The idea of being able to command your time and pay is just awesome…
And it’s not because you like the idea. You actually want to live it.
Freelancing seems to be the way to make your dreams come true. So day in, day out you pull up your chair to your computer and get to work.
You don’t mind working round the clock. After all, as Confucius said,
“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life,”
So you continue the hustle.
Though you don’t have lots of clients, you try to keep the small number you have happy. And when they pay you, you’re happy.
Then it happens…
First your biggest client tells you he wants to take a break on the project. And then, the others start to reduce the work they give you, till they send you the “I’ll get back to you” email.
The famine phase hits you hard!
You’ve probably heard of the inevitable feast-or-famine cycle for freelancers before, but pushed it to the back of your brain as an afterthought.
Now you can let this scare the hell out of you, or you can change your perspective and make it work in your favour instead. The last thing you want to do is fret, because the depression alone is sickening.
In those periods when you can’t work, due to life getting in the way, lack of clients or some crazy depression-induced illness, what do you do?
Build Other Income Streams
As Grant Cardone, New York Times best-selling author of, “If You’re Not First, You’re Last”, writes on Entrepreneur, “The really rich never depend on one flow of income but instead create a number of revenue streams.”
On his podcast, Unemployable, Brian Clark says, “the average multi-millionaire has 7 different sources of income.
Now don’t get intimidated. They definitely didn’t create all those revenue streams in one day.
Some people build other income streams by creating other businesses. To me, that’s real hard work.
I’m not yet done with one and now I’m supposed to build 6 more? Hell no!
However, others create multiple income streams through diversification within their businesses.
To me, that’s the best method. And it’s what I’ll be talking about in this post.
Here are 4 ways you can diversify your income as a freelancer, so you earn even when there’s no client work.
1. Self-Publish A Book
I’m sure you’ve heard this several times, especially if you’re a freelance writer. And you probably dream of doing it too.
But writing a book isn’t the same as punching out 50 different 1000 word articles.
It requires a bit of work. But Carol Tice still did it by self-publishing more than 5 ebooks, despite having to satisfy thousands of people on her blog with regular content. As well as managing her Den of writers.
What kind of book should you write?
If you already have an audience on your blog, then the best thing would be to leverage that audience and create a book they can learn from.
You can either write a book that helps them get better at their craft, like Carol’s “13 Ways To Get The Writing Done Faster”. Or write a book that tickles their fancy, like Ben Settle’s deranged fiction novels. With the unconventional email copywriting audience Ben has, having his audience accept this genre from such a copywriting guru wasn’t hard at all.
And after writing? Put it up in Amazon, or any other digital store of your choice.
How much can a book add to your income?
This depends on what you write and the size of your audience. When Jeff Goins launched his first ebook at $2.99, the money he made from the first weekend it was released paid for his email marketing service for an entire year (about $1500).
Do the math: that’s 500 sales in one weekend! But what if you’re not a hero like Jeff who has accomplished some major milestones? Before you think you can’t reach his heights, take a look at Chris Guthrie of Upfuel, who managed to add about $400 a month to his revenue by also self-publishing his own book at $2.99 on Amazon.
So, that’s proof that you don’t need the Midas touch before you can also diversify with success.
2. Setup An Ecommerce Store
You probably didn’t see this one coming. What would a freelancer be doing with an ecommerce store?
A ton of things.
Some of us are very multi-passionate. While we love the work we do, we also have other guilty pleasures that we wouldn’t dare tell the world about.
Former New York Times Magazine food writer and editor Amanda Hesser and freelance food writer and recipe developer Merrill Stubbs launched Food52.com with the goal of creating a beautiful curated site where users could crowdsource recipes and share information (as stated on Entrepreneur).
While this may not be just diversification within a business, you could see it more as a side project. If you’re ambitious enough and have time on your hands, it could grow beyond what you expect. After all, in December 2012, Food52 secured a $2.25 million Series A funding.
So, what kind of ecommerce store should you set up?
If you love craft (like me), food or anything creative, this could be a good stream for you.
But the first step would be to find out what you’re passionate about because it’s going to compete with your time for freelancing. That’s why it has to be important enough for you to go through with it.
Another plus would be to create something you know your audience also loves. If you have a predominantly feminine audience who also seem to love bags like you, then that’s what you should create and sell. Like Hesser and Stubbs, they were already food writers, so starting a food ecommerce site just fitted in.
Once that’s figured out, choose the best tools to use. You don’t want your audience having trouble purchasing your stuff.
You’d want to get started with something simple. For this, the GoSpaces merchandise ecommerce solution would be great. You’ll also want to get your branding right, starting from your logo. You’ll need a logo that is both affordable and that rocks. 99Designs shine at this as they’re geared towards business owners and offer both variety and a guarantee.
How much can ecommerce add to your income?
Well, how does $600,000 in monthly income sound to you? According to the 2015 benchmark report series, RJMetrics stated that by month six in business, top performing ecommerce businesses reach a monthly revenue over $600k.
Of course, yours’ is a side business, so it might take you longer to get to such figures. However, it’s as clear as day how lucrative the industry it. But hey, it’s a helluva work to do. If it’s something you want to do, don’t let me stop you.
3. Set Up A Referral System
For some freelancers, all the stars are aligned.
At least almost all the stars.
They have the online authority. They have the fairly large subscriber base. They have the contacts.
They have the mother lode of clients “knocking” on their hire me pages.
And need I mention their robust bank accounts?
If this is you, then you’re definitely not looking for more clients. Why not make some money off that?
As a freelance designer, Preston Lee makes more money from his side ventures than from actual design work. One of these ventures includes referring clients to other designers.
How can you make this work for you?
If you already have more potential clients than you need, then you probably shouldn’t just discard those whose rates don’t go well with you. There are a ton of other freelancers who would thank God for your unborn children if you could just refer some clients to them.
How about if you’re not at that level yet but are interested? Then grow your audience and authority. Preselect a group of freelancers in your field whom you’re sure would deliver quality work to referred clients and add them to a list.
Then strike a deal. This could be percentage driven or have some other form of incentive.
How much can this add to your income stream?
Probably not a million dollars per month. But if you have enough potential clients willing to pay good rates and you have a good number of freelancers you trust, then your income is up to you. Just strike a good deal.
4. Create a Course
Not everyone has the balls for this.
It’s a ton of work. The setup process can be daunting especially when you don’t use good tech.
And the course has to be spot on to work or else, you’ll have more refund requests than the signups you get (if that’s possible).
But for those who do, it has proven to be a fantastic income stream.
After seeing the defects that writers have in expressing themselves, James decided to create a course that helped freelance writers write damn fine words.
The result? I cocked my head to the side as I went through her testimonial page. You can’t argue with the 42 blog post-like testimonials on the site (yeah, I counted them). I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen testimonials that long.
Clearly, James had the balls to go through with it, even though she’s confessed to not being a dude.
What kind of course should you set up?
Well, set up one that solves a problem you know your audience has. In the words of Gary Halbert, “Sell to a starving crowd”. The hungrier they are, the better.
You could also take a cue from Bamidele’s “Stop Pitching Clients” course. After noticing the frustration that freelance writers go through when trying to get clients, he decided to solve this problem by creating a course that effectively duplicates his client attraction process.
You can’t argue with a testimonial like this from Anca Dumitru:
“Bamidele’s few targeted pointers gave me a direction and helped me set the strategy to take on so I can get the best results: readers and clients. I saw the benefits soon after I launched it. The second post I wrote on my blog landed me a guest posting invitation from a popular blogger. In the first month my blog got 500 unique visits and 1000 page views. Bamidele also guided me through the guest blogging process. My first article on Huffington Post landed me a new big client. All that in a month and a half since launching my blog. I became more visible to well-paying clients through my blog as well as my guest posts.”
It can’t get any simpler than that.
How much can a course add to your income?
Well, it makes up about 70% income of Danny Iny’s seven figure company — Firepole Marketing. Once again don’t be intimidated. You may not have reached seven figures because of the single fact of not having a team.
But coupled with what you’re making as a freelancer, selling courses could add about 70% of what you’re making to your present income.
John Lee Dumas’ Podcasters Paradise course alone made up about 60% of the total revenue ($388,643.22) on Entrepreneur on Fire in June 2015.
That should make your head cock to the side.
But you don’t have to be a veteran like these guys to make money selling courses. Take a look at Gina Horkey, a more modest gal who in June 2015, made $9,431, with sales of her Writing course making up 38% of the total revenue (freelance writing only added 11%).
Just Go With The Flow
You may be tempted to start something you don’t like in the name of diversifying your income. But it’ll tell on your freelance income in the long run.
All I did in this post was give you ideas on how to diversify your income as a freelancer and not how to get rich.
Sure, depending on what you choose, some might really rake in some cash, but some would bring in only pennies.
Preston Lee doesn’t make a killing from referring clients to other designers, but according to what he said on his blog,
“Sure, I only make a little from each one of them every month. But since I have taken time to diversify, I have money coming in from many different places at once – and it adds up.”
So coupled with your efforts to get more clients for your freelance services and get better at your craft, consider extra income streams you’re actually interested in. You could set up an ecommerce store that sells the kind of stuff you love writing about.
You could break out and sell a book to your audience. Or simply acquire some balls and create a course that solves a problem your blog audience may have.
Just don’t let the rainy days catch up with you. It’s not going to be a funny experience.
Lanre Solarin is a Writers In Charge team member who helps busy creative professionals attract, acquire and engage more prospects, so they can spend less time on marketing and make more money doing what they love. Download his free Content Marketing guide to start attracting more clients online.