Learn the Skills that Pay the Bills Online

One of the things that I’m passionate about sharing through Lifestyle Entrepreneur and my teaching and coaching is showing people how to develop the real skills that they need, which is not specifically to become programmers or coders or website developers or search engine optimization experts in their own right—but how to know enough so that they can hire intelligently and get the work done for a cheap price in a short turnaround time.

A lot of people looking at starting a business, or even people that are in business as entrepreneurs, have this misconception that they need to do everything themselves.

Don’t Be the “One Man Army of Awesome”

The good news is that with the advent of talent platforms, such as Elance and the ability to hire and manage teams from anywhere in the world that specialize in each of the areas and aspects that you need to build a website and run an online business, the talent is available and it’s generally much cheaper than people realize.

It’s also easier to work with teams that specialize in, say, graphic design or website development or a specific type of programming. Because the nature of the online world, as I see it, is that specialization has occurred where you can hire somebody that just does logo design all day long, or does InfusionSoft programming, or WordPress blog setup all day.

There are an abundance of teams and contractors on sites like Elance that charge under $100 to get graphic work done, or get a website up and running – a blog theme created or modified by people that can turn it around super quick and with a high degree of quality. This is not just about hiring a guy in India that knows how to code.  These are people in the US and all over the world who are making their skills available to be contracted through these platforms. And Elance is a secure platform, with escrow built in so you’re protected. It’s all around a great solution for online entrepreneurs.

I recently wrote a fairly comprehensive guest post on the Elance Blog describing a 3-step process to save money on website development, it’s called Bridging The Designer-Developer Divide: How to Efficiently Build Your Next Website  << Click to check it out

Awareness and Understanding of the Skills Required

You need to be able to understand enough about each of the aspects that go into online business, website development, marketing, etc to speak about them intelligently and to use that to hire teams to do the work and then manage them.

So the actual skills become having an awareness of the vernacular, of the terms that are used, and just a basic understanding of what you need done. It’s about being able to point people in the right direction so that they’re doing high leverage work specific to what you have in mind, but not actually doing the work yourself.  It opens up this door of being able to contract or subcontract almost anything that you need done.

A good example of that would be, for graphic design, being able to reference certain color schemes or to pull up something like Kuler by Adobe and be able to set a color scheme and give them the actual hexa decimal color code to use for the website design.

Building Your Skills WHILE Paying the Bills

Learning about and understanding these skills also ends up being another great way to generate money.  It’s something you can do on the side and it builds the skills for when you’re doing it for your own project.

There are two ways to do this:

  1. Act as a subcontractor
  2. Contract yourself out

Subcontracting for Others

If you want to start getting down some of the skills that pay the bills, being the facilitator for website development projects through Elance is a good quick way to start learning without going through the whole process of launching your own business and brand.

You can work on behalf of others and basically put projects together on Elance, and then whatever designs or development that are delivered back, you present those to the client. And you are the face of the project to your client.

That allows you to potentially make money without doing programming or design work, to build good looking websites cheaply and effectively for clients who generally may be frustrated with cost overruns or time delays on their project.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is another huge niche.  In terms of skills that pay the bills, if you have a basic understanding of search engine optimization and can get clients, then you can effectively have your own SEO shop, but you’re the front for a team or a few people that you’ve hired through Elance that are doing the actual heavy lifting.

So you set the direction, the search terms that you’re going to rank for and types of sites and links that you want to build, but then hand off the actual responsibility for executing that strategy to a team that’s going to go out and build 100 links a month or whatever and do the onsite programming and configuration of the website so it’s playing nice with the search engines.

Contracting Yourself

Since the primary purpose of learning these skills is for your own business and entrepreneurship, there’s a second direction you can go in.  You can get the soft skills by doing this stuff yourself for other clients, or practicing by helping other people improve their sites.  That way, when you’re ready to build your own brand and business, you have the skills and you also already have some working relationships on Elance.

I’ll routinely work with the same handful of teams that have proven themselves useful and productive over the years for many, many projects.  There are some designers who I’ve done over 10, maybe 15 projects with because I know what to expect.  I know the price, the timeframe and I’m basically dealing with the same people for a bunch of different projects.

The skills aspect of building your own business and brand is getting fluent enough to hire and manage teams through talent platforms—with the core competencies being design work, development work (which includes SEO).  It’s wise to split the work between two different teams, one doing graphic design and production and then the other doing the programming and adding the functionality to make websites do what you want them to do.  Those are generally two skills that are not found in the same person.

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Get Working on Your Skills

Go to Elance, try subcontracting or contracting yourself out on a project, and just experience it for starters.  Allocate $50 to get a logo designed or to do an improvement to a website that you may already have just to get your hands on the platform and to understand what’s possible. You’ll soon start to see what’s really possible, and it can go far beyond just design, development, and SEO work.

As a last example of what can be done through a platform like this, I hired an editor on Elance to do copyediting on the US version of my book Lifestyle Entrepreneur. It’s about 170 pages, and this editor, who has a master’s degree in English, cost me under $250 to do copyediting on the whole book.

Here is a short list of  common jobs that I’ll run through Elance and their relative costs for reference:

  • I routinely pay between $50 and $100 to get a great logo done and that includes multiple initial designs and unlimited revisions leading up to the final logo.
  • Generally I’ll pay $150-$250 for homepage and inner page designs (just two designs, not the same number as there are pages for your website). Then,
  • I hired a programmer for around $150-$300 to integrate the technologies needed and publish it live on the domain I’m using (email capture, eCommerce and shopping cart, social media, etc).

For more information on the skills that pay the bills and how to use talent platforms like Elance to get quality work done, here are some links out to other articles, videos and blog posts I’ve written on the topic.

 From Passions to Products: How to Turn Your Interests Into Business Ideas

How To Build a Website in Under 10 Hours for Less Than $1,000

Bridging the Designer-Developer Divide: How to Efficiently Build Your Next Website

Hope this is helpful, let me know what you think and what questions you have on the comment thread below.

Now go out there and learn what you need to know, to do what you’d love to be doing, so you can be the person you know you’re capable of being!

To your success,


About Jesse Krieger

Jesse Krieger is the founder and publisher for Lifestyle Entrepreneurs Press. International best selling author of Lifestyle Entrepreneur and Host of Bestseller Summit Live. Connect on Facebook, Google+, and YouTube


  1. Subcontracting is such a good idea. It’s not about doing everything yourself especially when there are so many reasonable options out there. I think it’s also a realization that you have weaknesses. You can’t do it all, nor should you be trying to. I’m a big believer in strengths so figure out what you do well and do more of it. Everything else delegate or avoid if possible. Stop trying to be a jack of all trades. Be a master of one (or two) thing.

    • We’re definitely on the same page Scott!

      I’ve always felt that entrepreneurs should focus on “playing to their strengths, instead of strengthening their weaknesses”. Of course not 100% of the time, but so often people spend a bunch of time trying to come up to speed on things that others are experts at (and would gladly do for free or a fee), instead of focusing on fully elaborating their own creative genius.

  2. Absolutely agree. I’ve been on both sides of the fence, and let me tell you being on the “hirer’s” side is so much more fun! 😉


    • Hey Pooja, good to hear from you! Yes, with the increasing number of good, high-quality contractors available, prices have gone down a lot over the last few years. That is GREAT if you’re on the hiring side, but I think it would be much more competitive to build a business as a full-time Elance contractor now than when I started.

      • That’s so true Jesse. And I don’t think it’d be a smart move for newbies to continue looking at Elance as your “business model”. You’ve always got to diversify.

        I recall a few years ago this happened with a website called Mahalo that started with the rev-share model and on the way, dropped it. Writers who were killing it on Mahalo.com were left confused as to what next.

        So it’s pretty lame to put all your eggs in one basket, be it with Amazon Kindle books, Facebook or something else.

        Thanks for the engaging discussion!


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