I make around $14,000 a month ghostwriting on Fiverr and work around 5 hours a day. Here’s how I landed gigs and built up a clientele.
- Billy McIntyre uses Fiverr to ghostwrite books, memoirs, and business pitches.
- He joined Fiverr in 2015. In October, he earned $14,000 for his services.
- He said he started out by charging low fees and “saying yes to every job I could find.”
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Billy McIntyre, 32, a ghostwriter from Las Vegas. Insider has verified his earnings and pricing with documentation. It has been edited for length and clarity.
I ghostwrite people’s memoirs, articles, and books. I wrote a memoir for one executive two months ago. He served in the French military and it was like writing an adventure story.
I’ve ghostwritten speeches and written white papers for intelligence contractors. I also offer pitch writing and business-plan writing, from “Shark Tank” to angel-investor pitches. I love my work and helping my clients.
I had a passion for writing from an early age but I didn’t know anything about freelancing
After college, I worked at a life-insurance company writing death-benefit letters. I hated every minute of it.
When I set up a website, I went on Fiverr to get a logo designed for it. I realized you could sell writing there and meet clients for freelance writing.
I saved up $9,000, and in January 2015, I left my insurance job. I took a part-time job in an e-commerce warehouse and created my Fiverr account in March.
One of my first pitch-writing gigs was for an organic-food company. I charged $10. After that, my work started to attract more clients. By November, I had made enough money to leave the warehouse job and focus on Fiverr full time.
In the first 3 years, I charged a much lower rate and said yes to every job I could find
I was charging $0.02 a word in 2015. If someone needed something written, I’d send over some samples and take it from there. Now I charge $0.30 a word.
I focused on delivering top-quality work. It was important to me that the client was happy and got what they needed.
New buyers approached me through Fiverr, so I didn’t have to do much marketing.
I tend to get higher rates for copywriting but I find ghostwriting more creatively fulfilling
I started ghostwriting for clients in 2016, and by 2018, I made it my main gig.
To write 10,000 words for a novel or memoir, I charge around $3,000. For some memoirs, people can spend $30,000. The time investment is more significant because I do interviews and outlines with the client. I can write 1,000 words in an hour and 10,000 words, including interviews and outlines, in 12 to 15 hours.
I’ve got a client who I’ve been working with for years now. He tells me, “You know me as well as I know myself.” I only need to talk to him for 15 minutes to ghostwrite 10,000 words. He trusts me to fill in the blanks.
New clients sometimes want to be a lot more involved. Communication takes up 20% of the time. I take them step-by-step through my thinking so they know what to expect.
I worked with a client who’s been living in a war zone for years. I felt a responsibility to tell his story, but those can be really emotionally draining.
If you are looking to get into ghostwriting, be aware of the material and what you’re going to have to feel to write it. I now turn down most stories that involve trauma.
I’ve been able to meet people from all around the world and from every sector on Fiverr
I always get to learn something new. I’ve never gotten into cryptocurrency, but because so many people needed things written for their cryptocurrency businesses, I’ve learned about it.
Earlier this year, I worked with a British entrepreneur building encryption. He liked my writing, and I got to interview him for three hours and learn from him.
How much work I take on is really variable and a lot of that is my own choice
I’ve had weeks where I’ve said yes to everything. If I do that, I can easily work 70 hours a week.
Last week, I didn’t work more than 10 hours. I went to Disneyland over the weekend with my partner. I can take work anywhere.
I went to the Bahamas in 2019 and I got to spend most of my time on the beach, but I had some client work to keep up with. I went to Antigua in 2018 on my own to explore. But I was able to do some jobs from there, too.
I usually work from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Maybe I’ll come back for an hour or two in the evening if I still have things that I need to finish.
I’ve taken on fewer projects this year, which has been amazing. I’ve also been able to take a lot more time for my own writing projects. I love that I have freelancing jobs to support my own writing. It’s hard to find the time to do that if you’re working a nine-to-five.
I don’t have to put on a suit to go into an office to do my job. If I want to go on vacation, I don’t have to worry about taking days off. Flexibility is freedom for me.
This story was published originally in November 2022.