Jobs Aren't Assets: 8 Ways for Creatives to Make More Money

Austin L. Church
December 18, 2015
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Of late, I’ve talked to a variety of creatives who are also rethinking what they want to sell because they want to make more money: Andy, the front-end developer with a knack for content strategy; Nathan, the drummer-cum-product-manager; and Nicole, the blogger who started teaching people how to take better notes.The projects or services that got Andy, Nathan, and Nicole into business—their original skillsets—aren’t necessarily the ones that will help them achieve their financial and lifestyle goals.What got you here won’t get you there.When my earning potential was tied to the number of hours in the day, I could only leverage my own productivity so much before I totally exhausted myself. What I learned is that working harder might fix your shortfall temporarily. But before long, buckling down will cause you to burn out.At the beginning of 2012, I took what became a life-altering step in my business: I began experimenting with eight different ways to separate my income from the number of hours in each day. I’d encourage you to experiment with at least one or two of them. Try something different, and expect different results.

Jobs vs. Assets – Is a Job an Asset?

Robert Kiyosaki taught me that a job is not an asset. Assets put money in your pocket even when you're sleeping. Jobs lack that power.For this reason, new assets are preferable to new jobs or clients. If you want to grow your income, you need to prioritize creating or acquiring assets. A company that runs without your physical presence or direct involvement is an asset. A business that cannot function without your time and attention is not an asset. In fact, most businesses are jobs in disguise.Shift your attention to doing work that will pay you in the future. Your most precious resource is time.

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Photo Credit: Markus Spiske via Unsplash

To better "enforce" this often difficult habit, I split up my day. Mornings go to creating assets, and afternoons go to doing my "job,” which is billable project work for consulting clients. A corollary benefit of protecting my mornings has been more focused afternoons. I simply have to ship stuff by my evening cut-off. And because I had a smaller number of effective, billable hours, I had to raise my rates. Guess what? I didn’t lose any clients!I’ve also had to get more creative with fulfillment. I now actively scan my work queue for tasks, activities, and projects that I can delegate, as quickly as possible. I can pay other people to be "in the weeds" so that I can work on my business, not in my business.For example, I often hire other writers to do research and compose first drafts. First drafts can represent the most time-consuming and least rewarding phase of the project. I’m at my best during the final phase of editing and polishing.Yes, I am excellent at raw production. But the writers I hire are good enough, and they make it possible for me to say yes to more projects and turn them around faster.My clients are happy. My subcontractors are happy to have me as a client. My bank account is happy.And I only have to do the parts that I enjoy the most.

8 Ways for Creatives to Make More Money

Hiring subcontractors is just one of several easy ways to make more money:

1. Recruit subcontractors.

You can find talented creative professionals who can do your projects nearly as well as (or better than) you. If you know where to look, you can find folks who will charge you only a small percentage of what you charge your clients. Recruit some help, and do "quality control" before sending stuff to your clients for review. You'll find that you sleep better when you have a deep roster of people who can pinch hit (and hit a home run).

2. Hire employees.

You can make more money by increasing the available number of billable hours. Even if hiring a full-time employee requires a lot of training, you'll smile six weeks from now when you can forward a client request to your new guy or gal and say, "Do this." You can then get back to creating assets while you make money from hours you’re not working.

3. Increase your hourly rate.

If you can bill fewer hours and still pay the bills, then you can spend more time on diversifying your business. When is the last time you raised your rates? If it's been more than 12 months, then I suggest acting on this one immediately. Fact: I've never lost a client after raising my rates. If you do a good job at communicating the value of what you do, you won’t either.

4. Teach what you know.

Create a paid-access mastermind group, email newsletter, or membership. My friends Nate and Jon and I created Kicktastic. We realized that we could help more people if we found a convenient way to deliver fun business training.

5. Create products or services.

I built a portfolio of over 20 iOS and Android apps. That “side project” translated into over $250,000 in sales. If you're not interested in apps, then you could quickly create an information product, such as a guide or video series, and deliver it digitally to customers via Gumroad or SendOwl.

6. Sell retainers.

Getting your business out of feast-or-famine mode is one of the best ways to get back to dreaming big about the future. Believe it or not, some of your clients would probably be open to giving your more money, more often. Do you see unmet needs? Do you see untapped potential? Come up with a plan for your favorite clients, and then pitch them on a retainer relationship for making it happen. This is also a great way to make more money and keep your contractors or employees happy and loyal.

7. Negotiate equity stakes.

A friend couldn't afford to pay my full fee for app development so we negotiated an equity stake in the app's revenues. She was able to compensate me fairly this way, and I was able to say yes to an exciting project that would have been difficult to justify as a regular gig.

8. Sell other people's stuff.

A while back, I signed up as an affiliate for an app training program. One of the men who purchased the program through my affiliate link was a complete stranger from South Africa. You never know what kind of money other people can make you until you try. That one product launch netted my business $3000 in commissions.

Has Selling Your Skillset Gotten in the Way of Your Lifestyle Goals?

Have you capped your earning potential because you only had blocks of hours to sell?Rethink how you deliver the most value to your clients, and you may discover new opportunities to create assets and make more money while building a business you love.That's it for now, folks.Did you find value in this blog post? Please sign up for my weekly newsletter. I’ll send helpful freelancing tips your way.