As Unemployment Rises, People Start to Look for Alternative Ways to Make Money

COVID-19’s impact on global health is undeniable, with over 77,000 deaths in the United States alone. At the same time, social distancing measures and business shutdowns have had a drastic economic impact. While there are certainly many inspiring business stories out there, the fact remains that over 22 million have filed for unemployment since the start of the pandemic.

With so many people getting furloughed with no clear timetable of when (or if) they’ll be able to return to their former jobs, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that many are looking for alternative ways to make money. As it turns out, though, there are more ways to generate income — even remotely — than you might expect.

Diving Into Ecommerce

While traditional retail has taken a major hit because of COVID-19, eCommerce has also been impacted. Unsurprisingly, spending habits have changed significantly as a result of the pandemic.

A report from eConsultancy reveals that while eCommerce categories such as suitcases and swimwear experienced notable declines in March, products like disposable gloves, bread machines, weight training equipment, and certain food products had sales increases of over 300 percent.

Many analysts expect the COVID-19 pandemic to have a lasting impact on the way we make purchases, with more people choosing to shop online rather than going into stores. As a result, many entrepreneurs are viewing this as the perfect time to enter eCommerce, especially with the tools that are currently available.

For example, Sourcify founder Nathan Resnick recently launched the Product Sourcing School, a course specifically designed to teach eCommerce entrepreneurs what they need to do to successfully take a product to market. The goal is to help entrepreneurs be ready to launch their product in as little as 90 days, providing a fast-track to online retail success.

Resnick isn’t alone in this area. Third-party logistics company ShipBob is making its eCommerce trend data available to all founders and operators so they can gain better insights into rapidly changing sales situation and make better decisions. The company is also providing weekly virtual calls to address entrepreneurs’ questions and concerns.

Then, there is eCommerce Launchpad, which has made its eCommerce training program available for just $1 to help entrepreneurs get started in the midst of COVID-19. Training videos are designed to help students learn to find winning products and quality suppliers, as well as reach customers.

By taking advantage of these resources, eCommerce entrepreneurs have a solid groundwork for identifying a niche that will erase the financial stress of unemployment.

Going the Freelance Route

Of course, not everyone is interested in launching an eCommerce store. Many individuals prefer to continue leveraging the skills they’ve developed in their previous jobs. As a result, many are turning to freelancing as a source of supplemental income.

While many freelancers have been negatively impacted by the coronavirus as their clients attempt to cut costs, other trends indicate a better long-term outlook. For example, the recently passed federal stimulus package offers unemployment benefits for self-employed individuals. Many also find that the inherent risk of freelance work has left them better prepared for the current crisis.

In an interview with Fortune, Upwork CEO Hayden Brown noted, “We have heard from many independent professionals, particularly in the last ten years since the 2009 recession, that they feel a heightened sense of security having multiple sources of income via various clients they serve […] We anticipate that more workers will seek out independent contracting arrangements.”

In fact, a 2019 analysis from Statista estimated that 50.9 percent of the U.S. workforce would be freelancing by 2027. With the coronavirus’s disruption to employment and the traditional office environment, that trend could accelerate even further.

Freelancing allows individuals to leverage their skills for a wide variety of clients. Though this requires no small amount of networking and continuous effort to diversify one’s client base, it has proven to be a viable source of income for many. Even losing some income as a result of COVID-19 is better than getting entirely furloughed from a job once viewed as secure.

According to a report from FlexJobs, the top categories for freelance work include writing, computer and IT work, and accounting and project management. Even administrative and educational tasks can be conducted remotely, meaning that many freelancers don’t need anything more than a computer and an internet connection to get to work.

Many individuals with skills that don’t work in a remote setting can actually remain busy during the current circumstances, as tasks such as plumbing, auto repair, or landscaping are typically allowed to continue operations thanks to being deemed essential businesses.

Just how long COVID-19 will continue to disrupt our normal way of life is uncertain. While some areas are planning to allow certain businesses to reopen, others have extended stay at home orders for several months.

The good news is that there is no need to wait on one’s laurels during this time. As these examples reveal, many individuals are making moves to take charge of their finances. Don’t be surprised to see even more follow in their footsteps as time goes on.

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