While this blog is (currently) focused on freelancing writing, freelancing doesn't make up the whole of my writing business. I also write nonfiction e-books, am (slowly) working on edits for my first print nonfiction book, write fiction for three different audiences (from short stories to a novel-in-progress), and I'm a very active Web publisher.
I chose this business model for the diversity it offers -- both in my schedule and in my income streams. And I've slowly moved from full-time freelancing to a well-balanced schedule. Over time I'll focus even more heavily on the publishing side of my business.
Now, I know this business model isn't for everyone. If you're reading this you're probably a freelance writer. And I imagine that work makes you happy. But if the income doesn't equally thrill you right now, why not consider diversifying, even if just for a short time?
Here are two ways you can diversify your writing income with a balanced approach that not only brings in more money now but also helps you build your freelance writing career for the future.
1. Publish a blog in your specialty area.
This doesn't have to be a blog for writers. Instead consider a blog your target freelance clients would want to read.
For example, if you handle real estate copywriting, you might write a blog on real estate marketing. You could teach real estate agents how to improve their own copywriting, make money from the site directly (think ads, premium member content, or coaching services), and pick up some new freelance writing clients along the way.
How Much Can You Make?
While your earnings potential with a blog will depend on your niche and your chosen income streams, you might not have to wait as long as you think. When I first launched my small business blog, it only took me around three months to hit the $2000 per month earnings mark.
I'm not saying that would be easy to replicate. I wouldn't even go the private ad sale route if I were starting today (I'd prepare my own products for sale and tie the site directly to my services). But it's possible.
Give new readers plenty of early content, be an active marketer, and choose income streams that are appropriate for your readers. In my case, I talked about PR there, and it attracted clients over the years (alongside other sites launched later). So don't forget to plug your writing services somewhere on the site.
2. Release an instructional e-book.
What do clients usually come to you for? Could you turn it into a short instructional guide? If so, it could be a profitable project and in more ways than one.
I did this when I ran a PR firm. One of my most popular services was press releases writing, specifically for Web distribution. There was a lot of bad information out there at the time because SEO folks were trying to teach people about news releases (and let's just say most of them didn't understand them half as well as they thought they did).
I spent a lot of time educating prospects in online communities, and I landed a lot of long-term clients that way.
How Much Can You Make?
In 2007, I released a short .pdf e-book on this topic. It was less than 20 pages long. It sold for $17. I did very little promotion (other than putting up a simple sales page and plugging it in an active forum where my prospects hung out).
I wrote this e-book in a few hours one Saturday afternoon. By the end of that weekend it was in .pdf format and online, ready to sell. In a year with minimal promotion that e-book brought in just under $4500. And that was just in e-book sales.
I landed some big ongoing press release writing contracts (and some one-off gigs) from buyers of that e-book too -- leading to thousands more in income with very little effort. (Most profitable weekend of kicking boredom ever.) In 2008 I decided I didn't want to bother updating it anymore, so I released it as a freebie, and it continues to bring in prospects to this day.
Why did this work? People love to learn things. Your clients might very well love to know how they can do what you do for themselves. They'll give the DIY approach a shot.
Some will stick with it and you won't get income beyond the e-book. That's okay. Plenty of others will realize your job is more difficult than they thought or they'll realize they have more profitable ways to spend their time.
Those prospects are gold. They understand what you bring to the table, they understand they can't (or don't want to) do it themselves, and they'll come to you directly the next time they want the job done right.
The two examples above are far from the only ways you can diversify your income streams without taking the focus off of freelance writing. For example, you could write material for premium e-courses that work much in the way my e-book example did. You could create downloadable kits, forms, or templates of some kind for immediate income and to attract future clients.
If you think about all of the things your prospects read in the course of doing business, you can find ways to make additional money while putting yourself at the front of their minds when they're ready to hire. The key is making sure your websites, products, etc. ultimately lead to your writing services.
Do you have additional writing-related income streams in place that also bring in freelance writing clients? Tell us about them and how they're working out for you in the comments.