One of the biggest perks of freelance writing is the stability. Unlike working full-time for a single employer, losing a gig (by choice or otherwise) doesn't mean you lose all your income at once. That's because you diversify your writing income when you freelance, splitting your working hours between different projects for different clients.
But there are other ways to diversify your income beyond simply taking on more clients. And with things like the PRO Act's ABC test looming, diversification is more important than ever.
Let's explore some ways you can diversify your income either through freelancing or other writing-related activities.
5 Ways to Diversify Your Writing Income
Here are five ways you can protect yourself as a freelance writer by broadening your income streams.
1. Target New Client Types
If the PRO Act's ABC test is codified in federal law, it risks freelancers being reclassified as employees if their services are a core function of the client's business. This could mean losing freedom and flexibility, and also losing your copyright to new work written for those "employers."
Because of this risk, now is a great time to diversify your writing income by targeting new types of clients.
What do I mean by that?
Let's say you currently write for consumer magazines. If the magazine and its content are the company's core business and the ABC test comes into effect, you risk losing those gigs or having to be classified as an employee.
You could mitigate some of that risk by seeing magazine writing gigs for other types of clients. For example, you might target:
- In-flight magazines (the magazine isn't the airline's core business activity)
- Trade magazines (ones run by broader organizations not solely focused on publishing)
- Corporate or branded magazines (where the magazines are marketing or PR tools, and not the core function of the hiring business)
Even if new legislation doesn't require these changes if you want to remain a freelancer, these are outlets to consider to diversify your income long-term. But if you're diversifying due to PRO Act concerns, just make sure the magazines you target aren't their own business entities and they actually do fall under a larger business or organization.
You can do the same with any type of freelancing.
For example, if you currently write for publication-style blogs, consider writing for company blogs (usually ghostwritten, but it can pay significantly more).
Or if you write for a few agencies, you can diversify by looking at the types of clients those agencies work for. Then find others in those industries to target directly.
Just don't try to poach your agency clients' own clients. Even if you don't have a non-compete agreement to cover that, that's not what you want to become known for as a freelance professional.
2. Expand Your Freelance Writing Specialty
If you can't think of new client types to target, you can also expand upon your freelance writing specialty.
Technically, specializing doesn't mean you're stuck with one niche or industry or project type. You can have multiple specialties.
The trick to doing this successfully, however, is to make sure those specialties align in some way.
If you choose multiple specialties that are radically different, you have to market your services to very different groups of potential clients. That could mean two websites, two email lists, two professional blogs -- two (or more) of most marketing activities.
Merging everything makes you look like you're not a specialist at all. So if they're looking for one, they'll move on when they find you. And for those that do decide to hire you, why should they pay you specialist rates when that's not even how you present yourself?
It's usually going to be better to expand your specialty into related areas instead.
For example, let's say you're a pet blogger currently. You might expand into the specialty of writing copy, email newsletters, or blog posts for veterinarians' offices as well.
3. Offer New Services
Sometimes the key to diversifying your writing income has little to do with writing at all.
Think about your existing clients. Do they need services related to your current work for them that goes beyond the scope of writing? Are you qualified to provide those services? If so, consider adding them to your offerings.
For example, if you're a professional blogger, you might offer social media writing services (writing updates for clients' social media accounts to promote the new blog content you write).
If you write for a large multi-author site, do they need help editing to make their contributions more consistent? Consider offering freelance editing services. Or offer to help them create new style guidelines for their contributors to follow.
Do you write for companies or organizations? Is their content planning a bit scattered? Consider add-on services as a content strategist.
4. Start Selling Products
There's no reason all your income has to come directly from freelance writing. Consider adding products to further diversify your writing income.
Not only can product sales give you a revenue boost, but they can bring in relatively passive income for months or even years after you release them.
What kinds of products might you sell as a writer?
- Template or worksheet kits
- Online courses
You can sell products related to your niche specialty. But an idea I don't see implemented nearly enough is creating products to sell to your freelance writing prospects. Sometimes those lower-ticket product sales even lead to later freelance work, serving as an introduction to you.
That's what I did early in my freelance writing career, where a single weekend's work on an e-book netted over $4000 in short-term e-book sales while bringing in five-figures' worth of freelance writing work. I later offered that short guide for free, and it's been attracting clients for years.
If you don't mind continually updating your guides, and the information is still relevant, you can keep selling them indefinitely.
5. Become a Publisher in Your Own Right
Another way to diversify your writing income, and one I'm a huge fan of, is becoming a publisher.
This might tie into my previous suggestion where you can independently publish books and e-books. But you can also become an online publisher, such as by running an income-generating blog.
You might already have a professional blog where you write to attract freelance writing clients. In this case, think more along the lines of creating a niche blog.
So, let's say again that you're a freelance pet blogger. You would have your professional website and maybe a client-focused blog. But why not start your own niche publication-style pet blog?
How might you bring in income with a niche blog or website?
- Network ads
- Affiliate ads
- Private ad sales
- Sponsored content (with appropriate disclosures and nofollow or rel="sponsored" link tags)
- Product sales
- Premium content sales / paywalls
- Membership programs
- Premium site features (directory listings, job listings, etc.)
You can also launch a paid newsletter if that's more your speed. Just be careful about revenue share schemes offering to manage it all for you. Focus on owned media that you can easily transport to another host. Skip hosted services like WordPress.com, Medium, and Substack.
No matter how you choose to go about it, it's more important than ever to diversify your writing income. Making just a few tweaks to where your revenue comes from can be the difference between professional security as a writer and getting caught in a perpetual feast-famine cycle, or worse, letting any single third party drive you out of business entirely.
- Why You Should Diversify Your Writing Income (& 5 Ways to do It) - March 16, 2021
- How the PRO Act Could Hurt Freelance Writers (& What You Can do About It) - March 2, 2021
- Revenue Sharing 2.0 (& Why it Still Sucks for Writers) - February 26, 2021