- Michael Thompson
You know something other people don’t.
“What on earth are you talking about?” my mother-in-law shot me a cold stare across the dining room table. “You have a family to think about! You can’t just flip a switch and make money online! A job at a bank is much more stable! Why not just teach English? There will always be schools!”
I tried to defend my actions and assure her everything would be okay so we could both get back to enjoying the delicious lamb she had made.
But the truth of the matter is that I too had a million doubts. Despite a few small wins with some of my articles, at the time I still hadn’t figured out a way to turn views into consistent income. And I certainly hadn’t thought of a way to earn enough to support two kids without being stressed out.
I’m not a tech person whatsoever, and to this day, I still need to phone a friend when trying to figure out platforms that many people consider easy like Mailchimp. I’m also not what society would deem overly intelligent as all the way through college I had to take learning disability tests while trying to keep my ADHD from driving me insane.
Regardless of this, since that conversation took place with my mother-in-law two years ago, thanks to platforms like this one making the gorgeous decision to pay people for their thoughts, and the countless number of tools available online today, I’ve successfully figured out a few ways to monetize my mind.
The best part is that if you have strong organizational skills, enjoy tech, and know your way around social media you could do much better than me.
What lies below is not a massive plan for world domination — simply a few ways I’ve been able to make enough money online to comfortably raise two kids with my thoughts as my primary product.
1. Suck it up and put yourself out into the world
You’ll never monetize your mind if you aren’t consistently sharing your thoughts. I know putting yourself out into the world can be scary and it’s not always fun. But people pay people and in order for that to happen, they need to get to know you.
One of the few rays of sunlight that has managed to make its way through the dark days we’re all experiencing of late, is that one piece of content — even if you don’t have a big following — can kickstart your online career.
As of December of 2018, I had made a whopping $623 creating online. But that all changed when a famous blogger 6,000 miles away from me shared one of my articles that I had written off as dead while I was fast asleep in Spain.
Not only did I earn enough to pay my mortgage for the year from that one post (my apartment isn’t very big). But advertising my coaching services at the bottom of the article led to requests that I’m still reaping the rewards from almost 2 years later.
For me, writing is my conduit. But tinker with different mediums to determine where you are most comfortable and you build the best connection with your audience.
After years of publishing articles, my friend Nico Ryan hit his stride by giving TikTok a shot and in a month he gained over 40,000 followers by sharing grammar advice. Another friend, Justin Caffrey, gets a high percentage of his coaching leads by sharing videos on Linkedin about the benefits of mindfulness meditation while swimming in the cold Irish Sea each morning.
- Open yourself up online.
- Share your stories and experiences.
- Make a commitment to stick with it as your content will improve over time.
- Most of all, don’t worry about growing a following and choose to spoil your existing audience instead.
Despite everyone saying you need 1,000 true fans to get started, from my experience — you only need one.
2. Keep track of the topics people consistently turn to you for advice
When I began offering coaching / consulting services, I had massive doubts about myself and I didn’t have a true niche like a lot of experts recommend.
Regardless of this, each month, like clockwork, I receive a handful of requests from people who want to work with me.
A big reason for this is because I kept track of the topics people consistently asked me about and began to offer coaching packages to help them reach their individual needs.
- If people compliment you on the design of your resumé or website, offer to help them create a stunning one of their own.
- If people ask you questions about how you successfully balance work and family, offer to coach them on how they can do the same.
- If people turn to you for writing advice, offer to work with them to make their words better pop.
If you’re nervous to charge money for your services, offer to help some people for free in exchange for a recommendation until you have more confidence.
The beauty of this is you don’t need to have a high functioning website or make a big initial investment. Lean on your existing network and let them know you are offering services about a specific topic you care deeply about. One thing I like to do is lead people to Linkedin in my articles and when they say hi, I ask them if there is anything they are struggling with.
- Write down the areas of interest that excite you.
- Keep track of the topics people consistently turn to you for advice.
- Begin thinking about how you can position your knowledge to help people reach their goals.
All of us know more about certain topics than other people.
If you can learn how to teach people these things and get comfortable charging for these services you’ll always have a potential income stream that you can turn up or down depending on how much time you have.
3. Help someone move their project from good to great
A few months ago, a friend of mine had to put a project of his on hold because a startup he was working with received funding.
Knowing how much he cared about his project, instead of letting it die out, I asked him if there was anything I could do to help him keep it afloat.
That simple request to help keep someone else’s thoughts alive has resulted in enough money each month to cover me and my family’s living expenses (again, we live cheaply).
- Look around for who is succeeding and moving faster than they may be able to keep up with.
- Think of ways that you can help them to keep their momentum up.
- Send them your best ideas for free.
- Offer to get involved.
Many people think that starting their own business is the best way to make money online and they forget that helping people to reach their dreams pays well too.
4. Create a space for like-minded people chasing similar goals as you
Three years ago I build the habit of reaching out to one person a week whose work I admired and requested a chance to speak with them. I didn’t have more than 1,000 followers on any social media platform at the time. But I studied ways to get on their radar and they agreed to a call.
This decision alone was worth its weight in gold, as getting to know people who were doing what I wanted to do sped up my learning curve a great deal.
But what turned this practice to platinum, was asking a few of the people to start a small group to help each other grow out our own respective followings while honing our writing skills.
I haven’t financially benefited directly from this as the group is free. But I can’t count the number of writing, coaching or consulting referrals I’ve received from building these relationships.
Not only that, but I’d be shocked if I didn’t receive support from half the people in the group to help me set up a new group with the aim of monetizing it.
Content may be king.
But the future will belong to those who know how to build a community.
5. Tinker with ways to combine the strengths of your network
How can I leverage my network in a way that not only financially benefits me but also the people I collaborate with?
The faster the world changes, the more I am thinking about this question.
Some of my friends run successful virtual summits on platforms like Hopin. Others are teaming up together to open up Slack communities to teach people how to do what they’re doing.
One thing I’ve done that has worked particularly well is offering training services for companies and I contract my buddies who are experts in these areas to deliver classes or seminars. I’d be willing to bet a decent amount of money that sectors like online tutoring / coaching are going to continue to be in high demand over the next year.
- Get your friends together.
- Call some other friends who work at different companies and ask them what kind of services they are looking for.
- Brainstorm ways that you can merge each other’s strengths.
- Put together a plan to offer your combined services.
- At a minimum, any time someone mentions they are looking for help, offer to connect them with your friends who are experts in these areas.
Knowing people can be just as lucrative as knowing information.
With a little creative thinking, you can begin to offer services that not only put a roof over your own head but also those of your friends and vice versa.
The 5 things above have worked for me. But when it comes to monetizing your mind this is just the tip of one of the only growing ice-bergs around.
The internet is full of people who are offering courses on topics they are passionate about and writing books. New kids on the block like Substack allow us to create a subscription-based newsletter in just a few minutes.
Many people are learning very quickly that we can get along just fine without buying so many physical products. But what we will always have a thirst for is knowledge.
If a guy with a stutter can make a living by helping people to improve their communication skills, I’m confident that you can find a way to monetize your mind too.
If you enjoyed this article check out how my friend Nick Wolny turned his ideas into $20,000 in 30 days and Join my newsletter to get my latest posts and articles featured in places like Business Insider 📖