Lesson 4: Creating Revenue Streams
What You’ll Learn: As a creative, it’s easy to think about selling your work as a simple, one-time transaction. But these days, there are ways you can monetize your work through multiple channels, reselling and repurposing it to create a steady stream of money coming through the door.
Creating Revenue Streams (continued)
The creative economy and the folks in it are wide and broad. To try to put every possible scenario in here for every creative pursuit would break the Internet. What’s important here is not to lock yourself into one idea but to use these ideas as a springboard for expanding your potential revenue sources. Later on, we’ll take a different spin on revenue streams as we explore the power of intellectual property and the importance of maintaining the rights to your work whenever possible.
Finding new revenue streams should be a continual experiment. The goal is to get in, test, gauge results, and either get in deeper if you’re successful, or get out quickly and move on to the next potential revenue stream.
Above all, keep it simple. Launch only one idea at a time, and if something doesn’t work or looks like it will become too daunting or drain you of energy and time down the road, walk away. Realize, however, that some experiments do take time. Launching a new line of products, starting a podcast, or branching into a new creative pursuit will not make you an overnight success or fill your bank account with riches. Good things take time, and as you build your personal and professional brand, you want to make sure that your experiments continue to pay off, even when they become part of your basic revenue stream.
Return to Main Office
Introduction: Are You Ready?
1. Thinking Like a Business
2. Business Structures
3. Access to Capital
4. Creating Revenue Streams
6. Finding Customers
8. Creating a Winning Pitch
9. Effective Negotiation
10. Intellectual Property
11. Managing Your Money
12. Going Global
Repurpose and repackage
As a creative, you might have a few revenue streams on hand now. If you have a physical workspace, chances are you could rent some of the equipment, storage or workstations you’re not using to other creatives. Nearly anything can be hired out through online listings on industry-specific sites. Another entrepreneur may jump at the chance to share space with someone they can barter with.
If you are a content developer – artist, illustrator, designer, writer, etc. – consider repackaging what you’ve already created into a new product. If you own the copyright (that pesky intellectual property issue we’ll visit soon), you can do what you want with your creative assets.
Writers: If you’ve written articles and short stories, consider putting them all in a collection and self-publish it as a book. I did this myself with my daily blog, RobZerrvations. I took my favorites, laid them out in an Amazon-provided template, and processed them through their Kindle Direct Publishing site. Amazon does all the hard work of printing and shipping, and all I have to do is market the book. Did I get rich from it? No. But a chunk of change arrives in my bank account every quarter that I don’t even have to think about.
You can also rewrite an article you did for someone else and sell it to another client, online site or publication. Rewriting and reselling is a time-honored tradition in the writing world. Just be sure that the new and old articles are so similar that it triggers a plagiarism claim and that your contract doesn’t preclude this type of repurposing.
Podcasters: Podcasts can be turned into books too, audiobooks. You would take a series of podcasts you’ve done, add some bridge narration to make it all flow together, and sell it on your site or Audible.
Photographers: The chances are good that you have far more photos or videos than you’ve sold. Consider selling them through online channels such as Shutterstock or Soundstripe. You can also add an e-commerce module to your own website and sell prints or rights-managed copies of your work.
Musicians: Increasingly, there’s demand for snippets of music to back podcasts, corporate videos, online training, etc. You can sell your work on the same sites as photographers or create your own online store so fans can purchase your work for a project or pure pleasure. We don’t even have to mention other channels, such as Apple Music or the plethora of streaming music services that may want to handle your recordings. The per-song fee is small, but every bit adds up to an additional stream with little oversight or resourcing needed.
Artists/Designers: Images can be licensed to online image services like the ones mentioned for photographers, or you can license to a greeting card company, sell your work online on your own site, sell apparel and housewares with your designs on them or sell your patterns, fonts and images on countless sites out on the Internet today. For an additional revenue stream, add your art to notebooks, stationery, etc. and sell them through Amazon’s print-on-demand service.
No eye-rolling. We all know George Bernard Shaw’s warning that “those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.” We also know it’s not true. Every creative has a bit of teacher in them. We are learning sponges, and we love to share what we know with others, so why not teach a course.
If you’ve ever visited Masterclass.com, you understand that you can monetize teaching creative arts. Steve Martin, Gordon Ramsay, Judy Blume, and a plethora of well-established talent teach courses. There are similar sites for lesser-known folks, of course. You can also choose to go it alone if you have a larger audience, creating your own courses and teaching online. You can record each session, create a workbook to go along with it, hold office hours and sell it on your website.
You don’t have to be a world-renowned expert to teach. Some people teach leatherwork and painting on sites like Twitch. Money not only comes from subscribers but advertising revenue and affiliate programs.
If you have a creative resume that’s heavy on one area of your craft but want to build out your portfolio in another to generate revenue, consider freelancing. In the old days, this required a ton of networking. But thanks to the marvels of the Internet, there are sites like Upwork.com, Guru.com and Fiverr.com. These services do most of the heavy lifting for you, such as marketing, accounting and payment processing. They even have an escrow feature, so you know you’ll actually get paid. You can search by the type of work you want to do and pitch your skills, abilities and put a price to it. At one point, nearly half of my own company’s income came from sites like these.