Freelancing is a very rewarding profession. You get to handle multiple clients and earn a stream of income higher than those of an average office worker.
You don’t have to go through the inconvenience of commuting. You are also spared from the drama of office politics. Given that the necessary expenses are only minimal, freelancers often save more money than a regular office worker.
However, what if the well dries up, and the flow of work stops? What are the sources of income for a freelancer?
The contract period of a freelancer with a client always has a termination point. If a client does not renew your contract, then your income suffers a setback. Some may continue to acquire work, but the payout from these remaining clients may not be enough to justify the amount of time spent on these projects.
The career of a freelancer always has uncertainties. Unless you have secured a guaranteed long-term engagement with a client, financial independence may remain elusive.
Thus, you must have contingencies in place in the event that the volume of work decreases. These contingencies are options that you should consider as alternative sources of income until freelance work becomes regular again.
10 Amazing and Alternative Sources of Income for Freelancers that You Can Do
1. Part-time employment
As much as freelancers enjoy the freedom of working in their own hours and in the comforts of their own homes, financial distress may require them to go back to the brick-and-mortar world.
Some companies offer a part-time work. By definition, a part-time work is any job that is fewer than eight hours per day. The outsourcing industry offers several opportunities for those seeking a part-time work. By 2016, approximately 1.6 million jobs will be created by the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry.
BPO companies are open to hiring part-time workers because the cost per head is low. Moreover, the volume of work per campaign constantly increases. Companies need to fill these seats as soon as possible.
The compensation in BPO companies is among the best in the job market. In addition to salary and the usual benefits, incentives and other bonuses are offered to motivate agents to perform well.
The BPO industry is definitely a good source of income for freelancers, and the nature of the job is closely related to what they do. The Philippines also has one of the best career/succession planning programs in global BPO.
As for myself, I worked as a customer support representative at night and a sales manager during the day before I decided to do a full-time freelance work.
2. Business consultancy
If you believe that you have the skills to guide businesses through turbulent times, consultancy can be your calling card. Your skills can be validated with your track record from your clients in freelancing.
If you already have a website, rewrite the contents to highlight your new service offering. Utilize social media channels and other online platforms to promote your consultancy service. Lastly, go old school and use traditional networking tactics:
- Call up friends and associates and offer your services or ask for referrals.
- Go door-to-door and leave a marketing kit
- Attend networking events and business forums and offer your services
If your performance record is great and clients give written testimonies, you can make good income as a business consultant. In addition to testimonials, case studies and portfolio can also help you close sales and gain customers.
It is currently my personal favorite because it creates passive income stream.
When people think of the writing profession, they assume that writers must have a degree in literature, English, or comprehensive writing. Although having the requisite skills in writing is a must, delivering relevant and engaging contents is more important than these skills.
Blogging is a skill that you can develop with consistency. If you have a website, make sure that it has a blog page with functioning social media sharing buttons. Then, follow a strict blogging schedule of posting a content at least once a week. In general, the more often you blog, the higher the probability of returns is. However, you need to remember that unless you work really hard on promoting your blog, there’s no way that you’ll achieve success with it.
The statistics on blogging are very encouraging for businesses. It may take a while, but you can be assured that with consistency, your efforts will yield positive returns on your business.
You can also offer blogging services to friends, associates, and existing clients. Many people understand its benefits, but they do not have the time to write.
One of my blogs, on which I spent a maximum of 20 hours per month, generates a minimum of $350 per month.
4. Online retail business
The great thing about selling, as a source of income for freelancers, is that you are almost assured of quick payments through this business.
With an online retail business or e-commerce, you can make good income without having to stock up on inventory while working from the comfort of your own home.
If you have a website, have it redesigned and include an e-commerce platform. If you don’t have a website, invest in building one.
The next step is to look for items to sell online. You need to do a market research on which items are on the trend and on which market demographics are buying.
Then, look for accredited suppliers. To do this, you must research for the manufacturers of the product. Find a supplier who will agree to a drop shipping arrangement. This arrangement means that the supplier is responsible for the delivery of the product to your customer. You do not have to worry about storing inventory.
Finally, open a merchant account in a bank to facilitate payment for your products.
Setting up an e-commerce business takes time and investment. However, properly managing your value chain can be a rewarding venture.
Online retail business is another personal favorite. It creates passive income stream after systems and standard operating procedures are in place, especially in a drop-shipping business.
5. Direct selling
Despite the popularity of e-commerce, direct selling remains a good source of income for freelancers. Some companies hire agents who will directly sell their products. The popular ones include Amway, Avon, and Alliance in Motion.
Choose a direct selling company that has a good reputation in the industry. Several incidents of scamming have hurt the direct selling industry over the years. Then, do a research to determine if the products of the company you chose are still in demand in the market.
As an agent you are paid commissions. If you have a good network of prospects, then direct selling may be the option for you. The more frequent you present the products, the greater the probability of making a sale is.
Direct selling is hard work! Plenty of leg work needs to be done. More often than not, your efforts may come up short. Before you go out on the field, study the products well and practice your sales pitch until delivering it becomes natural to you.
In direct selling, the difference between closing a sale and losing a client comes down to one quality: TRUST.
In case you want to operate fully online, you can do affiliate marketing instead. Affiliate marketing is a process of earning commission by promoting the products of other company or people. This process is similar to that of direct selling.
6. Multilevel marketing
Since the 1990s, multilevel marketing (MLM) has become a popular business model for retailers.
As a student in the 1990s, I remember attending an MLM for a certain company. As one who had to subsist on a Php 50 per day allowance, seeing checks amounting to Php 700,000 for a month’s work was very enticing for me.
MLM generates money by building networks. The larger your network is, the higher the amount of your payout becomes, because the percentage of commission increases. The principle of MLM is to sell the idea of owning a business. It is not to sell the product itself.
Most MLM companies may ask you to simply buy the minimum amount of product per month. The purchase represents your investment in the business. In this way, MLM companies can ensure that their products are sold consistently every month.
In theory, an MLM system can yield high payouts if you can secure a large network. Sustaining a position near the middle or top of the network may be difficult. Thus, earning good money can be difficult as well.
Similar to direct selling, many scammers exist in MLM. Over the last few years, several MLM companies have been found to have victimized unsuspecting investors.
If you want to get into MLM, always conduct due diligence on the company.
Related: What You Should Know About Multilevel Marketing and Networking, and How to Avoid Ponzi Schemes
7. Working as a personal instructor / coach
If you have other skills that qualify you as an expert, why not monetize it? Make a list of your hobbies and interests and determine those things that people would pay for in exchange of your service as an instructor or coach.
Are you a good singer or musician? Why not offer music lessons in your village?
Are you an athlete? Do you enjoy working out in the gym? Why not work as a personal trainer in a gym? Although being a certified personal trainer is important, some gyms may not require a certification in hiring a personnel who manages the floor area and ensures that the members are attended to.
Working as a personal instructor pays well if you have the ability to teach people.
Teaching requires effective communication. I know some people who are so good in working as personal instructors that they became successful in their careers. Opportunities in other countries also came for them.
8. Selling your own products
Who said the homemade products and merchandise only sell during Christmas time? If you have the skills to make good-quality products, you can have a steady stream of income year-round through your products.
Some of the best food products I’ve tasted are homemade. They can’t be bought at any retail outlet, so I had to place my order in advance or have it delivered to my home.
Most homemade products are better than commercial products because the reduced scale results in an improved attention to quality.
You can also taste the love added while making these products!
If you have cooking skills, why not put up a food delivery service? Cooking from home decreases the cost of production because you do not have to pay rent. A low cost of production means customer-friendly prices and improved margins.
If you are talented in arts and crafts, spend your time making accessories and post them on social media. You don’t need to hire models who would wear your creations. Be your own model! As the old saying goes, “If it’s not good enough for me, it’s not good enough for my customer!”
9. Publishing your own book
If you had an experience as a freelance writer, the natural transition is to write your own book.
Are you familiar with Anthony Bourdain? He is a popular chef and the TV host of several shows, such as No Reservations, Parts Unknown, and The Layover. Bourdain was a trained chef but not a trained writer. However, he parlayed his experiences as a chef into a best-selling book, Kitchen Confidential.
The book became a best seller, and it opened doors for Bourdain to permanently hang up his apron and hairnet to become a globe-travelling TV host and author.
In this day and age of digital technology, anyone can publish and sell his/her own book through Amazon or Kindle. Given the market diversity on the Internet, you can basically write about anything. All you need to do is write. Then, aggressively promote your work out there.
10. Becoming a real estate agent
Becoming a realtor is a universally accepted option of earning additional income. We all know that realtors are only paid commissions when they make a sale. Given the amount of the purchase, it is not a job that ensures regular income.
However, the following are several ways that you can try to earn income in the real estate industry:
- Tie up with a trusted friend who is a licensed real estate agent. The most important aspect of being a realtor is to build up your friend’s list of leads. If you have a large network of contacts, you can team up with your friend and work on landing prospects.
- Network and look for prospects who are interested in buying or selling property. Do not limit your search to individuals and target companies as well. If you find such prospects, be the middleman and bridge an arrangement between the buyer and the seller. However, make sure that the realtor is the one who will transact with both parties.
In real estate, one big sale can be all that you need to settle yourself for the rest of the year. However, acquiring this one big sale takes a lot of networking and leg work.
Create your own opportunities
If you have financial problems, the last thing you should do is wallow in self-pity and regret. As a freelancer, you cannot and should not impose on the business decisions of your client. Do not make your problems their problems as well.
We’ve all heard stories of people who were down with their luck but had to make ends meet. They had several children to feed, bathe, and send to school. The ones who made it were those who dug in deep and did what they had to do to earn income.
Related: 5 Reasons Why it’s a Good Time to be a Home Based Worker
You should take the initiative and find ways to restart your stream of income earners. Who knows? The dry spell that you are experiencing is perhaps a blessing in disguise.
In closing, remember this quote from the martial arts master Bruce Lee:
“I do not wait for opportunities; I create them!”