Writers@Work: Web Writing
Most writers dream of building a business that both pays the bills and rocks their world. Niki Robinson of Robinson Writers has done just that. I met Niki Robinson two years ago at WriteCamp Milwaukee. When Niki told me about her new venture, ghostwriting for blogs—I knew it would be an amazing success. And it is. But don’t take my word for it. Read on to learn how Niki Robinson built her business ghostwriting blog posts and website content for businesses…and how you can do it, too.
Writers@Work: Web Writing
by Niki Robinson
After exiting college with a BA in both English and Comparative Literature several years ago, I knew one thing: I wanted to be a writer. One tiny problem: I had exactly NO idea what that meant. So, like many other slightly lost Liberal Arts grads, I took a position in the business world. After a few years, I began exploring the world of writing on the side, after it became apparent that the reality of being a cubical-contained creative isn’t quite as charming as all the alliteration.
And So It Begins.
I tried it all. From the local free press to larger magazines, I wrote tiny food blurbs, interviews and feature articles. I wrote instruction manuals, resumes, brochures and website copy. I wrote for CEOs and for clowns (literally; I once wrote copy for a circus promotion.) As I gained recognition, I finally started to make a bit of money.
Eventually, I began looking for ways to write for more money, and consistently. As a jack-of-all-trades-type who refused to specialize, it seemed the big fish weren’t taking the bait. However, I now had writing samples on or in nearly every possible medium, on a variety of topics, in all different writing styles—and that definitely worked to my advantage in the long run.
After consulting with a few mentors (who I am eternally grateful for), I finally had quite the epiphany and Posts by Ghost™ was born! It was the only time in my life I actually burst out “A-HA!” …which I do not recommend, seeing as yelling at no one in particular in a crowded place is typically frowned upon. However, I do recommend epiphanies, as they prevent brain explosions caused by obsessive thinking.
Yes, I was eventually able to quit cubedom, but not before moonlighting on the side for 2+ years. And believe me, freelancing is a ton of work, too – but it’s not always ‘work’ when you love what you do!
Posts by Ghost™ began as an offshoot of Robinson Writers, and is now the majority of my paying work as a working writer. My elevator speech: “I ghostwrite tailored blog and website content for busy professionals to improve search engine ranking of company websites through natural SEO, and to ensure businesses better connect with their target audience via this and other customized content marketing.” (Milwaukee doesn’t have a lot of super-tall buildings, so it has to be one ridiculously long sentence, which is yet another reason I prefer to take the stairs.)
A talented writer is nothing without a workable market niche. Through Posts By Ghost™, I’m able to apply my natural attraction to life-long learning in the profitable and limitless environment of web writing. SEO stands for search engine optimization. Essentially, SEO is the practice of putting the right, regularly updated words and content on your website, so your site shows up as close to the top of the page as possible when someone googles you, bings you, or otherwise verbifies you and/or the products or services your company provides.
And there’s really good news for web writers right now: Google algorithms are getting smarter and smarter, plus, content marketing is all the rage. This is one of the best ways to make money writing right now, assuming you’re an adaptable writer and you actually enjoy this type of writing. Typically my rates run upwards of $50/hour. While you do have to work up to a certain level of experience, NEVER sell yourself short!
Tips and Tricks
To find this type of writing work, my number one tip is network, network, network. Find local business networking groups in your area, or connect with people on LinkedIn. Potential clients who value real, engaging content want a real, engaging person. If you’re only comfortable writing about a limited list of topics, by all means, focus on networking with industry leaders operating in your area(s) of expertise: it’s your launch pad. Please do yourself a favor and avoid bidding-type sites for freelancers. Often, content farmers, offering minimal pay, post the “jobs” on these sites. (I’m talking $5 for 1,000 words. Ridiculous.) In the end, you’re left with very little ROI. Don’t waste your time.
To get started as a freelancer, there are a bunch of excellent sites with loads of answers and advice from other freelancers, including freelance writers. My favorites: Freelance Folder, Freelancedom, and Make a Living Writing.
Steel-crafted will is a required job skill for the freelancing world, because, like any writer, you will also experience rejection. But more than anything, you need a lot of energy and enthusiasm for what you do—I do believe that’s the key to real success, no matter your profession.
About the Author: Niki Robinson is a wild word wrangler, urban explorer, and overall nerd working in Milwaukee, WI. As owner of Robinson Writers, she most enjoys the privilege of connecting with so many interesting people and the challenge of writing their unique voices, ideas and experiences. She is also Co-Founder and Director of Operations of the only free writers conference in the Midwest, WriteCamp Milwaukee. You can connect with Niki at www.robinsonwriters.com or www.writecampmilwaukee.com.
Niki-thanks so much for sharing your story! It’s so inspiring to others like myself that are trying to start a freelance writing business. We have several things in common: from majoring in English to focusing on a similar set of services for our businesses. I look at your success and am motivated by what you’ve done. Girl power! I had a few questions, if you have time and don’t mind answering them. How did you decide to incorporate ghostwriting into your services and what is the difference between it and copywriting and how difficult is it to create website content that improves SEO, for companies? Are clients normally particular about the content you create for them?
Thanks again so much for sharing!
Thank YOU, Alicia!
I’m so glad I was able to share some positivity, motivation and inspiration. I’ve received a lot of excellent feedback, questions and comments from you and many other writers and business people. (So thank you again, Rochelle!)
In short, I decided to incorporate ghostwriting into my services because A.) there’s a market for it, and B.) I have a knack for it. Ghostwriting is writing for someone else, in their voice, with their name on it. Copywriting is writing to sell a product or service (via advertising/marketing). Yes, these two areas can overlap, as it depends upon the client and their company/print/website/etc objectives.
It seems you have more questions than I have time to answer at this particular moment! However, I would like to continue this conversation, so when you get a chance, please email me at niki [at] robinsonwriters [dotcom]. (Same goes for anyone else reading this comment. I’d like to hear from you, too!)
Hi Sounds like you are doing good.(mother sent this). Nice to see someone doing something with there life. I wonder if you would have a little time to do something for me. It has to do with renting the cabins. Seeing I was dumb and giving everything away
the rent of the cabins help more than you know!
Maybe there is nothing you can do, but I would like to know. Will tell you if you call.
Good luck sounds like you should be successful Love Grandpa Fisher (not sure I need the Fisher cause I be the only one I think!)
Thank you, Grandpa.
I’ll give you a call soon!
Awesome Job Niki.