Yes, it is possible to make more money, never have a freelance “dry spell,” and still do the same thing you already do. This is the magic of multiple revenue streams and passive income.
If you want more tips on freelancing and multiple revenue streams, check out Freelancers Union founder Sara Horowitz's Freelancer’s Bible.
Why are multiple revenue streams so great?
●Multiple income streams free you from living project to project
●They help you meet expenses or savings goals
●They’re your best defense against episodic income
●They may help grow your main business by increasing your brand presence, stature in your industry, or network.
Just imagine that due to a sudden shift in your industry, your "main" freelance work dries up in a matter of months. Or perhaps you know that during the summer months, your work will be slow. Or someone in your family gets sick, and you can no longer work the way you've been working. This is why alternative revenue streams are so invaluable to a freelancer and to any worker: you can always pivot or refocus when times are tough.
Unfortunately, most of us are too busy to maintain multiple businesses. That's why in this post, we'll focus on "passive income" and repurposing skills you already have & sell. Passive income generally refers to anything that brings you income without further effort on your part once the initial work is done.
Now, how do you decide which alternative income sources should you pursue?
Sit down and put down on paper every idea you can think of for multiple revenue streams. Put down even your wildest ideas: letterpress prints of some family quotes, a workshop on how to design business cards, writing blog posts for other businesses, turning your dog into a model. Everything.
Some ideas, to spark your own:
●Lectures, Talks, Workshops, Seminars: You might be thinking, “Yeah...only experts or super-influential people lead talks and workshops.” Not necessarily true! People become influential experts by speaking at events and on panels -- even if it’s volunteering at first.
●Webinars/Online classes: The rise in online education is a huge opportunity for enterprising freelancers. Take a gander at Skillshare, Udemy, or Creative Live and see whether or not there’s a class you’d like to give.
●Articles, Surveys, Reports, Infographics: As we’ve talked about here before, a good blog presence can do you a lot of favors. You may not be able to monetize articles right now, but having all that creative capital gives you options for the future. Try crafting it into an e-book or creating a cheat-sheet on a certain topic to hand out to prospective clients.
●Airbnb & Sharing Economy stuff: Got an extra room or vacuum cleaner? Now’s the time to make money off of stuff you already have.
●Books and e-books: Expect this to take longer than you think, but the benefits are high. Even if you self-publish or don’t become a bestselling author, there’s nothing like putting the word “author” in your bio. Giving it away at events and on your website increases your visibility and “brand presence.”
●Blog Income/Affiliate Marketing: If you have a popular blog (remember, loyalty in a small niche can count for as much as high traffic), you may get approached by brands or businesses looking to write branded, sponsored posts for your blog. Google AdWords on your blog will not get you very far nowadays.
●Craftiness: This can be built slowly over time and expand into local art shows, Etsy pages, and more.
●Co-Ventures: Many of your ideas would work better if you did them with another freelancer. Example: A designer and a marketing professional come together to teach a class about websites for small business. This is where networking with other freelancers comes in handy.
●Tutoring and consulting: There are a lot of newbie freelancers out there who want to do what you do; there are employed designers who want to know Ruby or Java; there are small business owners who want to know your project management skills. People will pay good money to learn what you’ve mastered.
Pick one or two, and put them in a calendar
Take each goal and break it into bite-sized chunks. If you want to start a speaking series but don’t have any speaker experience, maybe your plan could look something like this:
Month 1: Read books on public speaking, watch great TED talks, think about your areas of expertise and what you’d like to talk about.
Month 2: Take a class on public speaking or attend other presentations. Attend one or two conferences and ask speakers afterward how they plan their events.
Month 3: Volunteer for public roles in your professional organization, your kids’ school, your community or spiritual group. Become a regular attendee in your professional organization and network.
You get the idea. Never set a yearly goal and just say “I want to give a professional speech this year.” Break it down into actionable steps and then…
Treat yourself like a client
Treat yourself like a strict-deadlining client who is kind but firm. You may start a project during a dry spell, but all of a sudden get a bunch of work the next month -- and you need to keep your goals anyway. That’s why you should give yourself reasonable, not Super-Freelancer, goals.
If you happen to have a long dry spell…
Along with all your marketing and networking efforts, now’s a good time to build assets that can be repurposed in multiple ways in the future. Now’s the time to collect some of your blog posts into a short e-book. Now’s the time to sink a lot of time into setting up your second website & Etsy page which features your homemade knit clothing and make as much inventory as possible for when you’re busier.
Always be on the lookout for slicing and dicing your idea
A talk can become a webinar can become a series can become a blog can become an e-book. After teaching someone how to create a Facebook ad, you can create mini-tutorial, or a short e-book full of best practices for social media advertising for small businesses in your industry. This is your Intellectual Property, and you can repurpose, repackage, and resell the same content many times.
Remember: You don’t have to come up with a million dollar idea.
Even $50 a week is $2,600 a year and $13,000 over 5 years, and that’s nothing to sneeze at. Plus, there’s something special about side gigs: it frequently feels like “extra” money, and that $50 or $100 you get a week is somehow funner to spend or easier to save.
Do you have multiple revenue streams? If not, what are your goals for 2014?