Trisha Faye, veteran contributor to Write Naked, returns today. You might remember her from her post on turning a personal sentimental find from the past into a paid article. In the post below, Trisha interviewed successful freelancer Mridu Khullar Relph (@mridukhullar). Mridu is a journalist (with bylines in the New York Times, ABC, Ms., Christian Science Monitor and more), content marketing writer, author, educator, and I often refer to her during my freelance/journalism workshops as a perfect example how an individual can make a sustainable career from writing. I echo all of her sentiments below.
Interview with Mridu Khullar Relph: Increase Freelance Income
By Trisha Faye
Write Naked: How have multiple streams of income contributed to your overall success?
Mridu Khullar Relph: With certain things (such as online classes and books), you can automate a lot and create a near-passive stream of income. More importantly, multiple streams diversifies your income so that if one area of your writing life slacks—perhaps two of your regular magazine editors left their jobs in the last three months—your entire income doesn’t go down with it.
Knowing that I’ve got these things ticking away, I’m able to take more risks with my work. I’m currently finishing up a novel, for instance. The financial pressure on doing it in one go or selling it for huge numbers is minimal because I have other things going.
WN: Which is your most profitable avenue?
MKR: Journalism has been the most profitable over a longer term, and lately, content marketing has come up as a strong contender. However, I don’t view these as “most” or “least” profitable, because I think that limits the potential. Some areas of writing—books, for instance—can take a long time to grow but have substantial returns if you persist and keep growing.
Purely financially speaking, my goal is to have enough coming in from each income stream every month that if one thing tanks massively, there are others that hold up my income and my career.
WN: Your book, The Freelance Writer’s Guide to Making $1,000 More This Month, has more than sixty pages of practical advice. What tips would you offer a freelancer looking to increase their annual income?
- Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate.
- Did I already say negotiate? Well, learn how to do it better.
- This goes without saying, but if you want to make more money, you have to think about money. Make a commitment to a number that you want to hit. Create a plan for how to do it. Run the numbers—what’s coming in? What’s going out? What’s coming in three months from now? Six months from now? Treat your freelancing like the business that it is.
- At least initially, focus entirely on building relationships with clients and getting in as much regular guaranteed work as you can. When you know there’s $X coming in each month with no marketing effort from you, it’s easier to go out and top that number with new clients. But if you’re having to start from scratch each month, it’s incredibly difficult. (Here’s my list of the Six Numbers No Freelance Writer Can Afford to Ignore.)
- Diversify your income streams. (Here are 10 Ways to Make More Money as a Freelance Writer.)
- For journalism, consistent querying is incredibly important.
WN: When you need to increase your income quickly, and generate cash within a short time, what yields the fastest results?
MKR: Concentrate on easy-to-get assignments that pay lower than you’re used to, but quickly. Instead of pitching stories to $1-a-word magazines, for instance, send letters of introduction to companies that pay $200 for a blog post and pay within the week.
When you’re in a true bind, you need to get money in the door now. Three months from now won’t help, even if it’s a huge payment. So lower your rates a little. Reach out to people you’ve already worked with. And definitely join some Facebook and LinkedIn groups for writers and ask for help and referrals.
Trisha Faye writes from North Texas. Her favorite assignments include interviewing her writing gurus, such as Mridu Khullar Relph. Find her on Facebook and Twitter @TexasTrishaFaye. Check out her blog.