I’ve never been one to make career choices in the name of safety or security. Even my transition into personal finance wasn’t so much about having stability as it was about the freedom to live and work on my own terms – which is probably why I became a entrepreneur and not a traditional employee.
But even traditional employment isn’t synonymous with surefire safety. In fact, the tendency of employees to rely entirely on their salary to support their income needs is remarkably risky. With diminishing stability in today’s job landscape, banking on one earnings stream alone can prove disastrous.
True income security comes from cultivating multiple streams of revenue. My revenue sources are so diverse, I often struggle to answer the question that inevitably arises when people find out I’m a full-time blogger and entrepreneur, “So, how exactly do you make money?”
Well, here it is. Thanks to my vigilant income and expense tracking, I can show you all the ways I’ve made money this year – in all their diversity.
For my new readers, welcome, did you know I wrote a book? And yes, if you click on that link, you can purchase it. (If you’ve already purchased it, you can also click that link to leave a review 🙂 ).
My book seems to be the thing people get most excited about when they find out what I do, but the truth is, my book is my smallest source of revenue. Being traditionally published (as opposed to self-published) I only make about $1 per book sold. Thus far this year, I’ve averaged around $50 in monthly income from my book. Just enough to take myself out for a nice dinner.
Not to go on too much of a tangent, but the true value of my book is not in the income delivers, but rather, the platform it provides. Being a published author, I’ve been able to position myself as an expert, which has led to some of the more lucrative opportunities you’ll see listed below.
While the book may not be a major money maker, it’s a vitally important part of my career and revenue strategy. (In other words, your purchases and reviews really DO matter).
For all the non-bloggers out there, affiliate marketing is when a site links to specific product or service in their content and gets paid a small commission if people click through those links to purchase the product.
The link I posted to buy my book for example is an Amazon affiliate link. So not only do I make the $1 per book sold if you buy it, I also get paid a small commission from Amazon by referring you there to make the purchase. That’s the gist of affiliate marketing and it’s the way many of the high earning bloggers I know make most of their money – not me though, because I SUCK at it.
I’ve made about $300 in affiliate revenue this year, which is nearly nothing considering the amount of people who visit this site each month. Part of the reason is that I’m just not great at affiliate marketing and haven’t spent much time integrating affiliate links into my content, but I’m also I’m not willing to link to products I wouldn’t truly recommend to my readers, so there are few links I willfully integrate.
As a professional actress turned personal finance pro, I rarely audition anymore. I’ll still consider the occasional acting gig if the opportunity arises though.
One such opportunity presented itself earlier this year, and so I spent 10 days in Cairo, Egypt rehearsing and performing a short children’s show. I only made about $1,000, but I got to go to Egypt all expenses paid, so yeah, that was totally worth it.
One of my top goals in 2016 was to produce more video content. Maybe you’ve seen some of it on YouTube – if you haven’t, you can subscribe here.
In terms of revenue though, my channel is not a money maker. Having just launched a few months ago, my focus is still growth, not monetization.
In fact, right now everything I do on YouTube costs me money. BUT I was able to secure a few video content clients to help me offset my costs and cultivate a new revenue stream of video production. It’s a ton of fun and I really look forward to growing this revenue source.
Speaking is another relatively new income stream for my business and I absolutely love it. The pay is extremely variable, from nothing at all to as much as $5,000 for one talk.
Moving forward, I plan to focus more energy on finding opportunities that fall on the higher end of that income spectrum.
Freelance writing has been my bread and butter since the beginning of my entrepreneurial ventures and it continues to be one of my primary revenue sources.
Admittedly, I’ve been moving away from writing as much as I used to, focusing instead on just a few high paying gigs so that I devote more energy to growing my video and speaking presence, but it’s admittedly nice to have a fairly consistent revenue source supporting me.
My seventh, final and greatest revenue source this year has come from campaigns and sponsorships.
Remember what I said before about the value of my book as a platform? The same is true of my blog and the many TV, podcast and media interviews I do.
I don’t get paid for any of that work, but it builds my brand equity and my influence, both of which matter A LOT when it comes to securing sponsorships and partnerships.
As opposed to affiliate marketing where you post links to a product and get paid if someone buys something, campaigns work more like television ads, where you get paid a flat fee to cultivate brand awareness on behalf of a company within the context of your platform.
I don’t mean to get all marketing speak on you, but campaigns are so variable. How they actually manifest depends on the influencer (in this case, me), the client (whoever hires me), the mission (the message of the campaign) and the platform (blog, TV, social media, events etc.).
If you’re following any of your favorite brands on Snapchat or Instagram, you may notice that every so often a celebrity or “influencer” takes over the brand’s social channel for the day – that is, they post as themselves on behalf of the brand. That’s an example of a campaign. When I flew to San Francisco last November to host a Millennials and Money trivia night at the Capital One Café, that was also a campaign. Very different formats, but all under the campaign/partnership umbrella.
I really love campaigns because they give me an opportunity to partner with companies I believe in and go deep.
If I’m producing a video on my own for example, I’m working a shoestring budget and limited to my own minimal resources. If I’m doing a campaign though, I have a budget to really explore topics and hire pros (like my video editor) to help me bring them to life – like the Millennial Mindset on Money video we shot a few months ago.
The only downside to campaigns is that it’s hard to tell when they might happen. It can be several weeks or even months before an opportunity arises that’s a good fit. Considering campaigns comprise the majority of my revenue, the periods in between can be a be somewhat uncertain and nerve-wracking – even with six other sources of revenue.
So thus far this year, I’ve made money through seven different income streams.
In addition to growing a few of those income channels, like speaking and video production, I’m also working on cultivating some additional revenue sources.
My big project for the summer is focusing on one new revenue source in particular – building a course.
I used to do one-on-one coachings by request and I’m still often asked, but I’ve found that private coaching is not sustainable, nor do I feel it’s the most effective way to serve my audience. As such, I want to build a course that provides systems, tools and accountability to those readers who feel inspired and ready to change their financial lives, but are unsure of how to take that next step forward.
I’m in the process of constructing a framework to address the most common needs of my readers – building a spending plan that works, creating a system of debt pay off, implementing a savings strategy, and fostering wealth through investment and income growth.
While I may be an entrepreneur with inconsistent and unpredictable income, I still enjoy security by virtue of my diverse revenue sources. If one client leaves or video suddenly becomes irrelevant (not that I think that will happen), I have many income streams to fall back on without having to start back at zero.
As we continue moving in the direction of portfolio careers and self-driven employment prospects, I hope we’ll remember to bring that ingenuity, independence and variety to our income as well.
Related Reading: How to Start a Blog That Will Change Your Life
Download this worksheet to start sharpening your negotiating skills.
Learn how to start. Even when you feel broke.
Try these 5 strategies to help you stop buying stuff you don’t need.
This cheat sheet will show you how to talk about money at every stage in your relationship.