Have you ever thought back on some of the hare-brained money-making ideas you had as a kid? Did you ever sit in the sun on a hot day, staring at strangers and hoping they’d buy your reconstituted lemonade? Or woefully wander the neighborhood, offering to rake leaves?
Whatever happened to those jobs? What did you learn from them?
I’ve done a lot of things to make money over my lifetime. Some have been spectacular successes while others were about as successful as a flying penguin.
After I made this Make Money list, I realized there were a few key life lessons that I learned from all of these experiences. I’ll tell you what they were at the end.
I challenge you to make up a list of all the ways you’ve made money too. What lessons have you learned over the years?
- 0.1 Selling Blueberries (age 5)
- 0.2 Selling Paper Roses (age 6)
- 0.3 Selling Snow Slushies (age 8)
- 0.4 Selling Notebooks (age 10)
- 0.5 Selling Bead Geckos (age 11)
- 0.6 Selling Sculpey Clay Beads (age 11)
- 0.7 Selling Pet Fish (age 11)
- 0.8 Selling Lucky Bamboo (age 12)
- 0.9 Selling Glycerin Soap (age 12)
- 0.10 Selling Dog Biscuits (age 12)
- 0.11 Babysitting (age 12)
- 0.12 Watching Dog Kennels/Pets (ages 14-22)
- 0.13 Job #1 – Laborer at garden nursery center (age 16)
- 0.14 Job #2 – Holiday Inn housekeeper (age 16)
- 0.15 Job #3 – Boarding kennel worker (age 17)
- 0.16 Job #4 – Gift shop clerk (age 18)
- 0.17 Job #5 – Grounds crew member (age 19)
- 0.18 Delivering newspapers to an Army base (age 19)
- 0.19 Job #6 – Animal care technician (age 20)
- 0.20 Job #7 – Research technician (age 22)
- 0.21 Job #8 – Fish and wildlife technician (age 24)
- 0.22 Job #9 – Teaching/Research/Teaching/Research…… Assistant (age 24)
- 0.23 Transcribing (age 27)
- 0.24 Job #10 – Animal care technician (age 28)
- 0.25 Survey sites (age 28)
- 0.26 Selling knitting patterns (age 28)
- 0.27 Online opinion group (age 28)
- 0.28 Freelance writing (age 28)
- 0.29 Blogging (age 28)
- 0.30 Website testing (age 29)
- 0.31 Job #11 – Current position (Top Secret) (age 29)
- 1 What I’ve Learned From My Make Money List
Selling Blueberries (age 5)
I sold handpicked blueberries from our backyard to an admittedly small customer base—my mom.
Selling Paper Roses (age 6)
I terrorized the neighbors by going door-to-door selling “Mother’s Roses”: Kleenex stuffed into a Dixie cup with a construction paper rose taped to the inside.
Selling Snow Slushies (age 8)
I mixed Koolaid with snow to make slushies and plopped myself in a snowbank while waiting for cars down our rural road. I got very cold.
Selling Notebooks (age 10)
I went door-to-door selling “Notebooks!”: lined paper that I had cut in half and stapled together.
Selling Bead Geckos (age 11)
I made some mean beaded geckos to sell to classmates.
Selling Sculpey Clay Beads (age 11)
I set up an Angelfire website to sell handmade Sculpey clay beads, only realizing 18 years later that I forgot to include a way for potential customers to actually buy my products.
Selling Pet Fish (age 11)
I tried to breed Siamese Fighting Fish to sell, only to return home from school one day to find my only successful male had eaten all of his fishlets.
Selling Lucky Bamboo (age 12)
I bought a giant box of lucky bamboo and pots over the Internet, only to find that the only person actually interested in the plants was my grandma (thanks Nana!).
Selling Glycerin Soap (age 12)
I bought a kit to mold glycerin soaps into cool shapes and start my next empire only to lose interest before I even opened the package.
Selling Dog Biscuits (age 12)
I found some dog biscuit recipes online and packaged them up all artsy-fartsy in paper bags only to find out that the oils from the biscuits leached into the bag and turned it into a soggy mess.
Babysitting (age 12)
I realized that I wasn’t a kid person after babysitting my neighbor’s kids once and panicking after they had a screaming fit.
Watching Dog Kennels/Pets (ages 14-22)
I’ve scooped a lot of poop. A lot of poop.
Job #1 – Laborer at garden nursery center (age 16)
I took care of plants and tried to avoid hosing down the nice customers and the angry hornet nests.
Job #2 – Holiday Inn housekeeper (age 16)
I was horrified to see the evidence of what adults really do behind closed doors.
Job #3 – Boarding kennel worker (age 17)
I single-handedly ran a busy boarding and grooming kennel, and scooped a lot of poop.
Job #4 – Gift shop clerk (age 18)
I manned the fudge counter and weighed out tourist’s hauls of “authentic” panned gold at a gift shop for a small Alaskan tourist attraction.
Job #5 – Grounds crew member (age 19)
I took care of plants and tried to avoid running down the nice tourists with the fun Gator utility vehicle, which had a hydraulic dump box that doubled nicely as a slide.
Delivering newspapers to an Army base (age 19)
I delivered weekly newspapers, once coopting my then-boyfriend Zach (a soldier) to call in sick from the Army to help me deliver Army newspapers while hidden incognito under a layer of scarves.
Job #6 – Animal care technician (age 20)
I’ve scooped a lot of poop. A lot of poop.
Job #7 – Research technician (age 22)
I was hired on a conservation research project to help capture and raise a small herd of wild caribou calves—many of which have gone on to have my adopted grand-boos.
Job #8 – Fish and wildlife technician (age 24)
I paddled around Alaskan swamps near the Alaska/Canada border for a summer looking for nesting Rusty Blackbirds and found even more mosquitoes.
Job #9 – Teaching/Research/Teaching/Research…… Assistant (age 24)
I alternated between teaching and working on my own thesis project each semester while in grad school for three years. I made a lot of fake poop in the laboratory.
Transcribing (age 27)
I realized that transcribing is not a good money-making activity for me after falling asleep on the keyboard late one night and waking up to forty pages of “ppppppppppppppppppp……”
Job #10 – Animal care technician (age 28)
I’ve scooped a lot of poop. A lot of poop.
Survey sites (age 28)
I tried making money while sitting in front of the TV only to find that I didn’t qualify for most surveys—but they didn’t tell me that until I had already devoted 10 minutes going through the pre-screeners.
Selling knitting patterns (age 28)
I wanted to make weird knitted things so I made my own patterns and listed them for sale online.
Online opinion group (age 28)
It turns out that my opinion isn’t really that valuable compared to other things I could be doing.
Freelance writing (age 28)
I sucked up all the courage of a drunken flea and launched myself into the world of freelance writing, only to find that I should have been doing this way sooner—like, ten years sooner.
Blogging (age 28)
It’s official—this is the first month I’ve actually made money from my blog, a mere 11 months after creating it. $2.45, baby!
Website testing (age 29)
I briefly flirted with website testing before realizing that my time was probably better spent doing freelance writing work, or developing my own website.
Job #11 – Current position (Top Secret) (age 29)
I finally have a job in the career field I went to school for—but as per my employer’s policy, I can’t actually tell you what it is! I will say this though: it does not involve poop.
What I’ve Learned From My Make Money List
Invest In Knowledge Before You Invest In Stuff
I did random stuff in the name of “business” when I was a kid. I bought $300 worth of lucky bamboo to try to sell to people, only to find that there wasn’t a market for it—and especially not from an awkward pre-teen who was as likely to run away screaming as to sell them a product.
As I got older, I realized I had to invest in myself first. I went to college to learn how to do my jobs. I bought books about how to design and sell knitting patterns, and I bought online courses in how to do freelance writing.
Related post: Should You Invest In Yourself By Attending A Conference?
Only when I invested in actually learning how to do something before I started did I ever make significant amounts of money.
Step Outside Of Your Comfort Zone
I don’t like to be embarrassed. This is difficult, because I’m a shy person and I do something to embarrass myself about once every thirty minutes. You could set your watch to it.
But here’s the thing: the only times I’ve ever made significant amounts of money was when I stepped out of my comfort zone and interacted with people.
Related: Rejection Proof: How I Beat Fear And Became Invincible Through 100 Days Of Rejection by Jia Jiang
No amount of anonymous online survey-taking will give you enough cash to move the needle on the money-meter like doing big things that occasionally make you uncomfortable.
By now, if I start a new project and I get nervous, I actually take that as a good sign. The best things happen right after I get uncomfortable.
You Have More Time Than You Think
One of my biggest pet peeves is when people say they don’t have enough time to make extra money. You always have enough time to make money. What you do with that time is based on your priorities.
If you’d rather spend your time watching TV, playing video games, cooking, sleeping in, etc… that’s fine. Those are your priorities. But if making money was your priority, you’d be doing that instead.
Your time is limited, and what you choose to do with it is your prerogative. But to say that you don’t have enough time to make money is a lie. If you’ve got even five minutes a day, you have enough time to make money.
I challenge you to make a list of all the ways you’ve made money too. Reflecting back on what you’ve done and what you’ve learned is an eye-opening experience—sometimes in more ways than one.
What are some of the interesting ways you’ve made money? What did you learn from them? Leave a comment below!