4 new income streams to diversify your freelance revenue
Freelancing can provide lots of freedom, but not so much stability.
It’s kind of a universally accepted trade-off.
In exchange for choosing your own work, setting your own schedule, and other perks, you also have to deal with occasional dry spells, emergencies that throw off your timelines, and losing clients.
Stuff like that will come up; it’s inevitable. But that’s a good thing because realizing that allows us to prepare.
If your entire income is based on your design services, let me ask you this:
What happens if you get seriously ill and are out of work for weeks? What happens if you lose your biggest client unexpectedly? What happens if no one on your waiting list books next time you open up your schedule?
That way, if you’re ever unable to work with clients for a period of time, for whatever reason, you’re not unable to bring in revenue. Recurring revenue streams not only give you other sources of money to fall back on when one of them is in a dry spell, but they give you something else to focus on.
For example, if you have a dry spell in design work, you can use the free time to run a marketing promotion for one of your products and boost the monthly income from that.
So in this post, we’re talking about four great new income streams you can add to your business – ranging from passive or leveraged income to new types of one-on-one services.
1. Offer strategy services
The first thing you can do is create a more simplified, short-term version of your regular packages. In a lot of fields and service types, that ends up being strategy services such as one-off problem solving or consulting calls.
It’s easy to design strategy packages based on your existing “done for you” packages because the first step of most larger projects is usually planning and creating a strategy. With strategy calls, you just offer that on its own instead of moving on to implement the strategy as well.
As a web designer, you can offer strategy help around planning out website designs or redesigns, making website tweaks, switching from one platform to another, and more, depending on your own expertise.
For example, Jess Freeman at Jess Creatives offers website strategy sessions as well as longer-term coaching (which we’ll talk more about in a moment) to help walk clients through making DIY changes to their websites:
Why this income stream works with you
Strategy sessions can be extremely aligned with the rest of your services, since they’re likely part of your client process already. That means that if you package your design work and have a clear process for planning with clients, you can map these out and set things up in just one afternoon.
It’s similar to design work, but still way less time-intensive than the longer term projects that include implementing the entire plan you’ve created. That makes it more flexible in terms of scheduling – you can easily add a strategy session into your calendar here and there when you need to.
Plus, it’s more scalable than design work in terms of revenue. As your expertise increases, you can raise your prices without increasing the amount of time spent on each project. Given that implementing more advanced design work usually increases time spent, upleveling your revenue through full “done for you” services doesn’t have as much of a growth curve.
2. Provide business coaching
Once you’ve grown your design business to the point of diversifying income, you’ll have picked up enough about business to help newer freelancers just starting out. This is a great chance to make your friends and peers your target audience, as you can offer coaching to other designers.
If you’re ever in a creative slump, this can be a great income stream to fall back on while you re-find your creative side, as you can choose to offer help with more “business-y” things like client processes, business systems, or marketing freelance design businesses.
There’s a lot of flexibility here in what you offer.
You can offer design-related coaching to non-designers or business-related coaching to other designers, as well as other industries.
Why this income stream works with you
First of all, coaching can grow and scale very exponentially. Once again, as you improve your skills and become more of an expert, your prices increase while the time investment – whatever you decide that is – stays the same.
You can also even expand to group coaching programs or masterminds eventually.
This can also be a really energizing package to offer if you love problem solving and critical thinking. You now get to show up for client coaching calls, have them show you the inside of their business, and tweak and fix what’s not working.
Finally, if you’re trying to grow an agency, coaching new designers can create a talent pool for yourself. Think about it: if you’re training other designers based on your own methodologies and processes, when it comes time to hire someone new for the team, someone familiar with how you work can easily acclimate.
3. Sell pre-made design products
Moving away from services completely, one of the best ways to move into products is offering pre-made design work, like pre-made themes or graphic design templates.
You can either sell them on your own website, as part of your sales funnel to build your own audience, or you can choose to sell them on a larger platform where you can leverage their audience in exchange for giving up a bit of control or profit.
Pre-made designs also open up your business to a whole new market or client base; customers looking for fully pre-made or DIY products wouldn’t have been the ideal audience for your services, but this gives them an option to buy from you.
While their own sites target other business owners, the theme shop targets bloggers and new business owners with affordable WordPress themes and premade logos. It’s a great extension of their service-based businesses, to the point that they even have a few small customization services offered here as well.
Why this income stream works with you
Moving into products instead of services starts to detach your income from your time investment, which is key to big leaps in revenue and growth in your business. While there are definitely problems with the term “passive income,” there’s no denying that the time involved per sale of something like pre-made design products is minimal, to say the least.
It’s also a great way to monetize practice work or designs you’re “just playing around” with. I know several designers who have been able to sell designs they created for fun, for themselves (but didn’t end up using), or to develop a certain skill.
Finally, pre-made products are a great and popular item to work into a sales funnel of different offers.
You can position them multiple ways, so that they either help draw in new prospects to upsell your design services to, or offer them to audiences that wouldn’t be right for your custom services as a way to expand your potential customer pool.
4. Package your wisdom in infoproducts
Finally, DIYers need educational resources in additional to pre-made resources. Think products like ebooks, courses, and workshops.
You can teach design concepts or strategy, teach technical skills for other web designers, or any other process or skillset. With the saturated market of infoproducts, the more specific the topic, the better.
People love having help or training for a specific project, start to finish. See how Squarespace designer Louise at Solopreneur Sidekick walks through a specific process (a website launch), in her Website That Wows online course:
Like the products discussed above, infoproducts are also great for building out a sales funnel since they can be positioned anywhere depending on your goals.
It’s also never been easier to create, sell, and host digital products. WordPress plugins like Easy Digital Downloads let you add shops right to your site, services like Gumroad are so easy to set up that you could have a product for sale in 15 minutes, and platforms like Teachable let you create professional and customizable “schools” for your business.
Why this income stream works for you
Infoproducts are another way to either extend or provide an alternative to your design services to build out a sales funnel.
For example, if you offer an intro to branding ebook, that could be both an alternative option for people who would rather create their brand themselves rather than hire out design, or an introductory product for prospects who need to learn more about branding before deciding if it’s the right time to invest in web design services.
They also don’t require a lot of maintenance, so working on infoproducts is easy to fit around larger service-based products. For example, unless there’s a live component, you may only need to go in and perform admin once or twice per month.
You can also easily prep and promote infoproducts when your service workload is lighter, for one reason or another. If say, a client drops out and your schedule opens up, setting up a promotion or Facebook advertising campaign for the course is a productive way to fill up your time. You can also see profits from that work long after you’ve put down the infoproduct and returned to working with clients for the time being.
Diversified income is key
With freelance design’s feast and famine, somewhat uncertain nature – even with the best clients and marketing strategies – diversifying your income and selling multiple types of offerings is key.
Additional income streams help build your business’s revenue, make more money from existing clients, and monetize additional skills you’ve built. And if that all makes it sound really important, that’s because it is!
Free ebook: How to double your freelance revenue in 2017
Have you added other sources of revenue besides design work to your business? What streams have worked for you?
Looking for more freelance tips and tricks? Look no further!