I want to clear up a nasty misconception that is floating around. That misconception is: “If I’m a freelance writer, and I pick up any extra work or income, I’m admitting failure.” Bull. That is simply not the case. But for so many freelance writers, it seems that this is the mindset. They work crazy hours writing for pennies a word, which means they have almost zero time to market to real businesses that pay a good wage. If they take time to market to those businesses, their income tanks. I understand this, because I’ve been there. But supplementing your income is not an admittance of failure, it’s simply a way to help you earn more.
Serial entrepreneurs do this all the time. I recently heard about one woman who has, to date, started 28 businesses. Many popular authors started out writing in their spare time while they worked a “regular” job – whatever that means; that’s another post altogether. If your income is not where you want it to be, don’t feel bad about getting another job or supplementing your income somehow.
Below are a few ways you can do this.
An Entrepreneurial Feeling Job
One way you can supplement your income as a freelancer is to get another job that feels a lot like freelancing but has more stability. I’m currently doing this right now, actually. I will soon be starting my classes to become a licensed real estate agent. Through my writing, I’ve realized that I really love writing about real estate, learning how appraisals work, researching the history of homes, and so on, and I already know that I love consultative sales and talking to people. So – since I love writing about it, why not get some credentials, some experience, and expand my income at the same time. Insurance salespeople, Avon representatives, and other such businesses all allow you to do this. It’s still a lot like owning your own business, but it’s just another avenue of income.
I know it sounds horribly cliche – I heard the moan from over here – but it’s true. Selling items on eBay is great! You can earn some income, get some experience in online selling (which you can write about – of course), and you never have to leave your home. Whether you want to sell items you have in storage that just aren’t being used, or you want to stock some inventory and sell items you buy wholesale, you’ll still be able to earn some extra income – and have fun, too.
Be a Virtual Assistant
Being a virtual assistant is a great way to earn a living. The pay isn’t always great, but it’s a nice side job for those who need some extra cash. Whether you like transcription, copy-paste jobs, data entry, or compiling a list of leads, there are jobs for just about everyone in the VA world. Places like Elance don’t often have the highest pay, but they do offer you the ability to work by project, by the hour, or just whenever you need some extra cash.
Get a Part Time Job
Whether you want to work retail or be a part-time secretary, getting a part time job is actually a great way to boost your writing career. Why? You get to meet a lot of people, network like crazy, and learn new skills that you can translate into your writing career. Is it the most ideal situation? No – of course we all want to be living in a luxurious townhouse dressed to the nines and making business deals with Fortune 500 companies for $9,000 white paper deals. And one day we may be doing that. But in the meantime, earning a part time income is nothing to be ashamed about, and can actually help you in the long run in your writing career.
Do Craft Shows
This is my favorite one. 🙂 If you are a crafty person like me (I’m a jewelry designer and handmade artisan, for those who don’t know), doing craft shows can be a great way to make some income. Generally speaking, finding shows that are within 15 miles of you, have relatively low admission fees (like around $100 for a 10 x 10 booth), and have a large audience are the best way to go. Take a LOT of inventory that is priced decently but not too high and you should see a lot of sales. I have an entire blog devoted to handmade jewelry and the business of, but for our purposes here, I’ll just say that craft shows can be extremely lucrative if you know how to work them. (Follow me at Jewel Be Fine if you want to learn more about this topic.)
So there you go. These are my five suggestions for things you can do to make more money while building your writing business. If you feel ashamed (which you shouldn’t, but I digress) to have another job aside from your writing career, just spin it. If someone asks you why you’re getting licensed as an insurance agent, just say that you’ve found a great niche writing for insurance companies and you want some experience to help your writing business along, so you can better communicate with your clientele. Bam.
The craft show thing tends to be more accepted by people because it’s not a “real job” – it’s like nails on a chalkboard isn’t it? – and so they figure oh, a freelance writer who makes stuff, too, big surprise. But even if you get a part-time job, just tell people that you’re gaining experience so you can draw on it to further your writing career. And you are, really. No matter what you end up doing. Just keep it legal, folks.
Does anyone have experience holding down a job outside of a writing career? If so, let us know in the comments!
Until next time – happy writing!