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The Process

Step 1

Figure out what service you can offer which you could charge the most with, per hour, whilst working entirely from home.

Step 2

Obtain ~15 short-term clients, perhaps four to five hours each. Overperform by spending extra time on clients to build a reputation, garner 5* reviews and testimonials.

Step 3

Figure out what drives purchasing decisions and ruthlessly optimise your marketing to optimise for that.

Step 4

Automate scheduling and have clients pay in advance while booking via Calendly Premium.

Step 5

Work as fewer hours as possible whilst volunteering for an EA organisation or doing whatever it is that would maximise your impact (studying/working independently/founding an org etc).


Case Study


Step 1

All I had was a science degree and some history mentoring successfully. I search for the highest paying jobs one can get per hour. I find out that tutoring has an extremely low barrier to entry, and can pay lots per hour. I work full-timish to get as much experience and reviews as possible

Step 2

I learn that the primary driver of high-paying traffic is recommendations from other high paying clients, and making a strong first impression. I tell my clients explicitly that I am looking for extra work and offer a referral bonus. then pimp my zoom background, attire, and pitch to make the best possible first impression.

Step 3

I sign up to as many agencies as I can, and take on as many clients as I can whilst still performing excellently. I prompt my students and parents to leave reviews and write testimonials.

Step 4

I automate scheduling and booking using Calendly premium

Step 5

I now work full-time for an EA org for free, and they benefit from pro bono work from some of the very grateful parents whose children I helped.


I earn ~$60 per hour doing SEN tutoring in science/maths via Zoom. I think I could bump this up to ~$90 over the next 12 months if put some effort into it because I'm starting to attract wealthier clients. 

I already have a good grasp on the material so I don't have to prepare anything, all bookings are automated, I have no real running costs and I'm soon to automate all billing. As my client's children are in school between 9AM and 5PM I can work full-time for my favourite EA org during those hours. 

I've been doing this for roughly 2 years now whilst volunteering ~30Hs per week. 

Conditions to replicate

- A revenue source while you build up your client base

- A marketable skill you sell for a lot per hour (programming/tutoring/consultancy etc) 

- Something high impact to during the rest of your time.


Damn. I want in but I'm worried about X, Y and Z

I'm happy to answer any questions in the comments. I might even be up for doing some free mentoring/guidance zoom calls. 





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This seems interesting, but I'm confused as to what the point of this is over "work at an EA org". It seems like most EA orgs, are bottlenecked a lot more on talent than money, and if you're doing high-talent work for an EA organization than your marginal hour is likely more valuable than $60/hr. I wonder what subset of the population would benefit substantially from this advice—it seems like earning to give and direct work cover most of the space that earning to volunteer might.

What kind of person is this advice targeted at, and why do you think that this is better than direct work for those people?

"If you're doing high-talent work for an EA organization than your marginal hour is likely more valuable than $60/hr." And yet, few EA orgs pay $60-$90 per hour for non-programming jobs? Seems reasonable to me that someone might want to tutor or program for cash while writing EA content on the side, rather than getting paid a low writer's wage to produce said content -- the latter has comparable income, less total work, but also less flexibility to work when you want. Plus if you're volunteering, you can more easily hop between organizations to always focus on the projects that seem highest-impact to you.

Another advantage of earning-to-volunteer is to build skills in a large market where you're sure of your long-term prospects. Versus jumping into an EA career might seem riskier, since you are putting more of your life's eggs into the EA basket.

I think this strategy might be suitable for some people, enabling them to have a nice (if busy) lifestyle while also having fun contributing a lot to EA. But of course I don't think EA should try to market it widely because it might come dangerously close to sounding like we are advocating for people to slack off on their day job and rip off their employers. That message would be terrible for EA's reputation.

Regarding bottleneck, some areas are massively funding constrained e.g. I'm not sure I could name a single mental EA mental health charity that is talent constrained. People who graduate with firsts from the world's top 3 or so neuroscience/psychology departments, with a ton of work experience, are passionate enough to be willing to volunteer 20Hs per week but one can't hire and train them up as there simply isn't enough funding.

This advice is targeted at:

  • people who want to work for a funding constrained organisation
  • people who aren't sure what they want to do yet and want to test out a wide range of different options without having to commit yourself to any given one for the length of the typical employment contract.
  • people who want to work directly but the salary is to low and they want to supplement it.
  • People who want to be able to work on whatever they feel is important without having to spend their time convincing people it's worth paying them for. -Peoole earning to give in fields where you can make much more per hour as a freelancer (albeit perhaps less overall due to lower volume) who are considering transitioning to working directly.
  • people who aren't sufficiently 'elite' to get paid to work on an area they care about in the role they want to work in.
  • etc
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