Passion gets you started, but strategy keeps you going.
Successful entrepreneurs know that in order to pursue what they love, they have to be smart and strategic about how they operate their business.
And a business cannot operate without money.
Money can be an uncomfortable topic, but it’s a necessary part of entrepreneurship.
While I love my job and consider myself blessed to work with clients and write new content all day long, Elle & Company is a business, not a hobby.
In order to keep things running and bring in a steady income, I’ve had to be strategic and intentional about how I generate a profit from this business (especially to start pursuing it full-time).
And the best, most reasonable way I’ve been able to do that has been through creating multiple streams of income.
Because when you have money coming in from multiple sources, you:
- Lessen the risk of a slow month
- Set yourself up for recurring income (depending on your income streams)
- Have the potential to bring in more money
- Increase your chances to take your business full-time and possibly outsource tasks
What are your current income sources?
Are you relying solely on services to bring in enough money for a paycheck? Are you relying solely on fluctuating sales from an online shop?
Diversifying your streams of income is your answer to bringing in a greater amount of money from your business on a more consistent basis.
Now you just need to figure out what those added streams of income are going to be.
Whether you’re a graphic designer or a food blogger, I’m shared 9 creative ways to diversify your business income in last week’s free Ellechat webinar.
You can watch the replay by registering through the Crowdcast window below, or keep scrolling to take a look at the slides.
Lauren Hooker: Hello everyone and welcome to this week's Ellechat on 9 creative ways to diversify income for your business. We are going to talk about money today which sometimes can be an uncomfortable topic but you can't really run your business without and really money is what separates a business from a hobby.
Today we're going to talk about some different ways, nine of them to be exact, for how you can diversify your income and make money through your business. I'm excited to dive into that content and answer a lot of your questions.
I'm going to go ahead and just dive right into the content.
Why diversify your business income?
Okay. Nine creative ways to diversify your business income but why bother diversifying? Why is this an important topic? A couple of reasons. Stability, consistency, and growth. A lot of times if you just have one stream of income, many of you offer services and that is great, but with services it's hard to create stable, consistent income unless you have our process really streamlined and you are able to book clients really easily your income is going to fluctuate. Some of you might be at a point in your business where clients are coming in but it's really unstable. You don't know when they're coming in and you just don't have that consistent income. For a lot of you that means that you aren't able to take your business full time. By having different streams of income you're able to lessen the risk of a slow month and it gives you an opportunity for maybe some more recurring income that comes in month after month. Also different streams of income can help you bring in more money which would allow you to take your business full time, maybe allow you to pay to delegate some work and outsource some of your work. It's helpful to think about different streams of income, multiple streams of income for your business for stability, consistency, and for growth.
I've seen this with Elle & Company. I have had over 8 different sources of income in the last three years of business so I do have some experience in this topic. I started out Elle & Company selling planners. I had a shop. I was selling a tangible product but I had no audience. I had some sales come in when I launched in January which makes sense for a planner business but then came February or March and no sales were rolling in or very minimal sales. I knew that I couldn't run a business just off of planners. I decided to bite the bullet and offer design services. That's when I started offering logo design and Squarespace site design. That's when more money started to come in and I was able to take my business full time from my design services. That was about two or three months into my business. That was probably in March when no sales were coming in from those planners and I ditched the idea of a planner and ran with design services.
Then I guess it was in July or August of that same year, 2014, I started a subscription library. I had tons of documents and printables that were sitting on my computer that I had designed for other people and for myself and so I just thought I'll put them on a website and allow people to log in and they can pay monthly and I can get some recurring revenue coming in and so I did that subscription library. It didn't take me much time to create new products and I still have the library up on my site right now. That has been a great source of recurring income and I'll talk about subscription libraries in a second. Then as my blog started to pick up people asked me to speak at conferences and workshops so I was able to make a little bit of money through speaking engagements. I then offered online courses as my audience started to grow and that was a great source and it still a great source of passive income. I started to venture into affiliate programs where I promote different products, usually products, some services, and get a commission for every sale that I make through those.
Now I also offer coaching services and in person classes in Charlotte through a business called Skill Pop. You can see a lot of income different income sources coming in and because of all these different sources of income I've been able to bring on two assistants. I've been able to bring in more money and even cut back on some of the services I've been offering as well. Just to give you an idea of what this could look like for your business, hopefully not overwhelm you, but just to show you that different sources of income can be extremely helpful for your business. Something to note before I dive into these nine different ideas is that I'm not encouraging you to implement all nine of them.
Hopefully you didn't just look at my own experiences and all my sources of income and think that you need those tomorrow. That took place over three years. I've even started to cut back on some of those but I am encouraging you to think through the needs of your audience. Always be thinking about what does my audience need? What are they asking me for? What are they interested in and how can my business realistically meet those needs through one of these nine ideas I'm going to share? You might already be offering one or be thinking of offering one stream of income but I would encourage you after this webinar and for the foreseeable future to always be thinking about the needs of your audiences and how you can meet them, strategically and realistically through all the different sources of income I'm about to share and pick and choose from this list.
1. One-Time Services
Income source number one is what a lot of you might already be doing. That's offering one time services. Whether you are a designer, a photographer, an event planner, a baker, a lot of you start with services and this is helpful when you're just starting out and I recommend starting with services because you don't have to have a huge audience in order to get clients. A lot of you are probably already offering services and that's great. Like I said it's really helpful when you're just starting out to offer services because you don't need a large audience. The trouble with services is that if you don't have recurring clients or you are having trouble booking clients, that income is going to fluctuate. One month you might finish a project or three projects and a lot of money will come in. One month you might book two or three projects and get that retainer of 50% down or whatever that looks like, but you aren't getting that consistent income month after month unless you're implementing something like my two week process or a three week process or something like that.
It fluctuates. If you have a slow month you might be in trouble if you're trying to give yourself a paycheck so unless you're charging a really high amount or you really streamlined your process one time services can be hard because that income isn't recurring. It kind of fluctuates by having people book you. Positive; really great when you're just starting out. Negative; it's usually a one-time payment or maybe split up into a couple of payments and it's not that streamline recurring consistent revenue. A lot of you are probably right here which is great.
2. Subscription services
You might consider adding on subscription services. Again these don't require a large audience. You don't need to have thousands and thousands of followers in order to book clients but if it's a subscription service like coaching where you charge people a monthly fee or maybe for some of you who are web designers, keeping up someone's website and making design changes. When you create a subscription service you're creating that consistent recurring revenue time and time again, month after month after month. You can ever require people like I do with my coaching program to put three months down or commit to three months so that I know that those payments are coming in. Two, I want to make sure that people see the results and are will to put in the work.
That's nice, consistent, recurring revenue. Like I said a moment ago it's often a really good addition to the one time service work as well because that way you have that recurring revenue. That would be an easy add on if you are currently offering service. A subscription service would be an easy add on to maybe some of the services that you are already offering. When I was offering brand design, in order to switch up my packages I started offering brand design for collateral items for clients on a three month basis. They could hire me and I would offer to do ten hours of design work for them per month and charge them accordingly. They would sign a contract and they could come to me and say, I need these things designed this month, and I would design for them. Maybe think through some ways that might make sense for you if you're offering services.
3. Library subscription
Number three, a subscription library. Instead of subscriptions for services this would be a subscription for online products. This works really well if you have a little bit larger audience because this is passive income. What that means is you're making money without having to do more work. For me, I will do the same amount of work for the Elle & Company library whether I have three subscribers or 300 subscribers because I'm putting the same number of files, templates, workbooks in there and I just need to promote it and market it so that I can get more people on board and generate that passive income and get that consistent recurring revenue. I use Tiny Pass, or now it's called Piano, for my subscription library. It takes care of all the payments. It bills people monthly, bills them $6.99 a month, which $6.99 may not seem like a lot but if you have hundreds of people purchasing and subscribing to it then that's a good amount of income that comes in month after month after month with not a ton of extra work on your part.
If you have something that is like a digital download, music, photos, anything that is available online then a subscription library might be a really good option for you. Again, a lot of these ideas that I'm about to share with you, apart from services, work really well if you're focused on growing your audience because the more people you're able to bring on board the better. You're not doing any extra work but you're making more money from it. Think about how you might be able to use a subscription library and get creative with it for your business. You can also do a subscription library to content. You can do it to video lessons. You can get really creative with it. Think about what this might look like for your business.
4. Tangible products
I mean tangible products that you sell from a shop whether it's an Etsy shop or an online shop and you are sending them the product. This is anything anybody can't download or access online. Like my planners when I first started were tangible products. One of the downsides of tangible products, I saw downside, I think it's really, before I get to that, I think it is easy for us to want to sell tangible products, especially when we're creatives. I love seeing the tangible. I love a printed planner. I have apps on my phone, they're great, but I still use my planner. I like to hold things and I like to see something that I create. I don't know. I just love the tangible but there are a lot of overhead costs and shipping costs and there's a lot that goes into affordably producing your products. The trouble with tangible products is that that income isn't recurring and that it usually fluctuates by seasons. It fluctuates by month. One month around Christmas you might get a ton of orders and then come March no orders are coming in. It can be really hard to launch a business solely off of tangible products. People do it but it usually works best if you already have an audience of people who are willing to purchase from you.
The good thing about tangible products is that you do have an opportunity for wholesale too so you have an opportunity to sell your products to other business for them to sell which is great. My friend Alyssa from Chic Boutique has done a fantastic job, or now it's called PCB Home, but she has done a fantastic job of starting a fantastic job of starting a product based business and now she does wholesale for Magnolia Market which is just amazing, and Anthropology and all sorts of stores. If you aren't following along with her you really should. She is awesome for the product based businesses. Kate says, I love PCB Home, I do too. I do too. Alyssa Beal, and she's from PCB Home. If somebody wants to link to her that would be awesome. She has beautiful products. She's known for her pillows with hand lettering on them and now she offers a lot more but she does a great job of having a shop and doing well from the shop. A lot of work. A lot of overhead costs. A lot of moving parts but she's done a fantastic job.
Tangible products, I wouldn't necessarily recommend right off the gate offering products and trying to have a full-time business from it unless you can make a good profit from it but if you've already started a product based business you might implement another one of these other options to kind of stabilize your income.
5. Online products
All right, online products. These are the ones that you can download. Similar to a subscription library but this is more of a one-time purchase. You might take one of those digital downloads or videos or it could be music or audio files or whatever it could be. Get creative with it. Y'all are creatives and sell it on your site. Again, this works best with larger audiences because again you create it once and try to get as many people to buy it as possible and it's a source of passive income. The more people you have following along with you the easier time you'll have trying to sell online products.
Just like with a regular shop this income isn't recurring. It fluctuates by month but it is passive so if you create something like an e-book the same amount of work goes into creating the book whether three people buy or three hundred but you don't know exactly when they're going to buy it if it's always up on your site so it can fluctuate but it might be something you have going on the side and it's just a plus if you see people purchase it from time to time one your site. Think about how you might be able to use online products like templates, files, like I said videos. I have on online workshop up on my site that people purchase from time to time. It's about square space template or changing your square space template and customizing your site. It's just a source of easy income. All right.
6. Affiliate marketing
Again this works really well with large audiences because a lot of times the more people that you have click through links, through blog posts and social media the more income you're going to generate. It's passive income so the way affiliate marketing works, for example, I am an affiliate of many programs that I use and love and one of them is Crowd Cast where I'm hosting this webinar right now. I love Crowd Cast and I'm an affiliate for them so anytime I mention Crowd Cast in a blog post or even in webinars and I share a link, I share my affiliate link. It's a special link just for me and if anybody goes through that link and purchases a subscription to Crowd Cast I get a percentage of the sale. They usually pay out on a monthly basis and if someone keeps that subscription then I continue to make income from referring people to them if that makes sense. Affiliate marketing is a fantastic easy way to make passive income if you've already worked on growing your audience. It can be like I said a minute ago, recurring and consistent depending on the affiliate program.
A lot of fashion bloggers do this thought rstyle.me. So yes. Marisa is on there. Marisa is one of my assistants guys. She's sweet enough to tune into these webinars. Affiliate marketing can be extremely helpful and a great way to make some passive income, easily make some passive income. All right, I'm flying thorough these which means we're going to have a lot of time for questions and I saw many rolling in so that's awesome.
7. Online courses
Okay. Seven, online courses. This seems to be a popular one now days and again, it's a source of passive income. You create the course once, try to get as many people to try to sign up for it as possible doing the same amount of work. Again it works well with large audiences because the more people you have sign up the more money you're able to make and usually if you have a large audience the odds are that more people will purchase. The hard thing about online courses is money comes in in chunks. It isn't recurring income. It's going to fluctuate. Unlike subscriptions your income is coming in every so often.
With online courses you have kind of two options. You can create an evergreen course that people can purchase at any time, or you might offer a course once a year, only open registration for a certain period of time and then close it until the next time you launch. Evergreen is great because people can purchase at any time so that income is coming throughout the year but you have to do a really good job of promoting it and bringing people's attention to it or you have to have a lot of website traffic in order for people to find it and see it whereas if you just launch it once a year you're kind of creating a sense of urgency for people. Either way, that income is only coming in in chunks. It isn't recurring. It will fluctuate. With my courses it's nice because income comes in all at once but then I have to do my due diligence of spreading it out in terms of budgeting so on the back end. Online courses can be great, it's just not recurring.
8. Speaking Engagements
Speaking at conferences or workshops. People might ask you to come and speak at meet ups. Often times all your expenses are covered for you. A lot of workshops and conferences will pay for your travel out to wherever it is that you're speaking and usually pay for a hotel room and maybe even food and then pay you on top of that which is awesome and speaking engagements really increase your credibility. They position you as an expert and they give you an opportunity to network. I like speaking engagements not even so much for the money but also because I get to meet Elle & Company readers and followers in person and I love it. It's a funny thing having an online business and it's a great thing but I wish that I could see all of you tuning in right now in person instead of sitting alone in my apartment talking to you through the internet.
Speaking engagements are great, not just for the money but also to get to meet people but the income isn't recurring unless you do a ton of speaking engagements and speaking engagements take a ton of time. Not just to prepare and not just the time it takes to be at the conference and/or workshop but also just traveling and everything else so just think about that as you might be considering speaking engagements, how much money you're really getting paid when it boils down to it. I do it more for the experience and not necessarily the money.
9. Workshops and in-person events
You might host one yourself. I have a lot of friends who do. Kat from Dear Sweetheart Events, she does the Creative at Heart workshop. McKayla and Ashley from Bloom host their workshop. It's a great way again to meet people and you have the opportunity to bring in money through workshops and in person events. Again it works really well with larger audiences because you need people who can come. You need to find people who can come so if you have a bigger audience you're increasing the likelihood that people will come to your event.
There are a lot of overhead costs with in person events and workshops, especially if you have multiple days and the income isn't recurring so just like online courses or products or anything like that, the income is coming in in one big chunk instead of recurring consistent income. Those are the nine ideas and I flew through them, hopefully to give you all tons of time to ask questions because I saw so many of those coming in. Just really quickly to go through these one more time. One time services which many of you are already doing, subscription services, consider how you might be able to charge monthly and designate a number of hours to service work to create more recurring, consistent income. Subscription library, again works really well with large audiences. It's passive income. It's consistent, recurring revenue. This one is probably one of the easiest options out of all of these on here. Tangible products, again a lot of overhead costs. You have to worry about shipping. Income isn't recurring but you do have the opportunity for wholesale and you can make a good amount of money that way.
Online products, it's a more passive income source. It isn't recurring. It can fluctuate by month but you do the same amount of work no matter how many people sign up. Affiliate marketing, partnering with other brands and promoting them in return for some sort of commission. Online courses, a lot of up front work and a lot of up front prep. There's kind of a lot of risk involved because you might be putting a ton of time and effort into developing the course only to have five people buy it or you could have again five thousand people buy it. Online courses can be a great source of passive income but you're kind of taking a risk and a gamble on how many people will buy. Speaking engagements can be a source of income. You have to be doing a lot of speaking engagements in order for them to be a really big source of income but it is a way to diversify your income and bring in, it's another income stream.
Workshops and in person events. A lot of work to do but if you are an awesome event planner and you can try to cut down on overhead costs you can make a sizable income through workshops and in person events too. Ky asks, “do retainers fall into the subscription category?” Yes. I would say that would be more of a subscription service having clients on retainer. Great question. All right. I'm going to go ahead and answer some of the questions that you all have left below. We have 17 of them. I'll try to get through as many as I can. Jessica asks, “can you please share some ideas on what I can sell as passive income? I like the idea of selling digital classes/products but sometimes I feel like almost everything has been done already. I'm worried to invest time in stuff at the beginning stage of my business as I'm not sure what would make enough money for the little time I have to spare. Thanks Lauren.”
So yes, passive income sources would be something like online products, digital products, sources, subscription library, all of those I mentioned above. One of the hard things about adding on different sources of income is the time component. I would suggest doing it in this order. Services, maybe subscription services just to streamline that income and make it more consistent and then consider offering something like a subscription library, online products, something that doesn't take you a ton of time to create but you can continue to promote and try to get people to purchase. It could be something like an online workshop where they pay some money and you teach them something that doesn't take a ton of time to do. Something like an online course is going to take you a lot of time and some of you need to spend some time developing your audience and growing your audience through blogging, through webinars, through social media. Blogging is a fantastic way to grow your audience. I know I've been harping on that lately but I can't stress the importance of it enough. I only got speaking engagement requests because of the blog and a lot of my income has come in through the blog so I can't stress that enough.
Some of you may need to take some time to develop your audience before creating another stream of income. The fantastic thing about growing your audience first and focusing on growing your audience before even launching anything new is that your audience will ask you for things. Like I said at the beginning of this webinar, I would encourage you to get to know your audience and find out what their needs are and then look through this list, refer back to this list. I'm going to share this on the blog. All these Ellechat webinars are available on the website so you can come back to this later and I'm going to share the slides too. Come back to this list and then think, hmmmm what can I offer that is going to be helpful for my audience and meet some of their needs in a creative way and that's realistic for you. Something like a subscription library, I add to the library two or three times each month. It's actually fun for me. I enjoy designing things for the library and then it kind of runs itself from there which is really nice.
As far as offering something or being afraid to offer something because you feel like everyone is doing it already. I wouldn't worry about that. I think a lot of times we follow along with other people who do something similar to what we do so you might follow along with a lot of other designers or event planners or web designers, whatever it might be, so that you think everyone is your audience surely is following along with them too. The thing is that they're not. Some of them might be but some of them probably aren't. I would encourage you to try to be creative in meeting the needs of your audience but if it's already been done before that's okay. Your audience isn't following along with everyone you're following along with. It doesn't have to be a workbook every time. It doesn't have to be an e-book every time. Like I said, it could be a video. It could be audio. It could be stock images. It could be website templates in a subscription library. I don't know. You can get creative with it but yeah. I hope that's helpful for you Jessica. I would suggest building your audience and then looking into some of those passive income options and don't be afraid of doing it if it's already been done before. Just put your own spin on it.
Emily says, “do you have experience with Etsy? Can that be a viable option in creating more income or is it more trouble than it's worth?” Etsy can absolutely be a viable source of income. I started out with an Etsy shop selling prints before I ever started Elle & Company. There are some positives to Etsy and some negatives to Etsy. Positives are that if you have no audience your products can still get found on Etsy. Downside is that your products are going to be right next to your competitors products on Etsy where as if you have your own shop on your site then your competitors aren't on your site as well but Etsy is a great place to get exposure for your products and they also do digital downloads which is awesome. I would highly recommend if you're considering using Etsy to sell your products, go to MorganNield.com. Morgan was one of my coaching clients but she is an Etsy pro and she is awesome at getting found on Etsy and has so many tutorials and tips on her site about how to get found on Etsy and how to set up your shop and all of that so if someone can find, I think it's Morganield.com.
Morgan is a fantastic resource on how to sell through Etsy. I used Etsy about five years ago and it's changed so much. You don't probably want my advice on Etsy but I definitely don't think you should rule it out but I think you should be strategic. Thank you Marisa and thank you Fem Creations for dropping those links in there. All right, Katherine said, as a solopreneur the idea of diversifying income is appealing but I'd love your thoughts on how to do this when you're working on your own or with limited help or when this is a side hustle, blogging, social media, offering services and creating digital products all take up limited time. Yes they do. I can totally relate to that. I have assistants now but I've only had their help for a little over a year now and before that I was running it all on my own and doing it part time as well so I can relate.
I would say to start, if you're not already, offering services would be the way to go. Consider subscription services to streamline your income and make it more consistent. Digital products make take some time. You might offer one at a time as it makes sense for your business but like I said I would also put some time into, I'd put more time into blogging and social media while offering services than I would with passive income sources just yet. I would spend time on growing your audience before offering passive income because you're going to have an easier time coming up with passive income ideas and your audience will probably ask you for things. It's easier to figure out what your audience needs and wants and then create a product or a service than it is to create a product or a service and then try and create an audience. When it does come to blogging or social media think about how you might be able to repurpose content. When your time is limited it's helpful to get creative about how you're spending your time and how you can repurpose content.
As an example, for example, for these Ellechats I spend an hour on here every Thursday sharing content with you all but I don't just let it sit here in Crowd Cast. I also take this webinar and my assistant Marisa will take this video and send it off to Rev.com and have a transcript made. Then we'll do a blog post on it, share the slides, share the video, and also share the transcript below it. We'll put it on YouTube so that's kind of social media, so that more people can watch it on YouTube. Then we put it on the website as well under the Ellechat section. Yeah. Marisa will put the transcripts on there too. Annie said she just applied to transcribe for Rev. That's awesome. Think about how you might repurpose your content and just get smarter about how you're using it. Maybe sign up for something like Buffer where you can use the same content and push it out to a bunch of different social media platforms. You might have one post that goes to Facebook, Twitter, and maybe even Instagram so that all of your audiences see it there.
Try to get really creative with how you're repurposing your content and really if you're blogging you have a lot of content to share on social media or other platforms as well. I would focus first on foremost on blogging and then as you start to grow your audience more and more then offer more passive income options that I mentioned in this webinar. I hope that makes sense. Great question Katherine.
Jackie said, “I know how to leverage my strengths to create different versions of my services which let's me diversify. I also know how to leverage my strengths on different social media platforms and customize content based on those platforms but it's overwhelming to search for effective ways to monetize on those platforms themselves. Are there meaningful ways to do that or is it all going to be gross corporate advertising noise?” No, it doesn't have to be gross corporate advertising noise and I am not a big fan of being sales-y or sleazy on social media trying to sell my services, products, and that sort of thing.
My philosophy and method for using, or I guess strategy for using social media is to always use social media to build trust and to point people back to my website. My website is where all of my services are listed. All my products are listed. I try to drive traffic, use social media to drive traffic back to my website and my blog. There I can organically market my products and services but for me I use most of these outlets just to build trust and then when I am launching a course or am launching something like that it isn't as gross or it isn't that corporate advertising noise because hopefully I'm giving away so much free content and building trust and positioning it in a way where, here is how this offering can help you, instead of I don't know, the sleazy sales-y ways of going about it if that makes sense.
Yeah I would start using those platforms as a funnel back to your website for your services and products. You can also share your products and services in a really organic way, share a behind the scenes look at the work that you're doing. Ask people, one thing that I used to do a lot when I was doing a lot more design work on Instagram was to show them the three different logo options I had come up with after my client had already chosen one and just ask people's opinion on which one they would chose. It got people kind of involved in the process, excited to see which one they ended up choosing. There's a lot of ways, and that's still promoting my design work. I'm trying to share it with you and create interest in it but it wasn't sales-y or sleazy. I think that's one of the benefits of content marketing is you don't have to be sleazy or sales-y.
Annie asked, “where do you point people back to on your site? Landing home page, specific landing page or talking topic?” A lot of times I'll point them back to the blog because the blog is where I'm talking about a lot of these topics. I have a lot of opt ins on the blog where I can get people's email addresses. Now there's something called Link Tree that I've been using on Instagram and probably need to spend a little more time learning more about but it allows you to link to multiple pages on your website. I have one that goes to the blog, I think one that goes to my about page, and one that goes to Ellechats. I'm also thinking about adding to Link Tree one of my content upgrades. My business playbook is coming out tomorrow. It shows you exactly how to create a business plan for your creative business. Those of you who follow along with the newsletter have probably already seen that content but I condensed it all into one big workbook for you so I'm thinking about putting that on Link Tree as well and I'd get email addresses from that.
You can be strategic about where you point people. A lot of times I try to point them back to blog posts to build trust and promote my services and products in a more organic way. I hope that's helpful. Great question. Nev asks, “I think intuitively what you are purposing makes sense. However, as a solopreneur or a very small business, 0-5 people, you'll have to do a lot of convincing to show me how this is actually viable and the right path. I think small creative businesses should be doing less diversifying and more specializing in one thing but I'm intrigued.” Jackie left a comment, she said “Awesome comment Nev. I agree. I'm all for specializing, being really good at something that caters to very specific niches is far more powerful with many dimensions of payoff. That's why I like the idea of diversifying, meaning doing the same things just different ways to do it. I agree with that and that's why I read that comment. I don't think you have to be doing a million different things and a million different topics. I think that if you're smart diversifying can mean taking one of these roots within the same kind of niche.” Yes I do graphic design and I have services for it but it made total sense for me to take some of the work I'd already done and put it in the subscription library and make money off of it.
I don't think that you need to do all of these ideas but I do think if you implement one or two as time goes on and as time allows I think that you can streamline your income. For me I have been able to pay my assistants purely because of my subscription library and still make a profit from it. By having that subscription service I have been able to bring on more people and delegate tasks and take on more clients just by having that subscription library there. Just an example of how something really small, not taking a ton more time, can help your business and I'm not trying to explore within a different field. It's still within the design realm. It's still makes sense. People still know what I do and I'm able to bring in more money from it. Great question. I think based on the nine examples I shared you might be able to find one, maybe a source of more passive income that can bring in more money as well.
All right. Brenna said, I love having different streams of income and I'm always looking for ways to add to my portfolio/creative hats. Doing this has helped me build my skill set and grow in ways that I would not have if I had just stuck to one single business and product set. I would love to hear some ideas on building more residual self-sustaining streams of income as with digital products, etc. Can't wait. I hope that this webinar helped you consider ideas. Maybe you're watching the replay Brenna. I hope that this has helped you or will help you in the future. Also something that I should note, a lot of the biggest most successful business owners learn early on that they needed to differentiate and bring in more streams of income. There's an awesome article on INK.com and I need to hunt it down and search for it but it goes to show how people like Richard Branson and other really successful Business Owners started diversifying right from the beginning. They ventured in, like Richard Branson has done so many different things. Virgin Mobile. He had a record business. He's done a bunch of different things but he wasn't afraid to diversify right from the beginning. Just throwing that out there.
All right. Kim said, “for a predominantly service based, time/effort heavy business what passive income stream diversification, there we go, can be creatively fulfilling that has true benefit as a value add service rather than just small token material.” Yeah that's a great question and that might be different depending on what your business is Kim. A lot of times there are small freebies in subscription services or passive income streams but if you're giving, I'm a big fan of content. Oh awesome Kate, thank you for finding that article. Sorry got side tracked but that is exactly the article I was talking about. Small token material. Yeah. I think a lot of times content can be really helpful teaching people something, especially if you're a service provider. Yeah, it just depends on your business. For you Kim, if you're already offering services you might offer subscription services. That isn't necessarily passive income but it might be a little bit more creatively fulfilling. I'd love to hear more about your business. If you're tuning in live if you can add it in the comments that would help me come up with a few ideas that could add true benefit and could be something a little great than just the small token material. I like how you said that. Great question.
Lonnie says, “do you suggest mentoring in an area that you are already teaching through a newsletter or a blog for example. How do you go about offering mentoring as an income stream?” Mentoring can come through as coaching services or consultations that you can charge. You can do single mentoring sessions. You can do something more subscription based like I was talking about like my coaching program. I think that's another really positive benefit of blogging is that you're already positioning yourself as an expert on a certain topic or talking about a topic often that people would probably want to hire you for to teach them how to do it themselves. I started offering coaching simply because I was getting a lot of questions from people or people would email me and ask me for specific advice on how to implement the content I was sharing for their business so I saw that a lot of people were asking questions and I couldn't spend all day long in my inbox answering questions for free although I love helping people. So I started offering coaching. If you want to eventually offer coaching or mentoring as an income stream my advice to you would be through your newsletter, through your blog, through webinars, through podcasting, start teaching on that topic already to an audience and then after awhile, maybe six months, then try to launch a coaching program or start offering mentoring. Hopefully that makes sense.
All right. Annie says, “I already use affiliate and referral links in blog posts, digital download products on Etsy, PDF patterns, so I'd love some new ideas besides patterns and eBooks, and have been researching doing videos, income via ads or pay to view on YouTube or my Squarespace website. I've also considered teaching on Skillshare and selling book on Amazon. Where do you recommend focusing limited time to get the biggest bang for your hours invested?” That is an awesome question. I think the best way to focus your time would be to grow your audience. I say it time and time again but blogging is really helpful for that and then launch a passive income source. For me I put probably a year and a half into blogging before really launching a course. Then because I knew if I developed the trust with my audience I would be able to sell out pretty quickly. I wanted to sell 40 seats to the Illustrator course. I would start there because you're going to get a bigger bang for your hours in the long run if you start developing your audience first.
After that I would think about passive income sources like the ones I mentioned earlier in the webinar. Yeah, I hope that's helpful of you Amy. She said, haha perfect. Probably what takes me the most effort. Yeah. It does take a lot of effort. It definitely isn't easy to blog but the great thing about blogging is you develop the trust, you develop the audience, and then people are still consistently linking to old posts and pinning them so you're still getting the website traffic and your audience is continuing to grow exponentially so you're able to cut back later and still make even more money if you put the time and effort into it now. Great question.
Kate has been talking too about Creative Market in the comments which thank you Kate for mentioning that. You can also sell not just on your own site but digital downloads and online products on other sites too like Creative Market or you can teach classes on sites like Udemy and those to make money as well as another income source. Fem Creations says, “what did you use to build the membership library on your website?” I used what was once called Tiny Pass. I am adding it in the comments but now it's called Piano. Either one of those. Piano.io and it just puts up a wall where people have to log in in order to access the content. That's the one that I use. I think there are other ones out there. If anyone else knows of any other pay walls or things like that or a way to host a membership library. There's also Member Space if you use Square Space that puts up a pay wall as well that you can use to protect your content.
What can you teach your classes on, Craig asks. I use Teachable. There's also Teachery. You could host your own course on Square Space and use Member Space to protect it too. I actually have a blog post on that. Online Courses. Julie asked that and I didn't even see it. “Online courses, what format do you use?” I use Teachable and I switched over just recently for my Adobe Illustrator course and I really really love it. I did host my courses on the Elle and Company site because I loved that it all looked consistent and I already knew how to use Square Space. It's easy to use. But my content wasn't super well protected and I didn't like having to piece things together with payments and everything so Teachable is awesome because I can host my entire course on there. They take care of payments. I can offer promo codes. I can see analytics. I can see stats on who has finished certain modules which is awesome and I can set up recurring payments for payment plans. Teachable is a fantastic resource if you set up a course. I'm a big fan of it. Thank you Marisa for sharing that Member Space post.
Kristin says, “one way that I would really like to be earning is through working with brands on my blog and social media accounts but most brands require thousands of followers for that. Since I don't believe in the follow/unfollow method and my niche is not everyone's cup of tea (Christian Lifestyle), my social media growth is happening but very slowly. How should I go about growing faster so that I can start applying for sponsor posts for bigger brands when I'm in that situation.” I'm going to sound like a broken record. Blog, because a lot of people ask me how I grew my Instagram following or other social media followings and I can truly tell you that blogging is one of the best ways to do it. It's funny. I'll see someone follow me on Twitter, follow on Instagram and Pinterest all at once and I know they've been on the site. I would recommend interacting with other Christian Lifestyle bloggers or people in that niche and promoting each other. Linking to each other, networking is a fantastic way to grow your audience. A simple mention by someone who has 10,000 followers can easily get you 100 new followers of people who are already in your nice.
Be strategic about who you're pairing up with. You might promote other Christian Brands or something like that. Maybe they'll link to you on their social media account. Paige said, followed you constant advice to blog and it's absolutely paid off. I'm so happy to hear that. Blogging definitely takes a bunch of time but I promise you the payoffs are well well worth it. Paige said that all of the stats in her business have picked up since blogging consistently. If you aren't doing that already Kristin I would highly recommend it. These are great questions guys. I'm going to answer a couple more. We're almost out of time.
Celeste. Good to see you in here. She said, “can you comment on the pros/cons of diversifying ones brand while diversifying income streams? For example, I am a designer. I have a design company. That is straight forward. I'm often asked to do business development services. I would like to create some businesses and products related to business development. Should I create a sister brand, maybe using MY as the brand name instead of the design company brand name, or should I house it all under design co? What are your thoughts?” I would say, Celeste, that it all depends on your ideal client. If you're idea client would benefit from the designs portion of your business and business development which I kind of suspect they would since you probably work with a lot of designers, then I say go for it. That's why I started sharing business advice is because it all fell under kind of the same umbrella. Think about whether it makes sense for you idea client and if it makes sense for your mission statement. If not then you might have a sister brand off of it and that would work too but I think if your ideal client is the same and it all falls under that same mission then go for it.
Yeah. Let me know how it goes too. Glad to see you in here. This is the last one I'll answer but the replay will be up on the site. I started a Facebook group too. I don't know if you all knew this. I started a Facebook group for the community around Elle & Company so if you have any questions related to this ask them in the Facebook group. I'll do a post on it and feel free to leave questions there and we can all get feedback from each other. Katie says, “when considering subscription/coaching services how do you determine the length of the coaching contract? I love the idea but without offering it before I'm unsure how many months of coaching is best for my audience.” I started with three. Honestly I might increase it but I started with three because I wanted people to be able to put in the time. I knew that it would take them at least three months to see progress in what I was encouraging them to do rather than two months and maybe not see a lot of progress or one month and say, I'm not seeing any results, and then cancel. I knew that it would take some time to be consistent with the advice that I was giving or for them to consistently take action on it.
Just think about maybe you start with three. I think that's a great amount of time and then maybe increase or decrease from there. Again, and maybe even Katie remind me in the comment section remind me what you do because it might depend on what you do and what you're coaching as well or what the topic is.
All right well thank you all so much for tuning in today. I hope that you at least got a few ideas for what you can be offering and how you can diversify your income. If you think of any other ways to diversify your income that I may not have shared leave me a note in the Facebook group. If someone could leave a comment in the comments section with a link to that Facebook group, that would be awesome, or you can go the the Elle & Company blog. In the sidebar there is a link to the Facebook group as well. Thank you all for taking the time to tune in today and I hope to see you in another Ellechat very soon. Bye guys.
Stop fretting over the ebbs and flows of income as a small business owner.
Instead, begin implementing different streams to stabilize your income and lessen the risk of a slow month.
What are your current sources of income? Which of these 9 ideas are you hoping to implement next?