The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted normal routines for many. As entrepreneurs find business slowing down and more people find themselves out of work, many are taking this unprecedented period as an opportunity to improve themselves. Others are using it to learn new skills — like NBA star Giannis Antetokounmpo’s attempts at learning the guitar.

During this period of reflection and reevaluation, there has never been a better time to consider how you can leverage your own passions to make real, reliable money online. You don’t have to be stuck in a dull 9 to 5 that is easily subjected to furloughs and other issues.

By tapping into the resources available online, you can turn your passion into a viable career.

1) Freelancing

No matter what kind of marketable skills you have, you might want to consider taking your talents to the freelance world. The 2019 Freelancing in America study shows just how lucrative freelancing can become. The 57 million freelancers in the United States have a median income of $28 per hour. 28 percent of Americans freelance full-time, in large part thanks to the internet making it easier than ever to find new clients.

Indeed, many freelance sectors are ideally suited for a remote, digital work experience. Content writing, web development, data analytics, and financial advising are among the top freelance sectors, in large part because 100 percent of the work can easily be conducted digitally.

Even if your skills and passions don’t translate as easily to a purely online economy (such as home remodeling or landscaping work), you can still use digital platforms to more easily reach potential customers in your area and grow your business.

2) Participate in Affiliate Programs

If you like to write about your favorite interest or hobby, chances are you’ve considered starting a blog at one time or another. While all blogs require consistent quality content, not all of them are monetized well. If you want to make money through blogging, your best route is to participate in an affiliate program.

One example of this is Eduardo Perez, founder of Musician Authority. Perez participates in the Amazon Affiliate Program, which allows his blog to earn money in advertising fees from “qualifying purchases” — or purchases originating from traffic to his blog. Similar programs are available for retail sites like eBay and Shopify, as well as individual retailers like GameStop.

To be successful with an affiliate program, however, you must follow Perez’s strategy of publishing quality, long-form content on a regular basis. This has helped Perez grow to 50,000 monthly visitors. But more importantly, long-form content keeps your audience coming back — which makes them more likely to continue supporting you through affiliate purchases.

3) Coaching and Consulting

If you’d like to leverage your experience and talents in a different way, you might want to consider turning to coaching and consulting. According to IBISWorld, business coaching experienced average annual growth of 4.9 percent in the United States between 2015 and 2020. Personal coaching (or life coaching) is also on the rise, with the industry first topping $1 billion in revenue in 2016 and continuing to grow.

No matter what your area of expertise, chances are there are people and organizations that would benefit from your analysis and advice. Technology means these sessions no longer need to be held in-person either — video conferencing enables you to conduct one on one and group sessions from anywhere, to anyone.

Whether you’re helping someone else improve a skill or helping a business improve its practices and structure, coaching and consulting allows you to make a meaningful difference that draws from your talents, knowledge, and interests.

4) Selling Your Original Products

Even in our increasingly digital economy, there is still plenty of demand for quality physical products. For people whose passions include activities like woodworking, knitting, or graphic design, this means there is ample opportunity to make money by selling their physical products on a digital marketplace.

Some people have become so successful selling their products on stores like Etsy that they’ve been able to use this as a basis for launching a company. The Huffington Post reports that Erin True of Urban Wood Goods saw revenue for her reclaimed wood furniture products grow from $35,000 to $635,000 during her first two years of business. True eventually hired 19 full-time employees as a result of the increased demand for her products.

If you like to create, such platforms can help you find customers from across the country and fuel growth for your own e-commerce website. Alternatively, you could use dropshipping to work with third-party manufacturers to produce t-shirts and other products featuring your original designs.

As with any other business endeavor, you must be able to consistently provide quality products if you want to grow. Be mindful of factors like shipping which can affect your customers’ experience with you for good or ill.

During this time of great disruption, how you spend your time matters. By shifting to an entrepreneurial mindset and considering how you can monetize your passions, you can take greater control of your career path and make a living doing what you love.

These tried-and-true methods are just the tip of the iceberg. Thanks to the internet, it’s never been easier to turn your passions into a meaningful career.

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