10/31/08

Create Full-Time Freelance Income

Bear with me through this - it's going to be a long post - but creating your freelance income avenues is an important part of getting your income high enough to allow you to work full time from home.

When I first began my writing business my daughter was only a tiny baby. I struggled to keep up and earn enough to make ends meet. Then a friend of mine showed me a way to make sure my writing income always flowed into the business no matter what I wrote and now I earn more than enough to cover all my bills, pay the mortgage and still have plenty to spare.


Before we get into it, it's important to understand why having several income avenues coming into your freelance writing is a good idea.

You see, if you write only online articles this is your first avenue of income. If something happened to that company for which you're writing - what would happen to your income? If they shut down, you'd have no more income coming in and you'd need to go out and find another place to sell them quickly.
But if you had other forms of income coming into your business, the loss of one income avenue would only be a minor hiccup because there's always money coming in from somewhere else to hold you over until you find another place to sell those articles.

Make sense?
I'm going to create a fictional writer with his own freelance business. I'm going to call him Mr. Writer (not very creative, huh?). Before he found my blog, he wrote only online articles and he's wondering how me might be able to work from home full time.

Let's see how difficult it might be to get his freelance business running at a full-time income.

Income Avenue 1)

Mr. Writer is already writing and selling 5 online articles per week. He writes one each day and they take him 30 minutes each. He sells each article for $8 and he's pleased about having a nice part-time income. He wonders how he can sell more articles.

Right now, 100% of his writing income comes from online articles. His weekly income if $40. Not great. He wonders how he can increase his writing income.

Income Avenue 2)

Mr. Writer writes one article a day. Each article takes him 30 minutes. That leaves him with several working hours left in each day where he either surfs the net or watches TV. A friend tells him that he could get paid for posting comments in forums. He decides to spend 20 minutes per day doing a little paid forum posting.

Each post is paid at 15 cents. Not great. But in 20 minutes he can do 20 quick posts. Over 5 days that's 100 posts at 15 cents each - which is $15. Still not great - but it's extra money coming into his business, and he gets to put his signature at the bottom of each post which shows his blog URL. He realizes he's getting paid to advertise his blog. It's not a lot of money, but it's promotion.

He's still writing and selling the same amount of online articles, but he's added 20 minutes worth of forum posting and increased his weekly writing income to $55. Mr. Writer adds the extra stream to his spreadsheet and makes a pretty pie-chart to show him what percentage of income is coming from what source. Obviously his online articles are his major source of income at this stage.



Income Avenue 3)

Mr. Writer is getting excited now and figures he could also spend another 30 minutes of each day doing a little paid blogging. He chooses what topics he wants to write about and figures he'll earn $10 per blog post. He's going to write one per day. That's $50 per week and he's still only working less than 2 hours per day! His total freelance income is up to $105 per week. Not bad for under 2 hours work per day. The paid blogging has now become Mr. Writers main income source and the portion from online article sales looks a little low.


Income Avenue 4)

Mr. Writer finds a content provider willing to pay him for online reviews. They want 5 reviews per week and they pay $5 per review. Still not great income. But they're short and they're quick so he can do a review in 15 minutes. He adds this extra 15 minutes per day to his work-day and sees another $25 per week coming into his freelance business. He's up to $130 per week.

It's still not full-time is it? Perhaps not - but Mr. Writer is still only writing one article, one blog post and one review per day, along with a few forum posts. He's still working under two hours a day. That's pretty good income for part-time work.


Income Avenue 5)

Mr. Writer created his own blog when he first began writing. People are starting to visit it now and he's figured out there are a couple of places who will pay for banner ads whether you have any visitors or not. He's signed up with these. They don't pay much, but it's better than nothing. One company pays him $6 per month (or $1.50 per week) for a simple little banner. He gets excited and throws some Google Adsense ads on the blog too.

They don't pay much on his site because he doesn't have many visitors - maybe a few dollars a month. He adds the pathetic little figure of $2.50 a week to his spreadsheet and gets depressed that it's so low.

Then he also remembers that he's doing nothing for it, so it's really like free money that will just grow as his blog gets bigger. He's also got his blog address out in 30 different forums and people are really starting to visit now. The Adsense dollars slowly start adding up.

This is called passive income. He's not depressed any more.






Income Avenue 6)


Mr. Writer enjoys the community feeling of writing in forums and blogs, but he's just not being taken seriously as a freelance writer. He gets impatient and wonders how he can get an article in his favorite Muscle Cars magazine.

He's visited a few of the professional freelance writing sites (like Freelance Factor and Absolute Write and Worldwide Freelance and Writing-World) and he knows you never write an article for a big magazine without first sending a quick query letter to the editor to ask if his article idea would be accepted.

The editor writes back and says: "Yes please. I need 800 words on your wonderful idea by Friday and I'll pay you $400 when it's done." Woo hoo for Mr. Writer!

Mr. Writer decides he's going to send out one query letter per week to different magazines with his ideas and hopefully write one major article every week.




Uh oh... Take a look at Mr. Writer's pie chart now! All that hard work on writing articles, forum posts, blogs and reviews - and it's not even a quarter of his total freelance income!


Do you think he should just stop doing them and concentrate on the big stuff instead?


Please tell me you're shaking your head saying "NO WAY, RAVEN!"... I would be.


You see, the income from little stuff might not look like much, but what happens to Mr. Writer's income if he doesn't sell any big articles for a few weeks in a row?


Income avenues only work as an effective safety net when none of the incomes make up more than 50% of your total income. This means Mr. Writer needs to figure out how to get his major income to less than half of his total writing income to be safe. Are you with me?


Let's see what Mr. Writer's going to do to solve this imbalance between his income avenues and strengthen his safety net.


Step 1)


Mr. Writer figures that researching and writing one major article is going to take him 10 hours. He decides to do 4 hours on one day and 4 hours on the second and 2 hours on the third. This still leaves him plenty of time to work on his other income avenues.


In fact, he has plenty of time to do more than just his normal stuff - he could probably double it.


Step 2)


He decides to write 2 online articles per day instead of one, taking his weekly income from this source up to $80 per week.


Step 3)


He finds a second paid-forum-posting company and adds that workload to his first, doubling that income to $30 per week.


Step 4)


He writes one extra review per day, doubling his income from this source to $50 per week


Step 5)


He writes one extra paid blog post per day, doubling that income to $100 per week.

At the same time, more and more people start to visit his blog. His ad income goes up to $10 per week and he's liking this passive income idea!


Let's look at his pie-chart now...



Hmmm.... that one big article sale is still more than 50% - but his income has gone up quite a lot! If you've been doing the math during this article, you'd see that Mr. Writer's income from writing is now up to $670 per week - but only if he sells that one big article every week. If he doesn't sell a big article, he's back down to $270 per week.


He needs to add one more income stream that could help him to even it out a bit.


Mr. Writer visits the professional freelance sites again and reads all the articles. He learns what the professionals would do to bump up their incomes and he considers his options. He adds...


Income Avenue 7)


Non-fiction ebooks on quality, niche topics still sell very well. He is smart enough to know he has to avoid the overdone topics already filled with junk products, like 'Get Rich Quick' or 'Work At Home' - but there are niches out there where a quality product still sells very well.


He has a passion for model trains and he knows enough about them to show other model train fans how to collect them properly. He looks on Google and finds plenty of websites for model train enthusiasts. He sits down and writes a chapter per day on his passion. After 10 days, he's finished.


Mr. Writer gets a nice cover graphic made for him, writes a sales page that tells people what's in the book and then he emails all those model train websites he found earlier to tell them about it. They all agree to promote it to their visitors for him. He sells it for $15.


Mr. Writer submits his little ebook to ebook directories and listings. He submits it to review sites and it gets great reviews. Sales start to go up...


He's selling 6 per week - which is an extra $90 into his freelance business, bringing his total up to $760 per week. It's no best-seller, but it keeps selling week after week for a whole year. Not bad for a few days work! Mr. Writer decides he likes this passive income stuff after all.







Mr. Writer's story is just a simplified example I created to show you that you have the option of creating your freelance business empire however you choose. It's your business so you should fill it with things you enjoy doing - but those things also need to create enough income to keep your business running.

I hope it's also highlighted that poor Mr. Writer spent a lot of time creating low-paid content for very little reward at the end, yet he earned far more money with one simple article to one magazine.

Please view any low-paying online jobs you may have now as "filler" income. It's nice to have a bit of extra money coming in - but don't rely on it! Create your main income avenue from high paying sources. There are a couple of posts on my blog about how to find high paying markets. Fill in your secondary income avenues with the low-paying fluff to keep your business going.

Take a look at your own business's income avenues and see if you can find ways to increase each avenue.


You do have more than one Income Avenue, don't you?


;)


8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Having more than one revenue stream is good--but why even talk about those crappy eight-buck or 15-cent jobs? They are dragging the whole profession into the toity! It's like saying, "If you work enough hours at cutting lawns, it adds up." Actually lawn cutting pays way more!

Bianca Raven said...

I guess writing about the crappy low paying jobs is to point out that there's absolutely NO way to make them pay a full time income - they're only ever good as a top up source of income. Nothing more.

My aim is to get writers out of the crappy income league and up into a professional paying freelance career - but they can't do that if they stick to the low paying end.

Ed said...

Where do you find companies that will pay 8 bucks per article?

Bianca Raven said...

Hey Ed. The correct question would be "How do I get LESS of the $8 an article jobs and MORE of the $400 an article jobs instead?"

You only ever use the small paying articles as top-up income - never as the major portion of your income.

Check out the post I wrote on finding high paying writing markets for more.

2ThePoint said...

Bianca,

I found this post EXTREMELY helpful.

Thank you.

Mark said...

Hi Bianca - Great article. Only one question, in the area of Paid Posting. Can you really do 20 posts in 20 minutes? I've done this type of work before, and there is no possible way I could do 20 in 20 minutes. Maybe 2 or 3 on one site in 5 minutes, then a few minutes to record that work, switch to another site, then another 2 or 3 on another site. In other words, 2 or 3 posts plus the associated "paperwork" in 8 to 10 minutes.

If you really do have a way of posting more quickly than that, I would love to hear how you do it.

Anonymous said...

Great post. I found you blog a couple of minutes ago and I like it. The posts are well written. Good job.
Hmm about creating more income how about mr writer starts investing what he has earned and reinvesting his profits while improving his freelance writing? That would make his business take off

Focused Life said...

Its been 6 years since you've written this and I still find it super helpful. Thanks so much.