How Capitalizing on My Strengths Allowed Me to Make an Extra $1000/Month
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I Was In Desperate Need of Extra Money
Back in 2015, I had been laid off from my job and decided to a big move by dropping everything and moving to Sydney, Australia. I was excited for the move and the adventure that was to come, but there was one issue. I wasn’t leaving for a few months while I tied up loose ends, but I had expenses to cover and needed to save up money to cover the cost of the flight and finding an apartment when I got there. Because I was laid off from my job I was eligible for unemployment benefits (something you should never be ashamed of), however, it still wasn’t enough to cover my basic living expenses.
I found myself in scenario where didn’t just want extra money, I NEEDED it. I wasn’t going to be around long enough for many employers to want to hire me so I needed to figure something out for myself. How could I start generating some extra money quickly, without doing something illegal or sketchy?
To figure out this answer to this question, I used a technique I had learned from one of my favorite books, The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. In the book, Tim talks about how to “scratch your own itch” and look for sources of income from things you are interested in or things that you are good at. A few questions you can ask yourself to help come up with an opportunity are:
- Where do I spend my discretionary income each month?
- What do friends or family ask me for help with?
- What do people say I’m good at?
I asked myself these questions and came up with a few answers that put me in the right direction. I took those answers and asked myself, “What am I good at or do I enjoy that can provide value?”
Ever since high school, I’ve always been pretty good at problem-solving, and because of this, math and science were always my strong subjects. Throughout high school and college, friends always asked me for help with subjects such as calculus, physics and chemistry. I was always happy to help people and never even thought about charging for this service.
But when push came to shove after I was laid off, this was one of the first things that came to mind when I asked myself what I was good at that could provide value to other people. There were plenty of high school and college students who lived in my area of Chicago, and I’m sure many of them needed extra help in these subjects. The only issue that stood in the way was how I was going to get connected with them. Figuring out this problem was as simple as a couple of Google searches.
How It Worked Out
After an hour or so of internet browising, and I was able to find Wyzant, an online service that matches tutors with local students. I made a profile in minutes and within the next few days I already had my first students. The service let me set my own rate (I chose $40/hour based on what other tutors were charging) and specify in which subjects I specialized. I had to send out a fair amount of messages to prospective students to get my first clients, but soon after students started coming to me once I had a few reviews on my profile from some of my students.
Then I was also able to sign up for Varsity Tutors, a service that matches you with students and allows you to complete sessions via their web portal so you never even have to leave the house (Varisity Tutors is a great service if you’d like to make extra money or also need help with your coursework!). This service did all of the matching and qualifying for me, and I was still able to make $15/hour after the service took a fee. From both Wyzant and Varsity Tutors, I was able to log about 20 hours per week of tutoring sessions, usually making about $250-$300.
Like any situation where you are working for yourself, it wasn’t easy. I had to set up my profiles, find students, organize my own schedule, create lesson plans and practice problems, and also re-teach myself a lot of this material I hadn’t used since high school or college. It’s funny how motivated you can get once you’re forced into a situation such as being unemployed.
In the end, it was such a worthwhile experience, and it gave me the confidence I needed to know that one day I could absolutely run my own business. It was my first stab at entrepreneurship, and it worked out better than I could have imagined. If you ever find yourself in need of money or looking for a career change, ask yourself “What am I good at” or “What do people ask me for help with?” The answers to these questions could lead you to a great opportunity.
Have you ever found yourself in tough spot for money and managed to create a solution for yourself? Leave a comment or send me an email!