If you’re a professional writer, chances are that you already think outside the box.
Even technical writing requires creativity and mental flexibility as you try to fit words and ideas into the right places. Most people get into writing because they don’t want to be stuck behind a desk in a traditional nine-to-five.
Unfortunately, working for yourself doesn’t guarantee you’ll have any more free time or resources. In fact, because nothing is guaranteed in freelance business, you’re probably working harder than you would be at a traditional job.
If you do want to earn more money, you have to work harder. But there’s a limit to how much work you can do, which means there’s a hard cap on how much money you can make. The work is fulfilling, but after many years of doing it myself, the model began to feel a bit futile.
I was my own boss, but I still felt like a slave in many ways. I was a slave to my wages, living paycheck to paycheck, and the only way out seemed to be to work harder. It felt unsustainable.
Everything changed when I realized that I didn’t need to do it all myself. I could actually harness other peoples’ expertise to provide services to clients. It’s the single greatest thing that’s happened in my career so far – and it can work for you too. The key is harnessing the power of the many-to-many business model.
Give and take
It’s great to do good work, but it’s more profitable to have other people work for you. The many-to-many (MTM) business model is what web giants like Ebay, Upwork and Fiverr use to make their profits.
Rather than the traditional model, where you offer one service to one client at a time, MTM means creating a platform where many producers offer many services or products to many clients all at once.
Ebay isn’t selling any products. It just makes it possible for sellers to connect with a huge market, and for buyers to find great deals. It makes money by charging sellers a fee to access the platform. Without providing any actual goods or labor, the owners of Ebay have a steady stream of income – even better, it’s passive income.
They can earn more without having to work harder.
I’ve been able to make as much money as a middle-man connecting contractors with clients than I have as an actual contractor. And the great thing about this sort of work is that it’s largely independent of me.
Rather than working harder to earn more, I’m just sitting back and allowing cash to roll in.
How to make it work
Now, as writers we get a little nervous when we think about profiting from other people’s work. It conjures up ideas of plagiarism or copyright violation. However, by creating an online marketplace, you’re actually helping others earn more money and credit. Everyone makes a small sacrifice and everybody comes out better for it in the end.
How many freelancers do you know that could use a little extra work? How many clients do you know that struggle to find the right contractors? When you help these groups connect with each other, you’re actually providing a service yourself – just one that doesn’t require a lot of work.
I’m not saying you need to create a new Upwork – that would take a ton of money and time and probably fail because the market is already cornered. What I’m suggesting is that you find a specific niche where there’s opportunity, then capitalize on it.
Some of the most successful M2M businesses were founded in college dorm rooms, connecting students with editors for their papers. If you can find a niche like that, you’re in business. The other option is to create a platform that’s more selective than usual.
Upwork is great, but it can be hard to find the right people for the job because the platform isn’t relationship based. If you keep your network fairly small, you can guarantee quality to your clients, taking a load off their mind and getting better rates for your contractors.
Here’s how it works in a nutshell:
- Build an online platform where contractors and clients can connect
- Clients pay you to access the contractors on your platform
- You pay the contractors a little bit less than the clients pay you
- You use your free time to add more clients and contractors, increasing your profits.
The best thing about all this is that you can still write! Only now, you won’t be writing to put food on the table. With a passive income stream, you’ll be able to take more time and do a better job.
Discovering the M2M model has changed my life and my career. Where will it take yours?
This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.