Coronavirus is upon us, and so are the nation’s children, in a screaming, school-less heap. If you’re not quarantined because you’re sick, you’re quarantined because your state ordered you to stay home. And, if that’s not the case, chances are you’ve been furloughed or lost your job due to the current crisis. What else is there to do with all of this quarantine time than get started on that side hustle you’ve always dreamed about?
Welcome to the third in our series on how to increase your income and start a side hustle in quarantine. (If you missed the first two, you can find them here: Freelancing in Quarantine and Passive Income in Quarantine). All you have to do is sit back, relax, and read – until it’s time to get to work, that is.
But for now, it’s time to learn you a thing or two. Without further ado, let’s dive on in.
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The items that can be bought and sold online are numerous and strange, and there’s a market for every one. If you’re stuck at home under quarantine with a shop full of tools and nothing but time to kill, why not make a few bucks?
With coronavirus a looming threat, the items under demand may not be standard fare. An adapting business model and seasonal inventory can help you acclimate to future needs after quarantine ends.
Items you can make from home and market online with relative ease include:
- Canned goods, such as:
- Pickled vegetables
- Jams and jellies
- Sauces and soups
- Handknit and handsewn clothes, blankets, and accessories – don’t forget for pets too!
- Bags. Handbags, backpacks, grocery bags, insulated bags, camping bags, fanny packs…
- Pottery, especially usable cookware
- Goodies such as:
- Granola/oat concoctions
- Snack foods
- Jerky, yummmmm
- Essential oil blends
- Bathing and skincare products
- Furniture such as:
- Deck chairs
- Coffee and kitchen tables
- Gardening kits and potted plants
The key to making money on homemade goods is to know your market. Essential knowledge on your market includes knowing:
- Who your customers are
- What your customers want in terms of items and style
- Why your customers will desire your product
In short, you need to know what makes your merchandise stand out from the pack. This base understanding will help you better market to your future clientele and get a rolling start instead of a petering trickle.
Once you’ve decided what you’re selling and who you’re selling to, it’s time to find a place to sell it – or maybe that was part of your first step. Either way, knowing the best and worst platform options can help you avoid some costly side hustle mistakes early on.
Etsy is one of the most well-known online marketplaces dealing in handmade goods. According to Etsy, the platform facilitated 30 million buyers last year for almost 2 million sellers. Those numbers may seem high, but the reality is that they aren’t conducive to making a living selling whatever you want – so you’d best do some research to see what sells in your target demographic and market your side hustle well (especially in quarantine).
As with many business-hosting sites, Etsy charges a little bit of money along every step of the way: $0.20 to list, a 5% transaction fee, and 3% + $0.25 for payment processing on every sale. It is worth noting that if you’re successful in your business, Etsy will charge you more.
This year, they rolled out a new program in which merchants earning more than $10,000 annually are automatically enrolled in a “risk-free” advertising campaign at the cost of 12% of the seller’s earnings on sales generated through the advertisements. These sellers won’t have an option to opt-out of the program. Sellers who make less than $10,000 annually will be able to dip out – but Etsy will still enroll you automatically and charge you a higher 15% rate on your earnings.
As Etsy has a track record in the past five years of making questionable and controversial decisions regarding seller finances, weigh this option carefully against the others.
Shopify is another website specializing in online shops – but unlike Etsy, you own your own website and domain name. This platform takes care of payments, security, and technical support, so new business owners won’t have to worry about learning to do it themselves.
Shopify lets you customize your website with over 70 themes, an easy-use drag and drop editor, and a dropshipping option (more on that later). Charges to host your site start at as little as $29 per month.
Shopify is an excellent option for those who want access to a vast market – they made over $135 billion in sales last year. They also run POS (point-of-sale) systems for over 1,000,000 businesses, including several brick-and-mortar operations.
If you’re sick of living life in quarantine, selling that garage full of useless junk is a good way to burn some time and make money on the sly. eBay is an excellent place to start, as not only can you list your items for a broad market, but you’re putting the items up for auction. In other words, the more people who want your products, the more money you make on those items without lifting a finger. To get started on eBay, consider:
- Starting your first few items cheap to lower costs and get your first good reviews
- Invest in a postage scale (seriously, if you plan to do this long term, a postage scale is worth the cost)
- Order your packing materials for what you need, not for a luxury experience
- Sell the items you have around your house first – if you become successful enough to create a business out of it, stick with what you know
Dropshipping is an easy way to build a side hustle business without touching the products or getting your hands dirty in the packing process. Your focus in dropshipping will be on marketing and creating an excellent reputation for customer service with your clientele – the perfect side hustle to get started on in quarantine. Dropshipping lets you own your own business without worrying about high startup costs and overhead, employee costs, or any of the other expenses that come with running a business. It’s simple: select a program to dropship through, purchase the products from a manufacturer or warehouse, and…that’s it. Market your items and move on. The warehouse handles all the making, packaging, and shipping from their end, and you let the money roll in.
Dropshipping and self-marketing go hand in hand, which means you get to pursue your passions while making money. If you love art supplies, choose your favorites and build a brand around them. Perhaps makeup is your life – you can sell beauty products and create makeup tutorials to go along with them, using your products to highlight their performance. If car parts make you go ham, you know what to do.
One way to start a dropshipping business is to look at Oberlo, an app on Shopify. Oberlo provides you with a list of millions of products you can click and choose to sell in your store. Oberlo also automates some critical components of businessing (not a word, but it should be, so there it is), such as adding products and processing purchases in the same action.
Amazon FBA is another dropshipping kingpin that runs through Amazon’s warehouses. It works very similarly to Oberlo: find your products, buy your inventory, and promote your store. Amazon will do what it does best: take care of everything else.
Information Side Hustles: Let’s Learn Them a Thing in Quarantine
There are lots of people out there who don’t know things they should or that they want to know. If you know those things, and how to teach those things, it might be time to learn them a thing. That’s a lot of things to do. You go, you thinger you, and teach the world your thing. I’ve been in quarantine too long, I thing. (I’m done now, I promise).
5. Create a Course
Creating a course can take a lot of work and expertise, but the rewards can be fruitful for the right niche – or an outstanding marketer.
If you think you have nothing to teach the world, you’re wrong. While most of us will never be able to define nuclear physics, let alone prepare a course on the subject, each of us knows enough about something to teach someone who knows nothing.
Can you put together a car engine? You’ve got a leg up.
Do you know how to gut a deer? Ditto.
How did the American economy shift from a rural, farm-based society to a market-driven global powerhouse? Please, share with the class.
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? You tell me.
Okay, those examples may be somewhat absurd. But those who have practical skills such as graphic design, marketing, or other valuable information can cash in by creating and selling a course. You can even target niche groups composed of enthusiastic hobbyists, such as knitters, musicians, and home chefs.
What you know, you can teach to just about anyone if you have the patience. With online teaching, you don’t have to sit through a one-on-one session – if someone needs you to slow down, they can pause the video. If they know this part, they can fast forward. Once you put the information out, the only questions you must answer are the ones you want.
The key to successful online teaching is providing real benefit to your customers. Courses that teach marketable, practical skills often do better, as your customers can then go out and leverage their new knowledge to improve their own financial circumstances.
Online course platforms such as Teachable, Skillshare, and Udemy are good places to scout out the competition and see what’s selling – and what’s not.
6. Bundle Sales
Bundle sales are a great way to capitalize on the success of your peers while building your own brand. All you have to do is built a partnership with one or two peers who offer similar products as your own, bundle a set of products together, and split the commission. One common type of bundle sale is an educational course paired with one or two eBooks on relevant niches. While this may initially bring in less money than selling your work alone, it’s an excellent method to build networks and create exposure.
7. Corporate Workshops
Corporate workshops are a way for experts in a field to make a little money teaching subjects and ideas to people who have no choice but to listen. If this sounds like something you’re interested in, coronavirus has you covered.
With everyone under quarantine and practicing social distancing, corporations are moving all possible systems and meetings online. That includes corporate workshops. If you are willing to pitch your offer of an hour-long online corporate workshop to businesses in need of connection at this crucial time, this may be the job for you.
Not only will this side hustle earn you extra money in quarantine without the hassle of leaving your house, but it’s also an excellent way to build your reputation as an expert before you go back to the real world.
8. Public Speaking
While public speaking through the web is less public and more speaking, it’s another excellent way to earn a little cash by talking about something you’re knowledgeable in. Outside the corporate workshops, you have motivational speeches, industry conferences, and business groups who all need a little pep talk in this time of forced loneliness.
Work it Out
Keeping fit and healthy is essential now more than ever. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people stuck at home with no idea how to accomplish this feat. This is where you, BuffGal McBeefMuscles, comes in.
9. Workout Plans and Personal Training
If you are a personal trainer, you probably already have a client base reaching out to you to build them workout plans while they’re sitting in their living rooms. If this doesn’t describe your situation, now’s the time to get to work building your client base before the next pandemic sweeps the globe.
Reach out on Facebook, through local fitness groups or online platforms, on Craigslist, or even freelance sites to find clients who way to pay you to do what you do best. If you’re a wordsmith or know someone who is, you could even put out a quick eBook on how to stay healthy during coronavirus.
For personal trainers who still want to personally train, you can set up webcam sessions through platforms such as Skype or Google Hangout to talk your clients through home workouts the right way.
10. Nutrition and Meal Plans
Along with all those pushups and lunges comes a big appetite, and chowing down on a Big Mac isn’t exactly the best way to feed those post-workout protein cravings. If you know how to make a healthy meal sound as appetizing as a Big Mac, designing nutrition plans for a bunch of boredom eaters stuck at home may be your ticket to financing your way through this crisis.
You don’t just have to stick with basic nutritional practices. If you’re a practitioner or knowledgeable in paleo, keto, plant-based, or athletic diets, you can share this expertise with the world as well or instead.
Your clients can be found through previous personal training or nutritionist work, or on online forums, Craigslist, or freelancing sites.
Websites and Softwares
Computer nerds and tech wizards, rejoice, for this is the Holy Land. If you’re skilled on a keyboard, you have come to the right place to turn your passion into cashin. (Someone PLEASE let me out of my house…)
11. Build Software
This is a way to potentially generate some mostly passive income in the future, but it requires a little bit of investment and knowledge from the get-go. SaaS (software as a service) in theory is straightforward: build a platform and charge a monthly fee. Depending on the created software, there may be little to no maintenance. Once the deed is done, all you have to do is let the money pour into your pockets.
Now, SaaS takes a fair amount of programming skills to do effectively, so not everyone will be able to do it (yet, anyway). You’ll also need a marketable idea, as well as the ability to go out and convince people your software is The Best at whatever it does, so there is some salesmanship capability required. If you can or think you’ll be able to afford a team to do those dreaded tasks, more power to you.
12. Start a YouTube Channel
While this is a side hustle that may take some time to grow, there’s no time like a coronavirus quarantine to put in all heavy lifting hours you can to get your platform ready. You can create videos on anything, from telling stories or making films to informative “how-to’s” to your theory on why the debate over the shape of Earth is so ridiculous – it’s obviously a giant top hat for turtles all the way down. Go nuts, be a ham, whatever racks up those views.
Once you have a reliable base of subscribers, word-of-mouth (or Twitter) will spread, and you’ll start generating the views needed to create some substantial cash flow. Income can be made with YouTube’s built-in advertisements, selling courses, some affiliate/product review marketing, or selling your own brand of products. The possibilities may not be endless, but the wiggle room is vast.
13. Buying and Flipping Websites
Do you want to own an online business without the hassle of building an online business? Buying a website lets you do just that, provided you have the money to invest.
Services such as Empire Flippers let you search for and purchase websites with established traffic and a solid sales history. It’s important to do substantial research on any and every website of interest, so you know if you’re leaping into a well-established business or a fixer-upper.
Alternatively, if you’re one of those individuals who’s excellent at ranking on Google but not-so-great at the actual “running the website” part, selling your website on Empire Flippers may be the better way to go. Whether you’re sick of an old website that’s still around, sick of maintaining or watching your current website flounder, or just plain sick and need the money, getting rid of your site can put some quick cash in your pocket.
If you find success in selling your first website or two and like it, you can look into turning website flipping from a one-time gig to a part-time side hustle. The key is to seek out websites with decent traffic but poor business strategies. It’s also ideal if the business aspect of the site is a trade you can hold a passing interest in, as working to make the website more profitable (at least in the short term) can bump your selling price by a pretty penny.
14. Flipping Domains
Flipping domains can be even more profitable than website flipping if you have a keen eye for future trends and investments. Essentially, the difference between a domain and a website is the same as the difference between a building versus the business conducting transactions within. When you purchase a domain, you’re buying the real estate out of which the website operates. The key, as with brick and mortar businesses, is to find low-priced property with the potential to be profitable in the future and to hold onto that property until demand increases.
Hover.com is an excellent place to look for your first domain as a small-time starter. As with website flipping, make sure you do your research, invest what you can afford to be out at this point in time, and don’t spend so much that you can never make it back.
Those who are on a shoestring budget should probably skip this side hustle, especially if you’re under quarantine orders. Cryptocurrency is a risky business, and you can lose hard. But for those who have a little extra cash and want to get in on the current (comparatively) low-priced cryptocurrency stock market, these next few weeks are going to be the time to do it.
Investing in cryptocurrency comes with a learning curve and a financial and mental tolerance for unpredictable price swings, as we’ve seen. If you already have a pulse on the current economic climate or are confident you have the knack for it, it’s possible to profit amongst the volatility – provided you can act quickly. If you’re like me at the moment, you have nothing but time. Too much time. What to do with all of this time…
And All the Rest
Micro-work such as that found on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, a marketplace for digital work that requires human intelligence to complete. The tasks are usually simple, requiring a minute to an hour of your time, and they don’t pay well. However, if you’re strapped for cash in quarantine and have nothing but time, it’s side hustle income you wouldn’t have otherwise. Jobs include rating media content, various spreadsheet activities, and identifying videos.
17. User Testing
Crowdtesting / hiring beta users is one of the ways developers ensure their software is functional and as bug-free as can be. Each website, app, and software is going to be different (hopefully), and you’ll get to make suggestions and report errors for quality review. For the qualified, bored, and lonely, it’s a way to make some money working on exciting projects. To get started, check out Testbirds or Crowdsprint for paid beta user opportunities.
18. Online Surveys and Focus Groups
Not every online survey is an online survey – many are scams. It’s crucial to do your research if you’re signing up for a survey or survey site that’s out of the maintain. However, many apps and websites are the real deal. Most of them don’t pay much – we’re talking $0.10 to $5.00 for up to an hour of your time – but you can net $100 a month or more if you put in a little time. A few options to consider in your search for surveys include:
- Survey Junkie
- Zap Surveys
- Google Opinion Rewards
Focus groups are like surveys but more in-depth. They tend to be focused on specialized topics and require more detailed feedback. Due to the increased time and participation requirements, they pay a lot more than surveys, but they can also be more difficult to join.
19. Review Phone Calls
If you’ve ever called a toll-free number, medical office, or corporate line, you’re familiar with the phrase, “This call may be recorded and monitored for quality control.” Have you ever stopped to wonder who precisely is monitoring those calls?
It could be you. Through services such as Humanatic, you can work from home on your own time listening to calls – without having to interact with the humans on the other end. This job allows you to level up your earning potential as you increase your experience and monitoring abilities.
Side Hustles in Quarantine: The End
So, there it is. You’ve made it to the end of our three-part series on how to make some money during coronavirus. Each and every one of these ideas is quarantine-approved, so (in theory) you’ll never have to leave the hel…er, comfort, of your own house-cum-virus bunker.