Mark Terry

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Freelance Writing #1: Revenue Streams

December 19, 2013
I've been wondering what, if anything, to do about this blog. I think I will try to write some useful content. (At least once a week). That means, for me, at least, to focus on things I know a fair amount about: freelance writing, novel writing, with, perhaps, some forays into healthcare, fitness, martial arts, and, you know, daily life. Maybe. So in the interest of trying this, here's some thinking about freelance writing that also, I believe applies to writing fiction.

Don't put all your eggs into one basket.

Over the years I've often puzzled about the novelist who wrote a single novel a year and made a living off that. It took me years to realize that, well, most of them didn't. It's been fairly recent that authors have cranked out multiple books a year and their readers don't care - partly because more and more of them are self-publishing in some fashion.

But my bigger expertise is in freelance writing, and it is my opinion that if you want to survive as a freelance writer, you need multiple revenue streams. One example, for me, is that several years ago I had a big client that accounted for about 70% of my income, primarily writing massive market research reports. Then the company's umbrella company cracked down on their revenue figures, the guy who brought me on left, the company changed directions, and I was essentially out of work. I did a little bit of work for the next guy, but he left within a year. And the company changed hands two more times, finally landing as part of Bloomberg's collection.

And although I have tried from time to time to work with them again, I don't have a terribly good relationship with the managing editor (I don't know why, I even asked, but just plain don't know). So for a while there, I was sort of screwed. So I've tried to diversify my income sources and not get too beholden to any one client.

So, as an example, here are some of the things I've done this year:

-editor of a technical journal (I've done this 13, going on 14 years)
-novels (a bigger part of my income than before; this year I co-published a novel with my son, MONSTER SEEKER 2: Rise of the Phoenix King, a Derek Stillwater novella, GRAVEDIGGER, and a novel featuring CIA agent Monaco Grace, CHINA FIRE.
-I wrote several articles for a trade journal
-I wrote website copy for several different clients
-I wrote several white papers, with related press releases and website landing page content
-I edited and/or critiqued novel manuscripts for several writers
-I've had a big ghostwriting gig this year, which will carry over for a while into next year
-I've edited content for a medical database website
-I've written paid blog posts
-I write a regular 6X yearly column about newsworthy people in the childhood obesity research field
-I wrote some e-newsletters for a company (and edited some by other people)

And in there I also wrote a nonfiction book proposal, which didn't go anywhere, although I think it could if I had the time to research it better and expand it more.

The point? If you're going to be a self-employed writer, make sure your income comes from different places.