Wednesday, June 2, 2010

5 More Ways to Make Money as a Freelancer

Sorry for the radio silence! In France, May is packed with holidays and I – along with about a quarter of the population – was on vacation. One of the funny things about being an expat is that you adopt the customs of the country that you’re living in, which creates a culturally unfamiliar vacation schedule. A couple of years ago, an editor asked me to write a feature that required tons of research just before I was leaving for a month-long vacation in Italy. I recall being excited about breaking into this particular magazine, but shocked that he expected me to work in August! In France, pretty much nobody works in August! Only the essentials. I had to remind myself that in the U.S. I wouldn’t have blinked an eye at the timing of this assignment (I wouldn’t have been on vacation for four consecutive weeks anyway), and dragged several thick books to Italy with me.

Anyway. A while ago I wrote a post about 5 ways to make money as a freelancer and promised to come up with a few more ideas. Here they are!

1. Write an email newsletter

I am currently subscribed to some 15-20 email newsletters (no, I don’t read them all). Somehow it only dawned on me a few months ago that the authors of these newsletters aren’t merely writing these things for publicity or out of the goodness of their hearts – they’re getting cash money for them! Some make their money through advertising…others have sponsors…and a few, have readers willing to pay for the news.

Having never written for an email newsletter, I’m not sure how to begin. I do know that you can either start your own newsletter on a topic that interests you, or you can try to find a job as a newsletter writer for an organization that might like or need one. has some good information on how to start your own.

2. Teach writing

This is a variation on the standard “teach English” job that many of us expat have done (or thought about doing). I imagine that if you’re not in an English-speaking country, there are plenty of people in your adopted country who want to improve their written English as well as their spoken English. Think business people who have Anglophone clients, people who want to find a job in an Anglophone country, or those who are staying put, but want to make themselves more marketable. Students, too, might be willing to cough up a few Euros (yen, pesos, dinar, etc.) to receive instruction on a certain type of writing. You could even set up a one-day seminar, where you teach several students at once.

Even though we’re abroad, we’re not limited to teaching the locals. If you’re a reasonably established writer, you may be able to find a teaching job on the ‘net, or even at a local university. Non-expats: think about contacting a community college with an idea for a course.

3. Ghostwriting

This has been on my mind since seeing Roman Polanski’s “Ghostwriter.” How strange is it to write an entire book and never see your name on the cover? Not being able to admit that you wrote it? I don’t think I’d like that. But hey – not only books are ghost written. Articles, columns, and even some blogs are ghostwritten. And from what I understand, the pay can be quite good. Here’s a website by British ghostwriter Andrew Crofts about how and why he got started in the ghostwriting business.

4. E-books

E-books are the wave of the…present. They’re here. They’re now. They’re an excellent way to make a tidy residual income, if you pick the right topic and market it well. For more thoughts on why and how you should write an E-book, take a look at Remarkablogger’s post: How to Write an E-book that Doesn’t Suck. It's funny. And very true.

5. Translation Services
For you lucky expat freelancers that have mastered the language of your adopted country, you can make good money on the side by starting up a freelance translating business. My husband just had to have his birth certificate translated – and that single page cost 52 Euros! Of course, these translators are long-time pros recommended by the American Embassy for official business, but still. It’s an indicator of the kind of money you can make. If you’re interested in learning more, check out the American Translators Association. Even though it's for American residing in the U.S., it’s full of good tips on starting a translation career.

So there you go. I'll try to post more regularly now...well, until August.

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