Q&A with Ghostwriter & Entrepreneur Liz Green
Liz Green is a ghostwriter who helps online entrepreneurs write books that build their businesses. A Post Graduate Degree in Journalism and a decade of working in news, PR, marketing and events taught her to find the nuggets in other people's knowledge and turn them into transformative stories. Find out more at greengooseghostwriting.com.
Can you tell our readers about your background?
Through years of ghostwriting blogs, I learned to listen and look deep and to emulate my bloggers' voices.
As I started working with authors and editors, I found joy in helping them express their ideas and experience in a way that truly felt "like them.” Now, as a ghostwriter, I help online entrepreneurs write books that build their businesses.
What inspired you to start your business?
I never wanted to be an entrepreneur. But four years ago, when I was working in an office for an international hotel chain, I developed a chronic pain condition. Soon, the doctors' appointments and treatments and bad days made me too unreliable to stay in my job. I went on sick leave.
But I was so depressed when I wasn’t working. I needed a job that I could fit around hospital treatments and do in bed when I was having a bad day. Plus, I needed to pay the bills.
So I started my business out of financial, mental, and physical necessity. Now my health is much better, but I wouldn’t go back to being someone else’s dogsbody.
Where is your business based?
I work out of my home office in the small ski town of Kimberley, BC, Canada. Really, though, my business is based online. Most of my clients are in the States, though I’ve also talked to people from the UK, Australia, Taiwan, Malaysia, Dubai, and the Netherlands.
How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?
I started by reaching out to existing contacts and asking if I could write (for free) for them. A former boss of mine eschewed my offer of one free blog post and instead asked to pay me to ghostwrite her blog on an ongoing basis. She then recommended me to a friend of hers, who became my second paying client. I didn’t even have a website then.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?
Being active in Facebook groups has raised the most awareness for my business.
What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?
I have an eight-month-old son, so managing my time has been hugely challenging. Although Canada offers up to 18 months of maternity leave, I’m self-employed and choose not to participate in that program. That meant I returned to work when he was just three months old.
When I called around childcare providers in my small town, I was laughed at on the phone. They couldn’t believe I’d waited until after my son was born to try and get a place in daycare. Apparently, most daycares here have a two-year wait list.
Eventually, we figured out a mashed-up schedule with a part-time nanny, my husband taking one day off a week (he’s also self-employed), a baby-swap with another mom, and occasional help from my parents-in-law.
It’s not perfect, but the situation began to make sense when I realized it didn’t have to be an all-or-nothing solution; we could combine several tactics to free up enough hours for me to make progress at work.
How do you stay focused?
I struggle with this. I see shiny objects everywhere that I’m sure are “the new greatest thing” for me to focus on, and I want to abandon everything else and dive into them. But I try to stay the course and keep on keeping on. I often work with self-induced bribes (“Oh, you want to work on that fun project? You’re only allowed to when you’ve finished this boring task!”).
How do you differentiate your business from the competition?
I focus on working with entrepreneurs who have a very clear goal for their book: They want it to build their business. I’m an entrepreneur myself so I know this world and mindset, and the challenges and thrills of it. And when you’re working on something as intimate as a book, you need to work with a partner who understands you.
What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?
Networking on Facebook has given me the most leads, and the majority of my website traffic comes from Facebook.
I don’t post much on my own page, but I’ve found Facebook groups where my target audience (successful online entrepreneurs) hang out. I hang out with them and try to be of service. I answer questions (but only if I have something relevant and encouraging to say), start conversations that I’m genuinely interested in, and just generally enjoy the online party.
What's your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?
There’s a lot of information out there and, if you’re driven and determined, you might be tempted (like me) to try to absorb it all. That’s a mistake. The urge to learn is brilliant, but it’s easy to spiral down the research rabbit hole and not leave yourself enough time or mental capacity to actually enact all the advice you’re reading about.
Instead, find just one or two business mentors, bloggers, or coaches whose stories resonate with you. Follow their guidance and filter out everything else.
What's your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?
I use the Focus Booster app to track my time for all my work tasks. That’s the only way I can figure out if I’m charging a fair amount for client work, or if the return on the time I invest in marketing projects is worth it.
Here are some of my favorite business books:
- Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. It's skewed toward women in the corporate environment, but still incredibly helpful for work-driven women in all environments.
- Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t by Steven Pressfield. This book tells hard truths that apply to every piece of writing you do for your business and helps you develop empathy for your reader or customer.
- Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin. This isn’t strictly a business book (it’s about developing habits) but its lessons are essential to running your own business well. When you’re self-employed, without a boss looking over your shoulder, you need good habits in place to be successful. This book helped me understand why I’ve struggled with habits my whole life. It continues to be a challenge, but it’s one I’m working on.
What's your favorite business tool or resource? Why?
I use Asana for task management (the free plan offers all I need). It’s simple and allows you to make long-term and daily to-do lists.
Evernote is my favorite app for on-the-fly note taking. There are other tools I use for more substantial writing (see below), but Evernote is uncomplicated and the easiest to use for simple lists and notes. Just like Asana, I use the free version.
I use Scrivener for writing book projects. Once you start writing anything of length, Mac’s Pages, Google Docs, and MS Word become too unwieldy. They’re not designed for multi-thousand-word documents. Scrivener is a paid program (though still quite cheap) and has a steep learning curve so I only recommend it to those who want to write a full-length book. But if that's you, you will never go back after using Scrivener! Being able to organize my ideas in it has improved my writing productivity hugely.
Who is your business role model? Why?
I’m a big fan of Jenny Shih. She’s a business coach for online, service-based entrepreneurs. I haven’t taken her paid programs (yet) but I love her ethos. Like me, she’s struggled with a chronic illness. Her story gave me hope that I could still have a career even when my poor health meant I didn’t fit into the corporate mold anymore. She preaches that you can have success without sacrificing your health, family, or sanity.
What do you have planned for the next six months?
I’ll be continuing to work one-on-one with clients, further honing my process. I haven’t planned any big shifts or glamorous gimmicks. The next six months will see me grafting away, putting one foot in front of the other, and making consistent progress.
How can our readers connect with you?