You’re tired of living up to the expectations of others.
You’re tired of being broke.
You want to make a change and feel alive again.
You want to do work that’s more you.
You want a deeper understanding of what makes you tick.
But your biggest problem is that you have no clue where to start.
You're not alone. Many people feel that way. The only difference is those who do what they love and make money identified their talents and had the guts to follow through.
I brought in 34 people who found their talents and who now live lives they love.
They were asked, “How did you discover your talent and make it profitable?”
Their answers are inspiring. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did.
1.Tor Refsland – Business coach and Digital strategist
For a long time, people had been commenting on my ability to network with influencers, but I haven´t put too much thought into it.
It was first on my birthday, 17th of December last year, when I first realized what my true calling was.
Thanks to having a blogger outreach strategy I managed to get featured on 85 blogs and get 3000+ email subscribers in my first year of blogging.
Nothing of that would have been possible if I hadn’t been good at networking with influencers. I created a free course How To Blog Outreach Like A Boss to see if there was a market for my free course. I initially only had 100 spots. These spots were taken in under 8 hours.
But that wasn’t enough; I needed to do the ultimate test to verify my blogger outreach skills. So what did I do? I reached out to the top dogs to ask if they would give me a testimonial for my blogger outreach skills. And guess what? They did…
To take it even further, I wanted to really put my blogger outreach skills to test and see if I could get new clients using… yeah, you guessed correct – my blogger outreach skills.
In a few weeks, I managed to get three new clients paying me $500 per month. When you are identifying your skills, you need to put your skills to the test to see if there truly is a market. People might say that they want to pay for your product.
2. Ebong Eka - Small business and pricing expert
Feedback & Experimentation are your friends. My talent is the ability to take complex ideas, tasks and thoughts and present them in a language my audience cannot only understand but act on them.
It just so happens that my "lane" is in the financial and business arena which is an area many struggles with.
People spend money for two reasons only:
1. To solve a problem and,
2. To get the desired result.
If you can teach or share something with someone who can benefit from it by solving their problem, you can make money from it.
3. Harleena Singh - Co-founder of Aha!Now & principal writer
Writing was my hobby. I was always interested in writing, whether it was in school or college. Honestly, I never thought I could use my talent of writing to make money.
In fact, it was someone else who noticed my passion and skills and suggested that I start freelance writing. Once I got started, it led me to blog. Now, I make money by freelance writing as well as blogging.
Sometimes you need another person or a mentor to help you identify your particular skill or talent. Else, you need to ask yourself what is the one thing that you always love doing? Something that brings you satisfaction and happiness.
In today's world, you can literally make money with any skill or talent. So, if you find it difficult to home onto your passion, there is no harm seeking an expert's opinion or professional help.
4. Ashley Trexler - Founder of Lies About Parenting & writer
My talent is that I love learning.
Sounds silly, right? But it's not about gathering degrees. I love experiential education. I love trying new things and mastering new subjects.
Figuring out how to capitalize on my willingness to leap before I looked took a while. Smile emoticon
I used to work for other people. I (college dropout) traveled internationally to recruit university students.
In my early 20s, as a luxury real estate sales agent and marketing consultant, I coached senior sales professionals on how to develop an online presence. Learning to discuss complex subjects in simple terms helped me develop a conversational-style writing voice.
When the internet became the place to be, I taught myself how to connect with potential customers when meeting face-to-face was not an option.
Establishing a trust-based relationship through is tough (especially when they know you're selling something)!
My "knack" for writing in a conversational style led me to where I am today. My interests have culminated in an online business that involves writing, living optimistically, parenting, website design, and consulting.
At the end of the day, I want to help people. It's not a talent, just a passion. And my passion for learning allows me to do just that.
So maybe that's my real talent...helping people.
The fact I get paid to do is just a bonus.
5. Jon Morrow - Founder of SmartBlogger (formerly Boost Blog Traffic)
For me, figuring out the talent part of the equation was easy. I was reading books at four years old and began writing short stories when I was six. By the time I was 12, teachers were saying I had a greater natural gift for the written word than any student they'd ever taught.
I was one of those child prodigies. But figuring out how to make money from it?
That took much longer. A lot of people love to read and write, but very few make much money from it. I tried for a few years to make a living as a freelance writer, and I did, but I was just barely scraping by.
So, I gave up and became a real estate executive. One day, though, I heard about this thing called "blogging." People were starting blogs, attracting huge audiences, and making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
I was fascinated. I read everything I could about it, bought courses, and tinkered around with a few blogs of my own. I wasn't very successful at first, but within a few years, people started talking about how good I was, and my career took off like a rocket.
So yeah, having natural talent was great, but the big breakthrough for me was watching other people with a similar talent and figuring out who was making the most money.
I learned from them, and now I've made millions, all from writing and reading.
Who would have thought it was possible? 🙂
6. Mei Pak - Jewelry designer & mathematician
I loved making things with my hands and was attracted to cute design and the food niche. Tiny hands became my six figure business because I found a market that was interested in my products at TinyHandsOnline.com.
Nine years later, I realized that I geek out and obsess over marketing from having done so much of it with Tiny Hands.
I knew other artists and designers needed help with promoting their shops online, so there was again that intersect between my passion and the need for it in the world. I then started my second business, CreativeHiveCo.com where I teach how to make a consistent income selling online.
7. Peter Banerjea - Co-founder of SuccessIsWhat
10 years ago, I would never have imagined that I would become a productivity/success coach. I used to be incredibly unproductive!
When you are working as an employee, you work within a system which keeps you productive, but when you step out on your own, that structure disappears. That's what happened to me when I started my own firm in 2009.
I knew that I had to change or I would never be able to grow my business. So I began to interact with successful people - entrepreneurs, CEOs and business leaders, authors, athletes to find out how they stay productive and stick to their habits.
I also began to read a lot about productivity. I learnt and experimented, gradually building up a productivity system for myself. Finally, each person you coach increases your experience. Over time, you get a clear idea about what solutions work and what don't for different types of people.
What makes me most passionate about productivity is a simple fact: The one thing that you can never get back is lost time.
8. Steven Aitchison - Creator of magic & Facebook coach
I realized from an early age that I love helping people and I had a natural aptitude to listening and helping others overcome issues.
I brought those natural skills to my writing when I first started the blog and built up an audience who were engaged with my writing and I stayed engaged with their comments and feedback.
that quickly grew into producing ebooks and programs geared around personal development, and it took off, but only once I learned how to do online marketing.
Over the last few years I have used the same skills to teach others about online business and how to make money from Facebook and build a business online. From there everything has snowballed into my business today.
It might sound like a cliché, but if you help others do what they love then you'll have all the success you need to be happy in life.
9. Jennifer Gresham - Coach for high achievers
I started my blog when I wanted to leave my career as a PhD scientist. Writing was a new career I was exploring, and since I was going through a massive career change, that's what I wrote about.
My readers ultimately asked me to coach them on the process of finding more fulfilling work, and while I had never done any coaching before, I decided to give it a try.
I sent an email to my subscribers (only about 1000 people at the time), and said I'd coach about 10 people, teaching them everything I'd learned throughout my own journey and research.
I sold out that pilot course in 24 hours. From there, my coaching practice has grown and grown, primarily through word of mouth. It all seems obvious in retrospect, but I would never have guessed that coaching is my superpower if I hadn't been willing to simply try it.
10. Donna Moritz - Social media strategist & visual marketing specialist
I didn't necessarily set out seeking my "talent" in order to make money. It was more a case of a passion finding me first and uncovering a talent. Only when I used it to teach and help others, money came as a byproduct of that.
I started out in a totally separate, well-paid career and had also run a successful business when I became fascinated with social media. I applied it to my business and in a not-for-profit project I was part of, and things took off from there.
I was approached for consults which evolved into a small consultancy-based social media business and the beginnings of my blog, which eventually pivoted to focus on visual social media and content strategy.
Why? Because again, it was what resonated with my audience (and me) the most. That same award-winning blog remains an integral part of my business and all because I wasn't afraid to follow the sparks and pivot my focus.
11. Sonia Thompson - Reformed corporate junkie & founder of Try Business School
I knew I wanted to be a marketer from a young age. It came from watching the character Gina on the show Martin, and Eddie Murphy's character in the movie Boomerang. My dream was to run my own advertising agency.
From then I knew I would work in this field. This led me to business school, and then to a large healthcare company where I was a marketer for large brands around the world.
But after almost ten years, I returned to my initial burning desire running my own business. While my business isn't not quite an advertising agency, I am a marketer, and I use my skills every day to build and grow my business.
12. Leanne Regalla - Founder of Make Creativity Pay & writer
Really, I don't think I had any talent, especially in the beginning. I was horrible really. I just had the desire and I worked really hard.
I made money at various business ideas for several years, but I started teaching music when I expressed an interest in it. All of my adult life, I've been a teacher and trainer. I learned guitar as an adult.
One day I told my guitar teacher that I wished I had started to learn music earlier - because if I had, I would want to teach guitar. I just assumed I wasn't qualified.
But she told me that I could start teaching guitar now - all I needed to know was one thing more than the person I was teaching - and I could start teaching beginners. So that's what I did.
I started off teaching beginners and I grew ahead of them for 14 years. I started writing songs, learned to perform, and learned to play other instruments just because I dove in and did it (and studied with the best mentors)... and I didn't care if I made a fool of myself.
My blog (Make Creativity Pay) and coaching just grew out of that experience, after people started coming to me for advice.
Now I'm a blogger and freelance writer. When it came to writing, again, I thought I was okay, but I had all these people around me telling me I should be a writer. I never believed them to be honest - until I heard it from my mentor, Jon Morrow.
It took a writer that I admire to give me faith in my own abilities and motivate me to hone my craft and pursue writing seriously.
13. Ellen Bard - Work psychologist & digital nomad
When I left the UK a few years ago, needing a change from a full-time-plus consulting career, a friend recommended the book The Artist’s Way. It was a bit out of my comfort zone, but I decided to give it a go.
It contains many exercises, questions and practices that are relevant to anyone who’s considering a new path. It helped me to realize how much I enjoyed writing, and I blogged in different formats - around travel and personal development particularly.
After a while, I realized that blogging was something I could happily and in alignment with my values, monetize. I then branched out into fiction, and realized how much I loved writing in any format, and looked at the different options for making money from fiction.
I searched out information - both on how to write better nonfiction and fiction, and also how to market myself in these new ways.
I was familiar with the business, in general, having been a management consultant, but it was a new thing to market things I was wholly responsible for - which felt like marketing myself - rather than a product or service that I was just one part of.
I love learning new things, and so podcasts, books, blogs and meeting people were all avenues I took to understand what I was getting into and to narrow down the path that would work best for me. I still consume lots of information, but I also ensure that I balance this with action, which is critical!
14. Cate Scolnik - She will teach you how to stop yelling at your kids
It was a long road! Still is a long road. I think most people are constantly feeling their way - working out their talents and interests and constantly changing.
I did a life coaching course and realized it joined a lot of dots regarding my previous experience and interests. It suddenly seemed as though all my previous life experience prepared me to be a coach - and people always lent on me for advice and support.
Once I'd done the course, I thought, "I've changed careers and reinvented myself so many times I should do a career change coaching." But when I went to nail down my particular offerings, I started getting uncomfortable - almost panicky.
Then I realized I knew much more about parenting, and was always reading about parenting, so I knew I had to become a parenting coach.
So I'm starting to monetize in two ways. One is to do some freelance writing in the parenting, self-development and small business space.
15. Tim Brownson - Life coach and blogger
I think in all honestly I stumbled onto my talent in the same way as I stumbled into my early career in corporate sales.
It’s my ability to build rapport quickly with people. To succeed in sales if you cannot build rapport, it’s tough to make a sale.
As a coach, it’s the same. If I cannot build rapid rapport with a potential client, then it’s unlikely they are going to hire me.
I like to think after over a decade of being a full-time coach I am a talented and highly effective coach, but without the ability to build rapport and convey that message I wouldn’t have any clients.
16. Sue Anne Dunlevie - Coach and mentor for bloggers
Remember that kid who won the bike for selling the most at the school fundraiser? Or the girl who was the District Top Seller of Girl Scout cookies? That was me. I’ve always had a gift for sales.
But when I attended college in the 70’s, women didn’t go into sales as a career. So, I decided to become a teacher. But I kept applying for sales jobs the entire four years I was teaching.
Once I cracked the glass ceiling (at age 27) and got into sales, I knew I found my innate talent.
I’ve sold linens to hotels, copiers to small business owners and medical devices to hospitals and wholesalers.
I was great at it, and I won awards for it, and I still use my sales skills when I enroll clients in my coaching programs. I've had a life of travel and great family experiences due to the significant money I have made with my sales talents.
17. Rob Newman - Web developer & digital marketer
It's been a gradual journey that didn't happen overnight or with a sudden flash of inspiration.
I knew I had talent because people kept asking me for help with their website. Of course, very few people want just "a website." They want the site to convert.
My skill set evolved into Pay-Per-Click strategies to get conversions. I started applying my skills to get clients for myself.
My biggest challenge is charging enough. I tend to downplay what I know because I assume everyone else knows it too. Ha!
18. Dre Beltrami - Visual strategist & branding badassery
Discovering my talent has been a lifelong journey, which has included most areas of design. I knew I'd always have a creative type job, but I didn't know exactly what that was for decades.
I went to school for interior design, but I quickly realized that was better left as my hobby. I moved on to web design which I loved, but quickly got burnt out.
Then came graphic design and things started to feel right. It wasn't until I decided to start my own business that the answer finally came to me.
Eventually, I realized that branding was something that I needed to invest in and learn if I wanted my brand to stand out online, so I set off on a mission to learn everything I could about branding.
It didn't take long to fall head over heels in love. Branding allowed me to infuse a little bit of all the areas of design I had studied, which is really the piece I'd been looking for when it came to what I was meant to do for a career.
After I figure out WHAT my talent was then, it came to how to make money from it. I had already been a design freelancer on the side for years, so that's where I started.
I used my design skills to showcase my work and piggybacked the principles of branding on top of it, to help people understand what it was that I could do for them.
Mostly, I used the widespread familiarity with design to get people's attention and then I introduced to them to branding. It worked like a charm.
I quickly started signing design clients, who almost all ended up investing in additional branding services with me. One of the ways I did that was by educating my clients on how design and branding go hand in hand and offering them a chance to work with me 1:1 to define and craft their entire brand identity.
This helped me bring in income, and it allowed me to hone my process, AND it gave me invaluable insights into the brand building struggles of my peeps, which helped me figure out additional services and products I should create.
19. Kevin Duncan - The driving force behind Be A Better Blogger
I identified my talent when I finally started listening to my mother.
For years, she told me I should be a writer. "You're such a good writer," she would say to me. "Why don't you write a book?" she would ask.
Neither my lack of experience nor the fact I was still in kindergarten could deter my mother from what she passionately believed to be true: her son was a writer, doggone it.
It took me many years to see what my mom saw in me. I started a blog to cure boredom but quickly discovered I had a knack for it. I enjoyed painting word pictures. I enjoyed taking readers on journeys. I enjoyed crafting interesting stories.
But even after reluctantly admitting my mom was right, it would be many more years before I realized I was good enough to write for a living.
Writing – like baseball, video games, and alligator wrestling before it–was a hobby. It was something I enjoyed doing, yes, but it remained in the background.
Then I lost my job.
Suddenly, I had to take stock. “What was I good at?” I asked myself. And despite having a
Master’s Degree in Computer Science and a decade of related experience on my resume.
Writing – yes, writing–was where I turned in my moment of need.
Be A Better Blogger was born because I needed a way to support my family. It and the freelance writing jobs I took as they became available kept my wife and me afloat for four long, challenging, scary months.
But even when my job returned, even when I received a promotion and a raise shortly thereafter, I didn’t stop writing.
Writing was my calling. It was the gift God had bestowed upon me.
Just please don’t tell my mother–she’ll never let me hear the end of it.
20. Camilla Hallstrom - Founder of Influence with content
I have always been one of those people who never had a real passion or talent. But I've figured out that every single person excels at something.
Essentially, I’ve learned that the #1 thing you need to do to find your talent is to take action and get in front of people. The rest will follow. For example, if you like cooking, you might start a YouTube channel where you help people cook.
If you like writing, you could start a blog. Sooner or later, you'll notice that you influence people in specific ways. That’s how you identify your talent and the sweet spot for profiting from it.
21. Laurel Bern - Residential interior designer and decorator
My goal, in the beginning, was to create a blog unlike any other in my niche. The content would be unique, interesting and with copious amounts of beautiful clear images which would be appropriately attributed. I very often read and go to blogs that I know attribute the images.
My main talent, however, the thing that keeps people hooked is writing ability and the ability to entertain and make people laugh. Also, I'm very forthcoming with a lot of very useful information.
Those two things and a powerful lead magnet are what encourage many people to sign up. I am now over 19,100! I started out in September 2014 with only 90.
Besides, I used a strategy of pinning directly from my blog, the images, many of which I turned into graphics. Other people pinned those images. For me, Pinterest has been the most powerful tool for growing my following. Of course, I use the rest of social media too.
Once I was up to nearly 6,000 subscribers, I realized that it was time to create my first digital product. I had come up with five different ones and created a simple survey which I sent out to my list.
Five questions and I left a place for comments. Immediately, I received some 800 responses. It was very clear which one to start with. The comment box provided the most incredible information in terms of dealing with any objections.
So, I identified my strengths as a blogger and capitalized on them. I created a product that my followers wanted to have and from there I have earned a nice chunk of passive income.
22. John Lee Dumas - Founder & host of EOFire podcast
I swung BIG and missed many times. When I finally connected with an idea that resonated with an audience (EOFire), I doubled down and AMPLIFIED.
The audience grew due to my FOCUS, and then I asked the audience, 'What are you struggling with?'. They shared their pain points, obstacles, struggles, and I created the
SOLUTION in the form of products, services, communities
23. Mark & Laura - The faces behind Positively Happy
We’ve always been creative - building things, painting and writing. While walking in the mountains in Spain one day we decided that there was way too much negative stuff being put out there - what was needed was a feel good revolution.
So we decided to take advantage of the then, relatively new, revolution in self-publishing and even up the balance. We rented a tiny place in France and wrote our first book and self-published it.
Within a few months we'd received our first, if rather small, royalty payment and we were sold on the idea. From there, blogging seemed a natural extension to spread our feel good revolution
24. Johnny B. Truant - Indie author, blogger & podcaster
I've always been a writer. There's really never been a time I wasn't. So it's not that I decided to make a living with my talent; it's that I had to find a sideways method of doing so, given that none of the literary agents I pitched books to would take what I offered.
So I started blogging and found that the more I wrote -- and the more personality I put into my posts -- the more attention I got. When I finally found people who were self-publishing books, all I had to do was to jump ship and follow them, because I was primed from a lifetime of attempting to find a way.
25. Mary Fernandez - Visibility strategist & content marketing manager
Finding my talent wasn't easy... I have had so many different talents and passions in my life that I have often felt like a "jack of all trades." However, I've always had an affinity for teaching ever since I can remember.
I just didn't know what I wanted to teach. But when I started to think in terms of WHO I wanted to serve instead of WHAT I wanted to do to make money, that really helped give me direction.
I also asked my family and friends what they thought I was really good at, and by looking for patterns in their answers, I was able to figure out how I could best be of service to others. Then, all I had to do was grow my leads by teaching for free, and then offer products and services to help them further.
26. Ilka Emig - Writer & expert in brain science
I decided to become a freelance writer because I wanted flexible working times, enough time for my kids, a job challenging enough to feed my busy brain and my eagerness to learn new things as well as a chance to use my empathy and creativity.
My blog is the extension of my writing business, the place where I can network and show my writing skills and make money.
However, choosing my writing niches was a little tricky. I took a big piece of paper and wrote down my experiences, my knowledge and background and my passions and hobbies.
I circled similarities and looked for overlapping as well as complimentary topics. In the end, I had a messy piece of paper with my preferred niches on it.
Later I realized that my blog audience is interested in the relationship between the brain and behavior, which became the primary focus of my blog
27. Lori Deschene - Founder of Tiny Buddha
As a highly sensitive person, I’ve always appreciated that writing provides me with an outlet for my emotions and a way to make sense of the world, and I actually studied writing in college.
Still, I didn’t pursue it professionally until I was twenty-seven, primarily because I didn’t believe I could.
At first, I found all kinds of online writing work to build my resume, freelancing for a pet website and interning for a business website, for example.
Eventually, I got a gig writing articles and quizzes for a nationally distributed ‘tween magazine—something that meant a lot to me, since many of my struggles began in junior high.
A few years after that, I’d climbed the ranks of online writing and was working as a Content and Community Manager for another website that didn’t really excite me.
During that time I discovered a number of self-help blogs and knew that’s what I needed to do—to transition from earning a living as a writer to writing about things that mattered to me and making a positive difference in the world.
28. Nakia Gray - Attorney & business consultant
After 7 years of stressful litigation and forcing myself to “think like a lawyer” I took a step back and did some serious self-evaluating.
I finally admitted (out loud) that I hated billable hours, blue suits, litigating, and going into a traditional law office every day.
I was completely drained. And the worst part was I was working on cases that were no longer fulfilling. I knew that there had to be another way…
I had a business coach who helped me to find what I enjoyed doing most and what I would be willing to do for free and then I was able to package those gifts into services that people would actually pay me for.
29. Sean Ogle - The face behind Location 180
For me, I found my passion for helping people build small businesses that allow them to work from anywhere kind of organically.
I left my job, started traveling myself, and in that time learned how to make money online via freelancing.
After a year and a half I said, “well, this worked for me, maybe it will work for other people as well…,”-So I created our Location Rebel community to teach others the same process I went through.
Since then, my passion has grown even further for these types of small businesses, and we have hundreds of success stories from our community.”
30. Ash Ambirge - Entrepreneur & founder of The Middle Finger Project
By living. The more you live, the more you discover where you fit in, and equally important, where you don’t. Not fitting in isn't a bad thing—in fact, it's the only way you have any contrast to realize where you’re most effective.
31. Neil Patel - Marketing formulator & founder of Kissmetrics
You typically identify your talent based on what you are good at and what you love. It's hard to find at first but by trying a few different things, you will eventually eliminate what you don't like and focus on what you love.
As you focus on what you love, you will eventually get good at it. The money will come after that, but it typically comes from solving a problem and helping others.
It's hard just to say "I want to make money" instead you have to solve a problem, and the money comes from removing the pain that others are experiencing
32. Bryan Collins - Writes fiction & non-fiction books
I identified my talent as a writer by working on it! What I mean is I'm less keen on having pure talent and more keen on turning up, doing the work, and learning from mistakes.
You can make money from your talent by being brave enough to learn from your mistakes and by separating criticism of your work from criticism about your personality.
It doesn't hurt to know how to market your ideas and to feel confident about charging a fair price for a service that helps people.
I've worked for free in the past to gain experience and access to people that I wouldn't normally be able to work with.
Though, working for free should only be a short-term project because professionals (talented or otherwise) get paid for their hard work.
33. Cylon George - Writer & helps people improve their moods
My talent is my ability to listen to people and be present with them when they need a listening, non-judging ear. It took me a while to discover this talent.
Honestly, I did not really consider it a talent until I started paying attention to what people were saying to me. I was often told that I was easy to talk to because of my ability to listen. I realized how much this helped people and how rare this ability has become in our age of mass distraction.
Now I make a living doing just that as a college chaplain. I give people space to share their stories and challenges in a compassionate, non-judging environment.
34. Penelope Trunk - Founded four startups & most current Quistic
I learned how to make money from my skills by trial and error. We don't always get paid to do the thing we love the most. Luckily, we will do that whether or not we get paid.
We usually make money doing the thing we are best at that which make the most money. It's hard to find that without trying a lot of stuff.
The combination of being willing to fail a lot and being desperate for money is what made me able to identify the skills I have that will earn the most money.
You are smart, capable and a go-getter.
Stop wasting time doing things you don’t enjoy—they are not you.
People are waiting for that special gift that you possess.
It’s a journey only you can take.
And remember—your talent is counting on you.
Are you ready to share your dream with the world and earn income?