How to Make a Living Off Your Expertise

UPDATED: December 18, 2018
PUBLISHED: December 12, 2018

The movement toward solopreneurship, in which former career-focused employees are taking their economic futures in their own hands, has allowed us to find opportunities in surprising places—from driving our cars to freelancing our skills.

Now another segment of the YouEconomy is on the rise thanks to what’s between our ears.

Related:  Introducing the YouEconomy

Sometimes called the expert economy, the trend toward training, coaching, and consulting across multiple industries has grown with the advancement of two major factors:

1. Technology.

Everyone with a smartphone can broadcast their own show, share their insights, and field questions from beginners in their industry. Online course hosting platforms, subscription apps, and message bots provide experts with the means to market and make sales.

2. Corporate Outsourcing.

Companies large and small have recognized the need for ongoing growth and skill enhancement. Rather than relying solely on internal mentorship, they’re turning to outside experts and consultants for training.

Per a May 2018 report by Civic, there are now 1.5 million experts helping companies with their knowledge and expertise. That’s virtually the same number of U.S. drivers for Uber and Lyft combined.

So what’s the difference between the expert gig and the freelance or side gig? The biggest is earning potential. According to Civic’s report, experts earn up to $1,000 per hour, likely because they can land larger clients with deeper pockets.

Related: 5 Serious Money Lessons for New Solopreneurs

Per a May 2018 report by Civic, there are now 1.5 million experts helping companies with their knowledge and expertise. That’s virtually the same number of U.S. drivers for Uber and Lyft combined.

“There has never been a better time for coaches, consultants, and other experts to land higher-ticket corporate clients,” says Jeanine Blackwell, creator of Get Corporate Clients. “The latest spending reports show companies are outsourcing 60 percent or more of their teaching, facilitation, and custom performance solutions rather than handling this in-house. There are literally billions of budget dollars already approved and waiting to be spent this year with outside experts.”

If you’re interested in sharing your knowledge and making a nice living off your expertise, consider these tips:

Strategy is essential. You could just put up a virtual shingle and start doing Facebook Live videos about your expertise. Eventually, people might start paying attention. But then what? Create a strategy that not only details how you’ll market your expertise but also how you’ll make a living off of it. “The key to grabbing this opportunity is to focus on the problems you can help these companies solve with the knowledge and expertise you bring to the table,” Blackwell advises.

  • You are the brand.

Sure, people are paying for your expertise, but really, they’re buying a brand that is you. If you’re not a good fit for their culture, your knowledge is irrelevant. Cultivate a brand that helps you stand out while evoking the values you want to represent.

  • Self-confidence is a must.

You might not like tooting your own horn in everyday life, but if you’re going to make a living as an expert, you’ve got to get comfortable announcing your qualifications. If you don’t tell people what makes you worth listening to,
who will?

  • You could join forces.

Large firms such as Gerson Lerhman Group, AlphaSights, and Guidepoint help corporations in need of training connect with experts. The plus side is that you do less gig hunting on your own and can build a reputation in the firm as a go-to provider. The down side is that you’re associated with someone else’s brand other than your own and have less control over your client relationships.

  • Experts are always learning.

As the expert, you must stay on top of what’s happening in your industry. That means not only following current events that impact your clients, but also following innovations that impact your services. Real experts—the ones making the big bucks—aren’t just sharing opinions. They’re qualified professionals with years of experience, accomplishments, and even degrees. They continue to take classes, work with mentors, and find other experts in their industry to network with and exchange ideas. The more up-to-date you are in your approach, the more valuable your perspective will be.

  • Aim for evergreen.

When you start offering services, booking speeches, or teaching courses, make a goal to create something that works automatically to bring you revenue. This kind of evergreen, always fresh, content might come in the form of online courses, memberships, or e-books. When you set up recurring marketing to one of these products, you create a source of
passive income.

In the YouEconomy, your knowledge and life experience can be your greatest assets. And you don’t have to be a corporate type to get these gigs.

“It’s not only business experts such as leadership coaches or productivity experts that are landing corporate clients,” Blackwell says. “It’s experts in all kinds of areas like wellness, nutrition, movement, relationships, communication, writing and more.”

So make a plan and set yourself apart. When you’re ready to share your wisdom with others, you could create not just a great living but also a great legacy.

Related: Why You Should Join the YouEconomy

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2019 issue of SUCCESS magazine.

Amy Anderson is the former senior editor of SUCCESS magazine, an Emmy Award-winning writer and founder of Anderson Content Consulting. She helps experts, coaches, consultants and entrepreneurs to discover their truth, write with confidence, and share their stories so they can transform their past into hope for others. Learn more at and on Facebook.