I speak at a lot of writers’ events and lately my most popular presentation has been on Marketing and Monetizing for Authors (you can view the slide deck here). The reality is that it’s hard to make money on books alone, so as authors we need to incorporate additional ways to earn money.
Following is a list of some of my favorite revenue stream opportunities for authors.
- Niche Books and Ebooks – Many authors are quietly making lots of extra income by producing short books and ebooks based on niche topics that aren’t widely covered. For example, the folks at food-allergy.org produce niche books about—you guessed it—food allergies. If you’re an expert in a topic that isn’t widely covered in books, consider producing your own niche ebooks and books.
- Workbooks – One of the wonderful benefits of workbooks is that they have a high perceived value, which means people are willing to spend more on them. It’s funny since there is usually 50% to 75% less text in a workbook than in a typical trade book, but perhaps we’re willing to pay more because workbooks are interactive. Workbooks can make great add-on items to your main book, giving you the ability to upsell by offering a bundle for sale when you appear at events.
- Professional Speaking – Pro speakers earn $5k to $10k and up for keynote presentations, plus have all of their travel expenses paid. This is a powerful market opportunity for authors with expertise in their field.
- Teleseminars and Webinars – Early on in my author career, I built my mailing list by offering free teleseminars. And while these events are often free in exchange for an email address, you can also produce a series and charge for them. A great example comes from SpeakerNetNews.com. Here you can attend teleseminars and webinars for $15 to $35, depending on the topic. Event recordings are also archived on the site for sale, producing ongoing, passive income (the best kind of income!).
- Online Courses – Training courses are hotter than ever, and they can be delivered in numerous ways. If you don’t yet have a big audience, consider teaching a course with Udemy or Lynda.com. If you have already built a solid platform, then you can earn more by hosting your own courses. You can manage this with a service like Kajabi, or put the pieces together and host on your own website. Courses can range from two to twenty weeks, can be delivered by teleseminar, webinar or video, or can be self-study programs. The possibilities are abundant!
- Certification Programs – If you have a proprietary process or system you’ve developed—one that others would like to follow—consider creating your own certification program. Author Jim Horan did this after publishing his excellent book, The One Page Business Plan. He noticed that fellow consultants were coming to him, asking if he’d teach them his process. Jim ultimately created a certification program, which has resulted in many consultants across the country teaching his process and promoting his brand.
- Information Products – Info products can come in the form of special reports, whitepapers, event recordings, templates, databases of information, and any other way you can compile and deliver information digitally. Authors like Karl Palachuk, a consultant to technology company owners, earn thousands of dollars each month selling digital product downloads.
- Membership Program – These work by creating a membership platform (typically some sort of membership software built into your website, such as Wishlist Member), and providing valuable and unique information for your members. Examples include HerbMentor.com, a member program for herb gardeners, and One Fit Widow, a supportive group for widows who want to improve their health.
- Subscription Program – Monthly subscriptions are hot right now. You can have boxes of healthy snacks delivered to your door, boxes of treats for your dog, local organic fruits and veggies, and well-known subscription services like Dollar Shave Club. What could you offer on a subscription basis? Barbara Winter has been publishing her wonderful Winning Ways printed newsletter for many years.
- Corporate Sponsorship – This is really the granddaddy of all revenue streams for authors. Big companies want to reach their ideal audiences—and when you amass a good-sized audience, they’ll want to work with you. As an author with a large audience (high website traffic, large social media following, etc.), you are known to big companies as an “influencer.” And they want influencers talking about their brands.
I’ve personally earned hundreds of thousands in corporate sponsorships over the years, getting paid for sponsored blog posts on my website, serving as a spokesperson, conducting media tours, producing video tips, delivering webinars, hosting Twitter chats and more.
The key here is to determine which companies want to reach your audience and then find the right contact (typically someone in the marketing department) and pitch your ideas. Hint: PR firms that represent big companies are also on the hunt for influencers AND fresh ideas to bring to their big clients. Bring compelling ideas to the table and this can be a slam dunk for you.
Now go make some money!
If you like this blog post, you’ll love our Author Profits Course! Learn more about our courses for authors here.
Great information, Stephanie, but I think you should add another revenue stream for authors – audiobooks. Audiobooks are growing faster than eBooks. Audible.com downloads are up 38% this year! It’s a $2 Billion dollar industry. I specialize in audiobook self-publishing, so I know authors can create a new revenue stream AND a new fan base by creating audio versions of their books.
Richard Rieman, RRVoice.com
Every time I read about your topic and my notes from your presentation, “Marketing and Monetizing for Authors,” I feel inspired with new great ideas! Thank you. DawnToDuskEnterprises.com.
Great post Stephanie!
Brand deals are really the way to go. I’ve seen major companies pay out hundreds of thousands of dollars for a mention. This takes time to cultivate an audience.
Thought this list of ideas might help too, with associated revenue potential:
Brand deals/sponsors $$$$
Corporate speaking $$$
Speaking donations (schools, etc.) $$
Podcast sponsors $$
Art prints (Redbubble) $$
eBook sales $
Paperback sales $
Hardcover sales $
YouTube ads $
Book donations (PayPal) $
Character t-shirts (Merch by Amazon) $
Affiliate sales (Amazon Associates) $
Medium Partner Program $
Quora Partner Program $