It doesn’t take too long working from home to realize the risk of putting all of your eggs in one basket. One of the main reasons companies hire remote independent contractors is because they don’t want or need the expense that comes with hiring a full-time employee. They need to be able to cut back hours or layoff contractors as their workload changes.
Because of that, it’s usually to a freelancer’s benefit to diversify income. Having multiple streams of income can give you a sense of security knowing that if one client leaves you still have money coming in. And, let’s not overlook the fact that having multiple earning avenues in place can greatly increase your income. In some cases without increasing your workload. And we’ve got some way cooler options than the proverbial second job scenarios.
Today, I’m pulling back the veil on how I make money online. I hope you can find a few takeaways for yourself.
Even though this isn’t my primary means of income anymore, I still earn a little bit here and there working for other people. That could be writing an article as a guest expert, mapping out a social media plan or providing some personalized tips on increasing blog income.
Though I don’t really need to work for anyone else in a freelance capacity these days, it’s still important to me to keep these lines of communication and networking open. As is the point of this post, you never know when you will need it.
2. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is my bread and butter. As a blogger, I earn a commission when visitors purchase some of the things I recommend on my site. I earn more money just through affiliate marketing than I could have ever imagined in my previous 9-to-5.
You don’t have to have a blog to make money from referrals. Almost every service today has some type of referral system in place. Some like Stitch Fix will pay you in store credit – getting clothes for free is as good as money in my book. Others like Ebates will pay you in cash for referring your friends.
My advertising revenue doesn’t come close to my affiliate income, but it’s still five figures per year. If you have a website, this could include sponsored posts, dedicated emails, banner ad spots, social media campaigns and beyond. See this post for ways to make money blogging.
4. Digital Product Sales
I have had little eBooks available for purchase on and off over the years. It wasn’t until late 2016 that I really made a concerted effort to get that income stream off the ground. It’s not going too bad, but creating effective and efficient sales funnels is still something I’m struggling with – likely because I already had things available and was trying to implement multiple funnels at once. I’m no quitter. I’ll get there.
Investing used to be something reserved for “extra money.” But what is extra money? Who really has extra money? It doesn’t really matter if pennies start falling from heaven, you will still have something that needs that money.
If it’s important, make it a priority. Make it a bill. If you make it a bill, it will be easier to find other areas to cut if necessary. And let’s not forget that it kind of should be a priority. If you are working from home, you probably aren’t contributing to a 401(K) anymore. You want to retire, don’t you? Maybe you want to retire early.
And once that money starts making money… oh, boy. Now I’m obsessed with it. Betterment has some tools to help you get started with investing. They require no minimum balance and no minimum deposit.
Acorns is another popular beginner investor option. It rounds up your purchases and then invests the difference. There is no minimum to start.
I don’t earn a lot in interest, but I’ll take whatever money people throw at me. Last year our bank ran a promotion where any savings deposited within a certain timeframe earned a higher rate. You can bet we took advantage of that opportunity. Again, make it a bill. An emergency fund is so very important.
Another way I plan to increase my interest earnings this year is peer-to-peer lending. Lending Club has been reporting annual returns of 5 to 7%. And if you can get a substantial amount invested over there, they report investors are seeing cash flow of 3 to 6% of their investments as people pay back their loans. Start small and see where it takes you. Take advantage of their training tools to lessen your risk.
7. Cash Back Programs
Make sure your credit cards are working for you. I earned a little over $400 in cash back bonuses from Discover last year. My earnings from Ebates, not including the massive amount I earned from referrals, was about $150. Then there’s Ibotta and others. Again, easy money, folks. What’s your excuse?
While I am not an avid reseller on a platform like FBA, though I’d like to as it seems pretty cool, every once in awhile we run into an opportunity to make some extra cash flipping something. We have bought a couple of raw land lots in the past that we sat on for awhile and then sold for a big profit.
Check out Craigslist for items to flip. Start out small and work your way up to bigger ticket items as you reinvest your profits. Not every flip is going to pay off big time, but you may just hit a winner every now and again.
What’s next for us? I’m not sure yet. We are definitely in the market for another business opportunity, we just haven’t found the perfect one yet. We’re not interested in being landlords, so that’s out. I have been seeing some really cool ideas over at Side Hustle Nation though that we may try out.
Take out your handy-dandy journal and make four columns:
- Affiliate Opportunities
Services is likely going to be where you start your work-at-home journey. When you need money right away and regularly, you have a lot more control of this one. What skills do you have that are marketable?
Next, consider what products you can create and make available for sale. These are ideas that will hopefully be more passive in nature. Platforms like SendOwl, Fulfilled by Amazon and Zazzle will deliver your goods to customers so you don’t need to worry about packing and shipping.
- Print books
- Handmade goods
If you’re not a blogger, don’t give up on the opportunity to earn affiliate income. As a service provider, there are probably a few things you use that you can promote to your clients when applicable.
As an example, Flywheel has set up their platform to allow for easy transfer from web designers to their clients with the opportunity for ongoing residual income built in as those clients continue to make their monthly web hosting payments. Think about the products you use in your freelance business and if those stopping by your website could benefit from them. Now, see if they have a referral or affiliate program.
And don’t forget referral programs for those services you use personally that may be great for your family and friends as well. Here are a few I use:
- Ebates – get $5 for every qualified person you refer
- Swagbucks – earn 10% of referral earnings for life
- Stitch Fix – get $25 in store credit per referral
- Jus by Julie – get 40% off your juices
- Ibotta – get $5 for every friend you refer
This is the bucket for all of those other little income generators and investment opportunities.
- Lending Club – peer-to-peer lending
- Betterment – investments
- Acorns – rounds up your purchases and invests the overages
- Digit – automatic savings
It’s important to get your main gig in place before adding more to the mix. If you are diluting your efforts too much, you may find you are not earning much money anywhere. The same goes for additional avenues. Put one in place fully before moving onto the next.
Also, as you can see from the examples of how I diversify income, the more passive the better. I don’t mess with investments. My digital products sell themselves with the sales funnels I have in place. Flipping is something we do from time to time as opportunities arise. We aren’t actively seeking them out at this point. Don’t choose three income streams that each require 40 hours per week of your time.
I’d love to hear how you have created multiple streams of income. Leave me a comment.
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