Using my skills for fun and profit

My friends call me the most wired person they know. I’ve had an email address for longer than anyone they know. I’m always on top of the latest memes and tools on the internets. I’ve got RSS feeds, automated searches, and email lists that keep me updated on what my friends are doing, what’s happening around town, the latest political news. I use SMS/texting as a tool, and as my primary means of communication with friends who aren’t right there in front of me.

The majority of my past girlfriends were met through online dating; my love, Lindsey, and I met through Twitter, as a matter of fact.

I can google like no one’s business; it takes me minutes, at most, to find relevant results to any search. When those random questions come up in conversation, like “Who won the World Series in 1983?” or “What’s the population of Mexico City, anyway?”, my friends turn to me, no matter where we are, and expect me to look it up on my ever-present iPhone.

I’ve spent years building up this… skill set? Is that what it is? To me, it feels like breathing; it’s just what I do. Computers and networks of information have been a part of my life for so long that I can’t really imagine what my life would be like if it all went away. That’s probably a bad thing, to be so dependent on it, right? And since you’re reading this, I imagine that your life, too, is much the same way, to some degree or other.

But you realize that not everyone gets this, right? I’ve come to the realization that this is indeed, a skill set, and some people have it, and some people don’t.

But what am I really using it all for? Fun, entertainment, and random questions here and there. Fun and games.

So this raises two different lines of thought for me:

  1. Can I, y’know, get paid for this? Are there people out there who need this done, either on an ad hoc basis or on an ongoing basis, and are willing to pay for it? Even if the pay isn’t that much, it would supplement my current income and give me some satisfaction in doing something well.

    Sadly, one answer comes back immediately: yes, there are people who get paid for things like this. They’re called marketers, or “social media experts”, or various other phrases that, in many people’s minds, translate into “spammers”, even though what I’m talking about is research and analysis and data-collecting, not sending out information.

    I’m thinking along the lines of “online researcher” or “finder of online things”. Or even “online private investigator”, although that gets into privacy and ethical issues that I find I’m less and less comfortable with.

  2. The other idea I had was to consider the areas of my life where I am not currently using these skills, but which could benefit from their application. The primary one that leapt to mind was writing. I would love to get paid to write. Short articles, short fiction or novels, instructions and how-tos, all sorts and types of writing.

    I can use these skills in finding information on how to approach writing markets, to finding and becoming part of writers’ markets online, finding out about job opportunities, ways and means to polish my writing and to share all this information with others.

    Now that that thought has occurred to me, I’m surprised that I am not already doing it.

Consider this post my first step in this direction. Yes, there are things I can begin doing to help me, but there’s also the idea that I need to put myself out there. By writing this post, I am hopefully attracting some attention to my desire; perhaps someone else’s search will turn up this post – though I admit that the chances of that are low. I have not written this post for “search engine optimization”; it’s just my random thoughts barely organized at all. I haven’t included “keywords” in my headers and tags. I’m just a guy spilling my brain out onto the internet.

But that’s my strength, too. I’m not going to charge an arm and a leg for something that seems so simple to me, and if there’s some way my skills match a problem you’re having and you can’t solve it, just let me know. I’ll probably do it for free or cheap at first, as a way to figure out the shape and scope of the work, the ins and outs.

Should be interesting…