Making money working for yourself

Could What You Know Make You Money?

by Brianna Bell

According to a 2014 Pew Research Centre study, 10% of Americans are self-employed. That's 14.6 million of the nation's 146 million workers.

Self-employed people recognize that they have a special skill set that they can monetize. In the age of digital-everything, there are many new business opportunities, and nearly every one with the desire can go into business for themselves. All it takes is some willpower and the ability to self-evaluate one's skills.

Below are a few ways that you can earn an income by monetizing skills that you may already have.

Photography: There are many people out there that enjoy photography as a hobby, but most have not considered the option of monetizing their skill in photography.

John Chan is an event photographer that photographs weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, and sweet 16s. John says, "I love what I do and that I work for myself. I set my own hours and terms. I love capturing important moments of people's lives and seeing their reactions when they see the images. I am definitely monetizing my skill and passion. It's much better than having a job doing the same mundane thing daily."

There are many ways to monetize your photography skills, including assisting a professional photographer for large events like weddings, taking newborn photos in a family's home, photographing homes for real estate agents, and selling stock photos to popular websites.

Pros: There are many positives to monetizing your skills as a photographer, including having the opportunity to create memories for clients, setting your own hours, and finding new and creative opportunities.

Cons: Some of the things to think about before taking the leap include the cost of a quality camera and lens, as well as insurance for them. Also, consider whether you're willing to work non-traditional hours including weekends and evenings.

Administration: There are many new and unique work-at-home opportunities for people with training and experience in administration.

Alexis Lockhart chose to open her own business called Texas Lockhart Consulting; she provides social media management and virtual assistant services. Alexis is a consultant to businesses who wish to do their own social media management, as well as provides companies with the option to outsource the management to her. As a virtual assistant, she might organize and maintain a client's calendar or even order birthday presents. Alexis advises, "Be willing to do anything other people won't do or don't like to do. Ask clients what their least favorite task is and then recommend that they outsource it to you."

Other work-at-home administrative jobs include data entry, e-filing, bookkeeping, and transcribing audio clips into written documents.

Related: What You Need to Know If You Work In The Gig Economy

Pros: The ability to work from home, which is a bonus for parents that might like to forego the cost of childcare and commuting. There is also the option to set your own hours and have more freedom and flexibility.

Cons: You may not have a steady source of income, especially if you are working as a consultant. It's also important to consider whether you'll be fulfilled doing jobs that other people don't like doing. If administration is not something you feel excited about this isn't the job for you.

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Design: There are many different ways to monetize your design skills. Whether interior design or creating logos for businesses, the opportunities are endless.

Scott Wetzel's Fresh Bread Design provides graphic and package design for distilleries and breweries. Scott encourages anyone that wants to start their own graphic design business to take the leap and commit. He shared, "It takes patience, but if you know your stuff, prove yourself, and never devalue your work, people will jump on board."

Most design businesses, whether its interior design, cabinetry, or graphics, started out small with one or two entrepreneurs. Having a vision and following through with a plan, patience, and determination will often lead to success.

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Pros: You have the option to work from home if it's graphic design, as well as work as a creative with non-traditional hours. You can earn a decent income if you are skilled and find good paying clients.

Cons: If you struggle with marketing and finding new clients, you may not earn a steady income. You may be constantly working with people, which means you should be confident in your customer service. Finally, you will want to look into start-up costs for the type of business that you want to start.

There are many other skills and passions that can be monetized, and hopefully some of these stories of passion-filled entrepreneurs have sparked some ideas and creativity in you. Consider the positives and negatives of the business of your dreams, and then take the leap if you believe it's a viable dream.

Reviewed March 2018

Take the Next Step:

  • Decide whether you know something that could make you money. And, what you would need to do to start selling your knowledge.
  • Discover smart tips that can help make working from home a success by visiting the Dollar Stretcher Library.
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  • Find telecommuting and other great jobs such as part-time and freelance work at Because life is flexible. Is your job?
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