Freelance business has been flourishing for many years now, and it has become even more popular after covid lockdowns.
There are freelance writers, developers, designers, photographers and consultants who enjoy their independent lifestyle by being able to work from anywhere in the world.
But there is one distinct problem with freelancing lifestyle: You make income only while working. There are no paid days-off or well deserved vacation, or even work-free weekends.
No wonder so many freelancers are looking for ways to create “passive” income sources, i.e. those that will help them take a break and enjoy some well-deserved rest.
Here’s how to turn your services into a product that can become an additional, long-term and mostly passive income source for ever-working freelancers.
These days almost everything has already been written.
It is extremely hard to find a topic that hasn’t been extensively covered online.
Yet, there’s still a lot of opportunities to create a content-based project based on your knowledge, experience or expertise.
When starting a new project, start with you: What is your unique experience or story which would make your content or educational project stand out?
A lot of projects that are launched are missing that exact individuality that would make them stand out, so they fail to bring in profit.
If you are a writer and you manage to write a lot, create a product on writing productively or even better, on how to make creativity productive. If you are a team manager struggling with stress, create a product on how to become a strong leader who is constantly coping with weaknesses.
Good old keyword research will help you estimate demand (i.e. search volume) and better determine the topic of your future product. Keywords reflect actual search queries people type into Google’s search box and thus allows you to identify what people are actually struggling with and how you can help them.
There are multiple keyword research tools that will estimate keyword difficulty for you, i.e. how difficult it is going to be to rank your product in top 10 for that search query. Besides, keyword clustering is a great tactic allowing you to discover all kinds of related keywords and phrases that you may want to target.
Text Optimizer is another great tool to use here because it helps you discover more angles and concepts behind each topic:
The only way to create truly passive income is to start generating organic search traffic to it, so spend a good amount of time evaluating your opportunities.
There are quite a few formats your future digital product may take, and there’s nothing wrong with trying a few of them:
|Digital Product Format||Pros||Cons||Additional resources|
|PDF downloads (ebooks, premium templates, etc.)||Very easy to create, quite a few platforms to market from||Lots of competitors (everyone has an ebook these days), no recurring income, can be easily shared for free, once purchased||You can create an ebook for free using Google Docs, here are lots of ideas on how to market an ebook|
|Online course||Turns you into an expert, lots of platforms to host||High competition in many (but not all) niches, involves a lot of work to create videos||Here’s a very detailed guide by yours truly on how create an online course by repackaging your existing content. You’ll also need a course platform.|
|Premium (support) community||Involves recurring income, grows your influence by making you a center of a community||Usually requires your active participation, so not quite passive but there’s always a possibility of finding great admins to manage the community||Here are a huge list comparing all kinds of community builders that require no development help|
|Premium email newsletter||Involves recurring income||Email fatigue is a real thing: It is not easy to get people subscribe to anything these days||Here’s an easy to follow guide on setting up a newsletter, and here’s how to quickly grow your subscribers|
|A published book||Turns you into a niche expert, builds your personal brand||Involves a lot of work. If you are self-publishing, it is hard to generate income. If you are looking to find a publisher, you will need lots of time to research your options, apply, etc. This may also require some considerable investment.||Here’s how to write and promote a book, here’s a guide on how to find a traditional publisher for your book|
Note: Need more ideas? Check out our article on the best product ideas. It includes tips on how to get started with each one.
Branding is extremely important for any business but in this case a lot will rely on your personal branding because any product you create will serve an additional purpose of promoting you as a niche expert (and hence allow you to sell more of your freelance services as well).
I do recommend setting up a separate website to sell your product from, in case it will grow into something bigger one day. Namify will be a huge help in identifying your initial branding because it will help you find a catchy brand name and logo:
The tool is also absolutely free, so give it a try to find some branding inspiration.
Branding is something you will be able to refine down the road but your domain name is something you will have to deal with because moving to a new domain usually means losing organic rankings, so take some time to find something you will be truly excited to work with.
When it comes to your content management platform or your website builder, there’s no shortage of options these days. I’d suggest using WordPress just because it is so easy to set up and use and can be used for pretty much anything, from selling anything to setting up a membership site.
Once you are ready to launch, don’t forget to link to your new site from all your social media channels to start driving some clicks from your current audience.
I have already shared a detailed guide on creating a pre-launch strategy that aims at generating buzz and ensuring a successful launch. But what happens next? Any launch, however successful, is not enough and, unless you keep working, the buzz will die out.
Your marketing strategy can be scaled, with time, but it will probably never be done.
Like I noted above, your best chance of turning this into a passive income source and scaling this part of your business is to get it to rank, and there are no rankings without backlinks. There are very few ways to build organic backlinks these days but there are still great link building tactics which also generate traffic.
Blogger outreach can be quite effective but you’ll need to work hard to develop unique outreach emails that cut through the noise.
It’s also important to ensure you’re developing content that can attract links naturally.
I suggest you dedicate at least one day a month trying to get those traffic-generating backlinks.
Regardless, you’ll need the right tools to help you with both of these tactics. Check out our post on link building software to get started.
Event marketing is one of the best ways to generate more sales and raise brand awareness. Events generate backlinks too, so you will be growing your site link equity as well.
And it’s not just about (or rather not at all about) face-to-face event marketing.
Successful event marketing may happen virtually and take any form from a live stream to a Twitter party or a regular Twitter chat hosted by you or a niche influencer:
- A virtual event can be run through Zoom or cloud PBX that usually comes with video conferencing option these days. Alternatively, you could use a webinar platform.
- There are also a few great event invitation and follow-up templates for you to use. These can be automated by using email sequences that are enabled in most email marketing platforms.
- Here are a few great ideas on hosting a virtual event from Later.
You don’t have to host weekly events, no one has time for that but setting up one virtual event a month is completely doable.
With time, as you start generating organic search traffic, things like event marketing and link building can be slowed down.
Don’t forget to remind your social media followers of your product by sharing freebies or testimonials from your customers. You can schedule updates months ahead to ensure you will not get too busy for posting on your social media on a regular basis.
Generating consistent traffic without you actively driving it is an end goal, so it is important to keep an eye on your rankings and clicks.
I suggest checking your numbers at least monthly to better understand which activities drive better results and evaluate your organic search visibility.
Creating a passive source of income is everyone’s dream, so the web is flooded with digital products. Yet, if you are prepared to create a solid product and spend some time promoting it, your odds are high and you will likely see your product succeed.