Most freelancers ensure they have at least a few clients in the pipeline before they make the big decision to ditch the Rat Race and work for themselves. This makes perfect sense of course as, for the most part, client work tends to be the ‘bread and butter’ of working as a freelancer. However, the fluid nature of freelancing means savvy freelancers, i.e. those who want to earn a truly reliable income, must look beyond this so-called staple.
Diversifying can help enterprising freelancers to achieve this.
Why all freelancers need to diversify
Generating (and maintaining) a diverse income is something which can benefit freelancers working in all industries. The reason for this is simple; ‘staple’ client work is actually anything but. Indeed, it is the nature of the beast that nearly all commercial supply-and-demand work ebbs and flows to an unpredictable beat; work which may be plenty and reliable one week can easily become fragmented and possibly even absent the next. Ergo, freelancers who rely solely on client-based work put themselves at risk of hitting really tough times whenever their particular marketplace experiences a dip.
So what can freelancers do to diversify?
Well, the short answer here is, “Anything that will turn a few quid”. However, for the sake of brevity, and to concentrate on the theme of working within the digital workplace (which so many freelancers do these days), this article will highlight three ways in which freelancers can diversify their online work to help engender a more reliable income.
So let’s crack on.
Option 1: Blogging
Depending on your circumstances (and your writing ability), blogging can turn quite a decent profit. Although there are a number of ways to go about making money from blogging, freelancers who may not have loads of time to devote to it will likely go for one of two options: the direct route (writing for cash) or the indirect route (writing to generate traffic to your business).
The first option involves creating a blog, updating it with engaging content on a regular basis and then plastering it with GoogleAds and other forms of affiliate marketing which enable you to make a few pence kick-back every time a visitor to your site clicks on them. If you don’t want to set up a blog of your own then you can always generate articles for a revenue sharing website like Hubpages instead. Money can again be made via affiliate marketing and GoogleAds although your articles need to be very popular to make anything coming close to a decent income.
The second route involves maintaining a blog that will encourage readers to find out more about your freelance business (in the hope that they will become clients). This can be done by including a continually updated blog on your business website, by keeping a blog on a provider like WordPress, or by using social networking options like Google+ as places to advertise your products/services/portfolio.
Option 2: Selling digital products online
If you are a creative person then selling digital products can be a steady and really quite simple way to bring in some extra cash. If you are something of a wordsmith then writing an eBook, especially about something that is relevant to your own proven success, and then selling it through vendors like Gumroad can often be an excellent way to go. If you’re really good at writing then you might even consider writing a book (fiction or otherwise) and getting it published on Amazon’s easy-to-use yet reassuringly inexpensive CreateSpace platform. Although this will of course take some time to put in place (time you may have if your client work is really dwindling), it will reap rewards which you’ll not have to raise a finger to maintain once it’s done.
If writing isn’t your thing then you can always look to create and sell other digital products. For sure, consumers who aren’t creatively-minded will always want to buy things like graphics, templates, themes, fonts, and photos so, if you’re able to come up with these things and make them look good, you can easily put them out there for the buying public at large to admire and (hopefully) purchase.
Option 3: Selling physical products online
It is important to note that this option can become quite time-consuming if you let it (I’m looking at eBay merchants here!) so you should only really consider it if you have a decent angle to take advantage of. For example, if you enjoy making things in your spare time (such as knitting soft toys) then selling them online could be an easy, economic and (and very satisfying) way to bring in some extra cash. Or, if you know someone who can provide you with popular consumer products at next-to-nothing prices then you can easily put them up for sale on sites like Amazon and eBay, along with a healthy mark-up to make it worth your while.
Remember, this is meant to be a strategy that will complement your freelancing work, not replace it, so try and stay away from ventures which require weekly visits to wholesalers or hours spent hunting around flea markets..!
Are you a freelancer who has managed to generate and maintain a truly diverse revenue stream? If so, please share your thoughts – and tips – with us in the comments section.