October 4, 2022
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12
min

Spotlight: how to become a web3 ghostwriter

Kenji talks about the best way to become a web3 ghostwriter after getting many request to cover this topic in his DM’s

About the Thirdwork Writers Spotlight

Our 'Thirdwork Writers Spotlight' is a guest post series that allows us to feature content by talented writers, builders and contributors from across web3. If you're interested in contributing, email us at founder@thirdwork.xyz or shoot us a DM.

The Written Word

The written word is the primary method of information transfer in Web3. Crypto projects rely on Whitepapers, Medium Articles, Twitter threads, Telegram and Discord groups to find users, push their message and prove to the universe that their protocol is the next lord and savior of DeFi. Outside of actual coding, writing is the most in demand skill in crypto, bar-none. 

Why is this?

Crypto gives everyone the opportunity to run their own economic experiments. There’s endless experimentation - which gives rise to an equally endless demand for good crypto explainers.

Here’s the irony: my Twitter inbox is full of aspiring crypto writers asking me how to find paid work in the space.

If there’s a supply of crypto writers, and a demand for crypto writers - where does this disconnect come from?

Ghostwriter vs Technical Writer

Let’s get some terminology out of the way first. There’s levels to this game:

Technical Writer 

  • Freelance writer that gets paid on a per-piece basis.
  • Scope of work: medium articles and whitepapers for projects.
  • Requirements: intermediate to advanced DeFi knowledge.
  • Budget per medium article: $50 - $1,000

Ghostwriter 

  • Writes all the written content on behalf of a project (tweets, threads, Medium articles)
  • Paid on a per-month basis
  • Monthly Retainer Fee: $1,000 - $4,000 per month
  • If you’re an absolute machine with your systems, you can ghostwrite for up to 3 projects at once.

Agency

  • Manages a bunch of ghostwriters for written content
  • Instead of writing, agencies add branding, strategy, project partnerships, influencer connections, deal flow to the mix for crypto projects
  • Paid on a per-month basis
  • Monthly Retainer Fee: $6,000 - $10,000 per month
  • Agencies can manage many more clients than ghostwriters can
  • Running an agency requires many more business skills than being a technical writer or ghost writer does

The prices ranges above come from either (i) what I’ve been paid (ii) what I’ve been offered (iii) what a friend has been paid or offered. These are ranges, and exceptions always exist. If you can be a ghostwriter with a monthly retainer, that’s the option you should choose. The monthly income is extremely helpful to have - and you can always stack more freelance work on top of that. So how do you start working as any of the above?

You build credibility. The two vehicles with the highest ROI for these are Twitter Threads and Medium Articles. Before discussing those, you need to be aware of an important distinction:

Explainers vs Technicians

There are two broad categories all crypto writers fall into: they’re either explainers or technicians. Very rarely is someone both.

Explainers might not have the best DeFi knowledge, but they write in a way that everyone can understand. Simple language. Easy words. No complex equations. There’s some story, a bit of humor, and a helluva lot of writing voice. Explainers love using analogies and their writing appeals to beginners. They’re often called good writers. They tend to have a copywriting or writing background. 

Technicians prioritizing writing-efficiency above all else, so they’ll often skip intros and get straight into data. They’ll do a one-linear to explain what Liquidity Pools do, then hit you straight with the x*y = k, followed by an explanation of slippage in numerical terms. They’re numbers people. Technicians are often considered thought-leaders and their writing appeals to advanced DeFi users. They tend to be traders, data-scientists, devs or big brain math guys. In terms of actual examples:

Why is this important for finding work?

If you write like an explainer, you’ll get more writing offers. If you write like a technician, you’ll get more consulting offers. Everyone has a natural thinking style, but it’s possible to learn to write like either.

Which one should you choose?

If you want to get writing work, be an explainer. Why? Because most project devs already write and think like technicians. A lot of them need someone to simplify the way they naturally write. This was certainly the case for me - a lot of my job offers came from my ability to explain something simply, and this is exactly what crypto projects need their writers to do.

DeFi is complex enough already. And it gets increasingly more complex as time goes by. Your job as a Web3 writer is to bridge that comprehension gap using all the tools at your disposal: pacing, humor, simplification, emotion, thread hooks, taglines, memes, brevity, analogy, data. 

On the other hand, a whole new job advancement skill tree opens up if you write (and think) like a technician, such as consultations and designing tokenomics. But that’s beyond the scope of this article.

Great, so how do you actually find writing work?

Getting Work: Twitter vs Medium

Twitter is a non-negotiable. If you start a Medium or blog without building an audience first, no one will know where to find your work. You’d be writing your heart out into the indifferent void that is cyberspace. On the other hand, Twitter already has people that are interested in whatever it is you want to write. On top of this, crypto is “Layer 0” for Crypto. Developments in crypto always happen on Twitter first.

Here are 2 ways you can use this to get clients:

(i) Write good threads and get projects to DM you 

(ii) Write good medium articles and DM projects. 

In other words, there are inbound and outbound approaches to finding writing work on Twitter. Let’s break them down.

Twitter Threads: Your Client Magnets

There’s nothing that grows a Twitter account better than writing good threads - provided you want decent engagement. Much has been written about threads but here are 5 tips that gave me the most ROI.

  1. Keep your threads short (10-15 tweets)
  2. Bullet points or single lines for easy reading. No blocks of text.
  3. The first tweet is the most important. Spell the benefits out. This is called the hook.

Use Hook Structures from @NicolasCole:

Here's a ton of value for minimal time:
“It took me 8 months and $50,000 worth of losses to learn this. Here are 10 DeFi tips that will $50,000+ in the next bull market.

Here's a ton of value for minimal cost:
“I paid over $15,000 in crypto mentorships. Here are the 10 most useful things I learned, for free (+ examples)”

Here's how to solve your problem without much effort:
“Are you constantly getting liquidated despite having alpha?
Here are 3 metrics to stop that from happening.
Learn to be the liquidator in 5 mins or less”

Here's how to unlock this desirable outcome, instantly:
“Everything you need to do to position yourself for the ETH Merge
In 5 mins or less”

Bad Hooks:
“Why the ETH Merge is bullish”

“Why FRAX is the best stablecoin”

  1. Use Typefully for Thread Templates. Thank you to @wallenby1 for this idea. Saves a bunch of time and makes threads 10x easier.
  1. Use Tweethunter to pre-batch schedule daily tweets. Treat daily tweets like threads. Spend an hour or two writing them a couple of times a week, but line them up many days in advance. Once I started doing this, the DMs started piling up.

If you use these 5 steps and your writing is tight, projects will DM you. 

Medium Articles Made Easy

Medium articles make up your “serious” portfolio. Like writing tweets, there is also a way to cheese them. It’s called the “Prep the Page” method by @NicolasCole77

It’s simple. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Start with a bunch of big ideas for the article (the order doesn’t matter)
  2. Whenever you think of something related to that idea, put it in a bulletpoint under that idea
  3. Do this whenever something comes to mind
  4. In 1-2 days, you have a complete article structure
  5. Re-order ideas 
  6. Fill in the blanks

This is how part of my idea archipelago looked for this article. I use Notion, but you can use any software.

Not everything makes it into the final article with this method. That’s ok. 

Medium articles can be repurposed into Twitter threads. The inverse is not always true. Medium articles take longer to write, but are a 2-for-1 ROI when it comes to creating new material.

What do you write about?

The wrong answer: Write about everything!

The right answer: it depends on your Twitter account size. My best takeaway from @aaditsch and @brandonzhang’s Maker’s Mark course was to write according to your following count. The smaller you are, the more specific your niche has to be.

  • < 500 followers - write about wine from a specific village in france
  • < 1,000 followers - write about wine from a region in france
  • < 5,000 followers - write about wine in france
  • < 10,000 followers - write about wine
  • > 20,000 followers - anything you write will get some level of engagement

Applied to crypto:

  • < 500 followers - deep dive into small caps/ specific projects/ small DeFi niches (nodes, perpetual exchanges, rebase DAOs, Autostakers)
  • < 1,000 followers - write about ecosystems/ focus on a few key metrics
  • < 5,000 followers - write about larger caps/ catalysts/ bigger crypto niches (GameFi, DEXs, L1s)
  • < 10,000 followers - write tokenomic guides, catalysts or about DeFi as a whole
  • > 20,000 followers - anything you write will get some level of engagement

I have no idea why the Twitter algorithm works this way, but it does. I currently have a little under 8,000 twitter followers. For the life of me, no one cares if I write anything about NFTs. I never get traction for these. Tailor your content to your current Twitter size. Keep writing, and you’ll get offers.

To Conclude

All of the above sets you up for building a great foundation for finding writing work in Web3. Do all of the above and writing work will find you.

 In the next article, we’ll talk about what to actually do once you’ve found the job: your offer, your metrics, your software and how to actually do your writing job well. That’s the easy part. Once you’ve worked with one project, you are good enough to work with other projects. This first part will get you over that first hurdle. Get writing anon!

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Kenji is a web3 writer that focuses on simplifying DeFi for non-technical Investors

https://twitter.com/VirtualKenji

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