Whether or not you have formal credentials, if you have years of experience in your line of work, you may be able to cash in on these four innovative ways of delivering your expertise. For each option below, I've provided two links for learning more.

1. Expert Witness

A number of authors whom I know have served as legal consultants or paid witnesses in lawsuits involving the industry about which they'd published a well-regarded book. While those I know were approached without having put any feelers out for this type of work, you can increase the odds of becoming an expert witness by listing yourself in the directories that attorneys consult.

Besides answering questions on the witness stand, you might be requested to make a pre-trial deposition. While this sounds glamorous and pays very well, you must have a personality that can withstand the kind of harsh questioning and clever trip-ups that you see in courtroom dramas in the movies and on TV.

Expert Witness Network http://www.witness.net/
Experts.com http://www.experts.com

2. Pay Per Question

A few Web sites are serving as intermediaries between experts and individuals with questions for experts. Either the site sets a fee per question or experts offer bids on a specific question at hand. Problems with this business model include the difficulty of payer and payee judging appropriate pricing for an isolated question. Also, in my experience a question that might seem simple may require an in-depth consulting session to give a professionally competent reply.

Internet researcher Mel White launched a pay-per-question service, 5 Minute Mentor (http://www.melwhite.com/5mm.htm), with a very simple cost structure and pay system: five dollars for a five-to-ten-minute reply, roughly 2-4 paragraphs. You e-mail her your question, she e-mails you when she has an answer ready, you pay and then she sends you the answer.

Google Answers http://answers.google.com

Keen.com http://www.keen.com

3. Talking Head

Wanna be a pundit? Most experts who appear on TV do so gratis. But some, designated as "consultant" in their on-screen credit line, get paid to be accessible for interviews in their area of expertise. Luck plays a part when a scandal, accident, controversy or crime erupts and you happen to know more about the background to the events than most people on the planet. Who could have predicted that specialists in the impeachment of Andrew Johnson or in Florida election law would have their fifteen minutes in the media spotlight?

Getting your foot in the door for such opportunities has to do with making yourself accessible and responding immediately to a call from the media. You should also live close to a major metropolitan area, be quick with pithy and provocative comments and be willing to set aside other plans when the network needs you.

I, Pundit

Punditry for Dummies

4. Script Consultant

Hollywood films, TV dramas and feature-length documentaries often include a behind-the-scenes role for content experts who advise on the likelihood of plot lines, the authenticity of props and procedures and factual background in everything from medicine to corporate takeover strategy to furniture. Lots of people would undertake such an assignment for the glamour and ego gratification alone, but you'll be compensated nicely for your contribution.

As with becoming a talking head, cooperativeness, accessibility and flexibility matter just as much for succeeding in this sort of gig as does your knowledge. Your work might amount to a concentrated, one-time advisory gig or a long-term contribution to an ongoing series.

Carole Lieberman, M.D., Psychiatrist and Script Consultant

Peter Schwartz, Futurist and script consultant

Author's Bio: 

Marcia Yudkin is the author of 11 nonfiction books and the special report, "50 Ways to Turn Content into Money," from which this article is excerpted. For more ideas on capitalizing on your expertise, see http://www.yudkin.com/downloads.htm