Freelancers are on the rise.
At the end of 2012, NBC reported that freelancers (across industries) now make up almost a third of workers in the U.S. But, the MBO Partners State of Independence Report around the same time pointed out that 30% of these independent workers are still worried about their future as freelancers, and 40% are worried about where their next job will come from.
Being a freelance writer is, by nature, uncertain: you don’t have a steady paycheck, a single boss, or a consistent amount of work. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to live with an unstable, uncertain income.
If you’re worried about the future of your freelance writing income, or if you need to reevaluate your revenue streams after several years in the industry, don’t sit there worrying. Take a few simple steps to improve your income stability.
1. Don’t focus on one-off jobs
While they can pay big bucks, one-off jobs are, by their nature, the most unstable type of work. You get a big paycheck…and then you’re done. You may never hear from or work for that client again.
Instead, focus on getting 2-3 regular clients that you have a set amount of work from every month. This gives you a consistent base income, which allows you to plan your expenses and lifestyle accordingly.
Once you have regular working coming in from 2-3 clients, you can take on the occasional one-off job for a quick income boost without worrying about where your next paycheck will come from.
2. Have a system for finding new clients
Constantly marketing your business and looking for work is stressful, time-consuming, and drives down your hourly earnings. So, instead of running yourself ragged, have a marketing system in place that will bring in a stream of new potential clients.
There are many ways to do this – through a blog, a newsletter, a lead-capture box on your website, strategic social media useótry a few and see what gets you the best results. Once you have a steady stream of new clients coming in, you’ll spend a lot less time worrying about where your next job and next paycheck come from.
You’ve heard the saying don’t put all your eggs in one basket. It’s especially true for freelancers! Just as you shouldn’t depend on one client for all your income, you shouldn’t depend on one income stream either.
A good place to start is by diversifying the types of writing you do. If you write website content, consider branching out into sales emails or case studies. If you write for magazines in a specific niche, explore a few others, and see what sort of opportunities you can find.
You can protect your income even further by spreading out into related income streams. In addition to writing, you also offer consulting services to small businesses, mentor other writers, or do occasional public speaking.
By diversifying your sources of revenue, you create an even greater level of stability for your monthly income.
4. Have an emergency fund
When something unexpected happensóa large expense like a car accident or an illness that makes it impossible to workóyou don’t want to find yourself with nothing in the bank. Or, maybe one of your major clients has to close up shop and you find yourself with a third of your income suddenly gone.
In these cases, having an emergency fund built up is essential, but it’s something freelancers often overlook. You should have anywhere from four to six months of expenses saved up and easy to access if you need it.
5. Create passive income
Most writers have a huge body of work on related subjects, and a website on which to promote themselves. These two things combine beautifully to create the potential for passive income.
If you’ve been blogging on one topic for years, consider turning all those posts into an e-book. Or, maybe you’ve written hundreds of sales letters for clients you can take that knowledge and create a step-by-step guide for other writers to purchase.
Passive income is a fantastic addition to your revenue streams because it requires almost no extra work after the first push. Once you’ve created a product, you can sell it online indefinitely.
Freelancing is about more than just having the skills and finding a client. If you don’t want to live paycheck to paycheck, make sure you have a financial strategy in addition to a business strategy. You’ll be a much freer freelancer in the long run if you do.
Katharine Paljug is a freelance lifestyle and web writer who enjoys writing about everything from growing your business to nurturing your lifestyle. Connect with Katharine on her website or follow her on Twitter, @katharinewrites.