Thanks so much for publishing my post here today. If anyone leaves a question in a comment, I’ll do my best to answer. And please, take a minute to fill out our Semi-Local Business Survey (link in the post above). :)
Money Here, Money There, Money Everywhere
There are lots of ways that you can make money locally, and there are even more ways to make money by connecting with people through the internet.
But while some freelancers are getting rich, others are struck by analysis paralysis, and don’t know where they should begin.
Let’s clear that up–starting by exploring where the opportunities for making money really are…
Where’s the Money?
As a freelancer, you don’t just want to make money. You also want to create some sustainability and security with your income, so that you can get off of the feast and famine roller-coaster.
The truth is that there are *lots* of ways for freelancers to make money…
- You can reach out to your friends and family to see who knows someone that might need your services.
- You can visit your local chamber of commerce to build a local network.
- You could use Twitter to connect with people who express a need for your services.
- You could build a blog that leads to an engaged audience of interested prospects.
- You could sell affiliate products online.
- You could create your own information products.
- And the list goes on…
But if we just make a big list of the different ways to make money, you’ll probably just end up in analysis paralysis.
So instead, let’s group them into two major categories: local opportunities, and remote opportunities.
Money Here: Local Opportunities
The truth is that even though there’s a lot of hype about all the money that can be made online, it’s hard, and it can take a lot of time to get going–particularly if your online following hasn’t quite reached escape velocity yet.
Smart freelancers know that the first place they should look to start making money is NOT on the internet. Here are a few of the places that they know to look:
- Deploy your network. Reach out to your friends and family, and tell them what you do, and what you’re looking for. You’ll be surprised at how little they know, and how much they want to help. I know you’ve heard this before, because it is the first piece of advice that any smart marketer will offer to freelancers–because it works!
- Local advertising. Once your network is tapped out, it’s time to actually reach out to the businesses that you want to work with. Don’t just carpet-bomb the neighborhood with junk-mail brochures; be creative about it. Figure out who the one person you want to reach really is, and come up with something innovative–a marketing strategy that actually speaks to their needs and interests.
- Strategic alliances. There are other freelancers just like you that are probably in the same boat that you are; they want more business, and they have a limited network to draw upon. The thing is that both their network and their skills are different from yours; maybe you’re a graphic designer, and they’re writers, or web developers, or whatever. Get in touch with them, and work out an agreement about feeding each other business, so that everybody wins.
The advantage of local opportunities like these is that the relationships are real, the clients are valuable, and the work is often fun to do. Not to mention the money, which is good, too! ;)
The trouble with these strategies is that they’re a lot better at creating business *now* than *later* – in other words, if you stop the marketing, you stop getting customers… unlike an online content marketing strategy, which keeps on delivering leads to your doorstep.
Which is why every freelancer eventually turns their attention to remote opportunities…
Money There: Remote Opportunities
Let’s start with online opportunities, because that’s where bloggers tend to look first.
Here’s just a few of the places that you might look to make money online:
- Good old fashioned clients. Many freelancers grow a blog with the express purpose of building a client base. It’s a common strategy because it works–so what’s your strategy for your blog?
- Selling affiliate products. The best way to make this work is to seek out products that you know are of high quality and your audience will appreciate, and making a special bonus offer for people who buy through your affiliate link.
- Selling advertising on your site. You can do this using an ad network like Google AdSense, or you can reach out directly to targeted advertisers who are interested in reaching your audience (it’s more work, but you’ll probably make more money).
- Creating information products. That’s right, you can create your own product. In the long run, this is the best way to make money online, as long as you’ve already built an audience that wants it.
To different degrees, these strategies all depend on creating an engaged audience who trust your endorsement and buy what you tell them that they should.
At least one or two of these options should be part of your overall income strategy, just as long as you don’t lose focus of the big picture…
Money Everywhere: Let’s Get Semi-Local!
Are you wondering what the perfect mix of local and remote income generation strategies is?
I’m wondering the same thing.
I could tell you what’s worked for me–but that probably won’t be very helpful, because we’re different people with different strengths, we’ve had different experiences, and we’re in different circumstances.
What you really need is some hard data about what seems to be working, across the board.
Everybody talks about making some money locally and some money online, but there’s no hard data about what results large numbers of people are seeing, and how long it’s taking them to get there.
We wanted to change all that, so we created the Semi-Local Business Survey.
The survey will ask you how much of your income is generated locally, how much is generated remotely, and how you came to be where you are today.
Your answers are completely anonymous, and will be added to the answers of many others, so that we can see what the real trends in the industry are.
There’s no offer here, and nothing for sale–we just want to gather the data and share it with the community.
So please, take a few minutes and complete the survey!
Image by redjar
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October 13th, 2011 at 1:59 pm
Great article, Danny! These ideas make sense and seem easy to implement! I believe I’ll start with creating an informational product, geared toward specific industries. VERY COOL idea! One is actually almost written. BTW, I also took your survey. Very quick survey, indeed! Hope you get lots of useable data!
October 13th, 2011 at 5:00 pm
I remember my first self-marketing action when I started freelancing, I’ve bought a quarter newspaper ad, and got nothing from it. The worst $350 waste ever ;)
However, starting a blog did help a lot at first.
October 13th, 2011 at 7:35 pm
Nice tips, Danny!
Yea, I agree it is better to reach out to the local market before going international. After all, charity they say begins at home. Nevertheless, the online international market can provide more opportunities if “luck meets preparation” for the right freelancer!
October 13th, 2011 at 11:34 pm
Danny, I guess there are plenty of opportunities – if you only know the right place where to look for one. For some, it can be online marketplaces and speaking of which, do you think that these sites are dragging freelancers’ rates down? I just read an article a few days ago about it and I wonder where the problem really lies: On clients who are looking for gold at a price of a knock-off.. or freelancers who have a philosophy that a low-paying job is better than none?
October 14th, 2011 at 2:41 am
Good one Danny..but i don’t think there is a fixed approach..like i started through online bidding site and then my network increased..i guess its the matter of persevering everywhere
October 15th, 2011 at 1:50 pm
There is no proven method that works for everyone, even if there was some clever way, it would be kept a secret and not shared with competitors.
April 21st, 2012 at 10:54 am
Fortunately, landing work here in southeastern Virginia has been pretty easy recently. And it hasn’t cost me anything, nor required a big investment of time.
What’s the secret? Education. I host and co-host a few developer user groups (the web developers group and the Ruby/Rails group), and also organize a meetup groups for local startup entrepreneurs (my target audience). The entire goal of all these events is to help educate others, and not to sell my services. It’s low pressure, and has resulted with a ton of direct and referral work.
March 4th, 2013 at 2:03 am
I love Money very much ! hi hi hi …. Thanks for your post !
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