How to Diversify Your Freelance Writing Business (and Make More Money)

Diversify, diversify, diversify! If you haven't gotten that message here over the years, it might never sink in, but I'm going to say it again anyway. DIVERSIFY! Normally we talk about diversifying your freelance writing business in a specific way, by creating your own residual revenue streams such as money-making blogs and e-books. We even give you tools to help you accomplish those goals like professionally-designed free WordPress themes and our free e-book on how to write an e-book in just 14 days (find them all on our writer freebies page -- you won't find these things available through anyone else).

Today I want to diversify how we even talk about "diversifying your freelance writing business!" Rather than focusing solely on residual earning, let's look at some of the other ways you can build a more diverse and profitable freelance writing business (and no, it doesn't mean becoming a generalist).

Increase Your Number of Clients

Every individual client you work with is an income stream for your business. Taking on too few clients can be bad for business -- if that client goes "poof!" so does all of your income. Uh oh. That's a bummer, right? So diversify. Take on new clients, and you'll not only increase your earning potential, but you'll insulate yourself from any individual loss.

Easier said than done, right? Not really. Be honest with yourself. How hard is it to find just one more client in your target market? Make a plan. Can you do it? Of course you can! If you couldn't come up with a single client, you probably wouldn't be freelancing in the first place.

Take on New Types of Clients

What happens when you feel like you've really saturated your target market? That can mean several things. For example:

  • If you focus on a specific type of writing (press releases), consider branching into related types of writing (such as pitch letters -- very similar, but one pitches news and the other pitches more evergreen stories).
  • Try focusing on different departments within current client companies (write brochures for their PR departments now? Try pitching their marketing department on some more directly promotional brochures -- different people within a single company need different things done, even though the projects can be quite similar at times).
  • Consider expanding into related markets. For example, if you write marketing copy for online tech product retailers, why not pitch your copywriting services to the product manufacturers as well? If you write articles for Internet marketing firms and their clients, why not reach out to SEO firms more specifically too?

There are often ways to take on new types of clients without really changing what you're offering much. Your target market might be wider than you think.

Think Locally (or Globally!)

Here's another way to diversify your freelance writing business: change your geographical focus. Do you only work with local clients? Consider branching out to more of a regional audience. Do you work with clients globally online? In your case, narrow it down a bit. Maybe in that great big world you work in you forgot about all of your neighborhood clients who are just itching to put your writing to work for their businesses.

Monetize What you Have

Ads. Ewww. Who wants 'em? Well, if you want to diversify your freelance writing business, maybe you do! Don't be afraid to monetize what you have. You don't have to plaster every page of your blog or site with ads. You don't have to spam your poor visitors with constant sponsor messages. There are relatively unintrusive ways to earn money through advertising.

Take this blog for example. I know that people who arrive here as search engine traffic are more likely to click on ads than regular readers (who might be ad-blind after viewing a site often enough). That's why our Adsense ads only show up for new visitors (their first five pageviews -- unless you clear your cookies or something, in which case the site thinks you're new again for a bit). It keeps annoying ads away from people who read here regularly, and monetizes the easy come, easy go type of traffic that tends to monetize better in that way anyway.

That's just one example of a way you can run ads that pay out nicely without selling out. You could do it in other ways too. For example, you might offer useful tools that happen to earn you money (we used to do that here with the Indeed.com job boards, and we'll be doing something similar in coming weeks). You could also sell private advertising in a way that doesn't become visually overwhelming, such as text ads or paid job postings, or by integrating ads into content where appropriate (such as an affiliate link where people can purchase a book that you're reviewing in your post -- as long as the affiliate link isn't influencing the review of course). You get the idea. Make what you already have work for you. Ads are one of the easiest ways to start doing that.

What do you think? How else can freelance writers diversify their freelance writing businesses in order to earn more money and build more stable careers when they don't rely solely or mostly on a single third party like a client or content site? Share your diversification ideas for freelancers in a comment!

Profile image for Jennifer Mattern

Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, consultant, and indie author. She runs numerous websites & blogs including All Freelance Writing, Freelance Writing Pros, NakedPR, and Kiss My Biz.

Jenn has 25 years' experience as a professional writer and editor and over 20 years' experience in marketing and PR (working heavily in digital PR, online marketing, social media, SEO, new media, and thought leadership publication). She also has 19 years' professional blogging and web publishing experience (including web development) and around 18 years of experience as an indie author / publisher.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names and is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association.

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4 thoughts on “How to Diversify Your Freelance Writing Business (and Make More Money)”

  1. Monetize what you have… yes!

    Also consider offers carefully… I’ve recently had three advertising opportunities presented to me. Of course they all sound good, but a little due diligence through google and asking for references has caused me to turn down two… the third came in this morning and I’m noodling it.

    Reply
  2. I was talking about this recently actually, in particular how I’ve now realised the importance of diversifying – something which I wasn’t too up on a few years ago.

    When I first started freelancing, I was doing it alongside a job in a corporate environment. As soon as I got a freelance gig that paid well, I ditched my corporate job and went full time freelance.

    Within a month and a half of doing so the client couldn’t afford to pay me anymore and I was forced back into the corporate world (I was lucky enough to be able to fall back into my previous job).

    Whilst I’m still employed by a multi-national company (the same one I went back to, actually), I’ve been focusing on diversifying by freelance work a lot over the past year and have began reducing the amount of work I do for the corporate employment.

    I know this isn’t possible for everyone and my employer is understanding and helpful, giving me somewhat of a cushion to fall back and more importantly, a regular income. I’m hoping to completely leave that environment sometime in the near future, however, through slowly phasing it out whilst increasing the amount of different freelance work I take on.

    I think it’s important to remember that just because you’re a freelance writer doesn’t mean that this is the only work you can do. Although I call myself a freelance writer, my corporate work is in training and development and I’ve recently started to look at offline businesses as well as property.

    I made a big mistake by keeping all of my eggs in one basket when I first began freelancing and I’ll be damned if i make that same mistake again.

    Reply
  3. Diversifying is a great concept if you have the writing skills for a particular area. It’s best to build upon your strengths before you branch out. You may consider taking a class in writing for the web, advertising copy, resume writing, press releases, etc… I’ve taken classes and bought a few books to help me out in areas such as writing web content and screenwriting — the information helped!

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  4. @Anne – Absolutely. I’m always shocked by the kind of companies that think they’d be a good sponsorship match (and worse, that some writers choose to support them). Reminds me of the weird home workers site that promises gigs in the ads, but really just charges people to aggregated listings from free sites. Ugh.

    @Dan – There are definitely some unpleasant consequences when you rely to heavily on any single third party. That could mean assuming a single content mill will always be around, relying too much on Google Adsense instead of other advertising options in the mix, or just taking on too few clients. In business, it’s usually best to keep things well-rounded in that area.

    @Rebecca – Another good suggestion! Never jump into something new without knowing what you’re going to land in. There’s room to grow if you educate yourself, but there’s also plenty of room to royally screw things up if you jump into something without knowing what you’re doing first.

    Reply

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