Working Toward $100,000: Diversifying Revenue Streams

Working Toward $100,000: Diversifying Revenue Streamswww.inkthinkerblog.com— The other week, my Biz Chicks Rule co-blogger, Bridget Wright, helped me brainstorm on my 2008 business strategy. After all, I have a big goal this year, and I need the planning to support the attempt. And on the heels of a painfully slow January, thanks to my multiple weeks of not being able get online, I’m starting out in a major deficit compared wtih what I was hoping for in the first months of the year.

“Where are you making your money?” she asked me. So of course I forwarded her my post What Exactly Is $70,000 in Freelance Income?, which breaks it all down. “Okay, so how many streams of income DO you have?” she asked. “Blogger, speaker, writer, editor… WOW!” Wow is right. Although it’s obvious that I know I make money from these things, seeing as how I listed them in the breakdown, I never though of them as streams of income — just stuff I did.

So! Now the question arises: How can I turn these different streams into real income? How can I monetize my time?

Well, first of all, I can do a better job of monetizing my blogging. Blogs aren’t just soapboxes. They’re little businesses, too. For my paid blogging work, the majority of my compensation is a direct result of traffic. To increase that income, I need to promote the blogs more aggressively and post more frequently to get more people to the site and keep them coming back. On my personal blogs, I can use affiliate relationships and advertising space to generate income. I can also get into the habit of saving blog post ideas in a tickler file so I always have something to write about and don’t have to deal with the panic of writer’s block. I can also use blog content as the basis for teleseminars, e-books, and other information products to generate additional income and encourage people to purchase my coaching services or hire me for their projects.

Second, I can charge for speaking. I’m a darn good speaker, and I’ve been doing it for a while now. There’s no reason that I shouldn’t be compensated for it, not when other people are making money on my presence. Volunteer work is one thing. Giving away the farm is another. I can also use speaking engagements as an opportunity to sell other  products and services, like coaching or, as Bridget pointed out, a book. (Note to self: Write a book.) I can also start proactively promoting my services as a speaker to professional organziations, school groups, and writing conferences.

Third, I can focus my efforts on writing work that pays well. Heck, I have a master’s degree in publishing from one of the nation’s best known public universities. I can charge a decent rate and produce really outstanding writing products. Rather than waiting for work to come to me, which I have been guilty of doing lately, I can revitalize my marketing efforts and build marketing into my daily activities. I can also capitalize on skills I possess and am developing to promote new or modified services. For instance, I make decent money writing resumes as a subcontractor, but I could double or triple that income by promoting resume writing as a direct service because I’ll get all of the money instead of just a portion. Additionally, I’ve been working through the AWAI Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting with the help of fellow freelancer Hope Wilbanks. I can get my butt in gear and finish the course, and start selling long-form copywriting services.

Fourth, as far as editing goes, I’m kind of phasing out editing for all but my longest-standing clients. Most of the people who come to me need more than an editor — they need basic instruction in written communication. So rather than killing myself completely overhauling their writing but not giving them anything of long-term benefit, I’d rather focus those skills on coaching people to become better writers and better freelancers, which I am very good at and wish I were doing more. It’s better for me and it’s better for the client, so that makes coaching a win-win.

What is really comes down to is this: I need a business plan. So, that’s what I’ll be working on over the next month or so. And in the meantime, I did go ahead and purchase domain names to promote speaking, coaching, and copywriting, and resume writing services, so you can look for more updates on those projects in the coming months. BUT! Strategy first.

What are your income streams? Which do you love, and which would you like to dam? Leave a comment?

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13 comments… add one
  • Jennifer Feb 12, 2008

    Well, diversifying is good, if you like to do that. I used to make a lot more money until I decided to go FT blogging. This year my taxes were oh so sad. But, since I still made enough to pay the bills I can’t whine too much.

    I think for most freelancers using various income streams is smarter money wise but I really was so tired of corporate writing, business copy, and magazines that I just stopped. Stopped cold. I’m thinking only blogging will pay off in a bit, but like any new venture takes a bit of time. Plus I was used to easy business stuff (loads of clients) blog clients are fewer.

    But overall I’m happier. Writing for other things was losing its punch for me. I actually have fun every day blogging.

  • Lillie Ammann Feb 12, 2008

    Unlike you, I focus on editing – especially with people who needs lots of help with their writing skills. I really enjoy working with an author who has a great story or a great idea but poor writing skills. In an ideal situation, I work with the author from concept through marketing a self-published book. I edit (and teach as I edit), format, consult on self-publishing, assist the author with finding a cover designer and printer, create a Web site and marketing materials, maintain the Web site and blog, edit blog posts, advise on promotion … whatever the author needs to write, publish, and market a self-published book. I have few clients but they are long-term, and I am a real part of the entire process – sort of a self-publishing author’s right hand.

  • Wow, Kristen, sounds like you have BIG plans and I know you’ll accomplish everything!

    Smiles,
    Michele

  • Kristen King Feb 13, 2008

    @ Jennifer – And that’s kind of my goal: to spend more time on the stuff I like, and to have a little more fun with it all. :)

    @ Lillie – THAT is what I enjoy about editing, but I see that as more of a coaching/mentorship or consulting relationship than editing, even though there is an editorial element to it. What I’ve been getting lately is people with a complete manuscript who want me to make it publishable and that’s just not even possible because they don’t have the skills or the desire (or the money, because heck, for enough compensation, I’ll rip it apart and start over) to make it happen. I would LOVE to get in on the ground floor like what you describe when someone has an idea and really guide them through the process. And fortunately I do have some clients like that, but not many. When people want to be educated and to develop their skills, it’s so, so rewarding. But when they don’t care about that, it feels more like putting a band-aid on a compound fracture — completely fruitless.

  • Abra Feb 13, 2008

    Great post. Having multiple streams of revenue is empowering, especially when you have enthusiasm for each stream. I really enjoy writing and researching articles for magazines, but I loathe business writing and PR so much I dammed those streams, filled them in with concrete, and built a giant steel boot on top.

    I fell into most of the mediums I’ve worked in. I’ve never intentionally sought out additional ways to earn that would compliment my writing, and build on the things I enjoy doing anyway.

    Building a freelance business is a lot like writing in that you’re so close to it that you can’t see the most obvious ways to clarify and strengthen the overall work.

  • Chryselle Feb 13, 2008

    When I lived in India, I used to speak a lot/conduct workshops on various topics at schools, colleges and church organisations. I was always paid – may not have been a fortune, but there was compensation.

    I’d like to get back to that someday – perhaps when I’m back in India again. That’s going to be one way of increasing my income and it’s something I enjoy doing.

    Chryselle
    http://www.chryselle.net
    http://chryselle.wordpress.com

  • Jessica Feb 13, 2008

    See my latest blog (jmwriting.blogspot.com) on how to make more money with your blog — I just found something — and you should join too ! :)

    Anyhow — I also have been doing speaking engagements, but for FREE, ughhh, I need to come up with ideas on how I can be paid to speak.

  • Marjorie Feb 14, 2008

    Hi, Kristen!

    Well, most of my income has come in from regular freelance assignments: newspaper and magazine articles. I do have occasional copywriting clients, but I really dislike them so I’ve decided to cut those out completely.

    Inspired by your post, I just called up the community education director at our local community college and proposed a freelance writing class. I’m meeting him on Monday morning to discuss it! Thanks for being such a great motivational blogger/written!

    Cheers,
    Marjorie

  • jack Feb 14, 2008

    Wow.
    Talk about multiple streams of income.

    But most of them depend on you being personally involved in the work.

    Monetizing websites and selling information products (such as e-books) are a couple of the notable exceptions.

    Your final point about a business plan seems key.

    Michael Gerber (The E-Myth) writes about what it takes to be successful (and not drive yourself crazy in the process). One of the keys is to set up a business which does not depend on your continued, full-time involvement to keep the money flowing.

    Sure, we like to write, but wouldn’t it be great to take off a couple of months and still have real cashflow?

    Recently I saw a product from marketer James Brausch that shows you how to design and set up your business (in your chosen area) so that it can run smoothly in your absence. It’s called Freedom Business System.

    There’s a common thread that runs through all of his products. He is totally focused on what works. He’s fanatical about letting results, not theory, guide what we do.

    When I write, I often get lost in the world of ideas. Does that ever happen to you?

    I know that I need to get organized and put a lot more focus on results.

  • Bridget Feb 18, 2008

    Hey Kristen, this is a VERY inspiring post for all. Be sure to keep us all updated on your successes!

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