Freelance writers bring in the majority of their income by working with clients, earning money for the hours we spend on specific projects. But clients aren’t the only way to make money — and I don’t think we should rely entirely on them.
Writing as a Product
The client-based business model relies on the fact that freelance writers provide a service. We sit down at our computers and bang out a thousand words with a specific client in mind — we get money when that client pays us for our time. It’s a decent set up, generally speaking, but there is one small problem with it: eventually you hit a ceiling in how much you can earn. Yes, great writers can ask for (and receive) rates that add up to a very nice income, but there are only so many hours in day. Even the best of us can’t work 25 hours a day just to increase our income.
That’s where products come in. Writers can create a long list of products, like ebooks, blogs, and articles that can earn money long after we’ve finished writing them. Think about an ebook: it may be necessary to invest hours into getting an ebook written and ready to sell, but you can keep selling copy after copy of your ebook long after you’ve covered the cost of the time that went into it. It’s important to market these products, but the amount of work necessary to do so is far less than writing a new article. It’s not passive income, but it comes close.
The benefit of having a stream of income beyond a client is that while many of these projects will only bring in a small amount of money regularly, they’ll continue bringing in money even if your client ends the contract or doesn’t offer you a new project down the road.
Clients Are Still Important
I don’t want you to get the idea that I don’t appreciate my clients. I do, and the majority of my income still comes from them. I think that marketing and finding new clients is crucial to a freelancer’s business. It just happens that I think that adding a few other streams of revenue to the mix is worthwhile.
I think that a few good products can actually help you in the long run with your clients, as well. Especially if you focus on creating products for your niche, rather than just written products in general, you can reinforce your expertise in your area as well as pick up income from the type of people who may not be in a position to hire you as a freelancer but are happy to read a blog or an ebook.