Everyone has skills that someone else would pay for

Two points that are important here:

    1. Your job does NOT have to be the source of inspiration for freelancing. If you’re a project manager by day, you can be a creative writer on the side. Both share similar skills, anyway! You have to be organized, create structure out of chaos, and focus on delivering on time, every time. Now you see why turning your hobbies into income isn’t some cookie-cutter formula. Because if a project manager can earn $1,000 on the side being a creative writer, what could you do? Suddenly, it’s overwhelming.
  1. Your job skills CAN be transferred, no matter how unique you think you are. So you’re a dolphin trainer at SeaWorld. Wow, unique job! Not really. You have skills in working with animals, obviously, which would suggest training pets. But you also have expertise in behavioral change, which many academic labs and companies would love to tap ? and pay for. You can tutor children. You can help people stop biting their nails. Or 100 different options.

Don’t simply say, “I’m a process engineer! Nobody hires freelance process engineers. I give up!”

Instead, ask yourself: What do I enjoy? What am I good at?

Here are just a few of my students who have made money with their side gigs:

A circus performer:




A cellist:




example of side gigs for musicians


A full-time dad:




example of side gigs for parents



The simplified process: Matching your hobbies and skills to a side gig

It’s overwhelming to consider that you could literally have 500 potentials ways of earning money. That’s why people love simple SEO or other automatic ways to earn money on the side, which give you a repeatable formula, but rarely work.

Take it one step at a time.

What industry are you in?

Oh, finance? Ok, you probably don’t want to be a freelance investment banker. But…hmm…you spend all day doing analyses. How can you use that?

Example 1: Excel is a breeze to you. Maybe there are people (like me) who HATE Excel yet need detailed analyses for their business. Could you build models for other people?

Example 2: You’re really good at doing valuations of industries. Are there pre-launch founders who need that skill? (Alert: Observant readers will have noticed a BIG RED FLAG when it comes to pre-launch founders: They can’t pay you. So if your goal is to generate revenue, you want to re-think your target market to make sure they can afford to pay you.)

Identify your hobbies and skills ? then think more broadly.

The most common thing I hear is, “I’m a really good communicator, but I don’t know how to turn that into a side income.” That’s because you can’t.

Nobody hires a “good communicator.” They hire people to solve their problems. What does a good communicator mean, anyway? That’s just a lazy way of saying you haven’t spent the time doing research on the available options you have to channel your skills into something that’s worth money.

Get specific. Are you great at writing press releases? (I’d pay for that.) Are you great at training public speakers? (You might be able to find a specific segment of people who’d pay for that. This one is tricky, though. Can you identify why?) Are you a good communicator because you can speak Chinese? Boom, I’d instantly be a tutor for Chinese kids since their parents will love/trust someone who speaks Chinese even when tutoring their kids for any subject.

If you don’t have any marketable skills, there are still options.

Etsy is a perfect example of people making great side income and many of them don’t have any skills that would commonly be considered “valuable.” Yet they do well selling niche products to a niche audience.

If you aren’t some professional with software-engineering skills or online-marketing experience, that’s okay. Can you hammer something into a wall? (I’d pay for that.) Can you cook? (I’d also pay for that…in fact I am.) Can you walk dogs? Tutor kids in 4th-grade math? Help moms with routine tasks?

You can make money on all of these things ? good money ? without having to have some hard technical skill, as long as you find a market that will pay for them.

I want to go a bit deeper.

People are very bad at identifying their own skills. They’ll say things like, “I dunno” I guess I’m good at writing and communication, and, like, general organizational skills?? AMAZING!! HERE?S a $4,000/MONTH RETAINER!!! (Sorry, won’t happen.)

Repeat this over and over: People pay for solutions, not your skills.

For example, I was on a webcast where I was suggesting ways for people to earn money on the side, and I mentioned that I hate cooking, am not good at it, and would love it if someone cooked for me. I got an email later that night from someone who said, “Ramit, I can help. I can teach you everything you need to know over one weekend, and you’ll know 3-5 great dishes to cook.” I appreciated the offer, but wrote back, “Thanks for the offer! But you don’t understand. I don’t want to learn,  I want someone to do it for me”

Again: People have problems. They want solutions.

They don’t care what you’re “interested” in. Are they too busy to organize their closet? Do they need someone to help them redesign their website? Maybe they want someone to teach their kid how to play flute.

When you make your offer, you’ll have to deeply understand what the market your prospective clients want. And then you’ll be able to turn your service offering into something so compelling…that they’ll actually pay you for it.

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