Want to induce a panic attack? For half of Americans, it’s as easy as checking our bank account. Most of us lie awake at night paralyzed by our money woes, worried how we’ll eat, pay our rent and healthcare insurance if we’re lucky to afford it. And although all the economic reports tout sky-high incomes, for most of us, we’re only $400 away from hardship. Our debt is our warden. Our desire to live beyond our means is our prison.
Our financial fragility is real.
If you fist-pump your biweekly paycheck, don’t get complacent. We’re a recession away from layoffs. Corporations remind you that you’re part of a family until they have books to balance. All those trust falls, retreats, and branded swag give way to “restructuring” and “realignment,” which is a nice way of saying you’re fucked. Royally.
Watch how quickly the indispensable becomes disposable.
If you’re a successful freelancer with strong flow, don’t rest on your referral laurels. Clients could vanish as fast as you can say where’s my last payment?
So whether you’re savoring the sweet joys of consistent income at your 9 to 9 or content with the healthy referrals hitting your inbox, there’s a simple way to hedge against a money catastrophe.
Let me whisper three magical words: diversified income streams.
Establishing multiple income streams doesn’t need to be daunting — it just needs to be strategic. Now, this isn’t about juggling wildly random gigs. Rather, it’s about dividing a pie, examining the work that you do and finding ways to parse it out and create stand-alone streams.
Consider the logic. Every job or project has a defined set of components, i.e., all the actions you take to get from A to B, as well as an expertise that’s consistently tapped. Imagine that you create a series of steps for the thing that you do and determine which of those steps can be blown out to its own hustle.
Say you’re a copywriter for tech start-ups. Research, writing, and industry expertise are but a few elements that comprise your deliverable. Now imagine if you were able to sell your knowledge in the form of consulting, research and trend reports about the tech space. Or maybe you can create how-to writing guides or manuals for your clients’ internal teams. Or, you can teach how to create compelling conversion copy in a half-day workshop. Or, you can advise them on the publications and influencers in the space that could be a distribution outlet for your content. Or, you can partner with the marketing team and work on everything from sales collateral and website copy. Or, you can create an e-book or mini-course teaching other copywriters how to up-level their game. The possibilities are endless.
Your career is reliant on two factors: expertise and experience. Determine how you can sell your head or logical spinoffs of the deliverable (i.e., the thing you make or create), and consider how and where you can distribute those offerings. You can sell how to know the thing and how to make the thing.
Right now, I’ve got five income streams going.
- Consulting (DFY): This is the bulk of my income and where I charge a premium. As a marketer, I offer three distinct services: brand platform development and strategy, customer ID, profiling and segmentation, and industry research. My average engagement is $12K. Most recently, I scored a $50K project.
- Freelance writing: I write everything from sales and marketing collateral to white papers and eBooks. If I’ve created a brand platform for a client, they’ll keep me on to work on materials. I also publish content on Medium behind the paywall, and consistently pitch their stand-alone publications. This year alone, I’ve made $15,000 from writing on Medium. Side note: There are a plethora of articles about making money on Medium — I don’t intend to write one of them.
- Selling e-books: For a long time, I considered creating courses and decided that I’m not built to deal with customer service and all the up-front work. However, I launched a freelancing eBook this year, a 198-page tactical how-to manual that included swipe files, video, and audio tutorials. I made around $4900–98% of the sales came from my email subscribers. I have other eBook ideas in the works for 2020.
- Consulting (DIY): For the past two years, I’ve dipped my proverbial toe in the 1:1 consulting model. I offered a weekend intensive or a month-long engagement where I helped creative entrepreneurs build their brand, business, and IP. We’d have workshops where clients would bring their “homework” and we would collaborate on creating solutions, frameworks, and tactical deliverables. I’ve done everything from assessing the viability of an agency owner’s business model to showing a consultant how she could pivot to another industry through strategic marketing and thought leadership. My minimum engagements are $3,000.
- Selling on Amazon/Poshmark: I’m surgical about not keeping anything that I no longer need in my home. I’ll sell books I’ve read, equipment I no longer use, clothing that no longer fits, etc. and I’ve made around $1500 in the past year.
I grew up poor, so I know what it’s like to open your fridge and see a stick of butter and a bag of potatoes. I know what it’s like to sell your possessions on the street, which I did once when I was a kid. In my late 30s, I was crippled by anxiety and debt. There was a time not too long ago where I subsisted on oatmeal and ramen for two months straight. I know what it’s like to suffer the downturns, and I knew that survival and my sanity would benefit from career planning. From not being frightened should one of my clients loses their budget or my eBook flops.
So whether you want to have some semblance of financial stability or you want to make some extra income, consider all the ways you can package and repackage yourself because we’re all brilliant at something.