how to earn passive income as a freelancer

Earlier this week, I was listening to one of Claire Mitchell’s excellent bitesize The Girls Mean Business podcasts about passive income. I can’t find the exact quote now, but essentially she mentioned at one point how growing her business and boosting income was often as simple as introducing a new e-product or passive income service. It was perfectly timed, as this week in the Four Weeks Of Freelance Habits (Edit: You can now access the four week course for free here), we’re talking about how to give your money situation a little spring clean. One of the three challenges is to investigate how you can use passive income to boost your income streams.

Not sure what passive income is? Pat Flynn, who runs The Smart Passive Income blog, describes it as:

Building online businesses that take advantage of systems of automation that allow transactions, cash flow, and growth to happen without requiring a real-time presence.

These are income streams that sit alongside your regular services, quietly earning you extra money. It’s very, VERY important to understand that you still need to run some of your business as a real-time presence. For example, a freelance blogger could earn extra money from advertising and affiliate links, but would still need to regularly update their content and write new blog posts. A graphic designer may have some free templates sold through Etsy that brings in some income, but they’ll probably need to be taking on ‘live’ graphic design products at the same time.

Anyway, the list you’re here for – a few ideas of how you could add some extra moola to your freelancing income.

One other note before we proceed – EUVAT. You need to be careful that you don’t get caught out and end up with a delightful VAT bill. Have a good read of Clare Josa’s guide here.

E-courses

E-courses can take a while to set up initially, but they’re a great way to create regular content. By adding a Facebook group for support, you should be able to get around the EUVAT issue too (plus it’s lovely to have a central place for everyone to compare notes). I use Teachable for my e-courses, but you can also use sites like Udemy. The great thing about e-courses is that you can create them using content you’ve already put together.

E-courses range from being free to earning you £100s. If you add in some 1-2-1 consultations, it could be even higher. 

E-books

Again, e-books are a great way to recycle content or come up with something new and interesting to pop into the Kindle store. They don’t have to be long or particularly expensive, plus you get to plop ‘author’ next to your name on your Twitter bio…

E-books range from as little as 79p to the £9.99 mark in some cases (or perhaps even more) 

If you like the idea of e-products, there are lots of other things you could produce too – worksheets, cheat sheets, templates, your own photography to buy etc.

Affiliate links

There are certain products I always recommend because I love them – and I initially felt a bit icky about using affiliate links when mentioning them. Affiliate links are links where I’ll get a small fee or % back if the clicker decides to buy. But as long as you’re ethical about what you’re using affiliate links for (for example, only using them for product and services you’ve actually used and liked), I think they’re a great way to earn a little extra for something you’d recommend anyway. You can also use plugins embedded into your site, like Skimlinks, which will automatically change any of your product links into an affiliate link.

If I use an affiliate link, I pop (affil) next to the link so you know what’s happening. If you want to know more about affiliating, I found this course (affil) really interesting, with lots of extra tips around increasing your affiliate rate, using prettier links and how to increase click throughs. It’s from Michelle at Making Sense of Cents, and she makes over $100,000 a MONTH from all sorts of affiliate income, so it’s worth checking out her income reports to see how.

Affiliate links can earn you anywhere from a few pence to £100s for the big courses.

Webinars

Webinars are short presentations, often done through tools like GoToMeeting and Google+ Hangouts, with a Q&A session at the end. These webinars are often used as a sales tool, giving away lots of free information in exchange for a promotion at the end of the webinar about a new e-course or service the webinar host is offering. I’ve seen a lot of people using recorded webinars in bundles, as an incentive to sign up to their newsletter, or as a small product to buy. Is there a topic you could talk about on a webinar, then package up to resell after?

You can charge a small amount for the initial webinar (say £10-20), but the income can come from adding it to a bundle of other content, or selling it as a mini product for anywhere between £10-99. 

Sponsored posts

For bloggers, sponsored posts are a great way to make a quick buck (or pound). I have no problem seeing the odd sponsored post on my favourite blogs, especially when the sponsored post is still entertaining and works well with the rest of their content. Girl Tweets World did a great piece earlier this week on how she earns money as a travel blogger, which is worth a read as she gives actual numbers for how much she often charges for everything from blog trips to Twitter takeovers.

How much you earn depends a lot on your blog audience, but anything from £100 upwards to £1000 is fairly normal.

Cashback

Cashback is where you use a website or tool to click through to a retailer, earning a small amount of cashback every time you buy something. You may have also heard of cashback credit or debit cards, where you’ll earn as you shop. Essentially, you’ll earn for stuff you’d have bought anyway. Penny Golightly has a great guide to this. I use Quidco, on everything from Amazon purchases to hotel rooms. If you sign up with this link, you get a £5 credit.

Personally I probably earn £50-200 a year from cashback sites, but I know friends who use it when travelling, eating out, making big purchases and more who have earned £100s a year back.

Advertising

Are you making the most of your advertising space? There are lots of different ways you could add advertising to things you already offer. Below are some examples

  1. Blog – Google Adwords is the biggest player in this market, but you could sell space in your sidebar direct to advertisers, or use a tool like Passionfruit Ads. Bonjour Blogger has a great guide to blog advertising. 
  2. Podcast – Have you got a podcast? Why not see if there are any brands who could add a quick advert to your audio (Ru Paul does a pretty amazing job of promoting his advertisers in a fun way, as does Gretchin Rubin)
  3. Newsletter – You’ve got two options with your newsletter. Get someone to add an advert to it as you would on your blog, or (my preferred method), add in an affiliate to your newsletter. The affiliate has a more personal, recommended feel and means you could earn a nice extra income from your weekly newsletter.

Do you earn passive income? What are your favourite methods? I’d love to hear your suggestions below!

6 comments on “7 Ways To Earn Passive Income As A Freelancer”

  1. Great post on such a topical subject. I’ve just started hosting an eCourse through Fedora too which is working out great so far, just need to market it. Content is awesome as can reuse as a base for other products I’m working on. Although with so many people offering webinars, courses etc I’m always thinking how to be different and how to stand out.

  2. Hi there Emma,
    Great overview of the options available! With regards to e-courses i was wondering if there has been any further clarification as to whether having a closed Facebook group for the course members is indeed enough to get around the EUVAT moss/mess issue? If not, i was in touch with the guys at Fedora and they said that they are working on being a 3rd party provider that adheres to the rules of the EUVAT, but are not there yet. But they also said having said that, as the third party provider they would be the ones liable. It would be great for some further clarity around this issue as i’m still not sure how to proceed in terms of set up for my e course.

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