Beat the Competition With Quirky, Yet Profitable Job Ideas

With so many people out of work, and many competing against each other for the jobs that are opening in corporate America, it seems many may need to find a new career plan.  

For those looking for out-of-the-ordinary career ideas, I recently interviewed Steve Gillman, author of 101 Weird Ways to Make Money: Cricket Farming, Repossessing Cars, and Other Jobs With Big Upside and Not Much Competition.  

In his book are hundreds of quirky, yet profitable, job ideas for those willing to take a leap into a new profession.  It’s not just stories about interestingly abnormal jobs – Steve’s book advises readers on how to become an out-of-the-box entrepreneur. Below are key highlights Steve’s recent interview on Making a Living with Maggie.

Career Advice from Steve Gillman, entrepreneur and author of 101 Weird Ways to Make Money: 

Q: What is the most creative way you’ve made money in your career?  

A: A lot of creativity went into the walking sticks I used to carve, or into the real estate deals I’ve done, but probably my most creative work has been in the internet business my wife and I currently own. It’s surprising which creative niches can be profitable, and I have numerous interests, so I get to write in so many areas and make money doing it. My website, for example, which is all about metaphors, actually makes a little money. My site on ultralight backpacking made more than $12,000 last year, as did But beyond the writing process itself there is creativity in the markets. For example, I once experimented and found a way to make more money giving away an e-book that I had been selling.

Q: You say "almost any job can be a training ground for creating future wealth" – how so?

A: Just about any job provides opportunities to learn skills that can be used to get better jobs, to start a business, or to invest in new ways. This is obvious in the service businesses. For example, most owners of successful carpet cleaning or landscaping companies start out working as an employee, and once they have experience they start their own business. Many years ago I worked for a real estate investor, cleaning up foreclosures and other homes he purchased, and from watching how he made money I was able to invest in real estate in new and profitable ways. It helps to treat a job as though you are an apprentice or a college student, and to be on the lookout for opportunities that come from the knowledge and experience you gain.

Q: By your own admission, you’ve only worked a full-time job for 9 or 10 months of your life yet still found a successful route to career happiness and prosperity. To make a great living in this economy where traditional jobs are less available, what do you hope people learn from your approach?

A: I hope to encourage people to identify and seize some of the opportunities all around them. But I would also add this: live on less than you make, keep core expenses low, save money, and look for multiple sources of income. When I met my wife just ten years ago I was making less per-year than just one of our websites make now, but I was never in financial trouble. In fact, I met Ana while traveling in South America–which I could do because I had low expenses, no debt, flexible jobs, and in general a creative approach to living.We enjoy a richer lifestyle now that we have more money, but we still spend less than we make and bank the difference. This allows the freedom to quit any job or to take a risk on a new business venture. A richer life is the goal, after all, and this can come with more money, but also with wiser use of money.

Steve Gillman legally stole cars in the middle of the night while working as a repo-man. He has made money dealing blackjack, renting out rooms in his house, installing restaurant equipment, playing chess, selling mobile homes, assembling muffler brackets, hawking used stuffed animals at flea markets—and the list goes on. Eventually finding his entrepreneurial niche online, he has been writing for years about unusual jobs and businesses.  For more check out and follow Steve on Twitter @SteveGillman .

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