On of the recurring themes of this blog is the quest to develop new income streams and earn a living online.
While there are many different ways to make money online, one of the first choices you’ll have to make is whether to sell your services as a freelancer or focus on building your own income-producing assets.
For example, let’s say you’re an excellent writer and you’re looking to parlay those skills into a new income stream. There are thousands of bloggers and business websites looking for quality content. As a freelance writer you can provide that content and get paid for each article you write.
Alternatively, you can start your own blog and create content there. While no one is going to pay you for writing articles for yourself, once you build a following you can earn money through advertising, affiliate programs, and other methods that aren’t available to freelancers.
Which path should you follow?
Sorry, but I can’t answer that for you. It depends on what your goals and strengths are and what you feel more comfortable with.
So rather than trying to steer you toward one path or the other, let me go over the pros and cons of each so you can make an informed decision for yourself.
Advantages of Freelancing
When you’re a freelancer there is a direct link from the amount of work you produce to the amount of money you earn. The more articles you can write the more you get paid. If you can be more efficient and cut the time needed to write one article in half you will have essentially doubled your rate.
Freelancers generally have a very limited focus and are free to spend most of their time working on income-producing projects. They don’t have to worry about the technical aspects of maintaining a blog like web hosting, comment moderation, upgrading the blog software and plugins, battling spam, and social media promotion.
They also don’t worry at all about long-term vision or strategy. Freelancers just write their articles and that’s that. A blog owner on the other hand has a hundred different details to worry about and can only dedicate a portion of his or her time to creating content.
Disadvantages of Freelancing
That direct link between work and pay can also be seen as a disadvantage. Because a freelancer is just an independent contractor and doesn’t own any assets they don’t see any of the profits from the website. It could be discouraging to see a blog you write for become popular and start making a lot of money while you continue to get paid at the same rate.
Another disadvantage to freelancing is the time it takes to build up your reputation and client base. In the beginning you’re just another name competing with thousands of other writers looking for work. Not only that, but many of those writers are willing to work for peanuts. Whether it is because they come from a part of the world with a lower cost of living or they just don’t realize they can charge more, many writers will create 500-word articles for as little as $5. That is NOT the market you want to get into unless you have absolutely no regard for your time.
When you’re just starting out you’ll probably spend more time searching for clients than you do writing and getting paid. That will definitely have a negative impact on your effective hourly earnings.
Advantages of Owning Your Own Blog
As a blog owner you have full control of everything. You design and build the blog from the ground up. You choose what kind of content to focus on, how to monetize the blog, and develop a long-term strategy for growth. Many bloggers come to think of their blog as a child to care for and nurture.
Besides control, a blog owner also gets to enjoy all the profits the blog earns. That may not seem like much in the beginning when you’re struggling to reach a dollar a day in AdSense clicks, but once your blog starts generating steady traffic the profit potential is virtually unlimited. The hard work you put in now can continue to generate income for years to come.
Now imagine that you run a blog (or several blogs) that are generating significant income. You may choose to outsource most of the work. If you hire someone to manage the technical side and let staff writers create all the content, you can sit back and enjoy a mostly passive stream of income.
Disadvantages of Owning Your Own Blog
Of course, running a blog of your own isn’t all gum drops and candy canes. There is a lot of hard work involved. In addition to creating content to get people interested in your site, you’ll have to manage all the technical aspects which can be a bit overwhelming to a beginner. You’ll also need to deal with hackers and spammers who try to take down your site. You need to manage the blogs social media profile and get involved on sites like Twitter and Facebook. And you’ll have to keep up to date on all the latest trends in SEO, traffic generation, and more.
The frustrating thing is that your blog probably won’t make any money at all for at least the first six months to a year. It takes time for search engines to find your blog and then trust it enough to rank it for various search terms. In the meantime you’ll be busting your butt trying to grow your blog while enjoying little or no reward. There might be times when you envy those freelance writers earning a steady income.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that all of your hard work will ever pay off. Let’s face it, businesses fail everyday and that goes for online businesses too. While visions of being a successful entrepreneur may keep you motivated and working late at night and on weekends, your blog may never catch on and the reward may never come.
I always try to look at both sides of the story and find a healthy compromise. Freelance writing and starting your own blog are both great ideas to me, and there’s no reason you can’t combine them.
Why not start your own blog but also do some freelance writing on the side?
By combining tactics you get to enjoy the benefits of each. By starting a blog of your own you’ll be building an asset that could one day be a major source of revenue. In the meantime, your freelancing will serve as a reliable income stream and help keep your cash flow positive while you work to build up your blog.
Freelancing also offers you the opportunity to get your name out there so people get to know who you are. You can slowly build your brand as an authority and generate traffic to your own blog at the same time. It’s the best of both worlds.
What’s Your Take?
But enough about me…what’s your opinion?
Would you rather be a freelancer, a business owner, or some hybrid of the two? Why?
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