In June 2013 I quit my corporate job to go full-time freelance with my web design business. And by September I was hitting 5k months.
At the time, it was a lot. To you that may be a lot, or a little. But for me it represented something HUGE:
It was more than I made in a month at my previous corporate job.
To me, that’s all that mattered. Reaching that is when I truly felt like I could make this freelancing thing work. My biggest fear of leaving my job was not being able to replace that income. So when I went beyond it, my mind was opened to the infinite possibilities of income when not attached to a pay check from someone else.
When it came to launching The Freelance To Freedom Project, I wrote a little ebook. One that you’ve likely read (if you haven’t, you can grab it here), called “Last Corporate Day to a Month of 5k” with some advice about what I did to make that happen.
Well, six months after I released that freebie, I made $19,441 in one month alone. And then I did it again in November.
The Importance of Diversifying Your Income
Most of us freelancers do some variation of one-on-one work.
That’s where our passion lies and it’s the easiest way (in my opinion) to start a freelance business.
The only problem: there are only so many hours in the day.
So if you’ve maxed out your one-to-one client time, feel like you’ve raised your prices as high as you feel comfortable with now, but still want to increase your income…you’ve got to diversify your income streams.
Different Income Streams
There are soooo many different ways you can bring in more money without relying on one-to-one services. (and it’s not just about “passive income”)
Different income streams you could consider:
- Write and sell an ebook that solves a problem for your audience
- Sign up to be an affiliate for courses or software you use and actively market those on your website and social channels
- Write an actual book or create some kind of workbook/planner specific to your audience’s needs
- Create a retainer service for past clients for small tasks that you could outsource to someone else to actually do
- Create an online course or training program
- Create a paid mastermind/support group that you lead
- Run a local workshop
- Allow advertising on your website
So what are the actual steps to making $19k months (or more) possible for you?
Before I even started thinking about what kind of new income stream I wanted to create for myself, I made sure to take a few important steps to make sure I was ready.
#1: Build up enough 1-to-1 client business so you have enough steady income and repeat or referral business
I’m surrounded by a lot of freelancers and solo-preneurs and something I see happen often is people jumping right into diversifying their income from the start.
Why this wasn’t the best plan for me:
- Instead of doing one thing well and mastering it, I’d end up doing a lot of things just so-so.
- I’d be putting all my time and effort into something that had no guarantee of results (while taking time away from my one-on-one services). This in turn would put financial pressure and uncertainty in the mix, delaying how quickly I would reach the overall income I wanted.
- At the start I didn’t have a big enough audience or understanding of my audience’s true needs. (More on this below)
Instead, I made sure I was bringing in consistent enough income from my one-on-one services, through my marketing & referrals to be confident financially in creating something new.
In fact, I wouldn’t have made $19k that month on the new income stream alone. I had one-on-one clients that I could count on if the launch of SL&I didn’t go so well.
#2 Build up an audience
No matter what kind of new income stream I wanted to have, there had to an audience.
Whether you want to create a course or just sell ad space on your website, you need people that know, like and trust you to hit buy or traffic to your website to click on those ads.
My first year of business, both of my audiences (web design business and this FTF blog) were quite small.
So before creating something new, I put a big focus on growing my newsletter list and social media channels.
Not only did this give me potential customers, but it helped me…
#3 Understand the true needs of your audience
The key to a successful new income stream is understanding the biggest problems and pain points your customers have and solving that for them.
You can’t make this up.
You can’t assume.
You’ve got to be surrounded by them, interact with them and ask them.
That’s why #2 and #3 go hand-in-hand.
You’ve got to have that audience to be able to understand their problems.
And once you do, start your research before choosing the type of income stream.
Maybe they don’t like group programs. Maybe they hate websites that have ads on them. Maybe they never read ebooks. Or maybe they love it all.
Same goes with their biggest pain points and what they’re willing to pay to get help with.
You’ll never know until you ask.
(I talk more about the research stage of creating a product in one of the ebooks in the free Freelancers Toolkit. Get it here.)
#4 Create, launch & sell!
Once you have the above steps in place, it’s just a matter of deciding on what kind of income stream based on what your audience would respond to, what problems they have that you can solve and getting into creation mode!
I went into detail about creating, launching and selling in the blog series, Behind The Scenes of Creating an Ecourse, as well as my ebook “4 Steps To Creating Your First or Next Passive Income Stream” as part of the free Freelancer’s Toolkit. So start with steps 1-3 above, then dig into those extra resources.
These steps aren’t rules. They are just what worked for me and got me above $19k for two months in 2014.
You don’t need 10,000 Facebook fans and 20,000 email subscribers to successfully launch a new income stream — I had less than 1000 subscribers when I did my first $19k month.
But it sure as hell helped to have taken these steps first rather than jumping into it from the start. And if I had to do it again, I would certainly do the same. Because an extra $40k for the year, was certainly worth the extra work and patience.