First, think small. That is, think locally. I got started as a ghostwriter because a publisher contacted me and asked me to ghostwrite. That probably won't happen to most of you.
The experts say that most people have about 250 people with whom they network. That includes your family, your friends, business acquaintances, and neighbors. If you have 250 people, each of them probably has connections with at least the same number (or more).
Which leads to my second suggestion: Ask your contacts for help. Let them know what you want to do. Think of it as spreading the word that you're seeking a new job.
Most people in your network won't be able to give you practical help, but there are often sources out there that you don't know about. Sometimes it's a friend who has a friend or someone who has a business associate. I've written several books because of a friend of a friend.
Once you start to produce a good product, people will notice. If you start with profiles, those pieces can lead to bigger opportunities. You don't have to seek only the famous or the notorious.
Look for the unusual—a curious hobby, a weird occupation, or an achievement that makes a person stand out.
The first article, of course, is the most difficult and challenging. Try a profile for a weekly throwaway newspaper, a community-oriented magazine, or an ezine to which you subscribe. Where I live, I receive two free print magazines each month that focus on our county. Both publish personal stories and profiles.
One woman got her start with a monthly, freebie magazine that covered a large district of her state (I don't remember which one). She sought out people who did unusual things, such as a couple in their eighties who still competed in ballroom dancing and a woman who had quilted for more than sixty years. Another time, she wrote about a ten-year-old girl who raised almost two thousand dollars for a family. Their rental home had burned and the owner's insurance didn't cover their furniture.
If I want to be a collaborator
I have to take the initiative and seek markets.