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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Three Good Ways to Make Money as a Casual Writer...

...because when I first started out I had no idea where to start. I was just googling. Go forth! Read below!

Way 1: Ghost-write an ebook for someone

What: If you're casually writing, and don't have time to market/build an ebook, write someone else's book. You get money, they get the rights. The money can range from $200-$450 for a small, easy book, to several thousand if you're an experienced ghost-writer working on a major project. It's great voice practice (eventually, if you ever write first person POV, you don't want all your characters to sound like you) and you'll learn a ton about whatever topic you're researching. I don't ghost-write fiction, because I think then someone else is stealing all your creativity, which is appalling, but when you ghost-write nonfiction you're essentially helping someone else tell the world something important that you wouldn't otherwise know. So that's cool.

Warning: Whatever you do, do NOT take less than $150 for 50 pages. In the freelancing world there's this huge problem where part-time freelancers will take horrible rates--like a few cents a page--which screws over all the full-time freelancers. Why? We can't make a living earning a $4 an hour or whatever you get for a few cents a page. For you, maybe it's just a fun way to get paid for writing, but for other people you're controlling the Invisible Hand into a stranglehold. Besides, don't you think your work is worth more than a few cents a page? Some people would put the threshold even higher than I've put it here and say don't ever write for less than 3 c a word. For easy projects, and to be realistic--because not all small business owners can afford something like that--I bend that, especially when I'm taking on a project I care about. I helped write this awesome book for about $2 a page, which is about 1/14 what I normally make and a terrible rate, but I'm proud of it because I helped someone--who didn't have a lot of money, or the writing skills to tell his awesome story--say something that makes a difference. That's what ghost-writing is about.

Why is this a warning? If you accept substandard rates on content you don't really believe in, I will send Batman to come strangle you.

Yes, Batman. He owes me one free strangle. I ghost-wrote his best stuff.*

How to get started: Check out sites like odesk.com. I found my best long-term clients through Odesk. Go back and read the warning up above, because there are a frack-ton of people out there buying hard work for nothing. Don't take that crap. Take good rates. Calculate minimum wage, and add and subtract how much a project means to you emotionally, and let that be your guide.

Way 2: Ghost-blog

What: Companies--especially small businesses--need to increase their web presence, and thankfully, google won't let them do that by just spamming keywords onto the internet. With the new google updates (not so new anymore), google looks for good content that people want to read. So what if you've got a small business owner who needs that web presence, but doesn't have time to write a whole buncha good blogs?

That's where I--or you--come in. I love ghost-blogging, because I get to actually use my biomedical engineering and history research experience to, yannow, research. I get about $25 a blog. I don't like taking less than that, because these are pretty darn research-intensive (I do science blogs mostly). Write what you know.

Warning: Voice, voice, voice. Get your voice to match your client. There's a two-way paradigm here. As long as your name doesn't go on it, it's not going to hurt you, so write whatever your client wants. Edit the way your client wants you to. On the other hand, you want to be able to get recommendations in the future, and your writing samples are the best tool you have to get more writing done. So don't write veritable crap.

ALSO, "Fight for the Users" (#tronreference) and don't put out misinformation. People out there will trust you. You want them to trust you. You don't want your client to promote lies, and you don't want your client to look stupid. You want to write with love. Seriously. So keep that in mind--"how will this thing I'm writing benefit my client and my reader"--and don't write crap.

Anything that has your name on it? Don't sacrifice a bit of quality. That's no longer ghost-blogging. Don't let them make you write lifeless stuff, either, or stuff you don't believe in.

How to get started: Scripted.com. I've been "scripting" since 2011 and I really love it. However, scripted is starting to get so many writers now it's hard to find jobs. So it's great for casual money-making. You can find some ghost-blogging jobs on Odesk, too.

Way 3: Write to an online magazine.

What: This is straight-up normal writing. No ghosting, nothing super-fancy or secretive. Usually 3c a word. Check out this awesome list of markets.

Warning: Sometimes it's better not to write the article until after you've gotten the "okay" with the pitch. Check individual market guidelines so you can tailor your tone for a particular magazine.

How to get started: I gave you a link up there. Were you paying any attention?

^_^ Alright casual writers, go make money. I remember when I first started I had NO IDEA where to start, so I think this should help you a lot!

*Batman is not real^

^(Yes, he is.)

1 comment:

  1. By the way, if you're ever looking for more writing tips, or have questions about casual freelancing, feel free to comment or click on the "writing tips" label up there!