This post was originally published on November 13, 2015 and has been updated and expanded.
We're kicking off the year-end holidays in the U.S. today with Thanksgiving, which leads into the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season. That's great for retailers. But did you know it can also be great for you as a writer?
Even though the New Year will be here before you know it, you still have time to bring in extra writing income to give your yearly revenue a boost.
Let's look at ways you can increase your writing income (as a freelance writer, indie author, or professional blogger) by taking advantage of the holiday shopping craze and the lead-up to the New Year.
Increase Your Freelance Writing Income
If you're looking to bring in more freelance writing jobs between now and the end of the year, consider these opportunities.
1. Reach out to past clients.
Pitch year-end projects based on past projects you've worked on for old clients.
For example, maybe you wrote a successful holiday newsletter for them last year and they haven't gotten in touch again. It's possible the project slipped their mind.
Contact the client, remind them of last year's success, and pitch a similar project for this holiday season.
You can also reach out to past clients to propose new holiday writing projects. You've gotten to know them and their audience in the time you've worked together, and you're bound to have some ideas that could help them increase their own holiday sales.
2. Emphasize year-end budgets.
Many clients want to use up their marketing budgets before the end of the year so they can maximize business expense deductions for this year's taxes.
For larger clients, they might have to use up this year's budget if they don't want their department's budget cut in the New Year. That happens more with larger corporate clients where department budgets can be influenced by how much the department needed in the previous year.
Because of this, it can be a great time to pitch copywriting and even content writing projects if you can clear them up before the year's end.
Cramming extra work in now isn't necessary though. Often clients are willing to pay in advance for projects due in the New Year just to use up their company or departmental budgets. So you might not have to start on these projects until January (or later). You get paid now for the work you'll do in January for example.
This can also be a good time to push extended projects where clients might be willing to pre-pay. That could be pre-paying a three-month blogging contract. Or a client might pre-order press release writing for several months if they know they'll need them. This was a big year-end order when I worked more with middlemen firms who knew they would need five or more releases each month for their own clients.
3. Bundle your freelance writing services.
Don't only focus on clients' year-end budgets. Think about their needs in the New Year too. Then offer them service bundles to address those needs. You could turn a single project into several.
Here's an example of services that might work well together:
- A research report / thought leadership piece offering your client's industry predictions for the New Year (you would likely ghostwrite this)
- A press release to promote the report's release
- An email newsletter or autoresponder series to promote and distribute the report
- An opt-in landing page if the client will require subscriptions for report access
- A series of blog posts tied to the report (which would include CTAs to push further opt-ins)
You might offer a discount if they purchase a service bundle just around the holidays to push quicker sales, but if you bundle services on an ongoing basis, discounts definitely are not necessary.
4. Promote special offers.
If you're hurting for writing gigs, consider offering a sale. You can offer discounts to past clients or one-time discounts on new clients' first orders. It can be incredibly effective for bringing in paying work quickly.
And despite what you might hear elsewhere, no, there is nothing wrong with offering sales on services. The key to doing discounts effectively is to make sure your standard rates are always mentioned. Let new clients know how you value your time and skills, and you let them know what they'll be paying moving forward if they continue working with you.
I used sales a lot early in my freelance career, and they were one of the best things I did. And yes, clients coming in on sales stuck with me -- some for over a decade now who have continued to pay my regular (and long since increased) rates.
If you prefer not to offer discounts, consider promoting a value-added bonus like a short report related to your most popular service. Give it away for free when clients book your time. Or even give it to them when you reach out to pitch a project.
They're going to be bombarded by promotions. Giving them something genuinely helpful for nothing, and without being asked, makes you stand out. This is about as simple as good PR gets -- treat your clients better than anyone else is.
If you make your product or report something you could charge for after the promotion ends, you'll have a new income stream for the New Year. Bonus!
Sell More Books
If you're looking to sell books rather than land freelance writing jobs, consider these promotional tactics.
1. Offer discounts during the holiday sale period.
Consider lowering your price on books and e-books sold through third party sites like Amazon.
You might even opt to give one book away for free for a limited time to push sales of others. (Short-term freebies are better here because it makes it a truly special, time-sensitive holiday promotion.)
If you give away an e-book, make sure it promotes your other e-books. Tack on a "more from this author" page at the end for example to make readers aware of your other books.
If you sell your work through your own website, consider setting up discount codes or package deals that encourage multiple sales from the same buyers.
2. Run a contest or giveaway.
Consider setting up a contest related to your latest book, or perhaps give away a collection of all your books.
Get readers involved with a contest or giveaway through your own site. Make it fun and holiday-themed if possible. Try not to run these too long though or, as Yolander Prinzel brought up previously, you might discourage buyers who are waiting to see if they've won.
Perhaps push sales from Black Friday through Cyber Monday, then run a short contest, then push sales again before Christmas and the end of the new year.
Another option is to work with a more prominent site or blog to run your contest for their readers if you don't get enough traffic to your own site.
If you don't want to give your books away, consider running a contest where you give away something related. A gift card to Amazon, B&N, or another bookseller would be a good idea.
3. Prepare for post-holiday promotions.
Many of your target readers are going to receive gift cards over the holidays. So, if you sell books on Amazon for example, you might want to plan a big promotion after the holidays rather than before. (There's no reason you can't do both.)
The day after Christmas can be a great day to lower your book prices to take advantage of all the new buyers spending their gift cards. You might not even need a formal promotion beyond those lower prices.
Make More Money Blogging
Is blogging more your thing? You still have time to increase your blog income before the year ends too. Here are some ideas to get you started.
1. Look for holiday-appropriate affiliate promotions.
Gift lists and product reviews can be big money makers around the holidays if you incorporate affiliate links.
Let's say you have a parenting blog and you're an affiliate of Amazon or another major retailer. You might post reviews, with affiliate links, for the most anticipated toys of the holiday season.
You could also take the gift list approach. For example, if you blog about small business, you might publish something along the lines of "The Top 50 Gift Ideas for the Entrepreneur in Your Life."
The benefit here is you might be able to include many affiliate links in a single post. Then, rather than creating a lot of new content over the holidays, focus attention on promoting that post to get it in front of as many readers as possible.
Note: If you or the company you're an affiliate of are based in the U.S., remember you're required to disclose all affiliate links in a "clear and conspicuous" way.
In other words, your disclosure should be near the links themselves or at the start of the post (or both, depending on how long the post is). It needs to appear somewhere readers are likely to see it.
Putting a blanket disclosure on another page, in your sidebar, at the bottom of your post, or in small print doesn't cut it.
2. Run a guest post campaign.
No matter how you make the bulk of your blogging revenue -- e-book sales, ad revenue, or premium subscriptions for example -- you'll benefit from extra traffic. Guest posts can provide that by introducing you to new readers.
Around the year-end holidays, many bloggers take time off to travel and be with their families. That sometimes means they'll cut back on the number of posts to their blogs.
That makes these next few weeks the perfect time to pitch guest post ideas. You'll get increased exposure over the holidays and you'll help fill in for bloggers who want to take time off.
The key with guest posts is to have a specific call to action whenever possible. There's a place for more general exposure, especially when your blog is new. But if your focus in on increased income, make sure your guest post bio (where you're generally allowed to include a link) helps you reach that goal.
For example, if you make most of your income promoting guides or other products to your email list, encourage readers to sign up for your list. Don't have an email list yet? I recommend MailChimp.
If you make most of your money from ad revenue, where traffic is key, send readers to your best content so you give them a reason to stick around, view more content, and hopefully come back.
If you have a premium component to your blog, link people to your sales or sign-up page (especially if you're running a holiday promotion of some kind).
All host blogs will have their own rules about guest posts and how you're allowed to promote yourself. Make sure you follow those rules, especially this time of year when those bloggers are likely busier than usual. Make their lives easier and you increase your chances of having guest post pitches accepted.
3. Host a holiday giveaway.
Another way to boost traffic to your blog around the holidays is to promote a giveaway. It gives people a reason to visit your site, either for the first time or to come back.
You can give away your own products if you have something to sell. Or you can promote an affiliate program and get the company to donate the giveaway items (this depends on your relationship with the company and how many sales you tend to push to them, so you can buy the winner access at the close of the event if getting the company on board isn't an option).
In the latter case, at least ask the company whose program you're promoting if they'll offer a discount code for your readers. Many are happy to do that.
You'll promote the company providing the giveaway item or discount offer. You'll offer something valuable to readers. And you'll earn direct income in the process. Win-win-win.
Do you already have plans to increase your writing income over the holidays? Have you had success with holiday marketing in the past? Share your thoughts, tips, and ideas in the comments.