How to make money from your expertise

There’s an old joke about a consulting engineer who was hired by a company to tell them where to install a particular piece of equipment. The engineer came into the plant, looked around, and taped a large ‘X’ on the floor where the piece of equipment should go. They then sent the company an invoice for $15,000. The CFO of the company was aghast at the cost and asked the engineer to provide an itemized breakdown of the fee. The engineer submitted a second invoice containing two line items:

  1. Placing ‘X’ on floor to indicate location of equipment              $       50
  2. Knowing where to place ‘X’                                                            $14,950

As with most jokes, there’s some truth to this. When you are an expert in your field, you can charge a lot of money to share your expertise with people who need it. And if you’ve gotten a business off the ground successfully, you could certainly be considered an expert. Sharing what you’ve learned is a great way to add another revenue stream to your business.

Here are some ways to do this.

Start a consulting business

Being a consultant simply means you offer your skills and expertise to companies on an as-needed basis. Rather than being hired as a full-time employee, consultants contract with companies to perform specific tasks and are paid, usually by the hour or by the project, for completing those tasks. Consultants can typically charge more than an employee would earn for two reasons. First, the company that hires the consultant is only paying for the services they receive, and they know exactly how much that will be. Once the project is concluded, the company pays the bill and is done. Second, consultants don’t get benefits, so the company does not have to account for those costs.

Related: How much does it cost to hire an employee?

If you’ve been working in the same industry for a while, you’ve probably amassed a list of contacts who would be good candidates to hire you as a consultant. Taking the first step toward this type of business may be as simple as getting in touch with some of your contacts to see if they have any projects they could hire you for.

Here’s a tip to presenting yourself as a consultant: Learn to identify a problem and describe how you can solve it. As a consultant, you need to offer the solution to the problem, not provide a list of your credentials and expect the client company to figure out how you can help. In other words, you need to know where to place the ‘X.’

Create an online course

If you have specialized knowledge that you can teach to others, creating an online course is an efficient way to generate some additional income. Rather than holding in-person classes or training sessions, you can record your course once and sell access to it.

Once you’ve determined the topic you want to teach, you’ll want to do some research to see what else is out there. Try to find a way to make your course unique, so you are offering something that no one else provides. In many cases, this differentiator will be you – your experience in the field. Outline the content you plan to provide and try to get some feedback from others who are familiar with the subject matter.

Just as you would with any new product, you’ll need to do some market research to determine the best price point, the best platform, and the best way to advertise your online course. Shopify has a good step-by-step guide on creating an online course.

Mentor a group of people

When you tell people about how you started your business, they probably say, “Oh, I wish I could do that.” Of course, they could, but it would be much easier if they had someone who has done it to show them the ropes. Someone like you.

Sharing your experiences can help others learn from your mistakes and your successes. As long as you’re not creating competition for yourself, mentoring those who want to start a similar business to yours is a great way to add a revenue stream.

Write a book

Maybe it’s old school, but there is still money to be made by writing a book about what you know. And even though the idea of writing a book may be a little bit old-fashioned, there are new ways to distribute books. Rather than printing hard copies and hoping a mega-bookstore picks it up,  you can release your book online. You can even do it a chapter at a time, which keeps your readers engaged and gives you the option to continue telling your story for as long as you want.

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