Earn One's Keep Meaning

(idiomatic) To perform satisfactory physical labor or to provide other worthy services in return for remuneration, lodging, or other benefits; to support oneself financially.

Example: 1880, R. D. Blackmore, Mary Anerley: A Yorkshire Tale, ch. 41:
  Being a very strong, active man, with gift of versatile hand and brain, and early acquaintance with handicrafts, Christopher Bert could earn his keep.
2005 July 1, Alan Riding, "A Curvy Klee Museum, Sprouting From the Swiss Hills," New York Times (retrieved 9 Mar 2009):
  Klee also left home to make his name, moving in his late teens to Munich, where he studied art, earned his keep as a musician and, in 1906, married Lily Stumpf.