Yeah just being smart and knowing stuff isn’t enough for $$$. Needs someone to recognize your talent and exploit it for their profit and your own. Unfortunately, that means learning to sell yourself and that’s hard for humbler folk… and getting past human resource depts. “What color is your parachute” has good advice on that side of things. Long book, lots of exercises, but it was helpful to me in the past and the guy keeps updating it.
Then again, I think I had my most luck through temp agencies. Now, I run a home business helping my brother out (and us all), but yeah, the $$$ issue is a pain.