I consider writing for a living to be a pretty sweet career opportunity. And if you're reading this blog, I imagine you do too. But as great as freelance writing can be, it does have limits. You're essentially charging people for your time, even if you don't bill on an hourly basis. You can't mass produce freelance work the same way you can with products.
You can grow your freelance writing business in a number of ways -- such as charging more and improving your productivity. You can also change target markets to work with higher paying clients. But even that has limits, especially if you're not interested in working with the next tier of client (such as not wanting to take on corporate work when you're happy working for small businesses).
Don't get me wrong. You can earn a great living as a freelance writer. And for most people, they'll probably be happy with their income when they reach the higher end of their specialty. And that's fantastic. But some freelancers will want to continue to grow beyond that point.
I'm one of those writers. I love writing for clients. But sometimes it isn't enough to satisfy the growth junkie in me. So I moved beyond solely taking on freelance work. If you're interested in doing something similar, there are several ways you could go about it. Let's look at a few examples.
From Freelance to Firm
If you think you'd be happy managing a business as opposed to doing all of the writing work alone, you might consider transitioning from freelance writing to running a firm of some sort. For example, if you've written SEO content for years, you might consider running a broader SEO firm that specializes predominantly in content creation. You would manage the company, find the clients, etc., and you would hire contractors or employees to write the content. You could certainly take on some of the writing yourself too.
You might also create a larger company such as a consulting firm. For example, if you've written successful sales copy for years, you might launch a consulting firm that combines marketing consulting and copywriting. Again, you could still do a lot of the work for clients yourself, but you could also bring in employees or contractors who let you increase your total incoming business.
You don't even have to stick to a services-oriented firm. For instance, my own company -- 3 Beat Media -- involves client services, Web development / publishing, and book / e-book publishing. And there are plans to move into other forms of media in the future.
Publish Books and E-books
Speaking of books and e-book publishing, as writers one of our biggest challenges is moving beyond the limits of time. There are only so many billable hours. And while that time can be re-sold to a degree (such as selling limited rights to multiple clients), you generally can't resell your work indefinitely. But you can sell many copies of books and e-books.
Books and e-books (and reports) give you a way to turn your writing into products that can be sold over and over again. You can expand your freelance writing business by adding one or more products to the mix, or even transition entirely to publishing if you prefer. If nothing else, selling products can help bridge the income gaps if you go through the feast / famine cycle.
Offer Add-On Services
I mentioned this briefly above in reference to starting a larger firm with employees or contractors (like adding consulting services to your copywriting work). But you can do the same thing independently on a freelance basis, especially if you're on the top-end of your market where there are fewer prospects willing to pay top-tier rates. Instead of trying to grab more of these prospects, you can find ways to up-sell your existing clients with new but related services.
For example, if you write press releases. you might consider offering press release distribution services as well. Or if you write Web content, you might offer social media marketing services to promote that content. Think about what clients might do with your writing, and offer to do it for them -- for a fee.
How else might you move beyond freelancing if you want to continually grow your income potential? Tell us how you did it, or share your ideas, in the comments.