Where are Your Freelance Goldmines?

Saturday, April 28, 2012
A writer friend and I recently discussed how she could up her income by $1000 a month. I sat down and tried to document exactly where my income comes from.
As a freelancer, I generate income from multiple sources:
  • Writing
    • Articles
    • Royalty books
    • Work for hire books
    • Blogs – income from GoogleAds, Amazon Affiliates, and self-published ebooks
    • Self-published Ebooks. (Kindle, Nook, iBook)
    • Self-published paperback Books
    • Selling my books at speaking engagements
  • Speaking
    • Teaching writing
    • Teacher professional development
    • School Visits
    • Conferences, retreats or other speaking opportunities
Goldmine in Waihi, New Zealand. Sometimes freelancers need to look afar for sources of income. Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jp_math54/3453406064/

Each month, the percentage from a particular source will vary widely. For example, in the fall, I will teach three novel revision retreats and collect a tidy sum for each. Because these involve travel, I only want to do 4-6 a year. The month I teach a retreat, it contributes a large chunk of cash to my overall income. But of course, the months I don’t teach a retreat, the income from this source is zero.

It takes multiple income streams to make it as a freelance writer.

Even if I was only relying on writing articles or work-for-hire books, I would still need multiple income streams. One publisher couldn’t keep me busy and support me. I would need relationships with several magazines or several educational publishers.
And overall, I’ve found that no one income stream can generate enough to abandon all the others.

Multiple income streams protects you from a dry month.

During the months when I don’t teach a novel revision retreat, I could starve. Instead, I’ve learned to focus energy those months on writing articles or developing content for my blog so readership and ad revenue will increase.

Multiple income streams provide fascinating variety.

Someone recently asked me to describe a typical day. Nope. I can’t. The very nature of a freelancer is variety. As I work to meet the needs of publishers I work with, the nature of those publishers means variety. One might want a royalty-based 2nd grade science fiction series, while another wants a how-to article on copyediting an adult novel. Flexibility is required.

Do you ever turn down work?

Sure. But I think hard before I turn something down. Do I want an ongoing relationship with this publisher? Will the requested article, blog post or book fit my strengths and overall goals as a writer? Is the pay enough, considering the time required to do a good job? I tend to say yes. Because, well, I am a freelancer and I need multiple income streams. Who can afford to say no, when the relationship might lead to bigger and better work? In other words, I tend to be a generalist.

On the other hand, my friend has found a niche that suits her well and she specialized in non-fiction for kids. You’ll need to decide where your desires as a writer fall and then make conscious choices to develop that type of relationships.
Freelancers, how do you make money from your writing? Where are your secret goldmines?


Darcy Pattison blogs about how-to-write at Fiction Notes.


Unknown said...

Good reminder that writing isn't always solely about sitting in front of the computer typing away! Multiple streams of income is a smart way to structure a writing career.

Joanne Guidoccio said...

Inspiring article...thanks for the tips.

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