They said not to blog.
Writing a book is a waste of time.
They said not to make music.
The odds of becoming a successful musician are less than getting hit by lightning.
They said not to podcast.
They said, “forget about becoming a YouTube star.”
They told you not to build a business.
Throw away your hollow dreams of passive and recurring revenue. Pat Flynn and James Schramko have no idea what they’re talking about, and they are the very purveyors of snake oil.
Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Workweek is a sham. Even Ferriss clearly works more than four hours per week.
Give up. You’re not special. There’s no way you can make it.
“If I couldn’t do it, there’s no way you could.”
That’s what my friends were saying behind my back. Only a few short years ago.
In 2005 and 2006, I recorded and launched my first solo album, Shipwrecked… My Sentiments.
In 2007, I started blogging. One post helped me generate upwards of 800 visits per day.
In 2008, I formed a band called Angels Breaking Silence. It didn’t last more than a year and a half, but at our peak, we were touring churches, skateparks, festivals, universities, and more.
In 2009, I started podcasting. I’ve gotten as many as 3,000+ downloads in a month.
I also started making YouTube videos the same year. My little video on Sim City has gotten more than 89,600 views to date.
In 2011, I created, produced, and performed Back on Solid Ground for 11 consecutive days at the Calgary Fringe Festival.
In 2012, I briefly become the co-host of Inside Home Recording, a popular home music producer podcast.
I also started blogging professionally, and contributed to multiple music releases as a guitarist, producer, and engineer.
In 2013, I started working for Ghost Blog Writers, ghostwriting for a variety of individuals and companies, including Entrepreneur and HuffPost contributors.
In 2014, I launched my first audio course, How to Set Up Your Music Career Like a Business.
In 2015, I launched my first book, The New Music Industry.
I also became a staff writer for Music Industry How To the same year.
In 2016, I started working entirely from home. I was no longer tied to a physical workspace.
I also launched multiple singles the same year.
In 2017, I helped a local jazz artist crowdfund $15,000+ for an album.
In 2018, 2019, and 2020, I launched several more books.
And that’s just scratching the surface. There are so many other accomplishments. So many other stories to tell. So many funny, weird, and memorable experiences. So many highs and lows.
It’s been at least 16 years since I started down the path of building my life around my creativity and passions.
It’s been 16 years and I’m still going.
What were you told not to do? What did others discourage you from trying? Who didn’t demonstrate any belief in your big dreams?
Maybe you were meant to go and do those things after all.
For more inspiration, be sure to sign up for my email list.
In the last week, I’ve had a couple of people ask me how they can get into ghostwriting.
I’ve shared a great deal about this in the past, but strategy and best practices have changed a little, so I figured it was high-time I offered a refreshed perspective on the work that has been a mainstay for me in the last seven years or so.
Here’s how to get into ghostwriting.
Publish on Medium
In the past, my advice would have been to start a blog. And while this is still sound advice, you’re bound to get more attention for your work on Medium.
You can get 30 views per day on your content on Medium almost instantaneously. If you erected a blog and published daily starting today, it could be months before you start to see 30 views per day, and it could even take over a year. The advantages of Medium, therefore, should be obvious.
Think of Medium as your portfolio. Publish your best work two to three times per week. Write on the topics you ultimately wish to be writing about.
This doesn’t mean you won’t get connected to work and topics you don’t know much about, and it doesn’t mean you won’t take on such work either. A ghostwriter has to get paid.
But your love for the craft of writing, editing, and research should be obvious in your work. Because prospects need to be able to see that you can do something they cannot, or at the very least, that you love the practice of writing great content more than they do.
Remember that writing great content is the baseline requirement to be at the table. And if you’re just getting started, sorry to say, you’re not great. Which is why you need to cut your teeth on Medium. The readers are discerning, and the stats are harsh. It will take a long time to see any traction. Can you endure this? If not, you are not made for ghostwriting.
One more pro tip: Be sure to back up all your work to your hard drive. If Medium closes its doors one day, or if another more attractive platform comes along, you don’t want to lose any of your content and not be able to take it with you.
But rest assured you’re picking the right platform with Medium. Many top shelf writers agree – it’s the best opportunity available to bloggers right now.
Get Connected with Ghost Blog Writers
In 2012, I began working as an online marketer with a music industry startup, and a couple of my key responsibilities were blogging and social media. Make sense, since they tend to go hand in hand.
I made a lot of great connections in the music industry during that time, because I was proactive about commenting on people’s content.
Amid that, I got connected to the owner of Ghost Blog Writers, Dayne Shuda, through a mutual friend, Corey Koehler.
I didn’t think much of it at the time. But I continued to see Dayne’s daily updates on LinkedIn.
In summer 2013, the startup I was working for put the brakes on our marketing efforts, as we were having some issues with software development. So, my role was effectively put on hold.
That’s when I reached out to Dayne. And I ended up working with Ghost Blog Writers for the next six years.
Now, there are a few things you should know:
- Now that you know about Ghost Blog Writers, recognize that you’re probably not going to be the only one applying to work with them. Competition is a given.
- Ghost Blog Writers may start you off on a couple of easy assignments that don’t pay much. If you give up too early, you won’t be trusted with more lucrative work.
- If you don’t exercise the same determination I talked about with publishing on Medium, you will not succeed with Ghost Blog Writers or any other companies you choose to work with.
If nothing else, Dayne is a great guy and he can point you in the right direction, even if it’s just to one of the hundreds or thousands of blog posts he’s written.
Keep an Eye on the Pro Blogger Job Board
Darren Rowse of Pro Blogger was an early innovator in the world of blogging. He had – and still has – a lot of great ideas, and the Pro Blogger Job Board is one of them.
On the Job Board, you will find people looking for writers to work on their projects.
When you’re just getting started, you’re probably not going to be bum rushed with requests, so it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on job postings.
You may or may not find work this way, and I’m not suggesting you count on the Job Board to bring the bacon home. Because it may not.
That said, it’s still a good idea to make it a part of your daily rounds.
Offer Your Services on Upwork
Create an Upwork profile today. It can take a while to supply all the information requested and test your aptitudes, but the effort you put into this will ultimately pay off.
There is a near endless stream of work on Upwork. Not all of it is great. Not all of it pays a whole lot of money. But as a stop gap, it can come in incredibly handy.
Don’t wait around for someone to send work your way. Look at the types of jobs employers are posting and gather as much information as you can. You may be able to track down some missed or unfulfilled opportunities this way. You may be able to create your own!
Once you’re set up, as with the Pro Blogger Job Board, you can simply make Upwork a part of your daily rounds and pick and choose which work you’d like to take on.
Reach Out to Businesses That Don’t Have a Blog
This, in effect, is how I started blogging with the music industry startup mentioned earlier. I have told this story elsewhere, and there’s a little more to it than that (I also invested a sizable amount of money into the business), but suffice it to say, the right pitch will get you hired every time.
If a business does not have a blog, it’s usually for one of three reasons:
- They don’t know what the benefits of blogging are. They don’t know that they can rank for keywords, drive more traffic to their website, generate more leads, and encourage more sales from the simple act of blogging.
- They don’t have the time or money to blog.
- They don’t care about blogging as other advertising and marketing channels are doing just fine for them.
All three types of businesses are potential customers. It mostly comes down to the pitch and how you frame the value of blogging to them.
If you’re dealing with customer #1, you simply elaborate on the benefits of keywords, SEO, content marketing (throw a few buzzwords around) and show them examples of companies that already have blogs and are publishing regularly.
With customer #2, you just need to show them why they can’t afford not to blog, and volunteer to take on the work for them. Do it on the cheap or pro bono (more on this in a moment).
And with customer #3, you need to show them how you can complement their existing marketing channels with blogging. Give them examples of how you can tie in content with their ads.
Now, as a complete beginner, see if you can negotiate a small fee or work pro bono for a company that doesn’t have a blog. You need to polish your skills anyway, and the added pressure of being “under the gun” can help you refine in a hurry.
Sure, some will tell you “no,” but rejection exists in every freelancing or entrepreneurial endeavor. It’s par for the course. If you don’t love writing, and don’t want to keep pursuing it, you will give up. It’s as simple as that.
Get established, work hard, keep your deadlines, read lots, and keep improving. Keep your working relationships private. If you do, making a couple grand a month at ghostwriting will prove relatively easy.
In due course, you may be able to earn five-figures per month. But it’s a rare writer who does.
As a ghostwriter, you will rarely get credit for any of your work, and that is a bit of a downside, but it’s not impossible to begin building your own following as you are serving your clients, just as I’ve done.
Are you a writer? What has your experience of ghostwriting been like?
Let me know in the comments.
Shh… Don’t tell anyone. Only the cool kids are talking about it.
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