If you don't mind not getting credit, ghost writing can be an extremely lucrative career. Most celebrity autobiographies are ghostwritten for example. Many companies and even individuals have the need and/or desire to publish, but not necessarily the skills required to write a best seller or winning piece of copy.
Ghost writers typically charge "per page" and can make upwards of $20 - 40 per manuscript page! Of course these are typically your more established writers. One challenge with breaking into ghostwriting is that you can't show off your work. Ghostwriting means one time compensation and no credit. You are writing "as" the other person.
Most people associate ghostwriting with book manuscripts, but that isn't the only place where this skill is used. Ghostwriters produce everything from movie scripts to song lyrics and even greeting cards. Another great example is ebooks. Many people want to sell ebooks as a part of their marketing and branding strategy, but they don't have the writing skills to organize and effectively write a book. You can take their notes, recordings, etc. and create tutorials or ebooks they will use on their websites to market to customers.
Many of the freelancing sites will post calls for ghostwriters so they are a good place to maybe get your feet wet. Once you have published clips in magazines or blogs, your own ebooks etc. you will find that ghostwriting jobs become easier to land. Once you are an established and credible writer you can offer ghostwriting services on your own website and market that skill in addition to any other writing you may do.
Another idea is to write articles that you sell "full rights" to. These articles typically sell for a lot more money than "usage rights" or "exclusive rights". Full rights means just that - you give up all claim to the article and cannot use it again in the future, use it in your portfolio etc. If you look at our section on content writing you will see there are places to sell "full rights" to articles. Constant Content for example. You write the article, a summary, name your price and place it for sale. To make good money doing this, you need to have an awareness of what topics are currently hot and being sought after. Keyword research is your friend when it comes to ghostwriting for the web.
Need more incentive? The average salary for a ghostwriter according to simplyhired.com is $67,000 annually - hardly a "starving artists" wage. Ghostwriting does have its drawbacks. If you are someone who is new to writing, you'll need to spend a considerable amount of time developing your own clips to have solid samples to show prospective clients. You will also need diverse writing skills - being the "voice" of another person is not an easy task. Once you have a variety of clips that demonstrate your writing diversity however, you may find ghostwriting to be the ideal career path for you. It can also challenge you and prevent boredom by taking on different writing styles and assignments.
Copywriting is often a form of ghostwriting, so learn as much as you can in this area and develop your copywriting skills if you want to become a ghostwriter. Ghostwriters are held to extremely high standards. They have to be able to sell themselves and also the person/company they are writing for. This means the ability to write compelling, engaging copy that influences others.