Times are tough. Experts predict that we’re entering into an economic recession. Or that we’re already in one.
So it’s no surprise that many people are looking to create new sources of income to increase their financial security.
However, COVID-19 makes things tricky.
Many businesses are closed and laying people off, so getting a part-time job could prove difficult. What’s more, lockdown measures and the threat of infection mean that it’s risky to go out and earn money in person.
Now’s the time to consider starting an online business.
If you need money – and maybe need money fast – here are five business ideas you can start for free during the coronavirus pandemic.
- 1. Start Dropshipping
- 2. Launch a Print on Demand Business
- 3. Start Tutoring and Teaching
- 4. Join the Gig Economy
- 5. Become a Freelancer
- Summary: Need Money Now?
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1. Start Dropshipping
Ecommerce seems set to grow. Business strategist professor Shelley E. Kohan wrote on Forbes that “coronavirus fears may drive U.S. ecommerce sales beyond 2020 projections.”
In March 2020, Stackline, a retail software company, reviewed ecommerce sales across the U.S. and identified the top 100 products gaining sales and the top 100 products losing sales.
Considering the lockdown measures in place, it’s unsurprising that they discovered a surge in home fitness and home office products.
They also saw declines in travel-related products and apparel.
Visual Capitalist made a handy graphic highlighting the 10 fastest-growing products and the 10 fastest declining products.
Okay, but how can this information help you? It’s simple: start an online store and consider selling products that are trending.
This is where dropshipping comes in.
Dropshipping is a business model in which you sell products online, but the product supplier stores, packages, and ships the products to your customers for you.
If you need money fast, the dropshipping business model makes it quick and easy to start selling products online.
For example, Tim Kock built a dropshipping store from scratch and earned $6,666.73 in revenue in just eight weeks.
“Let me be clear, I’m no genius. I’m just an ambitious entrepreneur, like you, with a huge drive to succeed,” Kock said. “I was running this business in addition to my 9-to-5 job (which isn’t related to ecommerce at all), so I had to work on my store after work or on the weekends.”
Here’s the kicker: He spent less than $300 on the whole project.
How to Start a Dropshipping Business
If you need money today, it doesn’t have to take long to get up and running selling products online.
Shopify allows you to create an ecommerce website with no coding required. The best part? The service is free for 90 days, no credit card required.
Then you can use DSers to find products to add to your store.
This free service plugs directly into your Shopify store and lets you access millions of products that you can start dropshipping in minutes.
Once you have an online store with great products, you’ll need to market your store to boost sales.
There are tons of ways to do this, such as Facebook advertising, influencer marketing, or affiliate marketing.
2. Launch a Print on Demand Business
Print on demand is very similar to dropshipping.
You only pay for products once you’ve sold them, and the supplier handles the storage, packaging, and shipping.
However, there’s a key difference: The print on demand business model allows you to customize white-label products with your designs.
Let’s run through how it works.
First, you set up an online store selling products (such as t-shirts, notebooks, and bags) featuring your original designs. Meanwhile, your supplier has generic versions of these products ready and waiting in the wings.
When you receive an order, the supplier will print your design on the product and ship it to the customer for you – they’ll even print your brand’s logo on the package, so it looks like you’ve sent it yourself.
According to Google Trends, interest in print on demand businesses has grown consistently over the last few years.
It’s easy to understand why.
Like dropshipping, this business model requires little or no investment to get started. So if you need money now and you have an eye for design, print on demand might be a good option.
You can sell all sorts of different products with print on demand, including:
- Phone accessories
- Framed wall prints
Here are some examples of products from print on demand service Printful.
How to Start a Print on Demand Business
One of the easiest ways to get started is to set up a Shopify store and use a print on demand app, such as Printful, teelaunch, or Printify.
Again, when choosing products to sell, check out Stackline’s latest product research on how COVID-19 is affecting ecommerce sales. It should help you to discover great products to sell and to identify products that are best to avoid during the lockdown.
Just like dropshipping, you’ll need to use online marketing strategies to grow your sales.
Not sure whether to choose print on demand and dropshipping? Our collaboration with Wholesale Ted might be able to help you decide which business model is best for you.
3. Start Tutoring and Teaching
Around the world, online tutors are experiencing a rise in demand.
The Coronavirus outbreak has forced over 1.7 billion learners out of schools globally – and many of them are going online.
In fact, online tutoring platforms have seen a 50 percent increase in usage since the outbreak.
And with millions stuck at home due to lockdown measures, the online wellness industry is booming. According to The Economist, “meditation apps, digital fitness classes, and online cookery courses are booming.”
Plus, with business closures, layoffs, and a looming economic recession, there could be an increase in the number of people wanting to gain new skills and qualifications through online courses.
Check out this surge on Google for the search term “online tutoring.”
So if you need money now, consider teaching, instructing, or tutoring online.
There’s no limit to what you could teach, too. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Home renovation
How to Start an Online Tutoring or Teaching Business
First, you’ll need to determine what you’re going to teach.
It’s important to note that you don’t need to be at the top of your field to teach online – if you’re an expert in accounting, great! However, if you’re a budding enthusiast, you can always teach beginner level classes.
Next, you need to decide if you’d prefer to teach “in person” via video calls or if you’d like to create an online course – this will determine which platform you use to get started.
Then, sign up to an online education platform, such as:
4. Join the Gig Economy
The gig economy has grown by a whopping 15 percent since 2010, and it’s a great place to start if you need money today.
According to the Intuit 2020 report on the future of gig work, more than 80 percent of U.S.-based large companies will greatly increase their use of non-traditional workers in the coming years.
But that’s not all.
Google Trends shows how COVID-19 has drastically increased interest in the gig economy.
So, what exactly is the gig economy?
Simply put, a gig – or “side gig” is a small job or task which pays money. The definition is pretty loose, but in general, any casual work could be a gig.
However, the pandemic has changed things.
Now, popular gig work such as Uber driving, grocery shopping for other people, and listing your home on Airbnb could be dangerous.
Even delivering packages through a service like Amazon Flex could be risky. This is because research has found that COVID-19 can remain “stable” on cardboard for 24 hours, and up to three days on plastic and stainless steel.
Still, there are plenty of safer side gigs that you can start if you need money today, such as:
- Podcast, music, or video editing
- Transcribing YouTube videos into close captions
- Data entry
- Blog writing
- Bookkeeping for small businesses
- Translation work
- Product photography
- Virtual assistant work
How to Start a Side Gig
There are tons of online platforms that allow you to set up a profile and find paid jobs.
Here’s a rundown of some of the most popular platforms online to check out, and what each platform focuses on:
- Local errands and tasks: Craigslist and TaskRabbit
- All types of gigs: Fiverr, Upwork, and People Per Hour
- Translation work: Pro Translating, SDL, Gengo, and Translators Base
5. Become a Freelancer
What is a freelancer?
A freelancer is a self-employed individual who provides services to multiple clients. Freelancers typically earn money for each job they do for a client, charging project-based or hourly rates.
Taking what you do at your current job and doing it for other clients is one of the fastest ways to make money.
Freelancing has been growing in popularity in recent years, too.
According to a 2019 study on freelancing in America by the Freelancers Union and online freelance platform Upwork, four million people started freelancing between 2014 and 2019.
Want to know the best part? The study also found that:
“Freelancing enables opportunities for those who otherwise might not be able to work – 46 percent of freelancers agree freelancing gives them the flexibility they need because they’re unable to work for a traditional employer due to personal circumstances.”
With COVID-19 hurting the economy, this statement rings especially true.
Additionally, the MBO Partners State of Independence report presents a snapshot of the independent workforce, and in 2019, they discovered that:
“Independent workers feel more financially secure: more than half of full-time independent workers say they feel more financially stable as independents than in traditional jobs – a record high. Seven in ten full-time independents say they plan to continue their current path.”
Here’s the kicker: Now, more than ever, businesses are embracing remote workers.
In fact, Google Trends registered a spike in the search term when COVID-19 hit in mid-March, 2020.
So, if you need money fast, consider freelancing.
Unlike more casual gig work, freelancers are most likely to be skilled professionals providing services such as:
- Graphic design
- IT services
- Business consulting
- Legal services
- Financial services
How to Become a Freelancer
There are three main routes you can use to start freelancing if you need money fast.
The first is to use dedicated freelance marketplaces such as:
These marketplaces help you to set up an online profile and connect with clients needing freelancers. However, they also take a cut of your earnings.
The second option is to find work listed on job boards. Here are a few job boards to check out:
- All industries: Remote.com, Monster, and Angel List, Flex Jobs
- Creative industries: Behance Jobs
- Writing: Problogger and Freelance Writing
- Writing and marketing: Media Bistro
- Programming: Github Jobs and StackOverflow Jobs
- Design: Smashing Jobs and Dribbble Jobs
The third option is to fly solo and find work yourself through your existing contacts or LinkedIn network.
You could also create a website and market it to potential clients via methods like SEO or LinkedIn advertising. Although this method will likely take the longest to get going.
Start selling online now with ShopifyStart your free trial
Summary: Need Money Now?
If you need money fast, there are businesses that you can run from the safety of your home. You may even consider bootstrapping a business in the first few months just to get things started.
Here’s a quick summary of five online businesses you can begin for free during the lockdown:
- Start dropshipping with DSers
- Launch a print on demand business with Shopify
- Teach online with sites like Tutor Me, Udemy, and Teachable
- Join the gig economy on sites like Fiverr, Upwork, and People Per Hour
- Become a freelancer by finding jobs on sites like Remote.com, Monster, and Flex Jobs
What other ways have we missed to make money during COVID-19? Let us know your thoughts below!