One of the biggest things you can do to engineer a life you want is earning more money (within reason, of course). There’s a limit to how much you can dial back your current spending, but if you tinker with the income side of the equation — well, that’s unlimited.
The average side hustler earns an extra $5,000 to $8,000 per year. That’s handy, but knowing how to increase your income is helpful for your day job, too. It’s no secret that we’re switching careers more and more these days compared to how our parents used to work. What you’re doing as a day job today won’t necessarily be your career five years from now.
The Ultimate List Of Skills That’ll Make You Real Money
Having a robust set of skills in your back pocket can help ensure your financial stability over your lifetime. Here are some of the most important skills you can put in your toolset:
The world is becoming increasingly digital, and the people who shape that world receive countless opportunities. You can do everything from coding apps and websites for people part-time, to being a high-paying full-time software engineer. There are a lot of resources you can use to learn coding, but for a good start, try freeCodeCamp.
2. Digital Marketing
Specializing in marketing products online is a unique skill set. There are lots of areas that fall under the “digital marketing” umbrella, and here are a few:
YouTube pays you for ad views once your channel reaches a certain size. But before then — and even after — one of the most lucrative ways to make money on YouTube is by marketing other products that your audience would find useful.
Have you ever noticed a particularly witty Facebook ad, or learned about a new company through Facebook? Well, someone needs to create those ads, and businesses will pay good money if you can help them. Since Facebook is so ubiquitous now, taking the time to learn how to start a Facebook ads business can pay off big time.
Instagram is all about beautiful photos. If you’ve got pretty products of your own to sell or someone else’s, Instagram is the place for it. You can also focus on creating Instagram ads for yourself or clients who hire you, similar to how Facebook ads work (Facebook does own Instagram, after all).
Tiktok is rapidly becoming the go-to platform for video, and there are a lot of ways to make money on TikTok. If you’re creative and you’re good at using video, learning how to market other people’s products on your Tiktok profile can be an especially powerful way to target a younger audience.
LinkedIn is a marketing website — for people. If you’re particularly skilled at writing LinkedIn profiles, it can be a handy skill to market. It’s just like how people sometimes hire resume writers, after all, except it’s more like a digital resume.
Making money on Twitter can be difficult because it’s such a fast-moving and ephemeral social media platform. The tactics you use on other platforms won’t often work on Twitter. But where there might be fewer other marketers, that might mean more opportunity for you. That’s especially true if your audience is already on Twitter or you’ve got a good grasp of how it works.
Google Ads is one of the OG digital marketing tools, and it’s still one of the most popular. More people probably use Google every day than Facebook or other popular platforms, after all. Learning how Google Ads work — and doing it well enough to charge other people for it — is a skill in its own right, but there’s also a lot of opportunity here too.
Investing is one of the most powerful tools you can have in your back pocket for earning passive income. Most of us will need to invest big sums of money in order to retire, but you can also learn to invest small amounts of cash, too, as a side hustle.
Blogging can be so many things: a fun and creative expression, a major money-making undertaking, and everything in between. You won’t generally make money blogging in its own right (especially not at first), but it’s a great gateway to so many other money-making skills on this list. This includes freelance writing, SEO consulting, virtual assisting, digital marketing, and more.
5. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is a form of digital marketing where you sell other people’s products. Specifically, it works like this: a company gives you a custom link, you share that link with your audience. When they use that link to buy something, you get a small cutback. You can do affiliate marketing through your blog or your social media channels.
6. Building Online Courses
Everyone’s got a skill that others would be willing to learn, even if it’s as simple as baking a good loaf of bread, growing a good tomato, or how to train your cat to sit. Building an online course is a great passive income strategy because you can create it once and let people pay you over time. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, either — there are many platforms like Teachable, Udemy, or Skillshare that you can use to create and sell your course.
7. Video Production and Editing
A lot of the most engaging content online today is actually video. You don’t need to be the next Scorsese, but knowing how to shoot and edit video into content that viewers want to watch is a great skill to have. You can create your own YouTube videos, use TikTok, or even offer your services to other people who don’t have the time to put together these things on their own.
8. Audio Production and Editing
Along with video, the world of podcasting has exploded over the past decade. Audio engineering is also a skill in its own right, and a highly marketable one at that. There are tons of people out there willing to pay you to take their raw audio and turn it into a listenable podcast, complete with show notes and uploading it to the internet.
9.Writing in Different Styles
There’s a million and one ways to earn money by writing. You can sell your copywriting services to businesses and help them sell their products. You can be a creative writer and sell your own stories in books and blogs. You can be a journalist and sell stories about the important things in our world today to magazines and newspapers. You can even learn how to write a mean resume and sell your services to people looking for a new job.
10. Virtual Assisting
Helping people create their own online businesses is a business in itself these days. If you love learning new things and working as a team member, you might be a great virtual assistant (VA). You can specialize in certain things, such as editing podcasts, or offer more general services such as following up with people your clients work with or scheduling. There are many places to learn more about virtual assistant work, starting with our complete VA guide.
As much as the digital world physically separates us, you won’t be getting far without a village behind you. Learning how to be a part of a larger community is an important skill because it’ll unlock doors for you that aren’t available to the general public. You can learn tips and tricks, help teach others, get the scoop on the latest happenings in the industry, or get client referrals.
Social media is a great way to meet new people but it’s important to attend in-person events like conferences too, because that’s where the strongest connections are made.
The world won’t always pay you a good wage for your art (hello, ugly Christmas sweaters). But some creative things absolutely can pay off, whether it’s things like graphic design, selling print-on-demand clothing through Redbubble, writing Kindle ebooks, and more. Find what stretches your creativity and inspires you, whether that’s walking in nature, spending time with your people, visiting art exhibits, etc.
13. Touch Typing
If you’re looking to earn money online, one of the best skills you can teach yourself is how to type by feel — i.e., without looking at the keyboard. This speeds things up greatly and you can focus more on your thoughts and the things you’re creating, rather than what your fingers are doing. Some people learn this over time, but there are courses you can take to shortcut the process.
14. Keyboard Shortcuts
Speaking of speeding things up, another great skill to learn is how to use keyboard shortcuts. Rather than switching back and forth to your mouse, you can do things in a split second by knowing which key sequences to hit. To learn this, try writing a list of the common tasks you do, such as inserting links, bolding text, switching tabs, or making headers. Tape this list where you can see it, and make a point to use the shortcuts instead. After a week, it’ll be like second nature and you’ll get your work done a lot faster.
15. Task Switching
If you’re side hustling, you’ve got a lot on your plate. You might need to switch between making your kids a snack and jumping on a client call within the span of a few minutes. Learning effective ways to switch between tasks is a highly valuable skill.
For example, if you’re focusing on writing, you can use audio cues in the form of certain types of music or spatial cues in the form of having a set area where you work. These tricks help you jump into your task quicker.
Learning how to stay focused while you’re in the moment allows you to be more efficient. You can jump in, get your work done, and move on to better things without wasting your day. After all, time is the one thing we all can’t get back, so it’s better not to waste it.
There’s a whole self-help book industry out there on ways to practice focusing. You can also practice these habits using social media-blocking browser extensions, meditation, or even just closing your door from distractions.
17. Time Management
Managing your time well involves learning how to focus and switch tasks well, but it also involves knowing how to structure your day. You’ll need to learn how to pair up your day with the optimal time to do things.
For example, if you’re a night owl, maybe it’s best to focus on creative tasks after dinner and leave bureaucratic duties for earlier. Or if you’ve got children, maybe the best time to work is before they wake up in the morning. Either way, planning your time around your strengths is a good hack for improving your productivity.
18. Relaxation and Stress Management
Side hustle culture has a well-deserved reputation as being a little too extreme sometimes. You can’t always be on and monetizing every aspect of your life. You’ll go nuts.
That’s why learning to relax is one of the most undervalued skills. You’ll need to learn what works best for you, whether that’s daily meditation, zoning out to reality TV shows, taking long vacations to reset, napping, or any number of strategies. Think of it as an investment in yourself and your working potential.
19. Become a Reader
So much of our world is transmitted through reading. You can make money reading in its own right, such as by being an editor or a sensitivity reader. You can also use reading as a way to learn new skills, such as coding, digital marketing, or blogging. Reading is also a great way to learn how to write better. Any way you slice it, you’ll need to know how to read quickly and for comprehension.
There will always be two ways to view the work you create: what people want to pay you, and what your work is actually worth. Most of us don’t get a lot of practice advocating for our own worth, but it absolutely is a skill you can learn and there are many books written on the topic.
This is an especially important skill to have because if you negotiate your work right, you’ll get to do more of the things you want and for a better price. That means less stress and less time working so you can focus more on the more important things in life.
So many of us just exist from one day to the next, with vague ideas about what we want out of life. The only way to turn those things into reality, though, is by becoming an effective goal-setter. There’s a whole world of literature devoted to goal-setting, such as setting SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely) and setting a series of smaller goals in pursuit of a larger one.
22. Improve Your Memory
You’ll always feel scatterbrained when you’re side hustling. But there are ways to limit it. Focusing on ways that you can improve your memory can help you keep all those balls juggling in the air with minimal damage. One great way to do this is by using to-do lists. Anytime something comes into your awareness and you can’t do it immediately, make sure to add it to your to-do list so you don’t forget it.
23. Positive Thinking
It’s easy to feel down, especially if you’re starting a new project or trying something ambitious. But research shows that positive thinking can help you stay focused on success and be healthier and happier for it too, even when you face setbacks.
There are a lot of strategies for this. While it sounds hokey, one of the best ways is to keep a positive thinking journal. Every day, write down three things you’re grateful for, even if it’s as simple as being healthy or having enough food to eat. Not everyone has those things, after all, and it’s better to realize your good fortune before those things are taken away.
24. Confidence Building
Along with positive thinking, did you know confidence is actually a learned trait? Some of us grow up in an environment where it’s fostered without us even realizing it, but if you’re not so fortunate, you can still grow this muscle, too.
Try keeping a journal (maybe even the same journal as the positive thinking one mentioned above) and record one gutsy thing you do every day, even if it’s simple. By focusing more on the brave things you do, you’ll start to etch a new picture of yourself, and this can give you the confidence to tackle other goals.