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How to make money with your talent (easy tips for anyone)

Ramit Sethi

This is Tip #25 of the Save $1,000 in 30 Days Challenge.

Today’s tip is to earn more money by freelancing on the side. It sounds harder than it actually is — I’ll show you how below.


As I wrote during the presidential debates, you really have two levers to control when it comes to your money: Making more (revenue) and spending less (costs). Most Americans only think about cutting costs, resulting in frugality websites that frantically try to out-do each other with the most inane and meaningless tips of all. Don’t eat out at all! Scrape foil off the sidewalk and use it to pack your lunch! Ok, I’m sure I’ll do that.

We forget about the lever of earning more money, which is the most powerful of all. You can do this in a bunch of ways:

  • Negotiate your salary at work (I’ll write about this in an upcoming post)
  • Start a second job (yes, about 4 billion people in the world do this…instead of reading blogs)
  • Freelance for something you’re very good at

And on and on.

The money is there, but it’s really hard to get the initiative to try to earn more money, knowing that you’ll probably fail the first 10 times. I can’t help you with the initiative, but if you’ve decided to earn more, I can show you how. Today, we’ll talk about the freelance route, Q&A-style:

Q: What’s freelancing?
A: It’s just doing part-time work for something you have particular expertise in.

Q: But I don’t have any expertise!
A: I bet you do. Can you do math? Then you can freelance by tutoring kids in algebra. Do you know how to hike? Then, with a class or two, you can become an instructor for the local recreational hiking class. If you play tennis or you’re a web developer…you get the idea. Think about what you’re good at, then ask yourself how you can use it to help people.

Q: But I really don’t have any expertise.
A: Really? Do you speak English? You can tutor a foreign student easily. When I was in college, I consulted for a couple of venture-capital firms teaching them about YouTube and social networks — stuff that I used every day. (I’ll never forget being in a professional conference room and showing a bunch of partners how guys check out girls on Myspace…it may have been my life’s crowning achievement.) The key is, think about what you know and who would want to know it.

In January 2007, I posted a job ad for various positions. I ended up hiring a guy named Jeff as my book researcher — which means he has the ability to dig up anything, any time, and quickly. Could you do that? Besides Jeff’s amazing research abilities, he was being able to connect his skills (‘I’m really good at finding information’) with an opportunity he saw. More importantly, he took the initiative to (1) reach out to a site he read regularly, (2) turn in a great application, (3) show that he could do the work over a trial period. He’s now a regularly paid consultant on multiple projects with me — all because he took the initiative to reach out.

Q: Ok, I know what I want to freelance for. What now?
A: Go to places where people would want your skills. If you’re tutoring kids, go to Craigslist and search for “math tutor.” It literally took me 15 seconds to find this “Tutor needed” post — which pays $15/hour.

Tutor needed

Email all of your friends and let them know you’re looking for a position. Tell them specifically what you’re (1) looking for, (2) what skills you have, and (3) put it in an email that they can just forward. A friend of mine named Ian did this yesterday, and I forwarded his resume to a few friends, a couple of whom are really interested. People want to help you.

Q: What should I avoid?
A: I avoid Elance because everybody tries to undercut everyone else (but I LOVE it when I’m hiring). By contrast, you should definitely look at Craigslist since (1) there’s an incredible amount of buyers and (2) everyone else is so horrible that if you can write a half-decent sentence and restrain yourself from including a picture of your penis, you can almost certainly get a freelance gig.

Don’t be utterly concerned with making top-dollar on day 1. Check out this great post by Ben Casnocha, who describes the professional speaking circuit. I can tell you that I spoke for free for many years before charging even a little…and it took even longer to charge significant rates. When you see a consultant who charges $150/hour, it took a long time to build up that skill set. Be comfortable starting modestly.

Q: What kind of money can I make freelancing?
A: This is important: You should first plan your goals with freelancing. Do you want to make enough to cover your weekend going-out costs? If so, then you only really need to make about, say, $100 per week. That’s about 5 hours @ $20/hour, or 7 hours @ $15/hour. Once you have your goals, you’ll have a better idea of how to package yourself to buyers. In general, first-time freelancers can charge $10 to $25/hour, but it really depends on your skills, location, and market demand. For example, I pay some of my contractors over $150/hour, but others work for free to develop their skills and build a relationship for future work down the road. Although the eventual point is to make money, don’t lock yourself into charging high rates upfront. See On greed and speed for more on that.

Example: If you tutor for $20/hour, 4 hours/week, that’s about $320/month. Not bad. If you tutor for $20/hour, 10 hours/week, that’s $800/month. Now we’re talking. That’s money you can save, invest, and spend on the things you love.

A final point about lazy people who complain and do nothing to earn more money
Nothing makes me angrier than people who complain about their financial situations but do nothing to solve it. If you truly believe that you can’t freelance for anything, that’s The Shrug Effect in action. Look, almost anyone can earn more money, but most of us sit on our asses and complain about taxes instead of trying to earn more. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, there’s no clear path. But the rewards are enormous, and I’m not just talking financially.

You can’t think of anything you’re good at? Ask yourself what you’re doing right now: You’re reading my blog. Do I have any needs? Of course, I do — I want to grow my site, add cool new content, etc. So how might you be able to help? Think about it tactically: “Hmm…I read Ramit’s site…maybe I should email him and send him a bullet-pointed list of things I’m good at that might help him. Who knows if it’ll work? But I’ll do this for my favorite 20 blogs and stay in touch with them over time.”

Do you read magazines? Send an email to anyone who was featured in there and let them know you love what they’re doing, and you’d love to help out in [3 SPECIFIC WAYS]. Nobody does this, so you’ll stand out. At the very least, you’ll quickly find out what skills people are looking for. Do the same for interesting people you meet online. Tell your friends what you’re looking for. And don’t be afraid to start off small (or free).

Email template that you can use:

Hi Mike,

My name is Ramit Sethi and I’m a recent Stanford grad. I’ve been reading your blog for two years (I loved the post about using virtual assistants and got BOTH of my brothers to start using one), and it’s really helped me be more efficient with my work.

It occurred to me that you’re probably interested in growing your blog. I might be able to help. I’ve done video editing ( and Powerpoint design ( Imagine doing a great video on using virtual assistants, then distributing it through your newsletter. I could do one for you in about 2 days if you’re interested.

How about chatting later this week? My # is XXX-XXX-XXXX or I can give you a call at your convenience.



Total savings: $100 to $1,000 per month

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  1. avatar
    Announcing the Save $1,000 in 30 Days Challenge | I Will Teach You To Be Rich

    […] doing) Tip #23: Go cash only for 15 to 30 days Tip #24: Cut your commute expenses by 40% Tip #25: Earn more money using your God-given skills (52 votes, average: 3.23 out of 5)  Loading […]

  2. avatar

    “God-given skills” i was expecting sperm and egg donor tips.

  3. avatar

    This is probably the most useful tip out there. Even better than freelancing: teaching sports for cash — you get exercise and have the additional benefit of not having to pay taxes. Golf & Tennis are highly profitable – charging $50/hour for private lessons is still considered a “cheap” rate.

    Just 20 hours/month adds up to $1,000 — I throw everything in an envelope, and wait until the end of the month to use it to pay for rent, car insurance, bills, etc. Take the rest and use it for gambling/golf/gifts/whatever!

  4. avatar

    I just finished catering an anniversary party and earned $150. It was super easy (hors d’oeuvres), only took a few hours of my time, and I got many more references for future parties while there.

  5. avatar

    Good article and true… HOWEVER, savings are more efficient than earnings (when you get the crap taxed out of you). IE: a penny saved > penny earned… Poor Ben Franklin.

    You have to pay income taxes on everything you earn so our corrupt politicians can dole it out for votes and corporate interests. Last year I paid over 43% of my earnings to taxes.

    So if I want to add $100 to my investment portfolio, I actually have to earn $175.44… But I keep 100% of my savings. So I’d rather Also, this tax burden will increase as your earnings go up! Provides a great incentive to work harder does it not?

    I’m most certainly not saying don’t increase your earnings (but your govt is)! While I spend most of my energy on increasing my earnings, I don’t use them as an excuse to lapse in frugality!

  6. avatar

    great tip! i have been meaning to freelance for a while but have been — full disclosure — TOO LAZY to put up portfolios of my work. i’m leaving this comment to hold myself accountable for completing this within the next week. things i can do:
    • videography
    • video editing
    • web design
    • handout (as opposed to ppt) design

  7. avatar

    On the “What should I avoid” question I would add … avoid to “diversify” yourself too much. It goes in the same idea as “start small”. When I started to try to find ways to make more money I knew that all attempts will not work so I thought that I should try as much ideas as I can … It resulted in trying too much things and couldn’t completed any successfully due to a lack of time.

    I’m getting better at this now. One example of a skill I used to make money is growing house plants, I enrolled myself in a local growing club, they have regular selling events, I sell my houseplants and make 100-200$ almost every other month (once a year we have a bigger event … up to 400$ during a single week end ). It’s not too much time consuming : less than 1 hour a week to water and take care of plants … they grow almost by themselves.

  8. avatar

    Great post. I’m thinking of doing some freelancing in the new year.

    However, I don’t see why you feel the need to constantly put down other websites. There are a lot great ideas out there — ones which you’ve obviously used for this challenge (like packing your lunches and selling stuff on ebay). I’m sorry, but as a reader, I find the attitude a little hypocritical — and I see it as a sign of insecurity.

    In addition, a lot of these frugal ideas are better for the environment (like packaging your own snacks and reusing foil). Isn’t it funny how we’ll pay more for eco-friendly products, yet balk at eco-friendly ideas that actually save money?

  9. avatar


    This is an awesome post. I’m moving to Seattle by end of this month (from Philly) and just laid-out my 2009 financial savings plan. I created few savings accounts, each devoted to specific purposes (house, wedding, travel, etc.) and realized that my two paychecks per month won’t be able to support all my goals. I am now considering doing a 2nd job – was thinking about restaurant because I have passion and desire of opening my own when I’m older, so it’ll give a great perspective on how to run a restaurant if I work there. I could also do some tutoring (though not extremely smart) but I could teach English to just-came Korean students, or Korean to 2nd-generation Koreans, or Math/Physics. It just opened up a lot of doors for me. I’ll definitely look into tutoring for my 2nd income in 2009.

  10. avatar

    one thing to note is that many companies have rules against doing professional work on the side. every company i’ve worked at has had a rule against doing side business other than part time teaching at a college.

  11. avatar

    I came up with this idea while I was browsing Etsy for Christmas gifts. A lot of the stuff on there I can make myself, so why not? I’m selling a couple of really easy jewelry designs that take almost no time to make.

  12. avatar
    Kelly Anne

    I second the “Don’t be concerned about making top dollar on day 1”. I’m (s…l…o…w…l…y) starting up a photography business on the side. I have been told by some of my clients that I could charge much more than I do, but I have price-positioned myself quite deliberately – low enough that the clients I want can afford me, but high enough that I feel like it’s worth my time.

    When you’ve been a math tutor for a whole year, you can say that you helped five kids raise their grades an entire letter grade, and you can use that information to charge more. Start towards the bottom knowing the expertise you gain will help you climb that ladder.

  13. avatar

    Best post in the 30 day challenge thus far, I think. This line clinched it: “If you can write a half-decent sentence and restrain yourself from including a picture of your penis, you can almost certainly get a freelance gig.” Oh Craigslist, you temptress! I think my new year’s resolution will be to stop posting pictures of my genitals on there twice a week.

  14. avatar

    Hey, Ramit, I teach Power Point to kids at a junior college and I’m a voracious reader. Contact me regarding your needs and we could probably work out something – something that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. I like this stuff.

  15. avatar

    I agree: best post so far in the 30 day challenge!

  16. avatar

    I think people get stuck on the freelancing word — it always seemed to be such a big -project- when I thought about doing it, even though I KNOW I have marketable skills. I thought, oh, so much to organize teaching a night class on excel or blah blah blah. But I never thought about really looking at ALL the things I do.
    For example, (despite being a business analyst by day), I am a very good tarot card reader — I always have friends begging me to do that for them. Then one of them said, ‘hey, you should call an event planner because they hire those sorts of people for parties — I hear it’s good money.’
    So I did it, made one call and now I work when requested (I don’t have to do scheduling, customer mgmt, nothing, I get a call to schedule me and then just SHOW UP with my deck) and I make $50 bones an hour. Yep. Cash. Yep. that’s before tips.
    So my point is, really think outside the box — what are your hobbies? Can you start a meetup group and charge for something? Can you SUBCONTRACT for someone — i.e. an event planner if you can apply clown makeup, and put on big red shoes? That is many times easier than trying to formulate a customer base, manage it, etc which comes with traditional -freelancing-
    My .02!

  17. avatar

    This is a great tip, and one that I think is really overlooked. Back when I was in school I never had an “actual job” I made all of my money by doing web design and other freelance graphic work in the side. This was great because I could work my own hours AND it paid much better than working in retail or something like most other college kids.

  18. avatar

    Okay, I just searched Craigslist gigs for people who want to learn to sew. We’ll see how it pans out. Thanks for the motivation.

  19. avatar

    Ramit, this is an AWESOME post. I’m a SW Eng and definitely found myself nodding my head in agreement to many of your points as I was reading this. Have been your reader for a while, but usually I just read and try to gain some insight… I would only comment a handful of times.

    I’m definitely interested in and looking forward to reading what you have to say about salary negotiations.

    For freelancing work, it’s good too keep a profile and resume ready. Unfortunately, I have neither of those that are in an easily presentable or attractive format. You’re also right on about setting goals for freelancing–taking on too much additional responsibility can cut out on the time you have to do things you enjoy, go out, volunteer, etc. and can cut into the quality of the work that you do.

    I like what another commenter wrote–to start small and charge a lower rate to establish credibility and reputation.

    W-9 forms and setting aside money for tax day are additional hassles that come along with freelancing, though =)

  20. avatar

    One problem with freelancing is liability. I’m a computer guy but I’d be afraid to freelance fix people’s computers because I’d be afraid of being sued by being accused of breaking someone’s computer.

  21. avatar

    Long time reader, first time commenter…

    Like some of the other commenters, I’ve been thinking (vaguely) about freelancing for some time but this post gave me the motivation to actually try it out. Just found two craigslist gigs, people looking for a photographer for their holiday cards. I love to take photographs and am pretty good at it, so I’m going to see if there’s a market out there for informal, cheap, but well done family, kid or pet photos.

    This won’t require any upfront investment, and if it works out I could make a little extra cash every month.

  22. avatar

    This is the best tip by far for boosting your finances. I recently started cleaning small businesses at about $30-40/hour after getting fed up with the same old crap at my day job. It is extremely flexible and the start up costs are next to nothing. You can scrimp and save all you want, but I’d rather use a little ingenuity and still be able to eat out once in a while. Good advice Ramit, and keep up the good work!

  23. avatar

    Are you still looking for a book reviewer? But you said the deadline is on December 1, it’s December 3 now (Dec 4, here in Asia), can I still apply? I love to read, write and know personal finance

  24. avatar

    well saving money is great idea.. but as it was said you have two levers how to do that make more or spend less..THIS tips are just learning you how to work hard and more! BUT you just get paid once and you have to be there! Your time is just 24 hours per day! I’m not saying its a bad tip, but there are ways how to earn money where you invest your time just once a get paid back a lot of time after.. JUST THINK ABOUT IT

  25. avatar
    Ramit Sethi

    Lucash: I think I see your point (passive income)…but you sound a little nutty. Like most people who talk about passive income.

    Prime: Sorry about that, the correct date is 12/8. I’ve changed it on the page.

  26. avatar

    I think the obsession some people have with ensuring extra income is passive can get in the way of just getting started. For 20-somethings, the skills developed from freelance work can lend themselves back to improved performance on an accelerated track in their day jobs.

    For example, I tutor high school students in academic subjects and teach SAT prep through one of the big companies. From this, I’ve learned, tangibly, (1) some clients aren’t worth having (80/20 rule), so be choosy; (2) declining a paying customer b/c you know they’ll demand an unreasonable amount of your energy is liberating and lets you focus energies on more productive win-win client relationships; and (3) how to justify an above-average rates in a service business. From teaching, I’ve developed my public speaking & leadership skills. I also discovered a passion.

    Sure, $1000 is more money than $300. But, if I aim for 4 hours a week to get that $300-400 per month, I can pick only the most fun clients who make it feel like it isn’t work. I’d risk burnout if I targeted 10 hours a week to get $1000 per month, because that’s on top of the 45-60 I work at my day job. Speaking of the day job, my growth trajectory there benefits from all my extra practice leading and teaching. Just a thought – 20somethings might have more to benefit from extra active income more than passive income, due to the non-monetary benefits.

  27. avatar
    jakew : Reading for 2008-12-04

    […] Tip #25: Earn more money using your God-given skills […]

  28. avatar

    Ok, Ramit, I think you must be stalking my life. No, not seriously, but all of your tips this month have been things that my husband and I have started doing in the past few months. Including this one. I thought we were so smart for figuring this one out, making more money. So my husband just passed an exam to become a home energy rater (which is going to cost us $$ now, but will become a nice little business in the next few years) and I just started a little etsy shop ( ) with some sewing that I’ve done for therapy in my free time (I just zen out with my sewing machine, and if I hopefully make a little money, so much the better!)

    Thanks for your timely tips. I think this 30 days of savings is a great idea. I am definitely a fan.

  29. avatar
    Kevin I

    With this tip, if you have any sort of creative aptitude and know your way around a computer you can be a huge assest to friends and small buisnesses who need light graphic design work done.

    Most graphic design will set people back a pretty penny when all they really want is something better then some Times New Roman in Microsoft Word. So they end up over spending when they just need someone better then them at it.

    I think most people avoid doing it because they say to themselves “I’m no graphic designer” but in these smaller cases, that’s not what people want or need but the settle for the price because in their head there is no inbetween.

    So make a few things for a friend or two to get the word out with them that you’d like to pick up a quick creative job or two, or when out at a small buisness and see ugly signs, flyers, hand-outs and buisness cards, offer to re-design them for whatever you feel your work is worth. Don’t sell yourself short but also remember you aren’t a pro!

    There are also a ton of places online that have various regular design competitions ( is an example of this) that you might just be up to snuff enough to participate in.

    I’ve started doing this and already picked up a few extra bucks here and there, but since it’s not my career I really only need the little bonus boost.

  30. avatar


    Only difference in saving and earning is the maximum cap, if you think about earning more, there is no limit, as you can see there is enormous wealth is out there; when you try to save, there is a limit, which is your current income.


  31. avatar

    What I found interesting is that small business owners tend to do the same thing…cut costs (i.e. layoffs) and not try to earn more. When money is tight sometimes you have to be creative and come up with additional streams of income such as adding on coaching service or ebook or something to add value to your customer and charge a little more. Or ramp up their marketing to attract more customers to increase sales.

    @ jontsai – if you need someone to create your resume; I can help. I’ve been doing this for years and even helped my HR dept by revamping some resumes for the “techie” consultants. I have before and after samples I can provide as well.

  32. avatar

    I totally agree that “freelancing” is the way to go. I am an attorney and wanted to start making a little more money. I now teach Legal Research and Writing at the local law school (~$8,000/year) and I am the editor-in-chief of a quarterly journal ($2,500/issue). So that’s an extra $15,000 per year that I make.

    I’m not going to lie, though – the LWR position takes up a significant amount of time, especially when I’m grading papers. However it is incredibly rewarding and, were I to give up one of these jobs, it would be the editing position. The editing position presents its own unique set of challenges: how to find contributors for a magazine that does not pay, whether you alter the work of prominent attorneys in order to make it look better — you get the picture.

    So, in sum: I totally agree that if you want to make a little bit of extra money, it is not that hard. The best part about the two other jobs that I have is that they both also function as networking opportunities. At the law school, I meet all sorts of attorneys I normally would not get the chance to meet. Through the journal, I meet a lot of attorneys with similar interests to my own. In all honesty, I probably would not have been able to meet these people without significant work… but now the relationships have fallen into my lap. Good advice!

  33. avatar

    I have done some freelance work over the years. I agree that starting with a goal is a great way to help figure out your rate. In addition, starting low, but at the same time, not underselling yourself is important.

    Mostly, just don’t be afraid to make some mistakes. It takes a little trial and error to figure out how to successfully freelance. Be willing to get a little experience under your belt this way.

  34. avatar
    Jordan Pearce

    Elance. 🙂 Yep.

    This is post is the difference between getting by and making progress. I like it. If anything, freelance and put all earnings in a savings account or invest it. Awesome post. No whiners!

  35. avatar
    Susan Su

    Freelancers and part-timers can also increase your value by leveraging even moderate expertise.

    For example, though I speak three languages fairly well (in addition to English), I’m not really good enough to teach anybody. But, it’s possible to monetize even moderate expertise if you find the right audience.

    When I was a starving AmeriCorps volunteer in Seattle, I leveraged my moderate language expertise in Mandarin to land a $15 / hour babysitting job where I spoke to my very sweet and precocious little charge in Mandarin about a quarter of the time. Totally easy.

    At the time, $12 / hour was the going rate for babysitters in Seattle, so I was able to increase my earnings by $3 / hour (or $120 a month) just by chattering and playing in another language that I already knew.

    Same principle goes for negotiating your salary at your primary job…

  36. avatar
    Writer's Coin

    Great perspective on the whole “I don’t like this as a freelancer, but when I’m hiring it’s great!”

    You gotta play both sides of the coin.
    But seriously, this is a nice, fresh take on freelancing.

  37. avatar

    The best piece of advice anyone gave me about freelancing was to turn the “what are your rates?” question around and ask THEM “what do you usually pay for….”

    If it’s a major company that’s used to budgeting for a certain rate, you can seriously undercut yourself by charging less. I nearly did that last year, but thanks to this tip from former boss (who used to do a lot of contract work,) I earned twice as much as I would have asked.

    Granted, this might not work if you’re bidding against other people, but I think it’s a good idea to have a set idea in your head that you want to earn, and not to go below it. (But definitely be open to going above it!)

  38. avatar
    Barbara Saunders

    Guerilla get rich strategies that I’ve employed this year – leveraging freelance income by using it to fund retirement accounts while also leveraging freelance experience by upgrading the resume from “worker” to “expert.”

  39. avatar

    Dollar days in Baltimore are here again.
    Get admissions for a buck in the famous Aquarium and 15 other places in the city.

  40. avatar
    Stop Getting Cheated

    @Johnny – If you are working your own business from your home, you are eligible for legal and legitimate tax write-offs. Find an EA in your hometown who is well-versed on home-based business tax law, pay him $50-$85 for an hour of his time, and pick his brain on what you want to do to earn money, how to write your business plan, and how to keep records. You should be able to save several thousand dollars starting January 1st.

  41. avatar
    Save Money during the Recession | Sassy Women

    […] Earn more money using your God-given skills […]

  42. avatar

    The only problem with freelancing, is that most of the opportunities are for an hour or two a week, and in general, the money you make is hardly worth the hassle it takes the make it. If you’ve got some specialization and experience though, in say computer programming (or something equally technical), freelancing is far more lucrative.

  43. avatar

    “I think most people avoid doing it because they say to themselves ‘I’m no graphic designer’ but in these smaller cases, that’s not what people want or need but the settle for the price because in their head there is no inbetween.”

    Wow, that’s exactly what I tell myself. I’m a writer/editor, and I work with insanely talented graphic designers. I enjoy graphic design a great deal, took some courses in college, and I work on my own projects (photos, travelogues, my wedding invitations), but I haven’t had the guts to offer up myself as a freelance graphic designer because, despite the positive feedback I’ve received, I feel like I’m no graphic designer. Not when I look at what the graphic designers at work produce.

    That comment makes me look at it another way entirely.

  44. avatar

    Hi Ramit,
    My name is Mariano I´m Spanish and live in Barcelona.
    Ì´ve just finished reading you tip ¡#25, and I’ve found it really helpful. Actually it has made me decide to start some freelancing spanish for foreigners teaching on line.
    I´ve decided to make a web site in English and promote it in the States. But the trouble is that I don´t know how to promote it from Barcelona ( Spàin). I would really appreciate receiving some advise on this subject.
    Thanks a lot, I feel that you´re doing a great job.

  45. avatar
    Paras Mamania

    Hi Ramit, That’s a great advice and it has inspired me to take action in my life, keep up the good work!.

  46. avatar
    Gana más dinero utilizando tus dones divinos- traducción del inglés | Estudiar

    […] Me lo concedió, pero me pidió que tradujera sólo un extracto. Por ello, si te interesa el tema, te reto a que intentes traducirlo al completo con un buen diccionario a mano. Aquí va un extracto (fíjate como mi traducción no es literal, sino que intenta captar las ideas […]

  47. avatar

    To Johnny – You pay taxes on savings interest, as well. Remember that.

    To Ramit – This article is great. All the same reasons why I started freelancing as well. In college I needed money and saw an opportunity to make a website for someone. 4 years later I have an internet marketing company that I have running in the background. It makes enough to cover my necessary costs in the event of a disaster (layoffs, etc.). And, If i ever did get laid off from my full time position, now I have a head-start on “going on my own,” and can only grow the business from there!

    Good luck, and thanks for the post.

  48. avatar
    J.D. MacNair

    I love the article. Fine tuning things sure does help, espically at a time when we need it most. Keep the good info coming. I use some of the things you mentioned to my success with my site and it works.

  49. avatar

    After I read this, I posted an ad on Craigslist for English/Spanish tutoring. I was contacted the next day and am now spending my lunch hours tutoring a Brazilian girl who’s my age. We meet at Starbucks and I help her with speaking English for an hour. I don’t usually do much on my lunch break, so this has been a fun way to get to know someone else and make a little extra cash (I charge $20/hour). I have had this idea before, but the key is to DO it!!

  50. avatar
    Ramit Sethi

    Jenna: Awesome.

  51. avatar

    I was really hesitant to try and start freelancing, because as a programmer, it can really suck up ALL of your free time, and I can’t give up family time. So I looked at what my other talents were that I wanted to pursue beyond programming. For one, I have always been a good speaker with good diction and an outgoing personality, but I can’t really use that behind my computer. So I sent off a note last month to a DJ at our local radio station, where they run a lot of local ads and asked if they needed any voice talent. I kept up with him for several weeks, and then one day he had an urgent need for an ad to be recorded that day, and gave me a call. It’s something that takes about a half-hour to do, and it leverages a talent that I don’t get to use at work.

    Now that he knows that I’m available and have a nice voice, I’m much more likely to get calls when they need commercial work… and it never would have happened if I hadn’t just asked.

    There are other interests I have that I’d like to pursue, like crafting and sewing, along with other more professional interests, like web usability. Don’t count out things that you don’t currently do on a professional level, and be willing to diversify!

  52. avatar

    I have a cosmetology license. I worked, then had 4 kids.
    I’ve always had clients at home until a few years ago when I hurt my back. I had back surgery over a year ago and have regained much of my strength and energy. I’m now ready to start some side work a few hours a week in between raising 3 school age kids and a college daughter.
    My college daughter is in a sorority (she pays for it–not me–too expensive!) and she hangs with the frat boys a lot. They are my potential clients! I can do haircuts at the frat house! Most guys want a fast haircut, so when I show up with a cape, scissors and clippers they will be happy to get a fabulous, quick haircut at a good price by Melissa’s mom! (having a beautiful single daughter sure helps too!)
    Now for the sorority side of things. Girls have eyebrows that need to be waxed. Many girls have have horribly shaped eyebrows that are crying out for help! Melissa and her mom have beautifully shaped eyebrows. We are eyebrow experts. We can help reshape those eyebrow disasters. Melissa has beautiful hair too. Her mom can also do haircuts on Melissa’s sorority sisters.
    If I did 20 haircuts in a month, I could easily net $300-$400. Melissa could get a % of my income for recruiting.

  53. avatar
    20 questions that your financially unprepared friends are afraid of | I Will Teach You To Be Rich

    […] stock market? 9. You’re always thinking about cutting down on spending. Ever thought about earning more money? 10. OMFG, are you REALLY planning to buy a house for the tax deduction? 11. If your employer has a […]

  54. avatar
    Titus Barik

    Another great option that I’ve done to bring in some additional income is to publish articles in trade magazines, such as Linux Journal. You can make anywhere from $200 – $1000 an article, and you get to gain a mastery of the subject material you’re covering, which has value in its own write. Since the IT field is constantly changing, there’s always new material out there to write about.

  55. avatar
    I Will Teach You To Be Rich » Comment of the week: Going from $20k/year to $90k/year

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  56. avatar

    Is there a job that you don’t mind that everyone else hates? That might be your freelancing opportunity.

    I pick head lice. For years, my friends asked me to pick the nits and eggs out of their children’s hair, and because I have no problem with the little critters, I did it. Finally, it occured to me that others might pay me to do it, so I spent a week reading and learning everything I could about the little suckers (making myself an expert), started a blog and advertised on free classified ads sites. Business is pretty good. I still have my day job, and I’ve got young children, so I’m pretty busy and only take on the work when I want it. Still, it sure comes in handy when I have unexpected bills.

    If you want more head lice info (are you itchy now?) check out my blog at

  57. avatar
    Freelancing in crisis times « rojo40

    […] The bloody capitalism: Want to earn more money? Want to move forward towards better career opportunities? Want to handle your own finances? […]

  58. avatar

    Be careful about freelancing, especially when advertising your skills over the internet. Fact of the matter is that no matter how professional a contact seems, you still don’t know exactly with whom you’re speaking. I decided to freelance by offering music lessons and after a very convincing, well-executed scam I wound up losing everything that my wife and I had put away over the first two months of our marriage (this happened last week; we’ve been married since December). Deal in-person and cash only. BE CAREFUL.

  59. avatar
    What’s in YOUR browser? | Caddickisms

    […] I Will Teach You To Be Rich article on ways to make more money […]

  60. avatar
    A Generation Gap For Entrepreneurs? « Ask the Entrepreneurs

    […] friend Ramit loves to talk about creative, and very entrepreneurial, ways to earn more money and get satisfaction. My good-intentioned, hardworking 50-something parents panic at the very whisper of […]

  61. avatar » Blog Archive » Recession Rigatoni - An Entrepreneur Renaissance

    […] the average individual? Can you provide consulting or render services? I encourage you to check out Ramit Sethi’s post about freelancing. Starting a micro-business could be one of the most fulfilling things you do in your life-and you […]

  62. avatar

    I love this post. This provides so much value. I can definitely use this to increase my income and better my life.

  63. avatar » Blog Archive » Summer Jobs, Internships or Starting Your Own Project?

    […] a great article by Ramit Sethi that points out a simple fact – everyone knows something they can leverage for profit. Just imagine how impressive is it if you take something you already know how to do, make a […]

  64. avatar
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    […] […]

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    Start a Side Business While Looking for a Job

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  66. avatar

    Another effective strategy is to work for something besides cash– I’ve freelanced for years reviewing concerts, and other cultural events. I get to go out once or twice a week for free– and it usually only takes 1/2 of due diligence up front (contacting artists etc) and an hour after wards to write it up. One way to think about this idea is that hobbies can make you money.

  67. avatar

    I am getting zero results with my posts on craiglist, i am a certified personal trainer as well as a graphic designer.

  68. avatar

    One more fantastic example – creator of Anu Garg

    He was in love with English words including interests in finding their roots , origin and very different english words. Now his site wordsmith.rog has successfull online community of 5 million people around the word… This is simply an outstanding example …

  69. avatar

    Ramit – great post, and I love the fact you gave so many examples so people reading it could NOT keep making excuses to go earn extra money if they need it.
    I almost stopped reading half-way through because I didn’t sense you were going to comment on the laziness factor…but you did!
    Through adversity comes clarity; clarity brings opportunity.

  70. avatar
    Kris Koon

    I agree nothing makes me angrier than people who want so much money, yet do not want to do any work. I work long hard hours in my own company and probably make more than most surgeons. Yet people without money only see the final product. They sum it up as luck. Wealthy people sum it up as a combination of hard work, working smart and spending less than you make. Not rocket science here.

    I went out for dinner a few months ago and my broke friend went on and on about how lucky I am. He proceeded to spend like mad at this mid priced restaurant. When I suggested that he should look at his spending, he became very angry. That night he spend over $300 dollars while I splurged for about $40. I suggested he stop going out for two nights and he can have enough money for a cruise. Yes 7 day cruises cost around $400-600 bucks these days. Personally a 7 day cruise in more value to me than a few pricey dinners.

    He suggested he wanted both….while working his 28 hours a week.

  71. avatar
    Atul Thanvi

    Thanks for sharing this great post.

    This is really helpful for newbies in freelancing.

  72. avatar
    Trevor Hammond

    @Kris Koon – great story, and so true. Made me chuckle, even if not in a good way! “Experiences” like a cruise are so important to many of us, but getting there requires daily discipline and often some sacrifice. Eventually I bet your friend will reach a time in his life when his priorities change!

  73. avatar

    Here’s a thought Ramit. Why not invest in those rural areas of america, we are not as socially connected yet we have an immense amount of knowledge. Essentially, seek out those who live in lower cost of living areas, we will charge probably 75% less to do the same thing as those living in, let’s say NY. For example, Northeast Iowa has a sense of responsibility to family, so those who go away for college generally return to families with an education, experience so on and so forth. So, for someone in your position looking for someone to do your PowerPoint presentation, my advice is to seek the rural communities talents.

  74. avatar
    Ramit Sethi

    I don’t care where they live, I just want it good quality at a good price. My goal is not to provide a job to a specific region of the USA, it’s to get my work done.

  75. avatar
    Matt A

    This is exactly what I did. I work for a television station producing commercials, promos, etc. When the folks at corporate decided I didn’t need a promotion for the loads of new work I was taking on, I decided it was time to start earning money on the side doing exactly the same type of production work. I made sure that the work I did was in different markets, as to not be a conflict of interest for my full-time job. But with just word of mouth, I’ve brought in an extra $1000 each year. That’s just doing two or three projects a year.

    I’ve noticed the tricky part is really taking that freelance business and pushing it to people you don’t know. I’ve seen a lot of interest but no commitments yet.

  76. avatar
    Earn more money using your God-given skills by Ramit Sethi «

    […] Article […]

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  78. avatar
    A Short Review Of The Last Two Months Or So, And A Few Links « The Chronicles of A Decidedly Un-glamorous Post Graduate Existence

    […] A Really Good Article On Freelancing This dude says it much better than I could, and I’ve done freelance work to make extra money for years.  I’ve read this blog for a year now, and even though I have no readers and he’s got tens of thousands, I figured I would link to it now. […]

  79. avatar
    Questions about life that seem important but are actually not: #5: “Why am I here?” | neoIndian - Confessions of a newly returned Indian

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  80. avatar
    Freelancing in crisis times [Freelancing] « Pedro Hernandez

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  81. avatar
    The Myth of the Starving Artist | I Will Teach You To Be Rich

    […] Take advantage of the Warhol Economy. Andy Warhol created a movement that revived New York City. City planners took advantage of the burgeoning art scene to create incentives that attracted more businesses to the parts of New York that were dying. There are cities all over the country that are desperately trying to attract artist communities to their cities. You can read more about it in Elizabeth Currid’s PhD dissertation turned book, The Warhol Economy (which, by the way, is a great example of how to turn your god-given talents in to money). […]

  82. avatar

    Hi Arielle, I am an attorney as well. I am interested in editing for my states bar journal. If I may ask, how did u get on with your journal? Please, if ever you have time check out my short story in the Texas Bar Journal, titled Final Descent. I am trying to ultimately become an essayist as would love a fellow lawyer to check out my work!! I’m glad to see your comment! I needed the encouragement to multi-task my law license! Thank you. Please check out Final Descent.

  83. avatar

    Hello I love the things which I have read.things manifest within ones heart many years ones life since youth. Visions of heavenly ones a book was given to me in visions when people speak I see vision revelation of a book was given unto one in vision by and Angel .do I make no reputation of self but The lord has given the abilty to speak whole pages of the Bible number by numbers precept on precept line on line and breakdowns as summer fruits lifted up off the vine for all .i hear God moreover humble I am .books a spiritual writer of tears of a prophet. The walking Bible .the poetry of God.the Gift of wisdom .encounter with God.any you pick will help many im a spiritual Counselor never been to school but taught by God since youth you will fine love and peace in the wisdom of God PS.Acts2:44 mark 11:24 treasures unto you. Let’s help all donation 1$ each person to help the poor proverb 18:16

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    Marina Bella

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    Moving Tip For Saving Money – Save money, Make money

    […] Saving Tip #25: Earn more money using … – This is Tip #25 of of the Save $1,000 in 30 Days Challenge. (See past tips.) Today’s tip is to earn more money by freelancing on the side. It sounds … […]

  86. avatar

    Are you seeking a job and have non yet, Are you struggling with your finances, click this link and earn more:

  87. avatar

    Freelancing is the great opportunity for all, even I do freelancing for design services.