Other Writing Income Streams That Bring in Freelance Clients

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.

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.

Subscribe to the All Freelance Writing newsletter to get freelance writing updates from Jenn in your inbox.

15 thoughts on “Other Writing Income Streams That Bring in Freelance Clients”

  1. Good stats, Jenn – and good article… diversifying income only makes sense in this day and age with all sorts of tech stuff changing and launching.

    • Agreed. Even if these other kinds of income streams aren’t something you want to do forever, they can lead to income during slower periods of freelancing. And there’s nothing wrong with that. 🙂

  2. Good piece, Jenn! And needless to say, I’ve been on board with this idea for many years, with my Well-Fed Writer and Well-Fed Self-Publisher titles, spinoff ebooks, blog, ezine, speaking, coaching, etc.

    And the cool thing about going in this direction is that one spinoff tends to spawn another and another. In my case, it really has been a very organic unfolding over the past 20 years. I never had a 5- or 10-year plan on paper. I don’t operate that way, and frankly, think it’s ridiculous to try to figure out TODAY where you’re going to want to be in five years, much less 10!

    That’s where I absolutely part ways, philosophically and literally, with all the goal-setting gurus out here. As Jenn points out, if you have some expertise you’ve gained as a result of a healthy body of experience—expertise that a certain segment of folks out there would find useful—create an ebook and put those ideas on paper.

    People are hungry for information that can help them do their jobs more easily, have them enjoy their jobs more, AND, of course, make more money. And if your product can do any or all of those things, and you can reach those buyers in some way, you’ll make some money.

    And once one thing is out, you’ll start seeing possibilities of where it might go next (workshops? teleclasses? speaking gigs?), possibilities that were not visible to you before you created it. Hence the silliness, IMO anyway, of five+-year plans: before you take steps, you can’t know what possibilities will be there to explore AFTER you take those steps.


    • Definitely. You’re one of the more diverse writers I’ve seen when it comes to finding ways to effective monetize your writing and expertise (and in a non-spammy / non-needy way, which is increasingly rare!).

      I’m a big goal-setter myself. But I don’t know that I’ve ever tried to plan out 5-10 year stretches. For freelancing and Web publishing I generally stick to yearly plans and I tweak them as necessary (such as cutting out plans for one site because a more lucrative idea presented itself). My longest plan is my publishing plan, and that’s a necessity for me because I’m juggling publishing projects under multiple names and for multiple audiences. I need some kind of roadmap to make sure nothing gets neglected along the way. That said, I re-evaluate it every three months and make changes as my schedule dictates. I think the key with long-term goal-setting is simply knowing that you have to be flexible. 🙂

      I think you touch on a great point about expansion of ideas. It’s like writing a novel. In many genres your best bet is to go with an idea that can lead to a series. That works equally well in nonfiction or any kind of information product. If an audience wants to know one thing and they’re willing to pay for your guidance, chances are very good they’ll want to know other things (and be willing to pay again). You have to keep your eyes and ears open and give the market what it wants. 🙂

  3. Most of my work time is devoted to my freelance writing clients, some of which I write for as myself and others as a ghostwriter.

  4. You must be pretty good and experienced in generating $2k per month from a new blog.. Perhaps we can get lucky, if you could make a post about how you accomplished the same.. Hope you will not mind spilling the beans..

    • I already have. Spend some time in the archives and you’ll find out not only how I did it, but how you can do it now. 😉 Like I said though, I wouldn’t take the same approach now. It’s not something you can simply copy.

      There’s no luck about it. It’s hard work. You have to choose a decent niche (we have posts on that too), you have to create a quality resource that people actually want to visit and share, and you have to choose the right income streams. Back then, private ad sales were the right income stream. Now there’s less demand, and I’ve found lower quality ad offers. You also risk being penalized by Google for some types of private ads (no matter how relevant they actually are for your audience). Today with that niche I’d focus on ad networks (high ppc values), affiliate ads, and my own product sales.

      Here’s a more recent post that covers blog revenue streams. There are 20 examples there, so it should give you plenty to work with when trying to pick options for your own niche blog. 🙂


      • Generating a monthly revenue of $2,000 from a blog is no small feat, let alone a “new” blog in just a few months. It really is about finding the right niche to go with the right monetization to approach the right audience. Marketing the blog plays a huge role, especially with the number of blogs on the Internet today.

        • The blogging world is definitely more saturated now. I think the key today is choosing narrower niches and choosing branding that gives you room to grow.

          For example, I probably wouldn’t start a new blog covering a broad topic like small business right now. But I’d choose a domain name that would allow me to grow a wider business focus later if I wanted to. The site in this case is BizAmmo.com. If I were starting from scratch with that brand, I might focus more narrowly on small business resources (like highlighting courses, e-books, forms, templates, etc. from around the Web). Then I could branch out into other business topics later.

          The real benefit we have now over a few years ago is that it’s far easier to monetize a blog. In the past you pretty much had to rely on ad sales, and some niches couldn’t bring in decent ad revenues, especially from ad networks. E-books became a big monetization tool, and they still work well. But now we have so many platforms and plugins out there which give us other options like e-courses, job boards, and niche directories. It’s not that these options didn’t exist before. But they weren’t always easy to integrate into a single site. That’s why I build everything on WordPress now. It can do anything you want, and you don’t have to manually integrate all of the features you want to use to bring in income. That’s not to say it’s easy to make money as a new blogger. But it’s definitely easier to set up a diversified revenue plan so you don’t have to rely too heavily on just one or two streams.

  5. You can protect your income even further by spreading out into related income streams. In addition to writing, you also offer consulting services to small businesses, mentor other writers, or do occasional public speaking.

  6. When you say that you released a short e-book in 2007, did you only sell it privately through your own website or did you go through one of the numerous marketplaces like Clickbank? I don’t believe the Kindle was released until late 2007, but how would you approach it if you were to release an e-book today? KDP? Smashwords? Privately?

    • That e-book was release privately through my own website. But I heavily marketed it on a huge webmaster forum. I did a lot of marketing there because, at the time, online business owners were my primary target market for my PR writing and consulting services. I also agreed to help moderate that forum which helped to increase my own credibility there. The key was to be a truly active member of the community — not just someone promoting products. It takes time, but I’d already put that time in before the e-book was released. When you contribute and educate people and are seen as an authority in your specialty area, it’s fairly easy to convert that status and trust into sales as long as you don’t try to promote something sleazy like a work at home scam.

      For this type of e-book — an information product e-book rather than an e-book version of a more traditional book — I would still focus primarily on marketing through my own sites. But again, that’s because I’ve already laid a lot of the groundwork. I have a large enough audience in my key niches that I can sell e-books profitably without having to rely on third parties. That’s not to say I’d get rich on one or two products from that audience. I think I could earn more with affiliate programs for example. But I choose not to use those because of all of the FTC issues and the fact that I don’t want to be responsible for monitoring how my affiliates are marketing my products on my behalf. That might change in the future with limited hand-picked affiliates or something, but it’s not in the plans right now.

      As for Amazon, Smashwords, and other e-book distributors, I wouldn’t release information product e-books through them. What I’ve seen so far is that readers there expect e-books to be on par with print books when it comes to content. And that isn’t what this kind of e-book is about. They’re often much shorter than print books because they cover very narrow topics for very specific audiences. Buyers familiar with them understand that, and it’s not an issue when they buy from the author (or through places like Clickbank — personally I prefer E-junkie). Buyers familiar with e-books only through Kindle however seem willing to write negative reviews based solely on length. These kinds of e-books won’t ever meet the expectations of those kinds of buyers, whereas they can be incredibly helpful to better-targeted readers (not to mention profitable for the author).

      I’m sure there are plenty of e-book authors who would disagree with me and always release through the newer e-book marketplaces. In the end it comes down to audience expectations and simply going wherever your readers are.

  7. These are good points to share. With the continuous innovation of technology nowadays, it is best to maximize our skills and knowledge to use the technology at the best of our advantage.

  8. Your blog post was found at a very opportune moment: I am seeking ways to expand beyond simple nonfiction writing. I noticed you are both a nonfiction and fiction writer. How, as a nonfiction writer, did you break into fiction? Are there some markets which are open to such a shift?

    • I’m still very new to fiction writing. But I’ll tell you what my approach has been.

      Basically, I’m using different pen names for different types of projects — my real name for nonfiction, and pen names for different genres of fiction. But I don’t keep the pen names secret, which allows me to cross-promote more. Pen names, for me, are more about branding. I don’t want fiction to overtake search rankings for sites about my freelance work for example.

      I don’t think being a nonfiction writer in any way should hold you back from writing fiction whether you use the same name or not. If anything you’ll have an edge because you might already earn a living as a writer and have a solid grasp on the marketing side of things. I’d say aim for whatever market you really want to write in. If your nonfiction work would help you in one fiction area or another, all the better (like a crime reporter getting into murder mysteries, or a child psychologist going from writing research papers to books for children).


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