We are not in a position in which we have nothing to work with. We already have capacities, talents, direction, missions, callings. — Abraham Maslow
I sat in bed as my stomach churned. The mere thought of a saltine cracker made me queasy. I tried to get comfortable, which is not an easy feat when you have a burgeoning belly and you’re surrounded by a chaotic mess of laptop and legal pads and journals scribbled with ideas from brainstorming sessions. Disheartened and distraught, I stared at the computer screen and sighed.
My husband was in law school when we found out I was pregnant with our first baby. I was extremely sick for the first five months and had to quit my job as a mother’s helper. While I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, I knew there was no way we could live on my husband’s income alone. However, I could not for the life of me come up with anything I could do to earn money from home. I was good at a lot of different things but didn’t feel I had one particular outstanding talent or exceptional know-how that I could turn into profit.
In the past, I’d had a lot of different side jobs, but none of them was conducive for doing from home — especially when I had a baby to care for. I remember how desperate I felt, spending hours and hours online each week searching for an idea that didn’t require any start-up cash. I knew I had to figure this out quickly. Our bills were piling up faster than money was coming in. But all this brain wracking, google searching, and entrepreneurial–book reading resulted in nothing but more discouragement. Maybe I just wasn’t cut out to have an at-home business. Frantic, I got on my knees and begged God for ideas.
I cannot tell you how many times over the course of my life, in person and on my blog, people tell me they don’t have a clue what they are good at or what they could even do to earn money. Maybe you get this feeling. Maybe you’re shaking your head asking, “Crystal, is it really possible for me to find a way to earn an income? I mean, I know other people have been successful at it, but they’re different. They have gifts, talents, abilities. And me? Well, I’ve got nothing.”
I think about the hundreds of emails and comments I receive from women expressing this same sentiment. Tara, a mom of three young girls, wrote:
I don’t think I can do or make anything that people would pay money for. I’m not artsy-craftsy. The idea of being a saleswoman is repulsive to me. I’ve thought about selling deodorant or lotion, or trying my hand at soap-making, but it seems like the natural toiletries market is pretty small around here (Montgomery, AL) and Etsy is flooded with these kinds of products already. And they’re so easy and inexpensive to make at home, I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t!
Often, people will assume that my success as a blogger came from an immediate instinctual clue that writing and online marketing were my “things.” In reality, that could not be further from the truth. I didn’t know what my “thing” was and had to stumble along, experiment a lot, and make many mistakes before I uncovered my gifts.
Looking back, I realize that as a child, I loved to read. I loved writing stories. I loved writing in my dozens of journals. And I loved writing to my ever-growing list of pen pals. (At one point, I think I simultaneously corresponded with sixty or more people from all over the country, many of whom I wrote to at least once every other month!)
I was also fascinated by computers at an early age, years before I even knew about the existence of the Internet, which didn’t become such a big deal until I was a teenager. When I was about fourteen, I bought a used computer and set it up in my bedroom. I spent hours writing articles and designing graphics for a small newsletter I published for young girls, working on my rudimentary website that a friend had built for me, learning more about building websites, running an online message board, and answering emails.
It’s clear to me now that what I’m doing today is the perfect union of the passions and interests I have had since I was young. But it took me years to be able to see that.
The Discovery Process
If you feel inexperienced, unmarketable, or unskilled, know that you are not alone. I talk to so many women who feel as though they just don’t have much to offer to the world. They feel so average and untalented compared to many other women.
But here’s the thing: I strongly believe that every person has unique giftings and abilities. Those things might not be obvious to you and, like I experienced, they may take some effort and experimentation to fully discover, but you do have something to offer to the world, something that could turn into a viable income stream.
There is only one you, and the world needs what you have to offer.
To help you answer the question of, “What am I good at that can generate income?” let’s explore your skills and talents, as well as your passions and knowledge.
Skills and Talents
A skill is something that anyone can learn if you study, work hard, and practice. Whereas a talent is something that you are naturally good at and if you invest time and effort into this area, you could potentially become amazing at it.
Both skills and talents are things that can be nurtured and improved upon and there is often overlap or correlation between the two. For instance, most athletes have some natural talent — they may have a body well built for swimming or have a strong torso or be a fast runner. By investing time to exercise, practice, and hone their natural abilities and talents, they can become even more skilled and competent in their sport.
Can you play an instrument well? Do you have a natural ability to sell? Do you have an eye for interior design? Do you have a knack for giving presentations in front of large groups of people? Do you love crunching numbers? Can you easily identify solutions to problems?
Think through what skills and talents you have. Ask your friends and family members for their input too. To get the wheels of your brain turning, here is a list of some possible skills and talents you may have:
Graphic design advertising
Content marketing Hospitality
Bethany has a natural talent for cooking, and she found a way to take that talent and make a small side income from it. A bachelor friend of hers, who couldn’t cook to save his life, asked her if she would be willing to cook for him, adding he would pay her for the ingredients, supplies, and a flat rate for each cooked meal. Bethany said yes and every Sunday for a few months delivered to him a week’s worth of meals. It was a win-win situation. This man saved money by eating at home, and Bethany made money by preparing his food. What a great idea!
Wendy, one of my blog readers, turned her graphic design skills into a side job that works with her schedule and has helped to pay down debt, build an emergency fund, and save toward special home projects.
Here are a few questions for you to consider and ask your friends for input as you consider your skills and talents:
- What do friends and family ask you for help with?
- What are the things that are easy for you to do?
- What did you do well as a child?
- Have you taught yourself how to do something because you were frustrated with the job someone else did when you hired him or her to do it?
- Can you operate a particular piece of equipment or tool, or do you have specialized training or experience in certain areas?
- Are there natural talents you have that, with some honing and practicing, could turn into marketable skills?
Watch the Money Making Mom Video
Excerpted with permission from The Money-Making Mom: How Every Woman Can Earn More And Make A Difference by Crystal Payne, copyright Thomas Nelson.
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If you’re wanting to start your own business and work for yourself (whether you’re a mom or not!), evaluate the questions above. What are your skills and talents? Don’t be afraid to asks friends and family to give you insight! Sometimes we just cannot see for ourselves what we’re good at. Come join the conversation on our blog. We’d love to hear from you about starting something new and making a difference!