Earn Money with Your Smarts


Are you eager to begin a legitimate business based on your personal interests and expertise? Maybe you have been blogging about something you love and you want to turn that into a full-time career? In the past, we have explored ways our readers can earn income independently by writing and proofreading, taking surveys, working as a mystery shopper, and more. We also have pointed out that affiliate marketing can be a way to:

  • Focus attention on a niche market that you have an interest and/or passion for
  • Use writing, blogging and other skills to improve returns

In other words, you earn more money by using your skills and “smarts”. In this article, we are going to expand even further on this, looking at a variety of alternative paths by which you can create a steady stream of passive or active income thanks to your knowledge and skills in specific areas.

Let’s start with the basics – affiliate marketing. This is something that allows you to help a company with a product or service. You create a landing page, blog or website that promotes that particular company’s products or services, and you get income when you direct leads and sales to them or through your own site. There are scores of networks and programs, and in other articles we offer links to some of the best of these networks.

However, you can earn money with your smarts through them by choosing those products or services that are of specific interest to you. You can then dedicate your time and energy towards writing and promoting them – which will always be far easier if you are authentically interested in the subject matter.

Affiliates, Blogging and Beyond

You can also make income by simply creating a blog that emphasizes that area of interest. For example, blog or write eBooks and articles about health and wellness, then pair up with affiliates that sell products or services with a health and wellness bent. This ensures a lot of passive income for every word you write.

Yet, there are additional ways to earn money with your smarts in this way. For example, you can develop apps or even plugins to coincide with your other efforts. The goal here is to look at every opportunity before you and every angle of the work you do and consider the ways you can insert yourself into the process. That could mean doing a lot of social media work (including contests on Pinterest or special deals on Facebook and Twitter campaigns), writing blogs, web pages, articles and eBooks to market; creating lists or infographics relating to your field; becoming an expert on a site like LinkedIn; creating apps or plugins for your own website; and working with affiliates to ensure your sales pages have the highest possible returns.

Don’t forget that graphics and photography are also channels for you – especially if your niche(s) have a strong visual component. Making stock images relative to your field is actually easier and more comfortable as you become more familiar with the trending or hottest topics and concepts. Let’s say you are a health and wellness blogger who has an app you’ve created relating to daily nutrient intake. You have written an eBook on basic nutrition and even have your web pages with your affiliate links. What sorts of images do you need? Why not make your own and then register at a site like iStockPhoto or Shutterstock and make money from others in the same field who also need similar, quality shots?

And as long as you have developed a set of skills with your camera, why not make some videos that support your goals. In fact, a lot of writers use affordable software to produce popular whiteboard videos that quickly and easily convert scripts into appealing YouTube videos. When added to your site, social media, marketing and other areas, you expand on your potential with the least effort imaginable. You can also market videos by making them instructional videos that explain basic concepts using those appealing graphics and texts you compose.

So, there you have a very simple way to take your knowledge and expertise in one or more areas, i.e., your smarts, and expand on it to make a constant stream of income and interest in your sites and marketing efforts. As you can see, it takes a lot of planning and organization, but once you map it all out and make some choices based on your passions and expertise, you simply cannot lose.

Beyond the Basics

How else can you turn your knowledge or expertise into cash? There are a few other, proven ways to start generating income. They include:

  • Offer up your expertise as a consultant – If you have established yourself as an expert through your writing, websites, affiliate marketing and more, why not also create a sales page that positions you as a per hour consultant. Don’t go for the obvious “media” or “social media” consultant as these are flooding the market. Instead, label yourself in a more specific way. We can stick with the health and wellness example we have already been using. Instead of being a media consultant, you can be a health and wellness industry consultant.

You don’t have to do one on one consultancy. Instead, why not book group seminars? You can record lessons and sell them instead of hourly bookings. You can write workbooks to pair up with recorded lessons further expanding on your earnings potential. You might even create “how to start a — business” package, emphasizing your area of expertise and teaching others how to start their own enterprises.

  • Exploring the many tutoring companies hiring – If you do want the one on one, many tutoring companies areutilizing online experts to offer remote support to students of all ages and backgrounds. For example, the following sites provide you strictly online opportunities that let you work from home and use your smarts to earn a nice and steady income:

Aim for A Tutoring


Connections Academy

Homework Tutoring

Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth



Revolution Prep

Rosetta Stone




This is a fantastic way to remain entirely focused on what you love and use that energy to help students of all ages and backgrounds to excel because of it. There are sites that focus on classic elementary and high school subjects as well as options for language tutoring and adult tutoring.

  • Going on sites like Fiverr and TaskRabbit to sell your teaching skills – In previous articles, we’ve looked at the great ways that these sites enable you to make a nice sum in a “side gig”. However, once you establish yourself and get a certain amount of work under your belt, the website enables you to charge more and take on more extensive assignments (that you design). This can include the offering of teaching and tutoring to adults seeking more specific tasks. That senior who wants to learn Quick books or the stay at home parent who really has no time to attend a formal Photoshop course are good examples. Decide on your niche and build your segment in this lucrative market.
  • Offering your time in real-world settings such as ongoing education programs, senior centers and community programming is just as effective as working for tutoring companies hiring.Whether you have a background in teaching dance fundamentals to toddlers, sign language, or gardening, you can take that skill set and use it to generate some income.
  • Look for paid internships in areas in which you have proven expertise or interest – This last one is so substantial and far more than aligning yourself with tutoring companies hiring or with other real-world scenarios. Instead, it can be a way to establish yourself in your area of interest and still get paid while doing it. Take the FBI student internships as a prime example.

People in their senior year of college, as well as those with degrees, can now apply for one of the many internships, paid internships, available from the Federal Bureau of Investigation or FBI. This does not mean you can then advance into a job relating to your internship, but it does give you a distinct advantage. Keep in mind that the FBI needs people from every imaginable field, including HR and STEM to English, foreign language and IT experts, among others. They look for interns in accounting and business, film and finance, journalism and marketing, PR and more!

What is so exciting is that these are paid jobs, not unpaid though beneficial internships. While you will need to be a college graduate to advance into full-time employment, these are great opportunities even for those just eager to earn money from their smarts. You can use what you experience to expand further what you offer to potential clients, and each year there are more than 700 openings available.

This means that paid internships are an excellent way to expand on your expertise, skill set and credentials. After all, if you ensure that your CV or resume appears online, you can have a line item or two (or ten) showing your time spent at firms like the FBI or other, equally significant agencies.

Clearly, you can do more than find work with tutoring companies hiring if you are eager to use and even expand on your current level of expertise and knowledge in a particular area. Teaching and tutoring, consulting and taking on paid internships are all fantastic ways to put your smarts, skills and expertise to work.

You can also work with those who may have more history and experience in a particular field by becoming a virtual assistant.

As one expert said, “If you have good verbal and technical skills, are extremely organized, and understand the responsibilities of blogging or running your own business, there are plenty of business owners who could use your help”. After all, they may be the actual experts in something you have akeen interest in learning more about, and you can provide your skills in all things business oriented to get that exposure you crave.

As a simple example, let’s say you specialize in home finance and saving money on day to day expenses. You create a blog and lucrative website covering this. However, you want to know more about advanced financial subjects like investing. You would be able to obtain that insight if you partnered up with those who already have that knowledge. Offering yourself as a VA to financial experts is a great way to get you the knowledge you need, at no extra cost and with the added bonus of earning income.

As a VA you would help the financial experts keep their business affairs organized, their documents in order and all the rest. In doing so, you too gain the knowledge they usually charge others to obtain, and you can then use that to develop your business further!

Getting Started Earning Money with Your Smarts

Whether you begin with the many tutoring companies hiring experts like yourself, looking for internships with firms as global as the FBI or just beginning to explore options in affiliates specializing in your area of interest, there are many ways to grow your knowledge and make money.

Be sure that you have a solid foundation of knowledge in your chosen niche, though. It is too easy to say you want to focus on something of interest, but without solid working knowledge of it, you won’t be able to get your business off the ground. Whatever the topic or area, be it travel, computers, fashion, food, household products, electronics, IT or something else – be sure you have those smarts and then use them to develop an exciting work life for yourself. With passive and active income streams, you will soon become one of those enviable people who are excited to hop out of bed each day because they enjoy their work so much.



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