by Lisa Orrell
This article is an excerpt from Lisa Orrell’s book, Boomers into Business: How Anyone Over 50 Can Turn What They Know into Dough Before and After Retirement, Intelligent Women Publishing, 2011.
I think that the best way to get your mind going in the right direction for determining how to turn what you know into dough is to provide you with some inspirational examples. I encourage you to have a pen and paper handy because as you read, you are likely to come up with ideas for yourself that you will want to jot down.
Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been A…
Corporate HR Executive: You can become a Consultant and “HR Topic Expert” who advises small and medium-sized businesses that don’t have an HR person on staff, on proper HR practices, rules and regulations. You can also offer your services as an interim (freelance) HR Manager for companies that need your knowledge and services on a part-time basis until they have grown enough to require a full-time, permanent employee in that role.
And you can make additional income by conducting seminars, webinars and workshops for small business owners on important HR practices they need to know to avoid legal issues with employees. Business owners are not born with this knowledge, so you can be the expert that educates them… and they’ll pay you!
Plumber: You can expand your offerings outside of just providing your normal fix-it services by becoming a “Do It Yourself Plumbing Expert” for homeowners. And, if you want, you can even choose to drill that down to an even more targeted niche of “Do It Yourself Plumbing Expert for Female Homeowners.”
As such, you can conduct do-it-yourself presentations, as well as private training for individuals, on how to make basic repairs or upgrades in their home (i.e., installing a new toilet, putting in new faucets, repairing a dripping shower, etc.).
There are many homeowners and new rental property owners with tight budgets. They would be willing to pay to attend your presentations or hire you for private training sessions because it would save them money in the long run because they wouldn’t have to hire someone to do the job for them!
Also, you can gain recognition and generate income from your “topic expert” branding by speaking at home improvement expos and at local hardware or home improvement stores in your area.
This can also lead to developing products to sell such as how-to videos, books, e-guides, etc.
Gardener/Landscaper: This is a true story. A colleague told me about an elderly man who had been a gardener for 35 years. He was the typical neighborhood gardener who had simply “mowed & blowed” yards for homeowners throughout his town.
But during his career, he had come up with his irrigation and fertilization strategy for lawns that were brown. He could get just about any sad-looking lawn green and lush fast. And whenever he improved one neighbor’s brown lawn, all the other neighbors who had brown lawns hired him to make theirs green again, too.
One of his clients suggested that he start conducting presentations for homeowners, rental property owners, and other gardeners on his amazing method. So he took this advice, and it led to speaking engagements at large gardening and irrigation industry events and home and garden expos, as well as being interviewed by industry and home improvement media.
Basically, this man went from being a neighborhood gardener — who was starting to struggle physically (thus financially) due to aging — into becoming a “rock star” in the gardening, lawn care, and irrigation worlds. And, it was all because he leveraged his “fixing brown lawn” expertise and promoted himself as THE expert for fixing them.
Sound a little odd? Well, he tripled his income in one year, left behind the daily physical grind of being a gardener for other people, worked less hours, became a celebrity in his industry, and was able to continue as an in-demand expert, speaker and consultant until he was in his 80’s. Why? Because many people were willing to pay him, handsomely, for his knowledge and expertise.
College Professor or School Teacher: You can take your expertise and expand it outside of the classroom. Perhaps you have been a second grade teacher for 25 years and have an uncanny ability to teach and motivate kids that other teachers, faculty and parents have deemed impossible. And, you’ve noticed over the years, that a lot of colleagues and parents have sought your advice.
You can package your expertise into a topic expert brand platform that can attract other teachers to seek your consultation. And this can also lead to conducting paid workshops for teachers and paid speaking engagements at industry conferences.
Plus, you can offer private consultation services for parents wanting your advice about their impossible child. Sure, there are child psychologists who do this, but YOUR focus can be on the child’s issue in the classroom. And this can result in child psychologists wanting to partner with you or referring clients to you.
In short, your expertise can supplement the therapy other professionals are providing to parents and/or children. You’ve worked IN the classroom… many child psychologists haven’t. That makes your front-line experience valuable. And people will pay you for it.
College Professors can focus on becoming a known expert on their subject matter. Let’s say you’re an American History Professor. You can leverage your knowledge on American History in general, or in one specific area of American History (i.e. the Civil War). By promoting yourself as a leading expert on the Civil War you can attract paid speaking engagements, media interviews, and lucrative consulting opportunities with the entertainment industry on movies, documentaries and books on that topic. You can even make additional income for paid tutoring sessions with college students seeking help with their term papers and coursework.
Homemaker: Some very successful female entrepreneurs were stay-at-home moms who came up with amazing ideas to simplify or improve different childcare or homecare tasks, and then marketed their solutions. Others are women who were very career-focused prior to having kids, but chose to become stay-at-home moms and then developed ideas to create a business they could run from home.
But, what if you’re in your late 50’s or 60’s, your kids are now adults, you have been a homemaker for the past 30+ years (focused on everyone else except you all those years), and you now want, or need, to generate an income?
Needing to generate an income becomes a serious reality for many Boomer homemakers due to divorce; retirement accounts taking a dive; investments not yielding their anticipated projections; unexpected emergencies draining savings and/or assets; or due to becoming a widow.
So what can you do? Aside from going back to school or enrolling in a vocational program to learn a new skill set (which can take a lot of time and money), you can focus on the skills you’ve acquired as full-time homemaker and as an intelligent woman.
Perhaps you are an amazing cook; have a flair for home decorating; are brilliant at running a house and raising 3 kids on a tight budget; are known among friends and family as a terrific time management and scheduling pro; or have grown the most amazing vegetable garden, or rose garden, in your neighborhood.
Any skills such as those can be turned into a topic expert platform where other people will pay you for your expertise!
Take a minute to think about The Food Network. Several of the stars on that network did not go to culinary school, didn’t own, or even work in, a restaurant, and didn’t have professional careers in “food” prior to auditioning. Some of them just had a passion for food and cooking, and decided to audition for the network with the hopes of turning their passion into a profession.
Look back at the example of the gardener I mentioned earlier. Yes, he had been a gardener for a long time. But what ended-up being his topic expert brand platform was his creation of a solution to make dead lawns healthy again. He could have just as easily been a weekend gardening enthusiast who developed an amazing solution to revive a lawn or grow fabulous roses.
There are many people out there who, out of a passion for a hobby (not an occupation), came up with a solution while doing their hobby, and then promoted themselves as an “expert” to teach that solution to others.
Heck, there are women in their 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80+ who are scrapbook junkies and market the ideas they come up with to other scrapbook enthusiasts.
The key here is focus on your strengths and interests, and realize that you can “brand” yourself as an expert people will pay to learn from… even if you haven’t had a professional career in the workforce for decades!
Everything I discussed in the examples above is applicable to any career or background: lawyer, dentist, CPA, realtor, consultant, web designer, corporate employee (in any position, from any industry), farmer, short order cook, logger, truck driver, bookkeeper, pastry chef, pilot, scuba diver, homemaker, parent, etc.
Again, the core concept is that you focus on your strengths and interests, and realize that you can create a brand, or expand your current brand, and people will pay you for what you know. And, yes, professionals such as lawyers and CPA’s already get paid for their “knowledge and expertise,” but I know many with private practices struggle financially or are bored with what they do. So, they, too, want to expand their brand into an expert platform to generate more income by speaking or developing products, and (oftentimes) to attract more notoriety.
Learn more in our Resources for Portfolio Careers, Patchworking, Moonlighting, Side-Gigs, Second Jobs, Freelancing.
This article is part of Job Action Day 2011.
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
Lisa Orrell, The Promote U Guru, is an in-demand Branding & Marketing Expert and Certified Success Coach with more than 20-years of experience. Recently she was voted one of the “Top 30 Most Influential Brand Gurus in the World,” and she is also the recipient of more than 75 awards for marketing excellence. Lisa’s clients include: Small business owners, coaches, consultants, entertainers, academics, speakers, and authors. Lisa is also the author of 3 popular business books and a professional speaker. And, based on her expertise, she has been interviewed by countless media, including: ABC, MSNBC, NPR, Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Cosmo, China’s HerWorld Magazine, BNET.com, American Express’s OPENForum.com, and WomenEntrepreneur.com. For more info about Lisa, visit: PromoteUGuru.com.