Why Writers Need Multiple Streams of Income

It’s more important than it seems

by Ashley Shannon

Growing up, there were a few key phrases that my mom used to teach us lessons. I don’t know she thought it was easier to hear lessons in the form of idioms that made them easier to remember or learn, but whatever the reason, she had a lot of them.

“Don’t shit where you eat.”

“Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.”

The one that stuck with me the most throughout life and is actually something I use in my business is “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”

The premise of most of these lessons is pretty sound. Imagine that your family depended on the eggs laid by chickens to eat or sell to bring in income for your family. If you stored all of your eggs in one basket and you fell while walking them to market, you risk damaging not just a few of them, but potentially all of them.

The deeper lesson is that if you are putting all your hopes, dreams, and your entire finical future in one project or income stream, and that income stream suddenly went away, you would be left with nothing. 

When the pandemic hit at the beginning of 2020, I had only been working as a full-time writer for six months and my income only came from one source. Luckily, one of the few things that stayed the same was that people continued to read. In fact, in lock-down, people actually read more. 

Even though my writing was going well and at no point did I not make enough money to take care of my family, it wouldn’t have taken much to put that one source of income in jeopardy. If I would have lost my income stream from blogging, I don’t know what I would have done. 

I came to realize that even though I was one of the lucky ones who still had my job during the pandemic; I knew I had to make some changes.

Creating Multiple Streams of Income Gives You Financial and Job Security

Early into 2020, I started to diversify my income streams. I began to teach classes about blogging and became a writing coach. Both took off and became 40% of my income. When my blogging income took a dip in the fall of last year, I was okay because I had money coming in from other places. But if I hadn’t made that move, I would have been in a bind and might not have been able to pay my rent or buy my children food.

Now, I have five sources of income, as well as a few projects that aren’t earning with but will be soon. I know that if the book series I’m working on right now doesn’t end up selling well, I will be fine because I have money coming in from other places. 

It’s less daunting to build a sustainable full-time income with multiple projects as well. Instead of putting all the pressure on one thing to earn thousands of dollars each month to keep my family afloat, each project can earn less. It’s a lot like picking up pennies. When you pick up the first one, it’s just one cent. But if you tuck it away in a jar and keep adding to it, soon those few pennies add up to a lot more.

Each small income stream you build can add up with others to you making a comfortable full-time living. 

Multiple Income Streams Reduce the Risk

As a writer who works for themselves, you have to be flexible and be able to shift with the changes of our industry. This means creating products and writing books that follow trends, and sometimes those trends don’t work out. If you have two or three other sources of income then taking the time to write a book that might flop isn’t as big of a risk.

Yes, it sucks to spend all that time and energy working on something that doesn’t sell or isn’t well-received by your readers, but at least it doesn’t also come with the burden of not being able to pay your bills too.

Creating Multiple Income Streams Doesn’t Mean Doing Work You Hate

A lot of writers turn to websites to find freelance jobs. They hustle clients, write copy, set up newsletters, and do a plethora of other things to make a living. A lot of those kinds of writing jobs don’t appeal to me, even though they could become another source of income. 

Building multiple streams of income doesn’t mean you have to do things you don’t want to do. I didn’t work hard to create a business and a brand to then turn around to do work that I hate every day.

Thanks to the internet, can create income streams out of almost anything these days. Instead of writing sales copy or blogging about topics that don’t interest me, I have done virtual assistant work, created book covers, and did graphic design. 

Any skill that you have can become a source of income with a little effort.

Don’t Wait to Diversify Your Income Streams

I work with writers every day, a lot of whom are working hard to be able to leave their day jobs. The best advice I feel I can give them is to make sure that they are building up multiple sources of income from the very beginning. I would hate to see any of them leave a job to work for themselves and have it not pan out, just to have to go back to a regular day job.

The easiest way to come up with income stream ideas is to make a list of all the things you can do to make money. Not just writing things, but anything you can do. Then circle the ones you can start working on today, right now. This technique gives you a head start on where to go when you are creating your own business. 

Make sure they are things you enjoy doing and can make money from. Once you have your list, you’re well on your way to become the full-time writer you have always dreamed of being.

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