Building a successful career as a writer (or any type of creative professional) is a massive challenge. Most of us put thousands of hours into our work before we ever make a dollar. And when the income finally starts coming in, it's rarely stable.
If we want to maintain a good lifestyle, we need to find ways to protect ourselves from that instability. One of the best ways to do this is through income diversification.
What is income diversification?
Income diversification is exactly what it sounds like: creating multiple streams of income. This allows you to remain financially stable when one income stream slows down or even disappears. Ordinary people do this all the time through multiple jobs, side businesses, and investments.
Why is income diversification so important for authors?
As a teenager I attended several writing workshops. One of the things I remember most—I wish I remembered what author said it—was a woman who said this:
"I don't know a single person who makes a living entirely off of their writing. They all teach, or have a secondary creative business, or a full time job."
Few authors can guarantee a stable income off of one book, and not many more can guarantee solid income off a single series. To live our best creative lives, we need at least one other income stream.
Many people sustain their creative careers by also working a full time job, but that isn't always ideal. Sometimes it isn't even possible. You might find your day job too exhausting for you to maintain a regular writing schedule. I personally struggle with chronic insomnia and pain problems, so I can't maintain a full time job.
But a single creative endeavor rarely pays enough to make a living. So we have to find other ways to sustain ourselves.
What does income diversification look like for authors?
The good news is that authors are built well for diversification. Every new book or series is a new income stream. You also have dozens of intellectual property rights associated with each book, and they can be sold individually. Once you've started building hype for your book, you can invest in creating and selling merchandise.
And those suggestions don't even begin to scratch the surface. Writing is an incredibly versatile skill that can be sold in dozens of ways. Most writers also have other skills that can be turned into income streams.
In other words, income diversification for authors is as personal as the writing process itself. You just have to find what works for you.
Over the next several months I'll be exploring different ways you can diversify your income as a writer. We'll be talking in more detail about everything I mentioned above and much more.
For now I want you to remember one rule: every new income stream should be something you love. The goal of this column is to help you build the creative career of your dreams, not a soul sucking career that happens to use words.
Dianna Gunn is author of YA fantasy novella Keeper of the Dawn and columnist at Writer's Corner, writing both Creating Great Characters and Professional Interaction for Authors. She also blogs about creativity, life and books at The Dabbler.
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