How to create excellent money-making plans that actually work
Do you want to make more money online, or even offline? Sure, we all do. Coming up with a method to do this in a way that works is something that a lot of people have trouble with, though. Lots of pages will claim to tell you how to make money, but usually all they're really offering is some product, service, or gimmick that will profit them, not you. That's not the purpose of this Hub.
We're going to examine how to take the question of how to make money, come up with an effective plan of action, and allow you to find ways to implement that plan. First off, let's look at the question itself. "How can I make money?" This is really just a way of re-stating the idea, "I want or need money" as a question. Or to be more precise, "I want to establish a relationship with the rest of the world in a way that causes it to give me money". This is the goal, and most people invest themselves, their effort, and their time in trying to satisfy that goal.
But when that's as far as it goes, it seldom works. Of course it doesn't. It doesn't work because when people do that, they're creating a situation where their objective is just to take away from the world, and any contribution back into the world is merely incidental, or an unavoidable necessity. That not only doesn't work - most systems don't want people taking from them without giving anything back in return - it generally results in the world becoming an even worse place, because these people are subtracting value from it. They are attempting to add value to their own lives by taking value away from the rest of the world. Most people try to do this, from the very powerful people in the world, to the people on the street who ask you for pocket change. It doesn't genuinely work (and so it's a waste of your time to do), and it makes the world a more weary, valueless place. It's also a very negative statement about yourself to make. The choice to do that is really just a way of acting on the statement, "I am a person with nothing to offer, who can only take value away from the world." And that's never true. It's an unfair statement about yourself, and can only make you miserable.
Some people, like the person on the street who begs you for pocket change, do it because they genuinely have no option. But usually, there are plenty of other, better options. Nearly always, the hard part is spotting them. This is usually because we overlook our own value - the things that we have and know and can offer or provide to others - and because we're not used to thinking carefully and creatively about the opportunities we have to offer them to others in a way that benefits ourselves and them as well.
Imagine for a moment going through the job offers in the classified ads of a newspaper. Chances are that you're not going to find many offers like, "Urgently needed - Someone to do absolutely nothing. $5,000 a month, with benefits. Must be available to start immediately." Of course you're not. You wouldn't offer someone $5,000 a month and benefits to do absolutely nothing for you, and generally neither will anyone else. Expecting someone else to give something away without ever getting any value in return for it is unrealistic.
Value is the key
Value drives the entire process. Lots of people fall in love with the idea of "making money on the internet" because they think that it's a way to get value without giving value. Sometimes it is, because a lot of systems on the internet are just starting out. They may pay value out without getting value in return. These are the systems that are working from an unrealistic model, and it's costing them. Eventually, those costs will cause them to either make a correction in their approach, or go under completely. So look at systems like that as flukes, that won't be around for very long. You could devote your life to looking for those flawed systems as they appear, finding loopholes and exploiting them before they're corrected, but then you have turned finding and exploiting loopholes like that into your full-time job. It's not only very uncertain, but as systems like that stop working - as they must - you'll have to devote more and more of your time and effort to finding new ones, and hoping that they pay out before they go under themselves.
Let's concentrate on finding value within yourself, first of all. This will allow you to find things you can offer to the world, and that the world will be willing and able to give you value in return (in the form of money) for providing.
When it comes to this Value In, Value Out transaction, lots of people tune it out. This is usually because they have been conditioned to think that when they provide something of value to the world, by definition it means that it has to be something they don't enjoy doing, or find hard, miserable, or grueling. Nothing could be further from the truth. I'm providing value to you right now by writing this, and I'm enjoying every moment of it. Personally, I find it rather addictive. But most of the world believes that providing Value Out means sacrificing something, and that in order for it to be worth a lot, it must cost them a lot. Again, this isn't true. I'm providing value by sharing my experience and thinking with you in a way that will allow you to make more money. It involves giving up some of my time to do it, but it gives me value by providing money and by allowing me to share better ways of looking at the world with others, and by doing so I'm investing myself to making the world a better place. That's very enjoyable and important to me, so I get a lot out of it. I get very frustrated at the state of the world sometimes, and so I consider this a constructive means of recreation on my part, as well as a money-making opportunity.
So let's take a look at what you can offer to the world as Value. You've been on the planet for a number of years; you must have spent that time doing something. What has it been? Try this: grab a pencil and paper, and jot down a list of things you're good at. Seriously. Stop reading for a moment, and get a pen and paper.
Finding the value you have
Okay, write the words, "Value Out" at the top of that paper. We're going to write down some of the big things you know about. Some of the things you're good at. You'll probably think of more stuff later, but this is for now. Don't worry about making them only things that you could make money doing, we'll worry about that later. What can you do? Do you know about fashion? Can you juggle? Have you read a lot? Do you watch a lot of television? What have you been doing with your time in life? Also include the things you're particularly good at. Can you write? Draw? Paint? Edit? Program? Spend at least five minutes thinking of stuff and jotting it down for your list. This will help you make more money, so I think five minutes is worth it. Don't you?
Learning what you value
Alright, now you should have your Value Out list. There are probably at least fifteen or twenty things on it, many of them with no immediate relationship to making money. Underneath your Value Out list, I want you to write Value In. This is the header for your second list, and it won't take as long. We're going to look at your life for a second and, by considering how you've been choosing to spend your time, get some ideas about what's important to you. You can use your first list as a way to get ideas about what your Interests and Motivations are, by the way. You've been there with you throughout your entire life - you should have some idea of what motivates and interests you. If you get stuck, you might want to sneak a peek at your HubPages tag cloud in your Profile area. HubPages keeps track about what you spend your time on, at least here on the site. You may also want to glance at your User Interests on any blog you have, and borrow some ideas.
Why are we doing this? Because often when people pursue money, what they're really seeking is Value. Value, in the form of money. They chase after money, they invest their whole lives into it, and they make themselves miserable in the process. This is because they're doing what gives them money, not Value, and so they're in a miserable, boring situation that only gives them money. And usually, they're not very good at it, because it's almost impossible to fully apply yourself to something that doesn't matter to you in and of itself.
We're going to get past this by looking for things you actually find Value in. Leave money completely out of it for a second. Where there is actual Value, there is always an opportunity to convert it into money, because the purpose of money is to represent value. This is why people often mistake money with value, by the way. It's really just a placeholder. So write down on your Value Out list what's important to you. (Don't write "Money", unless you're genuinely fascinated by how currency is manufactured.) Write down the things you find rewarding. Is it building a relationship with people? Helping someone to make their life better? (That's a big one for me.) Is it computer games, books, or movies? Avoid things that you would like to matter to you someday, and stick with what you've found that actually makes you happy. Are you a collector? An enthusiast? A trivia buff? What have you found that makes you happy in life? If you were independently wealthy and money didn't matter - how would you spend your time? In short, what do you find rewarding?
Alright, now you should have your Value Out list, and your Value In list. (If you don't, stop reading for a moment and finish them before moving on.) We're going to go over them, and turn them into ways to make money. First, we're going to avoid some common mistakes.
Who would find the stuff in your Value Out list worthwhile? Who would want what you have to offer to the world? Someone must. If you can write, for example, HubPages is a great place to start. Someone out there wants to know what you already know. The less people who have that information, the more valuable it usually is. Maybe you can create your own website or blog about it. Users with common interests will find it, join up, and you'll get ad revenue. But keep thinking, and thing big. This is what you'll eventually be spending your time doing, so make it big and make it matter.
Abstracting - There's more where that came from!
We're also going to Abstract. Abstracting is the opposite of the Reducing we did above. We're going to take the Big Ideas, like Nature for example, and see if there's any other avenue of it we're missing. If you're interested in rocks, herbs, and animals, maybe you'd also be interested in ecology and marine habitats. If you are, write them down too. More items on your list will mean more opportunities to make money.
Alright, you now have a really well-evaluated list that tells you the Big Ideas about yourself. It tells what you love, and what you can do for others. Now we're going to apply it to the world, and see what kinds of opportunities we can find - or create - to trade Value that we have for money, by looking at what the world values.
Fluff - Considering what the world values
First off, most people put down "TV, movies, and games" as their interests. This is because a lot of people have no lives. By that I mean, they don't do very much with their time, and pursue those things not because they genuinely find a lot of value in them, but instead because they happen to be the closest and most easily-accessed thing around them that claims to offer them value. People, particularly people in America, don't search very hard or very far to find actual value, and have gotten used to settling for whatever's the most convenient. As a result, we have a ton of people who know a lot about The Simpsons and American Idol, but few people who know very much about anything really useful. It's true, you can find ways to make money with an extensive knowledge of Simpsons trivia - but those opportunities are few and far between, and you're more likely to spend more time and effort trying to find them then you will get back from them. So be aware that the Value most people have is usually duplicated - since it usually all comes from the same media source most of us have in common - and not only is it mostly useless, there isn't much demand for that in the world because so many people have that knowledge. We're going to call that sort of knowledge Fluff - like the part of the news when they stop telling you all the terrible things that have happened in the world today, and show you two minutes of footage about kittens playing the piano. Fun - but it doesn't usually serve much of a purpose. So as you look at your list, keep in mind which things are probably Fluff, and which are not. Fluff doesn't rule it out as a money making opportunity, but it usually means that you'll have a hard time providing it for much in return, because of Supply and Demand.
Reducing - Discovering the common denominators
Another thing we're going to do is to Reduce. When you look at your Value In and Value Out lists, look for things they have in common. If you have minerology, herbology, and zoology on your Value Out list, for example, they probably really reduce to an interest in Nature in general. Circle them, draw lines that link them together, and write Nature in the margin. Underline it, too. This is a Big Idea for you, and we're looking for Big Ideas for you in both lists. Look at the lists, and think about why you do those things. Answer the question, "I am really interested in ______ because..." and find out what kind of a need it fills in your life. What does it do for you? "I like to learn about rocks, herbs, and animals because... I get really frustrated living a cramped, modern life." Boil down some of the various things you have listed into what they have in common, and what they actually mean to you. Knowing what you're really about tells you a lot about where you should go with it. Often, people learn a lot they didn't recognize about themselves when they think about this. When you Reduce, and find out what you're really trying to achieve when you do what it is you love doing, ask yourself if there would be other ways of achieving the same thing, or even if there are much better ways of going about it. Many times, this will cause you to get a money-making idea instantly that had never occurred to you before.
Supply and Demand - Getting the most out of your value
One thing to keep in mind is Supply and Demand. Whatever your skills and interests are, someone has to want them. And how much they will be willing to pay you for them depends on how many people already know what you know, or do what you do. So to provide the most Value Out (and therefore the most money) look for things you have that the world really needs, and doesn't have a lot of people supplying. What do people need? Can you supply that in some way? By focussing on things that are hard to come by, you can zoom in on the stuff that the world will pay you the most for.
The other part of that idea is that by focussing on approaches that give back to you in ways that are important to you (the big stuff on your Value In list), you'll be zooming in on things that will matter the most to you. Usually, it's a trade-off between what you want to do and what the world would like to have done for it... but it doesn't have to be that way. Not if you think creatively about yourself, the world, and how those goals can overlap. Preferably, overlap three or four of them.
Tools - Ways to apply that value
finished. You're thinking about what you have, what you need, what the
world will pay for, and what the world needs. We have one final thing
to consider, and that's Tools. You can have the best ideas in the
world ("I want to make money writing articles!"), but if you don't know
what Tools exist to allow you to do that, like HubPages and Helium,
you're not going to get very far with it. Sometimes, you'll know your
skills and what the world would like, but you won't find any way to
bring them together until you hear about a Tool that will do that for
you - which is what happened with me and internet article writing. I
knew I was good with English, I knew I had a lot of ideas, but I didn't
know there were sites that paid for articles. Sometimes having the
Tools can make all the difference in the world. (Tip: This makes Tools
very valuable to people, and means that there can be great opportunities
providing access to, and awareness of, Tools to people who need them.
Information swapping in terms of opportunities is a lot of what HubPages
itself does, and that's only one way to exchange your knowledge of
Tools for value.)
So we're going to look for Tools for a moment. Google is a great way to do that. Almost anything can be sold on the internet, even experience and knowledge - look at HubPages. While you're unlikely to find people looking to pay you over the internet for your ability to juggle, you may find that people will pay you for most of your Value Out items in various ways. Paid web design. Paid coding jobs. Actually, if you could juggle and were willing to invest a little money, the internet probably would pay you to juggle - as an entertainer or clown at special events. It's all a matter of thinking creatively, and using the right Tools. Definitely search Google for your interests, and maybe add "jobs" as well.
Don't get discouraged if you can't think of a great approach right away. Now that you've looked at it, boiled it down into what really matters to you, and what the world has and needs, it will percolate through the back of your mind and you'll start getting ideas over the next few days and weeks. Give it time, and keep thinking about it.
Overlapping - Getting two bites at the cherry
One last note - you can maximize what the world will pay you for by finding ways to Overlap many items in your Value Out list together - finding ways to supply your combined talents and skills in unique ways that few others will be able to compete against you to supply. That will make what you choose to do worth more, because any Demand for it will be almost impossible to fill. And by Overlapping items in your Value In list, finding things that satisfy more of them at once, and the more important ones among them, you will find opportunities that are more personally enjoyable and rewarding to you. Often, you can Overlap items from both lists into the same concept, and that's when it gets really fun. Play Mix 'n' Match with them, and see what ideas click in your head from looking at them together. Could there possibly be something out there that will pay you for your interest in Writing, your Love of Solitude, your Need for Rent-Free Living, and your desire to be Out In Nature? (Absolutely! Join the Forestry service, work as a forest-fire lookout in a remote forestry station, and upload articles to HubPages with a satellite modem.) What about getting paid for your interest in Food, People-Watching, and Website Design? (Sure thing! Create a website, become an online restaurant critic, pay users for reviews restaurants around the world and compile it into a book you can sell online, or a compilation that travel guide editors would buy from you.) Think of it as a game, a challenge to Overlap the most things in your lists. A few minutes more at the start trying to do that could ultimately spell the difference between pursuing something that makes you some money and interests you just a little bit, and doing something that makes you a lot of money and you love every moment you spend doing! Ideally, with enough thinking you'd be able to Overlap everything in both lists... but it's unlikely. But with enough thought, you can Overlap enough of the big ones that you have a great time, and are enormously successful as well. But when you're looking at your Value In list, be sure to remember that it's not just your own life that matters to you - everyone cares about the state of the world, too. Looking for options that will benefit someone else, and you, and help make the world a better place too will be much more rewarding, and as long as you're making money anyway it will be a gift you can give the world that reminds people of just what an awesome person you are. And all it takes is a few more minutes playing with approaches until you have some that satisfy you, someone else, and brings value to the world as a whole. A few minutes of Overlapping, and the world's a much better place for it.
Phone a friend
Oh - and if you're having a really tough time Overlapping an impossible-seeming set of attributes, try posting them in your Comments here, and check back to see if other readers have any ideas you may have overlooked. Group brainstorming can be tremendously powerful - you might even try asking your friends to look at your list, too.