A third of my freelance income came from a major client. Then this outfit ran out of money for the program that was paying me.
Poof! My related earnings went from dependable to nothing overnight.
What to do? Perhaps you should look beyond your usual articles or books and think “on the side.” From tax consulting to lectures and teaching, possibilities abound.
You won’t just make money directly off side activities—you’ll also help your main ones by letting people know you’re around. They can’t hire you, buy your books, or otherwise send cash your way if they aren’t aware of your existence. “On the side” can be a great marketing strategy.
Do you do your own taxes? Many freelancers do, and if you are good at it, you can help other freelancers and even remote workers do their taxes as well. All it takes is a basic knowledge of common tax tips for freelancers and using your connections to other freelancers to find interested clients.
No, you don’t have to spend the days from January to April crunching numbers for other people. Your goal is not to start another career as a tax accountant, rather just to offer advice. You can do this through writing articles such as things authors should look at before filing their taxes, or you can even hold a seminar or webinar on the topic.
For individual, one-on-one consulting, you can limit what you do and charge appropriately. This not only lets people see you as a smart freelancer and savvy business person, but also exposes them to your work.
Here, as in other cases, please investigate local, state and federals laws that may apply. Can’t afford a lawyer? Your local or state government may be able to refer you to small business advisers who can point you in the right direction in this regard and others. Here in Idaho, we have the Idaho Small Business Development Center to provide free advice, and an equivalent may exist in your city or state.
Classes offer you a couple of opportunities. You can offer in-person classes to writers, freelancers, and even the general public on subjects you write about. You can also offer the same classes online or as a podcast or webinar. For instance, as a freelancer and a thriller author, I could teach classes on several topics:
- The benefits of having a home office, including the tax advantages of having a home office.
- SEO and Content Marketing.
- Things you might want to outsource as a freelancer.
- Creative Writing, from broad courses to individual courses.
- Writer software courses like Word and Scrivener.
- Writing as a business.
You have unique knowledge, either from what you write about or what you do for a day job that can easily be translated into classes both in-person and online. Consumers pay high dollar for this type of courses, and there are a number of ways to market what you do through them.
For instance, I taught several classes on Scrivener—writing software that I find particularly useful and that I found enabled me to write faster. Through teaching those classes, I was able to network with several authors, sell some books, and get my name out there as an expert on Scrivener.
Tutoring and formal education
What better English and writing tutor than an author who writes full-time? If you are comfortable working with children and parents, or even college students, you can find a lot of work as a tutor. You can do everything from giving high school students a leg up in their senior year to helping students pass standardized tests and college entrance exams.
Also, if you have your college degree, especially if you hold a master’s degree, you can work in area schools, whether as a substitute in high schools to working as an adjunct or assistant to a professor at your local college.
One of the best ways to hone your own skills is to teach them to someone else, and almost any type of teaching from more informal classes you develop yourself to more formal teaching opportunities will help you do. At the same time, you are also exposing parents, students, and others to your work as a writer.
You may not be Stephen King or J.K. Rowling, but you can still hold special author events that the public may be interested in. From book releases to other “night with the author” type events, you can not only interest the public in your work but also in you as a person.
Until you are a big enough name to hire a publicist, you can often enlist the help of your community of fans to spread the word, and you can set up ticket sales online yourself, and even set up selfie-tickets so attendees can check into the venue using their photo.
You should be set up to sell your own merchandise at these events as well, and you can do so using several online checkout services such as PayPal or Square and your smartphone or tablet. Just make sure that you can connect to WiFi or have an unlimited data plan on your phone to avoid eating up your profits.
As an example, I created an event called “Stories on the Spot” where readers would fill out a questionnaire, and I would then create a personalized story for them on the spot, print it, and sign it. The event not only resulted in revenue from stories sold, but also in book sales and even an editing lead.
There are many creative ways for freelancers to both make money and market themselves at the same time. I’ve mentioned just a few of them. I can go on and on. What about branching out into writing ads or creating Web sites for local businesses, for example? If you are going to succeed at making a living writing, you might want to consider these and other ways to build your brand, get hired, and sell more books.