How to Make Extra Money with Your Brain

March 15, 2010

There are so many different ways to earn extra money with your brain, the best question isn’t how can you earn extra money but how can you earn the most money the fastest. The place to start is determining which of your skills or specialized knowledge you have that you could turn into extra income.

In this article we’ll look finding a market for your skills and determining whether what you’ll earn will be worth the time and effort you’ll have to put in. Then we’ll finish up by taking a look at some resources for making extra money with your brain.

Your Brain is Money

Over the years, you’ve probably picked up special skill sets or valuable bits of knowledge that other people would pay to tap into if you could make your expertise available for sale.

It seems the challenge for most people when going through this exercise is figuring out what it is that you know that is valuable and unique enough that people would be willing to pay for it.  Of course it’s different for each of you but we can look at some scenarios and maybe those examples will get your brain going.

Shopping Expert – If you know where/how to always get a good deal when buying a popular product, you can buy it cheap and re-sell it on a site like eBay.

Digital Creator – If you know how to write software, layout web pages, design databases, or build mobile apps you can sell your services on sites like eLance or oDesk.

Handmade Creator – If you know how to create things with your hands (knitting, sewing, etc) you can make clothing, decorations, or other crafts and sell it on a site like Etsy.

Math or Science Whiz – If you understand & can explain calculus, chemistry, physics, or statistics you help tutor others on a site like

Marketing Your Brain

Of course, having the knowledge isn’t any good for generating income if you can’t turn it into money. You have to decide if you want to market your expertise yourself (which typically takes longer to get going) or find an existing marketplace.

For example, my wife tutored kids one summer in our neighborhood.  She put up signs, passed out flyers, and worked her network of school teachers to find parents that wanted tutoring for their kids.  She wasn’t busy every day, all day long because it was her first year. If she’d have continued tutoring, over time she’d have built up her network and word of mouth and become more and more busy.  She probably would have been a lot busier that first year if she’d have signed up as a teacher on

If you don’t want to take the time to market your brain yourself, there are many websites available that have already created an online marketplace where you can find people in need of your information or skills.  The trade-off is that they’ll usually take a cut of your earnings, but they can start sending you customers right away.

Effort vs. Reward

When you’re selling your brainpower, one thing to consider is whether the work you’re putting in is worth the money you’re making.  The whole reason you’re leveraging your brain is to earn “extra money”; extra implying that it’s more money than you already make.

Of course this means you’re probably still doing all the things you normally would in a day, and working extra in your spare time for more money. Since you only have 24 hours in a day be sure that the time you spend is worth the money you’re making. 

Opportunity Cost

An important concept here is opportunity cost.  Let’s say you’re spending two hours a night and on average earn $30 for your efforts.  The extra money will be nice, but if there’s something you could be doing that would earn you $50 a night for two hours work; then by taking the lower paying gig, you’re missing out on the opportunity of earning an extra $20 a night.  The best way to avoid this is by researching the opportunities for all your skill sets before you commit to one.

Create Once, Earn Multiple Times

One last thing to consider. If you can make money more than once off the effort that you put in, then your earnings can increase without you having to put in as much time.  Take the Digital Creator scenario I discussed earlier for example.  If you find a client on eLance and write them some software for $100, then once the work is done you have to write another program for another client to make more money. 

On the other hand, if you write a useful program that a certain type of person or business would need and sell it for $25, then you do the work of creating software once and can sell it multiple times for $25.  There will be marketing involved but that will take less time than the work of creating, testing, documenting, and packaging the software.

Guides to Making Extra Money With Your Brain

As I mentioned earlier, coming up with ways you can sell your brain power is challenging for a lot of people.  I thought it might help to look through some examples, just to get the wheels turning.  Phil Taylor, from PT Money, has gathered together a free resource of 52 ways that you can make extra money.  Not all of them are focused on leveraging just your brain power but it’s a good starting point.

One way that you can build a platform from which you can sell your brain is to write regularly about your area of expertise online.  This approach can help people find you on the Web and allows them to get to know more about you and your expertise.

Peter Anderson, from the site Bible Money Matters, offers a resource, called Blueprint For How To Make Money With A Blog, that is a good overview of using a blog to make extra money.  Peter has personally used the approach to earn money writing about personal finance but you can apply the concepts to most any area of expertise you might have.  I got a review copy for free before Peter made it available for sale but I’d say it’s definitely worth the price if you’re thinking about getting started with this approach.

So there are some tips and tactics for earning extra money with your brain.  If you’re looking to make extra money, take a few days to let the concepts simmer and start coming up with a list of skills you have that people would be dying to get their hands on.


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Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

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4 Responses to How to Make Extra Money with Your Brain

  • Forest

    I am a freelance graphic designer as well as a blogger… I guess most of my work is my brainpower being sold and that’s pretty sweet now I think about it :).

    As for teaching, this is something I am considering greatly for a little fun and extra cash.


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