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How To Rapidly Build Your Skill (And Start Getting Paid)

Start Earning Online – Lesson 6

Course Progress

Watch the video or scroll down to read this lesson instead.

In this lesson you’re going to learn why you don’t need to be some kind of Super Expert to start earning good money online.

  • You don’t need to spend years studying, learning or practicing a specific skill
  • You don’t have to have years of professional experience
  • You don’t need any references
  • You don’t have to have a degree or a masters

Actually, you don’t have to have any formal qualifications at all to build a successful online business.

When working online as a freelancer, or a remote worker, there are two different types of task a client will pay you to do:

1. Something they CAN’T do themselves
2. Something they DON’T WANT to do themselves

Now, if you already possess some skills for working online – maybe you know how to build a website, or you’re a decent writer, or you have some experience with email marketing – then you can and should focus on #1.

And clients will generally pay you more money to do #1, to do something they CAN’T do themselves, so in the long run you should be developing those kinds of skills.


A lot of you reading this probably feel like you don’t HAVE those kinds of skills, at least not yet. So there might not be a lot you can do that clients CAN’T do themselves.

In which case, you need to focus on #2, and provide a service that clients DON’T WANT to do themselves.

You can still make good money that way.

Let me give you an example…

My friend and fellow Irishman Carlo Cretaro never considered himself to be a good writer, but he found work online as a freelance writer, writing basic articles for client websites.

These were articles that the clients could have easily written themselves and on topics that Carlo didn’t know much about – he often had to do some research before he got started – but the point is that the clients simply didn’t want to do the work themselves, and they were happy to pay Carlo $10-15 per short article to do the work on their behalf.

Now $10-15 per article might not sound like a lot, but with a bit of practice Carlo was able to pump out 2-3 of those articles an hour, so he was essentially getting paid $20-45 per hour to do work that his clients were well capable of doing themselves, and could probably have done even BETTER themselves, since they were more familiar with the subject matter.

I could give you lots more like that: examples of people earning good money to do fairly basic online work that clients could easily do themselves, but those clients would rather pay someone – someone like you – to do it for them.

And I want to emphasize that point because it’s really important and I think a lot of people don’t realize it.

So again:

People will pay you good money to do basic online work that they could easily do themselves.

That’s work they don’t have time to do themselves, or would simply rather not do themselves, for whatever reason.

So with that in mind, I hope now you can appreciate that most likely there are already many things you can do online that people will happily pay you for, just so they won’t have to do those tasks themselves.

But it gets even better than that.

Because, as I said, this video is about rapid skill building, so you don’t have to limit yourself to taking on only the jobs you already know how to do.

Let me show you how easy it can be to learn a skill on the fly, and get paid to do it.

What you see below is an example of a good quality job posting on Upwork.com which is a big freelance marketplace with loads of jobs posted every day that you can apply for.

That particular posting is a copywriting job. The client wants to hire someone to write product descriptions, and they say less technical and more conversational in tone, add humor to descriptions, etc.

And you can see down in the bottom-right there that this client pays freelancers an average of $35/hour.

Now let’s say you’ve never written a product description before. How can you quickly get good at doing that?

Well, you literally go to Google, type in “how to write product descriptions,” hit search, and you get back all these great results…

You click through and have a read of those articles and you learn how to write product descriptions.

Now, let me ask you this:

If you spent 30 minutes going through a handful of those articles and soaking up all the great advice in there… do you think you’d be able to write a really good product description?

Of course you could!

And then I bet you could write up two or three nice samples, submit them as part of your proposal for this job… and have a good chance of getting hired and being paid as much as $35/hour.

It doesn’t have to be any harder than that!

But what do most people do?

They see a job posting that they don’t immediately know how to do, it’s something they’ve never done before, and so they write it off and look for something easier, something more familiar.

If you DON’T do that… if instead you do what I just described, you’re putting yourself way ahead of most people looking for work online… and you can very quickly start getting paid the big bucks.

Now, at this point, you may start suffering from a little something called imposter syndrome, which I think is best summarized by this scene from the movie La La Land.

So in that scene, you’re Emma Stone, which I guess makes me Ryan Gosling 😉

… and I’m here to tell you, Emma Stone, that yes, you are good enough, and if you just hang in there until the end of the movie, you’ll see that everything turns out great.

Seriously though, if you’re worried about being a fraud or an imposter, here are 3 things to keep in mind.

1. You’re In Great Company

Here are a whole bunch of successful people have admitted to feeling like a fraud at one time or another.

  • Neil Armstrong
  • Jodie Foster
  • John Steinbeck
  • Meryl Streep
  • Chris Martin
  • Tina Fey
  • Cheryl Strayed
  • Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Jennifer Lopez
  • Daniel Radcliffe
  • Lady Gaga
  • Emma Watson
  • Denzel Washington
  • Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook COO)
  • Tom Hanks
  • Will Smith

So if you feel like an imposter, congratulations, you’re in great company.

2. Imposter Syndrome Is Often A Positive Sign

This article from Quartz quotes a study that found that 70% of people suffer from “imposter syndrome,” AND notes that it’s often a positive sign:

There is evidence to suggest that imposter syndrome correlates with success, and that those who don’t suffer imposter symptom are more likely to be the real frauds. People with imposter syndrome tend to be perfectionists, which means they’re likely to spend hours working overtime to make sure they excel in every single field. So if you do suffer from imposter syndrome, chances are you’re doing a pretty good job.

3. It Doesn’t Have To Stop You

There’s a dude named Naval Ravikant.

He’s the co-founder of AngelList and multi-millionaire investor in companies like Twitter and Uber.

And he once said:

“If I only did things I was qualified for I’d be pushing a broom somewhere.”

What I’d like you to take from all that, is that it’s not what you know, or what you’re qualified for, that’s most valuable to clients.

It’s your ability to figure things out as you go along.

So don’t ever be afraid to take on work you’re not sure how to do.

You’ll most likely figure it out as you go, but even if you don’t, worst case scenario… nobody will ever love you again 😭


Actual worst case scenario: you mess up, you apologize to the client, you don’t charge them for your time, and then you pick yourself up and try again.

No big deal.

And as a bonus, you’re going to learn much faster working on real client projects than you would otherwise. So my advice is to start BEFORE you feel ready.

As they say, the best time to start was yesterday. But if you can’t start yesterday, today will have to do.

Here’s what I want you to do right now…

Tell me in the comments below about a time when you felt you weren’t qualified for something, or felt like you didn’t have enough experience doing something. But you went ahead and you gave it a try anyway, and were glad you did.

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  1. Oh gosh, had so many moments like that. The one that stands out is when I applied for a “Flood Zone Specialist” position. I had no idea what a Flood Zone person does, but why I got the position was that I enjoyed reading maps, and I knew a little about parcel maps and APN numbers. Come to find out, it was a new department and I got in on the ground floor.

  2. Although I am a Christian, I keep messing up. I feel like an imposter all the time.
    I’m grateful for another sunrise to give it another go! 🙂

  3. Every job I have ever had

    Getting promoted ,feeling a fraud then realising I am better than I thought or those around me were worse

  4. When I was in high school freshman year, the cross country team made it all the way to the state level competition. I was on the team but not the reason we advanced. I was scared because I was a first-year runner and didn’t want to do the race. I did it anyway and even though I placed 199 out of 200, I am still glad I ran because without running that race I felt I was the worst. I turned out to be better than somebody and that gave me the confidence I needed to continue running in the following years.

  5. Creating a Youtube video channel, as I had zero video editing skills, I learned those skills by watching tutorials on Youtube. Despite my first videos being very niche and rough around the edges. I thoroughly enjoyed the process, and so glad I took the plunge.


    Hi Niall!

    I do have a great anecdote. Currently I’m working at a MICE company planning Meetings, Events and so on. I started at this industry 4 years ago, I was just 21 without a college degree and literally just looking for a job to have something to eat.

    I had this one chance to work as a temporary staff for an exhibition and they asked me if I had any experience doing assemblies for that type of events and coordinating the teams that installed the stands., so I said yes….and I totally lied.

    4 years later I’ve planned and coordinated logistics for pharmaceutical meetings, product launches, conventions and incentives all over the continent. I was so preoccupied for not scrweing it up that I always went the extra mile.

    Unfortunately I forgot how great my story actually is, I took it for granted. Thank you for reminding me that you can’t succed at something if you never try, if you never get started.

    I’m totally sticking to this course until I earn enough money online to invite you a cup of coffee in Sevilla!

  7. kathleen Edwards

    I have never had any qualifications for anything I have done over the years but have managed to scrape by learning as I went. I think the one thing that stands out was a client I had was writing a book and needed it proof read. I have never done that so looked at a crash course and got on with it. The client was very happy with the results and a friend said she couldn’t find anything wrong and she was an english teacher.

  8. Working on a centrifugal liquid chiller the size of a house…studied the operation manuals and repaired safely and successfully, I did have some knowledge but I only ever worked on one on my apprenticeship. Other experiences I just used my common sense and followed procedure.

  9. A position as a licensed MLO.
    The qualifications stated I would need a college degree, and I don’t have one.
    They hired me, and now I’ve been licensed for 3 years. They agreed to let me go remote (pre pandemic) and I moved to Colorado to start my journey as a Digital nomad. I plan to be in this position for one more year, or less.

  10. Once I applied for a job I really knew nothing about as it was about writing articles. I was really dumb about the business. So I failed. However, I became an actress, a Toastmaster and stand up comedian to get past the writing failure. I am an impostor going for my CPA as I am doing it for ulterior motives. It is giving me another skill though. Accounting.

  11. Door to door sales, now that I’m thinking of it I don’t even know how I did it for 1 year. I do reminder all the NO! NO! NO! But the best memories are the feelings of getting a YES$$$. 🙂

  12. I think it was 12-13 years ago, when an agency call me to do some photoshooting for a candidat for president of our country. I thought that I would*t do it, because it was something new for me.
    But after all, they were very happy with my job, and this candidate even won the election and became president.

  13. I actually didn’t feel qualified in my first career, as an electronic technician. It was something I didn’t really want to do, and I had no passion for it. But back in my younger mousier days, my parents and my ex-husband told me I had to do it so I did.
    I was actually a great electronic tech and worked my way up to lead tech in a very short time.

  14. My first day in an insurance job, I was tasked with making 100 new clients contact all round, checking my phone book I had 20 people, ooh my God! I requested links from friends in my phone book such that by the end of the business day I had 100 new clients to include in my list.And I realized that every weakness is a strength

  15. I was afraid of answering some questions on Trivia Hive. I risked and answered them and I got them right and was happy.

  16. Aneliya Zheleva

    Translating from English into German (both not my mother tongue) – said to the client I can do it and then did it with an unknown software / learned it on the way.
    A recent case – made a translation faster in Excel (with find & replace) than with a translation software (I’m still new with CAT tools), had a hard time for 5 days whether I’ll meet the deadline and then finished the task 1 day earlier.

  17. I never wanted to have children. I fell in love and had a baby boy 10 years ago. I felt clueless and inexperienced as a beginning Mom. Learning as I went (our current modern culture prepares us horribly and unrealisticly for the blissfully hard work of raising content children), following my gut and learning new skills all the time– I am now the best Mom I have ever met and I am home-schooling my amazing son who already understands more about the world than I do! He is the greatest show of my hard work, intuition and ingenuity.

  18. Just about one year ago I was totally unsured to star a job as a project manager.But I started and give it a try I spend hours and hours now after one year I am glad to tell you that yeah I was the one of imposter syndrome.
    thanks neile

  19. i never take intrest to do anything because i fail but when i get a force from within to do something ,it works out very well.
    even i do not know anything i have a great confidence because i have got a good teacher.
    thank you.

  20. Have been working as personal trainer/fitness trainer for many years. Each time I eat a muffin or have a bad workout, I feel like an imposter.

    Chris D.

  21. I am a novice surfer but agreed to do some paid lessons for kiddies. I felt like I wasn’t qualified but most wanted more lessons.

      1. Niall it amazes me how you manage to reply to so many messages. Thank you :).

        Haha the lessons went well actually (parents & kids loved them). Although I decided I prefer to keep activities in the sea for fun rather.

  22. I once dug a trench for a swimming pool filtration system while travelling in Australia. I had no idea what I was doing, but went ahead and did it anyway.
    At the same time, I can admit there have been times when I’ve buckled and retreated from a situation (where plowing ahead would have been more beneficial). Live and learn I guess!

  23. I took up a role as a grant writer for a non-profit company. I had no idea what that was, I just really wanted the job. Today, I have helped the company to raise funds by writing a variety of grants for them.

  24. Hi Niall, I’ve been looking for a lucrative online work opportunity for years. I’ve tried so many but always hit a brick wall. Recently I decided to work as a freelance copy editor because I love English and I’m always picking up spelling and grammar errors in online articles, etc. I registered on Upworks but I was declined. They said my CV didn’t portray the proper qualifications / skills :-(. This made me despondent.I have never worked as a copy editor before but I wanted to learn as I go. This negative response from Upworks stopped me dead in my tracks. How do I move forward?

  25. I began teaching high school with literally no education in teaching. (It was in Holland where my main qualification was that I was a native speaker of English.) It was the beginning of my teaching career, which turned out to be just fine, but I was standing there that first day thinking, “Seriously? Who thought I could do this? My ability to b.s. my way into a job is clearly fabulous.”

  26. I have quite a lot of self confidence (probably too much) so that doesn’t happen very often. I remember it happened once though.

    When I first went solo travelling, after a day or so, I was feeling homesick and I was afraid I couldn’t handle being on my own for the 4 months I had planned. A few days later, I was convinced I would go home as soon as I could. But I sticked with it, forced myself to go speak with others, wrote about my feelings and eventually, after a few weeks, I started enjoying my trip. Now I see it as the best trip of my life, cause I became an adult there. (Even though I am still very young and haven’t travelled so much… yet)

  27. I applied for a job as a intern writer for a newspaper company and got it! and ended up writing articles that thousands of people read. I was so un-fazed at the interview because I went in thinking I’ll never get it. I flunked english. Turns out I’m not to bad at writing!

  28. I felt like an imposter when I first started out working as a lawyer. I dreaded going into court. Practised everything I wanted to say on my family so many times that eventually they could’ve gone and tried the case themselves). But I went anyway. And won.