If you’re putting all your eggs in one basket, you are setting yourself up for failure. We hear this all the time, but often our actions take a moment to catch up with our head knowledge.
When I first quit my day job, I had two large clients. The majority of my work came from one client and I used those funds to pay most of my bills. The other was warming up to me and was passing me more responsibility one chunk at a time.
Well, as things go in life, I ended up having to dump my huge client, and guess what happened to my finances? I went into famine mode immediately and wow the struggle was real.
I was too fresh to give up in that moment, but I certainly started looking at other streams of revenue to keep myself afloat during those dark times.
Here’s the reality, the feast to famine cycle doesn’t have to be part of your entrepreneurial lifestyle. You don’t have to go from huge months of fame and success to feeling like a homeless person on the street.
What you do need to do is diversity where your clients are coming from and have multiple streams of revenue to keep you afloat. To guide you I’d love to take you behind the scenes of the different streams of revenue I use to keep cash flow consistent.
Upwork makes up 30-50% of my income; it’s higher depending on the time of year.
Although there are many pros and cons to using a freelance platform to find on demand work, here’s what I do to make sure the projects I work on align with my business goals, values, and pricing.
- Use search filters to display only the most relevant gigs – you can filter by price, project type, and other things. This cuts down on the amount of time I need to spend searching for gigs.
- Have a higher hourly rate – currently my rate is $50/hour. Now, of course not all clients will pay that, but only the serious companies will contact me. This cuts down on the amount of spam and poor gigs.
- Learn from the pros – Danny Margulies has excellent tips on improving your Upwork profile to earn higher paying clients. I’ve used them and they work! You can learn more by reading his article: How to Earn on Elance and downloading his free Upwork hacks.
I’ve heard tons of people complain about how spammy freelance platforms similar to Upwork are, however you truly do get what you attract.
Learn More: Check out Freelance a Key to Freedom
As a millennial, I’m obsessed with social media and have been for a long time. But, I’ve also realized what a waste of time it can turn into if you aren’t intentional about it. Beyond the typical rules of social media, here are some other suggestions:
- Social media makes up 30% of my income with clients coming from Facebook and Twitter. Currently, I have prospects on LinkedIn, but none of them have turned into paying clients yet.
- We all know to post valuable content and post consistently, but also joining Tweet Chats on Twitter, retweeting content from influencers, and using industry specific hashtags helps to spread your message.
- Share tips of what you’ve learned. Often times your work will speak for itself. As a writer, I can’t tell you how many people have reached out to me directly because they’ve been watching the strategies and tactics I use to market my fantasy novel.
- Facebook Tip – During the book launch of “The Five Warriors” I realized the power of online communities. If you take the time to ask questions, comment on other people’s work, and position yourself as someone with valuable thoughts and opinions, people will start looking to you. Notice the key word is “social” media, not “selling” media. For me, Facebook has a much slower sales cycle than Upwork because of the social aspect.
- LinkedIn Tip – LinkedIn actually has something called ProFinder where you can look for professionals in your area. If you’re a company looking to hire freelancers, or if you’re a freelancer looking to work with a larger company, this may be a great alternative. I’ve actually just started using ProFinder but would be curious to hear your thoughts.
Friends, family, and current clients have all been a source of referrals for me. While I don’t advocate using your friends and family as a consistent stream of revenue, it’s important for them to know what you do and who you serve in case they know someone who can benefit from you.
With your current clients, let your work speak for itself. One of the things I have neglected is having a system in place for referrals and feedback. Testimonials are killer for bringing in new clients, especially if you have a big client raving about the quality of your work. Asking for referrals can be a simple process or quick email after a project is complete.
Recently I switched over to using FreshBooks for invoicing, while I’m still new to the platform I love the fact that it prompts me to ask for reviews.
I am not a huge fan of networking and referral groups. While I like meeting with others, there seems to be a hidden agenda behind the typical networking group. However, I’ve been proven wrong (don’t you just love it when you’re wrong about something!).
Last year I started going to Meetups in the Nashville area to get to know other writers and authors in the community. More recently, I decided to focus on them for growing my business.
The first networking meeting I went to, I got a new client that I didn’t even talk to during the event. She simply heard me talking about my business, we emailed a couple of times, and boom, brand new client.
What helps is being clear on your message, have your elevator speech prepared with who you are, what you do, and why you do it. If you can clearly articulate how passionate and excited you are about what you do, others can get behind it and support you.
Learn More read these articles: Networking Event? Try this Creative Approach to Introducing Yourself and Help! My Elevator Pitch is Falling (Seriously) Flat Chested
This is a new stream of revenue I’m tapping into – becoming a brand influencer. My first gig I was approached via email by a nationally recognized company. It’s ironic because it’s something I’ve been wanting to do but thought I needed to wait until my social media presence was larger, i.e. over 10,000 followers. However, I love this kind of gig because it’s all about being paid to say good things about their business. Which is easy and fun for me.
Royalties from book sales make up 1% of my income, if that much. It’s hard to tell since the book was published in September of 2015, but 6 months in it’s tracking at annual sales of $1,000. This accounts for most of the sales taking place the first 3 months and other sales trickling in the remaining 9 months. Of course, I have a book launch schedule annually for the next 10 years, so I certainly expect that number go grow. However, small steps are the way to success.
Download the free guide: How to Plan an Epic Book Launch in 6 Steps or get the full course: How to Plan a Book Launch: A Book Marketing Course for Indie Authors
You never know where your next client or your next lead for a new client will come from. As a fan of Marie Forleo I subscribe to her email list, watch her videos, and sometimes comment on her blog. Well, recently I left a comment, sharing my experience with the topic Marie was speaking about on her video. A few hours later, I had an email in my inbox from someone who had seen the comment, gone to my website, and was interested in a quote for web design. You have an impact, even with the seemingly small steps you’re taking to grow your business.
Are you using different streams of revenue for your business? If so, what’s working well for you?