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Best of Both Worlds: How to Build a Freelance/Passive Business Online

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This post is part of a series called Build a Profitable Authority Blog.
Two Very Different Ways to Create a Profitable Authority Blog

In my experience, the worlds of freelancing and passive income are often perceived as being at odds with each other.

This is something that I initially struggled with when I first decided that I wanted to quit my job and build an online business back in May 2011. I was immediately drawn to the concept of passive income -- who wouldn't be? However, it was in fact freelancing that enabled me to quit my job in December of that same year.

Despite that, I have never lost sight of my passive income goals. I continued to work on my blog, Leaving Work Behind, and today it complements my freelancing income and has (in my opinion) the potential to grow beyond it.

The fact is this: freelancing and passive projects can be complementary, and in this series of posts I want to show you how to create and build a successful authority blog alongside your freelancing business.

My Story

My first foray into freelancing was at the young age of fifteen, when I launched a web design company called Innovation Design.

There was just one small problem -- I didn't have any clients. I took it upon myself to email all of the contacts in my father's address book in an attempt to tout for business. You can probably guess how well that went down.

One of my first business ideas
One of my first business ideas.

In fact, I attempted various money making schemes back in my formative years (none of which were particularly successful). I created a website called Florida Facts that I spent countless hours on. I sold Pogs wholesale on eBay. However, by the time I got to college, my entrepreneurial spirit had gone into hiding. For the next several years it would remain dormant, through college and into full time employment.

It was only in May 2011, at the age of twenty-five, that I realised how my professional life was not exactly going to plan. I had always assumed that I would be a successful entrepreneur, but it was almost as if I expected the opportunity to land on my lap. It took five years of employment for me to realize that I needed to take my destiny into my own hands.

What followed was six months of hard work that led to very little in terms of results. It was only when I turned to freelance writing that I began to experience a modicum of success. I landed my first client in October 2011 and didn't look back. That month I made $430 from freelance writing at an equivalent hourly rate of $15; in May 2013 I made over $6,000 at an equivalent hourly rate of $150.

You may think that the moral of the story is that freelancing is the best way to make money online. Well, I am certainly convinced that freelancing is a fantastic way to make a living online, but it is certainly not the only way. In all the time that I have been building my freelance business, I have also been building passive income streams.

This series of posts will not teach you how to succeed in the freelancing world. Instead, I want to show you how to create an authority blog that can, in time, generate passive income.

Why Freelancing and Blogging Go Hand in Hand

One of the reasons I love freelancing is that it affords you a great deal of flexibility. If you are in a good place with your freelancing business (i.e. you work a reasonable number of hours with clients that you like) then you are in an opportunity to make a move into blogging.

Here's the reality: if you can spare just an hour or two per day to dedicate to blogging, you can expect to build something of worth in a relatively short space of time. And that's why freelancing and blogging go hand in hand -- the flexibility of one enables the other. That's what I found after I quit my job in January 2012 -- in time I was able to earn as much money as I did in my job in less time, which gave me far more spare time to dedicate to my blog.

Don't get me wrong -- blogging is not like freelancing where you can land a client and get started tomorrow, but the dynamics are completely different. A successful authority blog has the potential to make you the kind of income that you could only dream of with freelancing.

It all relies upon scale. While freelance writing is a very immediate way of making money, it has a ceiling. Once you are charging a peak rate and have maxed out the hours that you are willing to work, you cannot earn any more (unless you start taking on staff, at which point you cease being a freelancer and become an agency or "true" business).

An authority blog, on the other hand, can theoretically earn you a limitless amount of money with a relatively small time commitment. The direct connection between hours worked and pay received is severed. Once you do that, the sky really is the limit.

What You Can Expect From This Series

Leaving Work Behind is my freelancing site and an authority blog, all in one neat package. It sends me more client referrals than I can handle (I do no direct marketing or cold calling) and it generates an income from product sales and affiliate marketing.

My blog
My blog.

How have I done this? Through sheer persistence more than anything -- when I started on my journey in May 2011 I knew nothing about blogging and less about freelancing. It was only over time that I began to learn how to freelance successfully and how to create a blog that people would want to visit and subscribe to.

However, I don't want you to suffer through the same trials and tribulations that I did. In this series of posts I will be revealing every necessary step on the path to creating an authority blog that can ultimately generate an income, including:

  • Two very different ways to create an authority blog (and which one you should choose).
  • The importance of branding in creating a successful blog.
  • How to create your blog with WordPress.
  • The best plugins for your blog.
  • How to optimize your blog for engagement.
  • How to create top quality, unique content for your blog.
  • How to build a social media empire to complement your blog.
  • How to create an audience for your blog.
  • How to monetize your blog.

I will be drawing from my own personal experiences as well as referring to successful blogs created by others and the strategies they have used to make thousands of dollars doing something they love.

Think Traffic -- one of the many blogs I will be referring to in this series
Think Traffic -- one of the many blogs I will be referring to in this series.

You follow this process with me, step by step, in chronological order. If you have any questions at all then please do not hesitate to leave them in the comments section at the bottom of each post.

What You Need to Know Now

Before we begin with the process of establishing your successful authority blog, there are two main things you should know:

  1. Your journey in creating an authority blog will be challenging.
  2. If you persevere, you are likely to find the reward well worth the effort.

Although there were times when I thought about giving up on my own blog, I have not felt that way for a very long time. And with good reason: running Leaving Work Behind is rewarding and lucrative and has a huge deal more to offer in terms of long term potential.

Although I am a huge fan of freelancing I view blogging as the platform for online micro businesses. The sky truly is the limit. There are no issues of scale (as there inevitably is with freelancing) and you can create something that you are truly passionate about and will love to work on. You can build a community of likeminded people who will engage with you (and more importantly, buy from you).

The chances are that your freelancing skills will be complementary to the skills you will need to create a successful blog. In fact, you may well have tried blogging in the past. If it hasn't worked for you yet, I am here to show you how it can.

Stay tuned for the next post in this series, in which we will tackle one of the most important issues: what your blog will be about. For those of you who have struggled to find the answer to that question, I have a couple of tricks up my sleeve that will probably make the decision-making process far easier.

Image Credits: niallkennedy.

Graphic credit: Some rights reserved by Brave.

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