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.
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.
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.
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.