In today’s episode, Anna looks at different ways in which you can leverage your existing skills to build an online business.
When you’re looking for a way to monetise your skills in your own business, there are a few different options… (1) Freelancing, (2) Coaching or consulting, (3) Teaching what you know, (4) Solving a problem, and (5) Turning your hobby into a business.
*Resources mentioned during the episode*
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Hello, hello everybody. I hope you are keeping well and positive wherever you are in the world. Now we’re looking this week at some creative ways in which you can make money and hopefully this will be useful for some of you in the current situation. But to be honest, these are ideas that can work at any time. So if you are looking to leave your corporate job irrespective of COVID-19 and you want to set up a business, I hope this gives you a bit of an idea of how you might be able to start a business, how you might be able to monetize some of your ideas using your existing skills. So this is not about, and it can be very tempting to retrain and qualify. And we’re used to having lots of degrees, a master’s degree, a university degree, PhD even for some people you need to qualify, need to sign up to another two year programme. And that’s not necessarily the case of course. And if you know me at all, you’ll know that one of my massive values, one of my core values is lifelong learning.
And in fact, I’ve just signed up to a positive psychology course at university to do online in the meantime. However, that’s not necessary in the short term. It may not be necessary. So you already have a lot of skills and experience and it’s all around packaging that up in a clever way. Now of course, again, it’s incredibly valuable and important to keep up-skilling, but just trying to get over a bit of that imposter syndrome and really look creatively at the skills you do have, or you already have right now and how you might use those to make some money.
Now again, if you also know me a little bit, you’ll know that I’m not about sort of get rich quick schemes. I’m not going to teach you how to set up an affiliate system or advertising via Google AdSense and all these things, neither to buy cheap products from China and package them up and sell them here, et cetera, et cetera. So partly because I don’t know how to do these things, but partly because for me it’s all around building a sustainable longterm business that’s built around your skills and passions, not just around making money, that’s really going to fit around your personal priorities. And that is going to be robust through these kinds of ups and downs and sometimes some bigger downs than we’re used to as well. So again, looking at some creative ways that you can make some money. And I want to go through a few of these.
And the first one is creating an online service, freelancing specifically, and then we’ll look at coaching, consulting.
So of course there’s a bit of overlap here, but freelancing is really, in my opinion, one of the easiest and quickest ways to start earning money alongside your full time job, by the way, as well as once you’ve actually left or now if you’re finding yourself needing some more money. Because more than any other option, it can be as simple as taking the skills you already have and pitching to specific clients. And to be honest, there are more businesses than ever today looking for talented part-time contractors. Now this might sound strange and obviously we’re looking at this through the lens of COVID-19 a little bit. However, and I’ve seen this already, so this is not just in theory. In difficult financial where full time employees are being let go or put on furlough as we’ve now learned the new expression, there is still money for freelancers and consultants.
I was just speaking to a client the other day. He was talking about how their company had put a lot of their [inaudible 00:03:11] on furlough and yet somehow they had the money to bring in an external agency. So this is something that is happening. So it’s important that you look at that opportunity. Of course, depending on what sector you’re in and actually see that there is an opportunity, there is potentially even more of an opportunity now than there was before. Financially, freelancers are much more flexible for a company. They don’t have to pay you all the benefits. They can, of course, depending on your contract let you go much more easily than they do with full time employees and so on. There’s a lot of benefits to bringing in external freelancers during these types of times.
For your side, from your perspective, you can then choose the clients you work with, you can choose projects you take on and you’ll get exposure to all sorts of different companies and organisations. You will learn new skills, you will expand your capabilities and so on. And of course, and that’s important, now you can work from home as and when it works for you. So now with freelancing, you’re still effectively largely trading your time for money. But it does give you a big step in the right direction of giving you more freedom of flexibility.
So if you have a look at your skills and see how you might be able to package those up into freelancing service, for example, are you a talented writer? So you might write blog posts, guest posts, guest articles, ghost writing, as it’s called as well, putting someone else’s name to it. So you’re writing in their voice, copywriting, providing an editing services if that’s your strength. Maybe you’re a web developer, software engineer programmer and IT skills are so much in demand. Again, especially now coding is really critical as lots of eCommerce sites and so on are having to restructure and recode lots of things. So what service could you provide in a niche where you have the experience? And of course from my own background, what about marketing, social media management or photography for that matter. So whatever your skill, you’ll be able to translate that into a freelancing service. So that’s freelancing.
Now another area, and this again comes from my own experience is the coaching, consulting area, and I use those not so much interchangeably, but at least in the same kind of ballpark, the same type of business model perhaps.
And for example, as a consultant, you’re going to be paid to provide expert advice in a particular field or specialty and the project scope usually is a bit more extensive than that of a freelancer. Now being a coach and if you are a coach, you’ll know as I have learned in my training as well, that peer coaching is something very specific. And unfortunately I guess the word tends to be used to cover a host of different sins like guests and consultants and all sorts. However, there is a range of pure coaching right through to something that more closely resembles consulting, mentoring and so on. And that’s maybe a subject for another podcast episode.
But the point is that these are things that you can relatively easily get off the ground. Coaching, for example is not a regulated industry, certainly neither is consulting. You could literally put up a post on LinkedIn and say, hi, are you struggling with XYZ? Let’s have a call and to see how I can help you. Right? So that’s something you can obviously do. And again, coaching is something you can do training and I recommend that you do do formal qualifications and upscale and so on for your own integrity and ethics and skill. However, it is possible and it may be that you have already been coaching through your work and so on and business incorporation and so on, it is possible to begin to help people.
Maybe based on something that you’ve experienced yourself and that’s really important if you’ve gone from A to B, that you’ve lost a massive amount of weight. If you’ve left your job, like in my case, started a business, whatever it is that you’ve gone through an experience, maybe you’ve reinvented yourself in some way, you’ve tackled a difficult divorce. Whatever your personal experience, that’s a fantastic way to start from, the place to start from to help other people in similar situations. Remember you’re always an expert to somebody. So for example, for me there might be seven eight, nine figure businesses, whatever, who are not an expert for them. That’s okay and I could have imposter syndrome because I feel like certain people are offering up a service to help you get to eight figures, whatever it is. However, there are many people who don’t even have a business yet and who don’t have a steady income from business, hopefully to them, to you, I am a role model because I am those few steps ahead of you.
So there will always be people who will look to you as an expert.
You have experiences and knowledge and expertise that other people will really admire and find valuable. So again, like freelancing, consulting, coaching means that you can choose your clients and projects, you can work with different companies, different individuals, and again you can be exposed to all sorts of industries and settings. Of course if you’re going to work at it as a side hustle, you need to make sure that you can work from home for example because, and maybe not right now, but generally consultants and sometimes coaches as well, and in fact freelance as well may travel to the client’s location, at least for some important face to face meetings and so on. So do have a look at how you’re setting up the business to make sure that it works. Certainly for the situation right now, but also longer term, that you don’t have to spend a lot of time in the physical office if that’s not something you want to do.
And again, just have a look at your skills, see how you can pinpoint an area of expertise, where you can really solve a problem for a client or fill a gap in their expertise. And again, as with freelancing, the easiest thing to do of course, is to focus on an existing skill, an industry where you have the experience, where you have the network, where you have the knowledge and contacts and so on. But who knows? You may be able to find a really creative way to apply your skills, your experience in a new context. And by the way, coaching, consulting can also potentially be packaged up into a group programme or an online course to make it more scalable. And I’ll talk about that in a moment.
So freelancing, coaching, consulting, really providing online services, graphic design, copywriting. I have a client now who’s providing remote healing, which is incredible at the moment. Of course, remote fitness is a really growth area. There’s all sorts of things that can be really powerful at the moment, but also longer term in terms of online services. So the next one is teaching what you know, because freelancing, consulting, coaching, they’re still very much limited in the way by the time you have available. You’re working one to one, there’s a maximum threshold for how many clients you can take on and therefore how much money you can make. And also, in the current situation, it may be that in your sector, companies aren’t currently taking on consultants and freelancers. There are certain sectors that are being really hit hard by this epidemic, the pandemic. And it may be that they’re just not able to financially take you on, in which case you might also want to or instead consider a different kind of model.
So one option here is to package up your knowledge into a course and offer it for sale online.
So if people are constantly asking you for help on something and you find yourself repeating yourself, try creating a resource that you can point people to instead. So you don’t have to build a complex membership site or create lots of sophisticate animations and videos. It can be as simple as a downloadable PDF. You can use an existing teaching platform like Udemy or Teachable that provide the framework that you need for video based learning. I would really recommend that you keep the tech as simple as possible when you start out. And it could be just going live in a private Facebook group, even on Instagram, you can get really creative and especially at the beginning you might want to try doing a few free sessions to see how you enjoy it and how people really get value from it. Because again, other people don’t know what you know, there are always people who’d see you as an expert.
Another option is to create an ebook.
So you know you’re unlikely to be making a living from book sales alone, at least not in the beginning, but you can bring in a small amount of passive income, especially if you write a series of books. So the more books you write, in a way you’re building that sort of library and fan base. It’s easier than ever before to self publish a book on Amazon for example, which is where I’ve published mine and you can even start by creating a simple PDF version, maybe giving it away for free in exchange for emails, to build your email list. A book can really give you credibility and help you launch a speaking career if that’s something you’re interested in the future. I did do a whole episode on how a book can boost your business, so do check that out. It’s from quite a few months ago now.
Now, the next one is solving a problem because the best businesses are the ones that solve an urgent and important need. And that is the case whether you’re freelancing, consulting, coaching, or you’re creating a physical product. And if you can find a need and offer an effective solution to solve that problem, then you’re never going to be wanting for clients. Because if you have that incredible solution to a problem that exists, that people are willing to pay for a solution for, then that is the dream space to be in when it comes to having a business. So have a think if there was a problem that you’ve experienced in your own life that you’ve solved or you believe you could solve using your existing skills?
Maybe there’s something that really annoys you. There’s a massive pain point in your life and maybe you can have a think about a solution that you’d be willing to pay for in your case. It could be a question of using your expertise to advise others on how to address a problem, or it could be creating actual product or services that addresses the gap in the market.
Now product businesses, at least physical products tend to be more time consuming and riskier to set up in terms of obviously investing to develop the product itself, creating inventory and logistics and all those things. But it could be something very simple and that might be viable. And in fact, now more than ever, digital products could be most interesting for you. So maybe it’s a workbook or a template, a guide that people would be willing to pay for, some kind of printable step by step tutorial, maybe an audio meditation depending on your skill sets. I’ve seen all sorts of people sharing templates and colour coded calendars and schedules for homeschooling, for planning. There’s all sorts of planners and things. You don’t want to get into a really saturated market where there’s all sorts of things going on already.
But if you have a particular skill and if you have maybe a network of people who would benefit from that, then they want to have it go. It’s not a lot of work to design something yourself, to brief someone else to design something and to just put it online. And see if people buy it from you. So online product products, digital products, but make sure you’re thinking lean. So you don’t want to be investing huge sums of money into a complex product that may or may not be something that people actually want to pay for. Or spending hours and hours of creating a product, a service, a course, whatever it is that again, people don’t actually need. So start super simple. Start with what we call the minimum viable product and really test it in the market before you decide if you’re going to go ahead with it or not. But again, if you can create a template, a workbook, something very simple and that’s a great place to start.
And then finally turning your hobby into a business.
Because the benefit of that is of course that if you enjoy your hobby, you’re hopefully going to enjoy it in your business or as a business as well because you might as well build a business around something that you enjoy. That’s one of my core beliefs as you’re going to be spending so much time and energy on this. So just like it’s “easy” to take an existing skill from your work history and package that up into freelancing or consulting. It’s also relatively simple to take an existing hobby and find a way to monetize it.
Now of course, the way you do that will depend on your hobby and you might consider the options. I’ve already talked about, doing a course teaching, freelancing and so on, but let’s take a few examples. So if you’re an avid photographer, you might not be able to at the moment offer in person photography services, right? So weddings are being cancelled. You can’t actually see people in person. However, you might consider creating a little ebook or an online course to help people take better photos themselves. Or maybe you could sell stock photo images. Maybe you have a library of incredible photos you have. You can package those up, you can even have an ongoing membership where people get a certain number of pictures every month for example.
Obviously if you love creating jewellery, you might sell that jewellery online, on Etsy or a site like that. Or again, you might offer courses to help people create their own jewellery.
If you’re an avid baker, then again at the moment maybe you might not be able to unless you can deliver and so on. But you might be able to start a physical bakery. But you can certainly offer online cupcake decorating courses. So when you think about how you can turn your hobby into a business and obviously with the specific limitations we have at the moments.
So a few ideas there. Again, they’re not super simple. I say “easy” with a bit of sort of quotation marks again there because he’s still things that will take time and skill. But I know you have that skill and perhaps you have the time as well. And if you’re looking to build a business, these are some of the ways in which you can monetize ideas that you already have, skills, experience, network that you already have. So freelancing, providing an online service, coaching, consulting, teaching what you know, solving your problem and turning your hobby into business.
Now if you really don’t know, then ask the question. Say post on LinkedIn, on Facebook, ask people, get people on the phone, talk to them to understand what they’re struggling with right now and to explore how you might be able to help them. And again, I want to emphasise that I really encourage you to try to put the offer out first before creating all the content and tech because again, there’s no point in spending months developing something complex that nobody actually wants or needs. So now as always, I’d always encourage you to do the market research, to contact those so-called ideal clients, to check with people in the sector. Are you looking for help with XYZ? What are your burning issues right now? How might I be able to help you? And that’s always a good place to start from. If nothing else, it builds your network, it builds really positive relationships so that then when the economy is in a better position, you will be top of mind and you’ll have those relationships that are really good foundation for the future.
I hope that was useful. I hope that gave you a few little nuggets, a few little ideas of how you might be able to make money and I look forward to seeing you next week. Bye for now.
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