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Sell Your Knowledge on the Side

Sell Your Knowledge on the Side

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    Having a side line of income can come in handy — but not everyone is in a position to set up a full-fledged business or even take on freelance projects. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t any opportunities to make some money on the side. If you’re knowledgeable about a specific area, you can sell your know-how, rather than selling your time. You’ll still need a little time, of course, but there are several ways to come up with ways to make a little money within your time constraints.

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    1. Write an ebook or white paper

    You can turn your knowledge and experiences into a document on your own schedule. While it does take an investment of some serious time to translate an ebook into serious earnings, you can start selling your work through sites like Scribd almost immediately. Your vendor will certainly take a cut, but the publication process is easier and faster than for print. There are also simple ways to up the likelihood of earning some good money: even something as basic as laying your document out in something besides Microsoft Word can give you an immediate boost. As far as topics go, how-to guides tend to do well, as do papers that address current issues in most fields.

    2. Offer a seminar or class

    While seminars and classes are generally a little more time-sensitive than projects that don’t require you to interact with other people, there are a long list of ways to make them a little more flexible. One of the most basic is picking a time and date for the class that works with your schedule and then taking care of planning and other details when ever it’s more convenient for you. Another option is offering a class online, even by email if that’s what it takes. The biggest difficulty with selling slots in a class is that you have to have a good reason for prospective students to buy from you. If you aren’t a well-known expert in your field, you’re going to have to do some marketing to make sure that your class is full.

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    3. Tutor on your topic

    If you specialize in a topic that is taught in school — from kindergarten through grad school — tutoring is an option. You don’t even need to worry about trying to find local students: you can tutor online. That can make managing time easier, because you can work with students in different time zones so that you can better take advantage of your time. Sites like Tutorz, offer an opportunity to list yourself for a variety of subjects.

    4. Write for websites

    There are many websites that allow writers to post any number of articles and take a cut of the profits. You’re not going to get rich off of such articles, but there’s no problem if you need to write on an odd schedule — or even stop writing suddenly. You can write about pretty much any topic, although you’ll probably be able to write more often if you focus on a topic you already know well. There are thousands of such sites. HubPages and Triond are just two examples.

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    5. Provide advice or consulting

    You can offer your consulting services on your own online, but if you don’t have a lot of time to devote to the project, it may be better to offer your services through a site that connects experts with individuals looking for advice. There are quite a few out there: one example is LivePerson.com. It’s a pretty typical site. You post your information and then clients can hire you through the site. You decide on the time and date you’ll actually talk to clients.

    6. Answer questions

    The number of websites offering payment for answers to specialized questions seem to grow every day. SmallBizAdvice, for instance, offers payment for answers to questions about small businesses, for example. There are also plenty of sites with multiple topics, as well as sites specially for students to post questions they have with (or, more often, from) their homework, like Student of Fortune.

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    Selling your knowledge

    It’s worth noting that none of these approaches are exactly get rich quick schemes. In some cases, they may not even be get rich quick schemes. You have to have some knowledge worth sharing, although that list can be pretty long — you’d be surprised what some people are willing to pay for video game tips or basic technical support — and you have to be able to share it in a fashion that other people can understand relatively easily. If you can handle those requirements, though, selling your knowledge can be a good way to bring in a little extra money. It doesn’t hurt that there are plenty of websites and online services ready to handle much of the marketing and promotion, and let you focus on your own expertise. The pay goes down when you work through these sites, of course, but the amount of time you need to devote to finding clients and related aspects of being in business also goes down. It doesn’t hurt that being associated with a larger site also establishes your credentials a lot faster than you can if you aren’t already particularly well known.

    If you’ve worked with a website beyond the ones I’ve mentioned here, please note them in the comments — there really are thousands of websites providing similar options out there, and I only discussed a handful here.

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    Last Updated on September 18, 2019

    How to Take Notes Effectively: Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

    How to Take Notes Effectively: Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

    Note-taking is one of those skills that rarely gets taught. Almost everyone assumes either that taking good notes comes naturally or, that someone else must have already taught about how to take notes. Then, we sit around and complain that our colleagues don’t know how to take notes.

    I figure it’s about time to do something about that. Whether you’re a student or a mid-level professional, the ability to take effective, meaningful notes is a crucial skill. Not only do good notes help us recall facts and ideas we may have forgotten, the act of writing things down helps many of us to remember them better in the first place.

    One of the reasons people have trouble taking effective notes is that they’re not really sure what notes are for. I think a lot of people, students and professionals alike, attempt to capture a complete record of a lecture, book, or meeting in their notes — to create, in effect, minutes. This is a recipe for failure.

    Trying to get every last fact and figure down like that leaves no room for thinking about what you’re writing and how it fits together. If you have a personal assistant, by all means, ask him or her to write minutes; if you’re on your own, though, your notes have a different purpose to fulfill.

    The purpose of note-taking is simple: to help you work better and more quickly. This means your notes don’t have to contain everything, they have to contain the most important things.

    And if you’re focused on capturing everything, you won’t have the spare mental “cycles” to recognize what’s truly important. Which means that later, when you’re studying for a big test or preparing a term paper, you’ll have to wade through all that extra garbage to uncover the few nuggets of important information?

    What to Write Down

    Your focus while taking notes should be two-fold. First, what’s new to you? There’s no point in writing down facts you already know. If you already know the Declaration of Independence was written and signed in 1776, there’s no reason to write that down. Anything you know you know, you can leave out of your notes.

    Second, what’s relevant? What information is most likely to be of use later, whether on a test, in an essay, or in completing a project? Focus on points that directly relate to or illustrate your reading (which means you’ll have to have actually done the reading…). The kinds of information to pay special attention to are:

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    Dates of Events

    Dates allow you to create a chronology, putting things in order according to when they happened, and understand the context of an event.

    For instance, knowing Isaac Newton was born in 1643 allows you to situate his work in relation to that of other physicists who came before and after him, as well as in relation to other trends of the 17th century.

    Names of People

    Being able to associate names with key ideas also helps remember ideas better and, when names come up again, to recognize ties between different ideas whether proposed by the same individuals or by people related in some way.

    Theories or Frameworks

    Any statement of a theory or frameworks should be recorded — they are the main points most of the time.

    Definitions

    Like theories, these are the main points and, unless you are positive you already know the definition of a term, should be written down.

    Keep in mind that many fields use everyday words in ways that are unfamiliar to us.

    Arguments and Debates

    Any list of pros and cons, any critique of a key idea, both sides of any debate or your reading should be recorded.

    This is the stuff that advancement in every discipline emerges from, and will help you understand both how ideas have changed (and why) but also the process of thought and development of the matter of subject.

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    Images

    Whenever an image is used to illustrate a point, a few words are in order to record the experience.

    Obviously it’s overkill to describe every tiny detail, but a short description of a painting or a short statement about what the class, session or meeting did should be enough to remind you and help reconstruct the experience.

    Other Stuff

    Just about anything a professor writes on a board should probably be written down, unless it’s either self-evident or something you already know. Titles of books, movies, TV series, and other media are usually useful, though they may be irrelevant to the topic at hand.

    I usually put this sort of stuff in the margin to look up later (it’s often useful for research papers, for example). Pay attention to other’s comments, too — try to capture at least the gist of comments that add to your understanding.

    Your Own Questions

    Make sure to record your own questions about the material as they occur to you. This will help you remember to ask the professor or look something up later, as well as prompt you to think through the gaps in your understanding.

    3 Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

    You don’t have to be super-fancy in your note-taking to be effective, but there are a few techniques that seem to work best for most people.

    1. Outlining

    Whether you use Roman numerals or bullet points, outlining is an effective way to capture the hierarchical relationships between ideas and data. For example, in a history class, you might write the name of an important leader, and under it the key events that he or she was involved in. Under each of them, a short description. And so on.

    Outlining is a great way to take notes from books, because the author has usually organized the material in a fairly effective way, and you can go from start to end of a chapter and simply reproduce that structure in your notes.

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    For lectures, however, outlining has limitations. The relationship between ideas isn’t always hierarchical, and the instructor might jump around a lot. A point later in the lecture might relate better to information earlier in the lecture, leaving you to either flip back and forth to find where the information goes best (and hope there’s still room to write it in), or risk losing the relationship between what the professor just said and what she said before.

    2. Mind-Mapping

    For lectures, a mind-map might be a more appropriate way of keeping track of the relationships between ideas. Now, I’m not the biggest fan of mind-mapping, but it might just fit the bill.

    Here’s the idea:

    In the center of a blank sheet of paper, you write the lecture’s main topic. As new sub-topics are introduced (the kind of thing you’d create a new heading for in an outline), you draw a branch outward from the center and write the sub-topic along the branch. Then each point under that heading gets its own, smaller branch off the main one. When another new sub-topic is mentioned, you draw a new main branch from the center. And so on.

    The thing is, if a point should go under the first heading but you’re on the fourth heading, you can easily just draw it in on the first branch. Likewise, if a point connects to two different ideas, you can connect it to two different branches.

    If you want to neaten things up later, you can re-draw the map or type it up using a program like FreeMind, a free mind-mapping program (some wikis even have plug-ins for FreeMind mind-maps, in case you’re using a wiki to keep track of your notes).

    You can learn more about mind-mapping here: How to Mind Map: Visualize Your Cluttered Thoughts in 3 Simple Steps

    3. The Cornell System

    The Cornell System is a simple but powerful system for increasing your recall and the usefulness of your notes.

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    About a quarter of the way from the bottom of a sheet of paper, draw a line across the width of the page. Draw another line from that line to the top, about 2 inches (5 cm) from the right-hand edge of the sheet.

    You’ve divided your page into three sections. In the largest section, you take notes normally — you can outline or mind-map or whatever. After the lecture, write a series of “cues” into the skinny column on the right, questions about the material you’ve just taken notes on. This will help you process the information from the lecture or reading, as well as providing a handy study tool when exams come along: simply cover the main section and try to answer the questions.

    In the bottom section, you write a short, 2-3 line summary in your own words of the material you’ve covered. Again, this helps you process the information by forcing you to use it in a new way; it also provides a useful reference when you’re trying to find something in your notes later.

    You can download instructions and templates from American Digest, though the beauty of the system is you can dash off a template “on the fly”.

    The Bottom Line

    I’m sure I’m only scratching the surface of the variety of techniques and strategies people have come up with to take good notes. Some people use highlighters or colored pens; others a baroque system of post-it notes.

    I’ve tried to keep it simple and general, but the bottom line is that your system has to reflect the way you think. The problem is, most haven’t given much thought to the way they think, leaving them scattered and at loose ends — and their notes reflect this.

    More About Note-Taking

    Featured photo credit: Kaleidico via unsplash.com

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