How To Cash In On Your Skills

Written by Marisol Dahl

It's a little crazy to think that it's only early October and I've already hit midterms season in college. The clock is ticking and in more ways than one. By next May I'll have my cap and gown packed up, a job (haha, maybe), and an onslaught of student loan payments. Out of the college dorm and into the real world.

For those times of life transition, it's time to get serious about money-making. Yes, I went straight to the "m"-word. While money can't buy happiness, it is kind of nice to have when navigating exciting new changes.

And what better way to make money than by doing what you already know how to do? Ramit Sethi is the man when it comes to doing exactly this. Author of the book and blog I Will Teach You To Be Rich, Ramit is an expert when it comes to doubling down on your skills, turning a profit, and rocking your finances. We're excited to share his insight on freelancing and how anyone—yes, anyone—can cash in on their skills.

Is freelancing right for you? Q&A with Ramit Sethi:

Why should someone consider freelancing?

Ramit: The first thing most personal finance gurus will tell you about money is to cut back—be frugal! Stop wasting your money on lattes! The truth is that you can’t out-frugal your way to rich. While the “experts” focus on cutting costs, that’s only one part of the puzzle to living a Rich life. There’s a limit to how much you can save, but there’s no limit to how much you can earn.

Freelancing (or, taking your skills and turning them into income) is one of the easiest ways to get started earning more money, and it’s something you can do without quitting your day job, meaning very low risk. Most freelancing jobs—no matter how unique you think you are—can be priced easily, and the work-to-income is very clear compared to uncertain income-generating strategies like productization.

What are the typical objections you see people have regarding earning money on the side?

Ramit: Although it’s easy to get excited about earning more money—who doesn’t want to be richer?—we will always run into doubts about why we can’t do it:

  • “I don’t have enough time”
  • “That might work if you have an Ivy League education but I’m just a humble [occupation]…”
  • “Maybe if you live in SF or NYC…”
  • “Maybe if you’re a single guy, but I have a family…”

All of these are reasonable excuses, and some might be legitimate, but the objections to earning more are less about external barriers and more about your mindset.

I’ve seen people earn thousands in extra income as parents who live in Podunkville. I even have a friend who started a side job while working at an extremely demanding and prestigious full-time job. People can earn a great side income with ordinary jobs and incomes all because they took the initiative to do it.

What’s the biggest mistake people make when they try to start a side business on their own?

Ramit: I think the biggest mistake people make is spending too much time in the beginning “playing business.” They do things they think they “should” do but will never pay. They’ll get excited about an idea, and their next step is to launch a website, create a Facebook page, and buy 1,000 business cards. But then what?

After they’ve wasted a lot of time and money, they still don’t have one paying client to show for it and their excitement ends up withering away after a couple months. They end up blaming their failed attempt on others instead of their approach.

So if that doesn’t work, what SHOULD people do?

Ramit: Instead of random tactics that we see fail over and over again, there’s a more effective way to start that changes the entire approach.

The first step is finding a profitable idea.

My team and I have spent over 10 years of extensive research to bring you the exact tools and techniques that can help you identify what you’re already good at. Sometimes, you’re so good at something —it comes so naturally to you—that you don’t even realize it’s a skill. Then, you check to see if it’s a profitable idea before you spend months! Almost nobody realizes that they could “pre-test” an idea for profitability. This sounds simple but is actually a totally different approach than most people take.

The next step is to turn the idea into side income.

This is where a lot of people started doing random things they'd read about, like starting Twitter or Facebook pages. And again, they’d fall back into the same pattern! Launch something—this time, a blog with Google ads—and try and try to somehow turn it into lucrative side income.

What they actually need are less random tactics and “Top 10 Ways to Make Money from Home” lists, and instead, a system for testing your idea for profitability before you commit hundreds of hours. The right system can tell you whether you’re on the right track or not, so if something’s not working, you’ll know exactly what to do to fix it and get back on track. With the right system in place, you can grow that side income as much—or as little—as you want, with your available time.

What advice can you give to people who are ready to start earning more money?

Ramit: Most people reading this can agree that the thought of starting a side business isn’t just about money. It’s about living a life where you can control your income and your time. You could use the extra money to tackle your goals, to pay off debt, save more, or spend on the things you love. And freelancing is one of the easiest ways to get started.

"Cash In" On Your Skills

Want to freelance but don't know where to start? Ramit can help you earn your first $1,000 (and more) with his Earn1k Idea Generator Tool. Nail down a viable, profitable and fun freelance idea—you can afford to make a career change.

About Marisol Dahl

Marisol is currently a Sociology and Education Studies major at Yale University. A longtime New Yorker, she is interested in pursuing a career in education and child advocacy. Marisol started her blog in 2011 as a way to document her college years and beyond. When not running around campus and catching up with her school reading, she enjoys spending time with her family, reading dystopian fiction and volunteering in her community. She can be reached on Twitter at @marisoldahl.

Speak Like a Pro: Free Virtual Conference

Written by Jenny Blake Jenny Blake — Speak Like a Pro Conference

Public speaking doesn’t have to be a fate worse than death (nor does it have to give you hives, as often used to happen to me). That’s why I set out to find what the top experts in storytelling, body language and behavior change had to say on the subject.

Earlier this year I recorded 25 interviews with experts and thought-leaders for a virtual conference on how to Speak Like a Pro. It was an honor to connect with some of the authors and speakers I most admire; we talked about how to engage audiences, practice effectively, and connect with an audience of any size.

By the end of this conference, you'll learn: 

  • How to structure a presentation effectively to enact positive behavior change
  • The brain science behind how to practice your delivery to nail your content without notes
  • Physiological tips for calming nerves on the big day
  • Pointers for delivering a speech in an engaging, concise manner
  • How to build a strong reputation and profitable business as a professional speaker

Here’s a 3-minute video overview:

Sign-Up and Share

Reserve your free ticket here!

I’d love your help spreading the word too . . . here are a few click-to-tweets if you’re willing :)

[Tweet ThisPublic speaking doesn’t have to be a fate worse than death—free virtual conference on Speaking Like a Pro: http://bit.ly/SpeakLikeAProConf

[Tweet This] 25 top speakers weigh in on calming nerves, practicing effectively, and influencing an audience of any size: http://bit.ly/SpeakLikeAProConf

[Tweet This] Want to learn how to Speak Like a Pro? @jenny_blake interviews 25 experts for a free virtual conference in August: http://bit.ly/SpeakLikeAProConf

[Tweet ThisSpeak Like a Pro virtual conference with @Jenny_Blake starts Aug. 25! Get your free ticket here: http://bit.ly/SpeakLikeAProConf

About Jenny

Jenny Blake Headshot - Author, Speaker, Career StrategistJenny Blake is the bestselling author of Life After College, a career and business strategist and an international speaker who helps smart people organize their brain, move beyond burnout, and build sustainable, dynamic careers they love. Jenny combines her love of technology with her superpower of simplifying complexity to help clients through big transitions — often to pivot in their career or launch a book, blog or business.

Today you can find her here on this blog (in it's seventh year!) and at JennyBlake.me, where she explores the intersection of mind, body and business. Follow her on Twitter @jenny_blake.

Stuck? Here's How to Pivot Your Career (Video)

Written by Jenny Blake Once just relegated to the mid-life crisis, inexplicable tumult became socially acceptable in one's twenties too; in 2007, Alexandra Robbins coined the term “quarterlife crisis” as a rite of passage at the ripe old age of 25.

In a world filled with economic uncertainty, one in which technology continues to transform our lives at warp speed, this "crisis" state will only become more common. But instead of supporting millennials through this massive shift, for most of this decade the mainstream press has taken to berating us for being “the entitled generation” and for “wanting too much.”

As recently as this past weekend (!!) an op ed writer in The New York Times got my blood boiling with an article that concluded with the following statement:

“It is unlikely we will ever see another generation that is as self-obsessed and feckless as the millennials, yet still feels so undeservedly entitled to the keys to the kingdom.”

By calling these career aspirations a crisis, and even shaming and blaming millennials for being unsure of how to add meaning in a volatile economy, we are missing a huge opportunity to embrace the learning and insight that can result from deliberately shifting our focus and optimizing for growth and greater contribution.

So let's stop seeing it as a crisis, and start seeing these career pivots as part of our new reality, one that we must all embrace moving forward. In the video below, I share my new framework for becoming more agile within your life and career.

How to Pivot Your Career: A Conversation with Kevin Kermes

Free Webinar: Find Your Dream Job

If you're ready to take the next steps in your own career pivot but aren't quite sure where to start, check out Ramit Sethi's Dream Job course. He is hosting a free webinar on August 14 on Cracking the Code: How to land "hidden" jobs and build a career you love. Ramit usually doesn't record his webinars, so definitely make it live if you can!

About Jenny

Jenny Blake Headshot - Author, Speaker, Career StrategistJenny Blake is the bestselling author of Life After College, a career and business strategist and an international speaker who helps smart people organize their brain, move beyond burnout, and build sustainable, dynamic careers they love. Jenny combines her love of technology with her superpower of simplifying complexity to help clients through big transitions — often to pivot in their career or launch a book, blog or business.

Today you can find her here on this blog (in it's seventh year!) and at JennyBlake.me, where she explores the intersection of mind, body and business. Follow her on Twitter @jenny_blake.

Introducing The Acorn Project: A Two-Week Course to Reflect, Dream and Scheme

What a week. Considering some of the Sandy aftermath on the East Coast, I'm one of the lucky ones -- but didn't get away scot-free either. My area lost power from Monday night to Friday night -- which meant no running water or cell phone service, and 40-block walks just to use the bathroom in the morning. Urban camping at it's finest? The candlelight was cute until I hadn't showered for three days...

It's a humbling experience to realize how much we rely on gadgets, electricity, running water (and how fortunate we are to have them so readily available most of the time) -- and how much effort it takes just to go through a day without easy access to those things.

My sincerest thanks to everyone who reached out, checked-in, asked if they could help or offered a place to stay -- I'm deeply touched by the generosity of community in times like these. And sending my thoughts to all those more seriously impacted as well.

During the days that I did eventually find Internet (huge thanks to Ryan Paugh for arranging workspace at The YEC's accounting firm, Presti & Naegele!) I was hard-at-work on an exciting new course for all of you . . .

Introducing The Acorn Project

"Observe any squirrel during nutting time and see how busy he is laying a stock of provisions for Winter. Bushels and bushels of acorns and nuts are gathered by the little fellows and stored in the hollows of trees and in other accessible nooks. When these are filled the squirrel buries his treasures in the ground. Busily, like a streak of gray lightning, he whisks about under oaks picking acorns and burying them in the ground in a thousand and one spots. From sunrise to sunset he and his mates are busy storing away the Winter supply.

...Doubtless many of the acorns buried by the little planter are forgotten. Others are covered under snow before he has a chance to dig them out. In either case, an acorn has been planted as delicately as if by hand of man, and only the thaw of the ground and the warm Spring sunshine are needed to coax forth the oak. 

...It is a wonderful thing when you come to consider what part the tiny, bushy tailed animals may have played in the history of our country. Perhaps the majestic ships that plow the seas -- maybe even the old, famous men-of-war owe their existence primarily to the little paws of the soft-furred, soft-eyed little animals."

—The New York Times (Published March 15, 1903)

What do squirrels, acorns and oak trees have to do with you?

The Acorn ProjectWith just two months left in the year, it's a time for many people to wrap things up, reflect, and spend time with family. It's a time where many of us are starting to hunker down and set ourselves up for modern-day hibernation. It's also a time for us to start nurturing ideas for what's next and where we want to focus our effort in the coming year.

The Acorn Project is a two-week course that will help you reflect and start gathering fuel -- ideas, dreams and goals -- for the new year. After all, today's acorn stash could turn into tomorrow's big, beautiful oak tree.

This mini-course doesn't share the same intensity as Make Sh*t Happen, nor is it supposed to -- it is about collecting and mapping out your desires, values, ideas and goals so that you can see what wants to emerge in the New Year.

The Acorn Project kicks off a bigger course series called called Kickstart Your Change from Ruzuku, the online learning company I work with to host Make Sh*t Happen.

Sign me up, Scotty! (And FAQ)

What topics will we cover?

  • Day 1: Lay the Foundation: Mindset + Current State
  • Day 2: Create Your Compass (Values)
  • Day 3: Dream Big (Brainstorm and life map)
  • Day 4: Beyond the Trapeze (Navigating transition)
  • Day 5: Maintain Your Momentum (how to Make Sh*t Happen!)

How does the course work?

The course is facilitated through an online-learning platform called Ruzuku. You will get an email each day notifying you that the next set of content is ready. As you move through the course, you’ll check activities off that you complete, and you can return to the course any time after it is finished to revisit the material.

Who should sign-up? Is it just for college grads?

Nope. The course is for you if you are looking for guidance and inspiration to help assess where you are now and where you want to go.

This course is for anyone who:

  • Feels stuck or stagnant, wants to make a change but isn't sure where to start
  • Wants help determining what’s most important, and how to go after it
  • Is looking for some direction and structure to help reflect on this year and plan for 2013

I look forward to seeing many of you in the course

The Acorn Project - Click here to enroll now!

Ignorance is Not Bliss: Resources + Webinar for Aspiring and New Small Business Owners

Earlier this year my good friend Kyle Durand and I put on a joint workshop at WDS called "Ignorance is Not Bliss: 5 things every entrepreneur needs to know about setting up a business to save money, prevent headaches and keep the government off your back." It stemmed from my own clulessness about what business structures I needed to have in place, embarrassment about not having taken care of them yet, and hesitation (and fear) about draining my bank account to hire a lawyer. Kyle, a long-time entrepreneur who has degrees in both law and accounting, has also seen firsthand many clients who fell into avoidable businesses situations before working with him -- glitches at best, total firestorms at worst.

We're sharing the handout from our workshop below, but even better — I'm really excited to host Kyle for a free overview and Q&A session next Thursday at 3pm ET to explain the material and answer your questions. I'll be facilitating, and Kyle will walk us through the most common mistakes new small business owners make, then we'll open things up for live questions at the end (as specific as you want!). You can enroll for the webinar here -- and no worries if you can't make it -- we'll send out the recording afterward.

Getting ready to set-up your own business? Keep reading after the handout for an amazing program by Jeff Unger (a fellow speaker at Mario Schulze's NYC Idea Mensch event) -- his company e-minutes is on a mission to help form 500 corporations -- for free! 

Ignorance is Not Bliss (Handout)

5 things every entrepreneur needs to know about setting up a business to save money, prevent headaches and keep the government off your back

This content isn’t nice-to-know -- it’s must-know material that affects everyone who wants to build a business or even just start selling a product. A few key systems around accounting and law can go a long way to keeping more money in your pocket and Uncle Sam off your back.

1. Make it legal: register your business with with the right government agencies

2. For finances, don’t mix business with pleasure: track income and expenses separately

3. A contract will save the day - and your relationships

4. Keep the tax man happy (and more money in your pocket)

5. Stay healthy: get the right health insurance!

6. Bonus: Assemble your business posse to earn more money in less time

More about the eMinutes Mission to Set-up 500 New Businesses

For nearly twenty years, the lawyers at eMinutes have formed corporations for A-list celebrities, musicians, and athletes. Now, eMinutes has embarked on a mission to form 500 free corporations for first-time entrepreneurs. Free means free. eMinutes is even paying the filing fees.

For first-time entrepreneurs who have not yet formed a corporation, eMinutes will form the company. For entrepreneurs who have already formed a corporation, eMinutes lawyers will review the paperwork, determine whether documents need to be “cleaned up”, and take whatever steps are necessary to restructure the company. All of this will be provided at no charge.

Apply now, or read more about Jeff Unger and the eminutes team here.

Natalie Sisson's $100 Change Project

Speaking of WDS and people I adore, Natalie Sisson has launched a project called $100 Change, with tons of free resources, interviews, product giveaways and mentoring opportunities for aspiring solopreneurs. Click on the image below to learn more.

Imagine if $100 could change your life

I'd love to hear from you in the comments: From existing business-owners, any tips for those just starting out? If you're new to the game, what are your biggest obstacles or questions?