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Hackernoon logoHow To Turn Your Skills Into Money by@caseyv

How To Turn Your Skills Into Money

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@caseyvCasey V

Developer |Building Digital Assets and DevTrends | IndieHacker

All of us have specific skills that separate us from the rest, even if we don't know it yet. We always try to go out and learn new things to become successful, and in the past that was needed. But with social media, blogging, YouTube and more, we no longer need to learn a new thing. We just need to advertise what we already know. Taking a skill that you already have and putting your own flair onto it is how you can create money. Interested? Let's take a deep dive how you can do this in 5 easy steps.

Step 1: Take your skills and create content

This may seem like an easy step, but I think this is where most people struggle the most.  There’s no secret behind this step, it’s taking your skills and what you do, and documenting how you do it and how it can benefit others.  For example, if you are an artist, start posting on Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter all of your artwork.  But don’t only post the finished product, people want to see the entire process.  How did you think of the idea behind that painting? How did you know to paint vs colored pencils?  How did do ‘that’? And the list goes on and on, but this is where people mess up and think they only should be posting the final product.  That’s not true because people LOVE the process of how something is done, it is something about human nature that entice us to love the process, almost more than the final product.   

Why I see people fail.  Like I said in the beginning, this could probably be the easiest step in your online wealth journey but it’s not- and typically where most people fail.  Why? Because this is when you have to keep pumping out content when no one is watching you, no one really quite cares yet, you have about 100 followers or less and you get a couple of likes here and there.  You think that is pointless and wasting your time.  We all want that instant gratification.  That is why this part is so damn hard.  The second reason is what I like to call ‘the grass is always greener’.  Obviously, most people have a variety of skills, and so you pick this skill and start creating content but you don’t get a ton of view/hits/likes.  So you see someone else doing another one of your skills and they are killing it, so you drop 1-3 months work for nothing and start on that.  The grass will always look greener, if you have a good niche, you just have to be patient.

Bonus Tip: Create content where you think your audience will be, or where they enjoy the content. With the artist example, Instagram would be a great place for that. You can post reels, images of your final product, and videos of your process. Twitter would be great for business, tech, or stocks. Maybe a blog or YouTube channel is the best option - it truly differs from everyone and you should know where your audience will generally be, so use that to your advantage and post your content where they will be so they have a better chance of seeing it!

ProTip: Do some investigation before picking your skill.  Some skills won’t yield a huge return, which is okay, but don’t be disappointed after a year when you’re only making thousands and not millions.  I.e - Tech, health, and wealth are the big 3.  Yes, they have a ton of competition but the payout if you make it big is obviously huge, and it’s easier to even cut out a slice of the pie for you.  But other niches that aren’t as popular are easier to get noticed, but may not have as big of the ceiling. 

Bonus Tips:

✍️ - Take notes of the process, journey, and everything you are doing.  This could save you time down the road when you are starting to create your products.  You already have content for them.

👨 - Be you.  People love to follow and content with the people they follow online and feel like they are your friend.  It may not seem like it in the beginning, but down the road “being you” pays off big time - especially when it comes to the part when you start selling to your audience.

💻 - Create quality content.  Nowadays, everyone starts a blog (but not everyone executes on it, so don’t worry there’s plenty of space for that taking).  So make sure the quality is content.  This doesn’t mean you have to go out and buy 10k worth of gear - not at ALL.  It just means make sure its information people want to see and hear - and make it as easy as you can for them to read and digest.

Takeaways from step 1:

be yourself

Pick a skill and interest you would do for free - because it will be for free for a couple of months at least.

Do some investigation into your niche before you select it.

Be unique - don’t copy someone, be yourself (see takeaway #1 😊).

Step 2: Turn your content into Authority

After you build your content, the next trick is creating that authority.  Authority is very vague in that context, but authority is key into turn just plain content into paid products.  So what I mean by authority is that people come to you for the skills that you have created content for.  Let’s stick with the artist example.  You have been posting for X months, and have a decent following now, but nothing special.  Until you get one message or email from a follower, “how do you do this?” or “I’m trying to do this, how do you typically go about this?”.  Boom - you have AUTHORITY to that person.  Authority in today’s internet world is far different than Roman times, no need to own a ton of land and castles to have authority - just be good at a skill and have content to back you up.  

The first message, email or @ will make you feel pretty awesome.  After all, you spent a couple of months just posting content that you thought no-one really read or cared about until you get that first question, and then all that hard work has *started* to become the authority.  

From there, it is all about growing your authority.  Staying consistent when you don’t have the energy to post, staying consistent when you are sick or have plans with friends - it’s all about staying consistent which will then lead you to more authority within your space.  One of my favorite quotes, no idea who said it but its “to be great, be consistently good”.  I think that is the main takeaway for step 2 is just staying consistent, responding to those when you get messages or emails, and don’t expect anything in return as far as money.  Sure, ask for a share or a post like, that is all fine but don’t expect money. 

Another important aspect is being active where your community is. For example, Reddit, IndieHackers, Twitter, and Facebook are places I hang out regularly because that is where I thought a lot of my readers would be - and turns out I was right.  Be active on those platforms, answer questions that people have that is within your niche and at the end, throw in a link to your related content.  Post useful and helpful information in forums as well.  For example, a common question in art could be “how to be a better painter?” - write a blog post about it and then share it where your audience would hang out, whether that’s a Facebook group, Twitter, or Reddit - but make it available to your readers and that is another way to build that authority because people on that platform will now turn to you for the answers because they saw your blog/website/content and loved it.

Bonus Tips:

📮 - Collaborate with others.  Look for people to collaborate with when you’re growing.  It’s a great way to grow AND gain authority from their audience.  

🏬 - Post on marketplaces.  Typically, there is some sort of market place for your niche.  Those typically have high traffic and people looking for content.

📝 - Guest post.  Places like Medium and other super popular sites are great places for guest posting.  When people see you on these types of sites they automatically think, you have authority within the niche.

Takeaways for step 2: 

  • Get that first message or email
  • Continue to post consistent content - “to be great, be good consistently”
  • collaborate with others either outside or inside your niche to grow your audience
  • Promote where your audience will be (ie Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, etc)
  • Answer your followers back ASAP - and never expect anything in return at this point

Step 3: Turn authority into trust

As you can start to see, these steps all build off of each other.  Each step is a natural progression from the step previous to it.  Now, there is no clear cut definition from when to move from step 1 to step 2, or step 2 to step 3, etc.  There’s no good formula or number of followers or subscribers that is the “right” amount to move from step A to step B.  That is the beautiful part about being a side hustler and/or entrepreneur - there is always the guessing game.  I think once you have built up your content, you’ll know when you start to get authority because you will start getting more likes, views, and followers coming to you with the questions/concerns on your specific topic.  That is when you know you have authority in that niche at least to your following.

Now, once you start getting that authority it is all about turning it into trust.  Authority and trust are very tightly coupled, and what I mean by that is that you can almost be building both at the same time.  Sure, you typically will need that authority before you can build trust with that specific follower but you will continue to get new followers over the months and years of doing this, and you will have to create that authority with them (which will be easier at that point because you already have that following to back you), and then build the trust.  So at a micro-level, this could almost be per follower/subscriber.  You need to convince each one of your followers that they can trust on you the topic/niche that you create content in, and the way you do that is through continuously growing that authority through more content, guest posting, and more.  

Trust is very when turning your skills into money because, in order to create the wealth and money you want at the end of step 5, you need to gain and build tremendous trust with your followers.  Trust is so important because the people you trust the most in your life are the same people you tend to listen to the most - and not really ask many questions, you just believe them.  Same with building your online content brand.  You want them to trust you so when you create content they believe you and trust the content you are putting out there to be the truth in a sense.  

How to Build Trust With Your Audience/Following?  Building trust can be tough and a multi-step process for some of your audience, but that is okay and it’s normal.  Just think of when your first met your friends, you probably didn’t have instance trust in them, you built over years of friendship and that’s the same with online - you need to build it.  There are many different ways to build trust, but a couple of my favorite ways to build trust is offering free products, interview other experts in your field that may have more of a following, and showing results or testimonials.  

Free Products: Free products are something everyone loves, so this is a great way to start building that trust with your audience.  

Step 4: Turn your trust into a fanbase

It’s now been over a period of months or years, and you have built up trust within your audience.  Not only do they see you as an authority in your space, but they trust you.  When you say that you do X, because in return you get Y, they now trust that because you are the authority and they really won’t even question it.  

Once you have trust, it’s easy to turn your audience into that fanbase.  Realize that your whole audience won’t be your fanbase, but this fanbase that you build will be your first customers, people sharing your content and always there to support you.  These are the people in the audience that you should pay special attention to and let them know you appreciate their support from the beginning. 

If you have email lists of these people or an online course, you can tell who are the most active and loyal people in your audience (your fanbase) by seeing how many times they have opened your emails or how many times they logged into your course.  Every month, take a look at your most active users, pick your top 10 or so, and send them a personal message.  Let them know that you appreciate their support - and if you want to go a step further ask them if they would want a free 1on1 call with you for 30 minutes.  That does 2 things for your fanbase, 1) shows that their support paid off and that they will even value you more and 2) it will make the end-user want to share you and your course/product/service even more - because of how much they got out of it with a free 30-minute call with you.

Turning your audience into a fanbase can be challenging and frightening at first, but without this step, your online brand and business can’t go where it could go if you don’t get that loyal fanbase first.  The keys to turning your trust into a loyal fanbase are:

Stay consistent over time:

people want to know they will be getting consistent content from you.  You need to make them look forward to the days that they know you will be posting content.  Remember the newsletter past, being great just means being good consistently!

Be yourself. 

This one sounds so simple yet, many people try to copy others.  Sure business is a copycat game, but at the same time, you need to be yourself and put your own flavor to it.  This makes you easier to stand out, and easier to get that fanbase.

Be responsive. 

When you’re first starting and you get those first messages from your audience, make sure to respond!  They have invested in you, read, or watched your content enough to formulate a question - you better answer them! plus you never know who it may be at the other end, maybe they have connections to help you grow.

Do shout outs and giveaways. 

Everyone may not have the ability to do giveaways when their business isn’t making money yet, which is totally acceptable, but everyone can do shout outs.  As your audience grows, give some shout outs to the OGs that have been there from the start, or start shouting out people as they join.  It’s a great way to have them feel welcomed and included in the community.  

Creating that fanbase just takes a lot of being yourself, being consistent, and being responsive.  A fanbase wants to know that when they have a question in the niche you are in, that they can come to you with questions and get an answer in return because they value that heavily.  

Pro Tip - This is when you can attempt to start selling a product/service/ebook and see how your fanbase reacts.  Even if the product is $1, there is a huge difference between giving you that $1 and a free product like you did when growing your audience.  When selling this to them make sure you sell the end goal not what is inside.  If you selling a book painting with brushes focus on the end goal of them creating beautiful art pieces, and not about how they will be told how to hold the paintbrush - people want to buy results to better themselves, their relationships, or their income (typically).

Step 5: Turn your fanbase into money

Step 5 is where everyone ultimately wants to be, but very few end up.  Not because they don’t have the skills or the ability to make it here, but simply because they don’t have the patience, ability to stay consistent, or give up too soon.  Step 5 is the money-making step.  You’ve put in all the hard work - from starting to create content, turning the content into authority, then the authority you built into trust, and then the trust into a fanbase.  Now you have that loyal fanbase, along with an audience, now it is time to turn the fruits of your labor into money.  

There are many ways that you can create money from your fanbase, typically a course, eBook or service are the top 3 ways, and are great ways to get started.  Of course, there are many different options, but one thing that I do recommend when starting to sell to your audience is to sell something that you build once, and can sell multiple times, and try not to trade your time for money.  Why? That is how you create wealth.  Just think, you take 1-5 months writing and developing an eBook that you can sell for $50 or more to your audience and fanbase.  You can sell that forever, without having to spend another second of your time - sales will just come.  Yes, you can make revisions and work on marketing but you don’t have to sell your time for money.  Same with an online course, you take however long you need to create the course, and then once you sell it you can keep selling it an unlimited amount of times, without having to do anything outside of the marketing (if you chose to market the course or ebook).  

These are things that don’t get talked about enough, but if you want to create that wealth and not just “be rich” you need focus on building once, selling forever.  A consulting service to your fanbase is a great way to start as well and be better connected to your fanbase, but you are selling your time (the time you spend with your clients) for their money.  So because of this, it’s hard to scale without hiring people, and you aren’t doing what you love, instead, you are working.  With an online course or eBook you grind away at it for a couple of months, then it’s on autopilot just selling, and you can be doing whatever you want while making money.  You get the freedom and financial independence all in one, and that is what I want this section to be the key takeaway - build once, sell forever.   Check out these bonus tips:

Bonus Tips:

Create a product that you believe in, and that your fanbase wants.  In order to get behind your product you obviously need to believe in it and the result you intend to provide.  Once you have come up with a product your support and believe in, ASK your audience if it is something they would like before you build it.  It could be a great course or eBook, but if no one wants it there’s no point in creating it.  Validate your idea before creating it by asking your audience.

Presale to an exclusive group.  Once you get validation that it the product/idea is something your audience would want. Presell it to 5-25 people that want early access and are will to shape the course.  For this, provide the table of contents to them, and ask them to do you like this chapter idea, or what am I missing, what can I take out? This way you don’t waste time creating a section no one actually wants and you can create a section you never thought of.  Pro Tip - get a VIDEO testimonial from these users that you can use when you launch the course or product.

Sell the vacation, not the flight.  As the course/ebook creator we get so excited about the micro-details we are going to share without our audience. We love the little specifics that are unique to our course, from others.  But your potential customers don’t care, they want to know about the end result or the vacation.  They don’t want to know about the TSA lines, the kid that is crying next to them on the plane, etc (all the micro things that make your course stand out), they want to hear about the best vacation they will ever take.  So tell them what they will get as a result of taking the course - and don’t worry about what’s inside!

Now that you have all the steps to turning your skills into wealth, what is next? Where do I go from here?  The first step is to start.  Open your phone right now, text 3-4 of your closest friends, and ask what they think you are good at or what they come to you for.  This is is a great way to find skills that you may not have known you’ve had.  If you already have a skill in mind, no need to do that, you are one step ahead.  Once you have that skill that you want to turn into wealth, the next step is to decide on platforms and where you are going to post content, and more importantly WHEN you’re going to post the content.  Many people think they need to be everywhere, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, Facebook, Pinterest, blog, etc.  That is a lot of places to be, and it actually may hurt your content - especially if you are starting this on the side.  I recommend starting on 2 platforms.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a blog and Twitter, or YouTube and Instagram, just pick 2 and stick with those for the most part.  I do recommend picking the 2 biggest platforms that your audience will be on.  So if you are going to turn your skills of being a painter into money, I would think Instagram and YouTube (or maybe Facebook) would be the top 2 or 3 players.  YouTube you can create the content of the process of your painting, and on Instagram, you can post both photos and videos of your art.  Now that you have the platforms selected, it’s time to start creating content and posting.  This is where you start to build that audience and can be the longest part of the journey.  Sometimes you think no one is looking at your stuff until that one day you get a message from a follower about something you did.  And it’s all worth it.  This will be the hardest times because you have to post a lot of content without a lot of value in return, but this is where a lot of people quit, and where the others who make it keep grinding.  

After that, the rest becomes a little easier and you just need to follow the advice from the steps above.  Turn that audience you create into authority, then trust and then a fanbase.  Surprisingly those will be easier than getting that first couple hundred in your audience - just remember that.  And once you have that fanbase, it’s time to start selling!

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