Saw this headline and thought “why should I have an author side hustle?”
Well, have you ever sat at your day job and just wished you didn’t have to? Ever just wanted to sit at home in your pajamas writing books and living life on your terms? That’s been my dream since I was 16 (thank you Meg Cabot).
The uncomfortable truth is this isn’t the reality for most authors (regardless of whether they are traditionally or indie published). Most authors who are able to make authoring their full-time job have multiple supplemental streams of income to help them achieve that stay-at-home dream. When I was a stay-at-home author I had financial support from my partner to help me focus on my dream. Not everyone has that.
Multiple sources of income can be necessary for several reasons. Book sales are generally cyclic and generally don’t raise a lot of income. Unfortunately, the conventional way of life requires a steady income to pay your bills. Entrepreneurial side hustles are one way to help you keep your own schedule and avoid having a day job. They take a little time to set up and grow as a part of your business (trust me, I still am – and having moved to a new city means I have to start over again) but they can be worth it.
If you’re thinking about ways you can supplement your income as an author right now I’ve already done some thinking for you and here are some suggestions specifically for authors.
1 – Author Services:
Some author side hustles are obvious. Offering author services such as editing, cover design, Beta Reading, and Formatting, play right to your existing skill set and interests.
2- Entertainment Services:
If you’re outgoing entertainment services can also be a worthwhile avenue to pursue. My (as yet) unpublished kids fantasy stories feature princesses, dragons, elves and more. I offer entertainment packages using these stories as a story telling event. I even sewed a dragon companion to help me. I dress up as a fairy tale witch (although costumes can be tailored for specific events) and have had successful gigs at festivals doing this. You could also do kids parties. In addition to being a service you can provide it offers you a secondary marketing opportunity for your books.
Another natural pairing is offering workshops or classes in writing related themes. I offer kids workshops (usually at festivals and libraries) and adult lectures. I’ve also provided classes for home schooling groups.
4 – Monetise Your Content:
Apart from your main writing you can monetise additional content with services like Patreon or Ko-fi. This is something I’m currently investigating more thoroughly as it’s something I’d like to do. Some authors offer exclusive “bonus” content, periodical content, merchandise etc. Another way to monetise your writing can be to ghost write or freelance for publications.
Merchandise itself can be a great side hustle. With more and more print on demand options like Society6 and Redbubble, and creation services like Canva, you can quickly and effectively create designs then slap them on t-shirts, mugs, bags etc. You can then sell these online or at events with little in the way of start up costs. This option is especially suited for visual/graphically skilled people. One catch: if you’re making merchandise on your content you may struggle selling anything without an active fanbase.
6 – Cover Creation:
Another one for visual/digital artists is cover design. A lot of indie authors choose to purchase their covers so if you’ve got the skill, the time, and the inclination, there’s opportunity for you to supplement your income helping authors who don’t have these skills.
These options may interest you and they may not. My top tips for finding alternate income streams to support your writing are these:
– play to your skills
– play to your interests
– pick side hustles that pair well with your writing and each other
– pick side hustles that help your market yourself as an author too
– pick side jobs that are time effective
Find the things that make you happy then find a way to make money from it. Just be prepared that it will take time and hard work.
In the interest of transparency – I am not doing all of these things. I am doing some of these things. I have plans to do some of these things. Some of these things are not in my wheel house. I’m also not currently in a position to give up the dependability of a steady pay check. But I want to be. Side hustles are part of my strategy and plan to make my goal my reality. Like making a name for yourself as an author takes time, so does making a name as a service provider. To make your dreams come true you need one of two things: hard work or incredible luck. Chances are it’s going to be the former. Authoring is hard and not at all as popular culture portrays it. With these articles I try and let you see “behind the curtain” so to speak, and share the things that have and haven’t worked for me. I write the articles I wish I’d had to read when I was figuring these things out for myself. Your path and mine won’t be the same. What works for me might not work for you, but I hope these ideas have helped you and stirred your imagination to find your own form of supplemental income.