you’ll check out those resources if you're interested in writing for others--either as a career or as a stepping stone to creating your own digital products to sell.

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