I took what you could call the non-traditional path to getting an MBA.

I waited until my late 30s and until I had two young daughters, one of whom was still a baby. My wife and I weren't getting much sleep, and I was working around the clock.

If that wasn't enough, I went ahead and decided to start up the company I had created as a class project. All the other students waited until after they graduated to begin their companies, if they ever began them at all.

With the one-year anniversary of my graduation just passing, I've had a chance to reflect a bit on the business-school experience. People ask me questions like, "What did you really learn?"

They usually look at me funny when I tell them, "I learned how to write." Then they usually ask something like: "Wow, really? Didn't you already know how to do that without having to get an expensive MBA?"

Writing was always something I was good at, but I had never even thought about how to monetize it. The MBA program I attended tasked me with writing two blog entries, four replies to other students' entries, and one long-form post (usually a white paper of some sort) per week.

With all that intense writing practice over a period of two years, I got better at it!

Before my MBA, I hated my job and constantly wondered why my career had stopped progressing.

Here are a few ways that I have made money from writing:

  • I started my company, which focuses on content marketing and branding via storytelling. (This was the company from the class project.)
  • I have been paid to write on various well-known platforms.
  • I am being paid to help launch a professional social media network and blogging platform for independent writers, BeBee, in the U.S.

My individual writing efforts and organic social media efforts have been the sole source of advertising for my company.

All of my clients read my blogs and then contacted me. People contact me with opportunities after reading my blogs.

Before, I was the one contacting others, and I practically begged people to talk to me about an opportunity at their company.

Don't get me wrong. I learned more that just how to write in my MBA. I also learned about business, marketing, social media, sustainability, global economics, corporate leadership, finance, accounting, and much more.

However, I do feel fortunate to have found the one skill that I believe made all the difference in my career. Not only have I made money from writing, but I have also found happiness and a sense of career fulfillment like never before.

There are many paths to finding a new skill that can have such an enormous impact. For entrepreneur Ben Walker, the CEO of Transcription Outsourcing, that skill was communication. After the growth in his business fell flat, he hired a business coach. What he discovered was that he needed to improve his communication skills with his employees.

Walker was a good leader, but his message was getting lost. The business coach helped him refine his voice. The results have been huge. Employee morale is way up, and the profitability of Transcription Outsourcing has followed right along with it.

For me, it took an expensive MBA to identify the skill I was missing to advance my career. For you, it may not. However, if you get stuck in a rut in your career, seek outside sources of inspiration and always continue learning.

You may be only one skill away from a major breakthrough.