This isn't anything new. It's been going on ever since I first started writing for a living - and it was going on long before that, I'm sure.
It's frustrating when you are first starting out and you are trying to build a client base, especially if it seems like you are competing against people that will write for a dollar an article.
But, in reality, you don't have to compete with those people.
Here are a few ways that you can get paid what you're worth.
(This is assuming that you truly can write well. Not the best writer that ever lived, but you can at least express yourself well with words.)
1. Decide on the hourly rate you want to earn and then charge appropriately. When I first started out, I picked a very reasonable hourly wage - but very good for my area - then calculated how long it would take me to write articles, and then I charged appropriately.
Once you decide what this hourly wage/charge per word/charge per article is, don't go below it.
I know that is very difficult advice to follow when you have bills to pay and they are looming over your head - but trust me when I say that if you go below the wage you have set for yourself, you will regret it. You lose your positioning for one thing. You also will be frustrated because you compromised your standards.
There'll always be people who will want to lowball your rates. I'm not saying don't ever give a discount - I give discounts for several reasons (referrals, Warriors, non-profits, etc) - but I don't go below a certain point (and that point is different for me than it would be for you or for other people).
2. Go offline. Bricks and mortar businesses, print publications, etc., all pay more, generally speaking, than writing for online businesses. There are exceptions to every rule, of course, but this is a general rule of thumb.
The question I know you have is, "How do I find these people for clients?"
The answer is very simple - successful writers are not just writers, they are also marketers.
You have to get the word out about what you do and how you can help businesses. You have to submit your work to print publications. You have to let people know what you do for a living. You need to network. Get on Facebook. Get on Twitter. Get on LinkedIn. Don't just sit in your house and think people are going to flock to you - they won't.
3. Specialize in the higher paying markets. This is different from number two. What I mean by this is to specialize in the types of writing that pay you a higher price per word.
Do I write articles? Yes, I do. But I specialize in press releases, reports, and e-books. I have also started to take on clients for copywriting.
These are all types of writing that the $1-for-a-500-word-article writers cannot compete with. People might take the kind of fodder that a dollar for 500 words will get you and throw it up on a website or blog. Heck, you might even be able to find a few halfway decent articles for a dollar each.
But press releases, reports, e-books and copywriting are simply not something that you would hire out to someone for a dollar for 500 words. Period.
4. Have samples of your work available. This can be one of the hardest things for ghostwriters, IMHO. Why? Because there are many clients that do not want to reveal the fact that they use a ghostwriter. You can't say, "I write for Mr. John Q. Client." (Nothing wrong with that, by the way. Just saying.)
Plus, when you're first starting out, you don't have any clients.
You need to have a website that you can direct potential clients to. I also have numerous blogs. In fact, I got my first paid writing job by showing my client my blogs. I was also very upfront and said that I'd never written for a living, but that I did have experience writing. (I think I sent a link to three different blogs that I had.)
5. Ask for help. I am a huge believer in asking questions. Anyone that remembers when I first came to this forum knows how many questions I asked.
And I got very helpful answers. I am forever grateful to the people that helped me when I first came to this forum. This forum changed my life. Forever. Completely.
Just remember to ask specific questions and to ask for clarification if there's something that you don't understand. Don't ask very general questions. Don't argue with people when they give you advice.
That's all I can think of for now. I'd love to hear from some of the other writers on the forum and have them give some advice.
For the newbies - feel free to ask questions or to share your own experiences.