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Your “Cash from Scratch” Guide to Creating Income

How to Start a New Side-Hustle, Job or Career Working from Home!

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2020 is over and the world is beginning to open up again, yet many people are realizing that there’s more to life than a job they dislike. After a record-high unemployment rate last year, more people are seeking jobs that feel fulfilling. After all, times of crisis are also times of great opportunity!

If you haven’t found what it is you want to be doing, this may be the ideal time to try something new, learn a new skill, or begin a side-hustle that can bring you income for years to come.

In The Side Hustle Bible, James Altucher says “we live in an opportunity economy” and an “idea economy.” Just because certain jobs have vanished, or your perspective may have shifted, does not mean there is a shortage of ways to earn money. In this extensive article, we outline dozens of ideas and resources so that YOU can make a positive change.

Years from now, you might even look back at this time as the turning point that got you out of a rut and started on a new, profitable path!

Table of Contents

Step 1: Start With Your Mindset

If you feel the situation looks bleak, commit to rising above fear, worry, and scarcity-thinking. A look at history shows that quarantines and lockdowns may have actually spurred accomplishments and breakthroughs!

Between 1603 and 1613, the plague caused the banning of public gatherings, including London theaters and playhouses. Out of steady work with lots of free time, William Shakespeare wrote King Lear, Macbeth, and Antony and Cleopatra in a single year—while quarantined.

Decades later, Isaac Newton’s classes at Cambridge University were cancelled due to the bubonic plague. The young mathematician retreated to his family home where he produced some of his best work—theories that would become early calculus, optics, and even his theory of gravity

With life as usual interrupted, now is the perfect time to assess what possibilities exist for you. Ask yourself:

  • What skills and passions do you have?
  • What did you love doing as a teenager?
  • How do you like to spend your free time, and what career or side-gig would allow you to do the sort of activities you love?
  • Do you have specialized knowledge that would be valuable to others?
  • How can you monetize your unique experience in a new job, business, or freelance side-hustle?

Think about things beyond “survival” and “paying the bills.” Think about how you can THRIVE! Use this opportunity to make a powerful transition into a life and work you’ll love. Have you already found a quarantine hobby or passion? Now’s the time to be open to opportunities for growth and expansion!

Step 2: Assess Your Resources

Some people are looking for immediate cash flow. Others have funds and savings that can carry them for several months or even years. Know what funds you have liquid and what you could access quickly (including whole life cash value). Most who have lost jobs will receive unemployment benefits, which can be helpful to those ready to take advantage of a transitional opportunity.

We anticipate the economic impact of this situation will not resolve quickly, so take a long-term view and prepare accordingly. Do what you can to save and preserve cash by trimming your expenses and protecting your assets. If you have been contributing to a 401(k) or IRA, build up your emergency/opportunity fund instead. Steer clear of prepaying your mortgage! Instead, save where you will have access to your money once you are firmly secure in a new job or steady freelance opportunity and back to work during the pandemic.

Take stock of your non-monetary resources as well.

  • What intellectual capital can you leverage and repurpose outside of a typical job environment?
  • What relationships and networks support you?
  • Where do you have influence and social capital?
  • One of the most valuable assets you have is your list of contacts, specifically names and emails and cell numbers. (Texts took over email in 2014 as the primary mode of communication.)

While this is a time to conserve your money, it’s a time to EXPAND your reach – this includes your sources of income, skills, and knowledge. Instead of sitting and waiting for things to “return to normal,” consider how you can build value in yourself—or in an existing business or new potential stream of income—right now.

Step 3: Start Creating Income!

There are unlimited ways to make money from home – from consumer surveys and other side-hustles that generate some grocery money to potentially lucrative projects and jobs that may take a little time to get off the ground.

Here are some of our favorites:

Work on a virtual team.

Crossover hires people from around the world to work on remote teams. They have a demanding screening process and hire only full-time, permanent employees. Here is their welcome page for those laid off due to Covid-19.Boldly provides companies with part-time and flex-time virtual employees who are:

Boldly.com provides companies with part-time and flex-time virtual employees who are:

  • executive assistants
  • marketing and social media specialists
  • project managers
  • and paralegals.

Become a virtual assistant or online business manager

Many people normally work in an office on tasks such as

  • data entry
  • email marketing
  • social media management
  • customer service
  • updating websites and
  • managing calendars and schedules.

A Virtual Assistant or VA does the same thing—from their home! According to PayScale, the average VA earns just over $20/hour, which varies according to skills and experience. VAs can be self-employed or they may work as employees and/or as part of a team. This article explains how to get started as a VA.

An Online Business Manager or OBM is often a virtual assistant who has “graduated” to a higher level of skill and expertise. They can be proficient in project management, marketing, directing larger teams, and documenting processes. An OBM takes initiative to manage certain aspects of the business while a VA is more “task-oriented.” An OBM earns more than a VA and is typically certified.

While VA projects can be short one-time assignments, both VAs and especially OBMs can become valued long-term team members. (We have used both on our virtual team for years!)

Use your skills to freelance from home

Graphic artists, video editors, writers, virtual assistants and almost anyone with any expertise can offer services on websites such as:

  • Upwork and Freelancer are great marketplaces for selling just about any professional service. You don’t need a merchant account, a website of your own or anything else for that matter. You just need to provide a high-quality service at a reasonable price. Be aware—you will need to compete with others and bid on open jobs to make it work. 
  • Toptal hires first-class freelance talent in areas such as software development, finance, and product management. They have a highly selective screening process, after which you are available to be hired by companies on a project basis.
  • Fiverr is a website where people offer to do all sorts of tasks for as little as $5. This can be anything from proofreading to video editing to recording a personalized Happy Birthday song! The secret is to offer affordable “gigs,” as they are called, and to ask much more for attractive upgrades and add-ons. 
  • Flexjobs and HireMyMom specialize in jobs you can do from home including writing, bookkeeping, social media management, graphic design, legal research, advertising and more. You’ll pay a small fee to be a member which increases the ratio of jobs-to-applicant and helps screen out “tirekickers” that might not be as qualified.
  • 99Designs is where graphic designers can find people who need a new website, book cover or logo design. Bid on the proposals that sound interesting to you.
  • Cafe Press is another good resource for graphic designers. This website allows you to create digital designs that can then be sold on the platform. You earn a commission for everything that sells without dealing with logistics like printing, warehousing and customer service.

Become a freelance copywriter

Ten years ago in the middle of the Great Recession, a mutual friend introduced me to Kate Phillips, who was co-writing this blog with me for almost as long! Kate tells other writers that the key to being a successful writer is to make it profitable for someone else.

If you can help businesses attract new prospects, stay in touch with existing customers and clients, and sell more products or services, you will always be in demand! To get started, there are many copywriting training sessions that can help you, such as Drop Dead Copy.

Start a new career in tech.

Are you tech-minded, analytical, and project-focused? If so, you may enjoy a career move to the technology space. Udacity offers “nano-degrees” that allow you to quickly learn business tech skills that are valuable in the workplace, including:

  • Data Science
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Programming
  • Cloud Computing
  • Digital Marketing.

Courses are self-paced, so you can be in your new career in a few short months. This is a fantastic ready-to-seize opportunity!

Learn to code—or build websites!

Code Academy offers courses in web development, computer programming, and data science. Their basic package is free, so you can begin learning immediately with no out-of-pocket expense.

Share your skills and knowledge online

Perhaps you are a yoga teacher or martial arts instructor whose studio has just closed, or a guitar instructor or an art teacher at a community center. Maybe you are a stay-at-home parent who can teach other parents to do the same. Perhaps you are an Italian chef suddenly without a restaurant! How can you make money from home while online?

Thanks to modern technology, you can teach and train virtually! Offer private or group lessons on the Zoom conferencing platform. (Leif Hanson of Spark Interaction offers private and group instruction on how to facilitate engaging online events at ZoomTrainings.com.) You can also livestream from Facebook as part of a paid group course.

Create and sell an online course

Consider filming a video course on Teachable, Udemy and/or Thinkific. Or become a Skillshare instructor. These are all platforms where you can make money by teaching what you know online. They are wonderful for creating a little income—or a lot! Top instructors are earning six figures. (Hint: it helps a lot if you have an online following or existing database of potential customers, as you’ll want to market and sell the course.)

Here is a breakdown to help you understand the differences and which online teaching platform is best for you. Another great resource is Danny Iny’s Course Builder’s Laboratory.

Start a YouTube channel

Start a YouTube channel and monetize it. For instance, you can gain followers and eventually earn ad revenue, affiliate income or Patreon supporters. YouTube is also an excellent platform for creating a fanbase who will enjoy future offers. Many YouTubers such as Sunny Lenarduzzi have videos for helpful tips for building a profitable following on YouTube.

Profit through savvy social media strategies

There are similar ways to make money with Instagram and other social media platforms. Connect and stay top-of-mind with potential clients and customers on LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook. Livestream on Facebook or start a Facebook group to share your expertise, promote what you do and expand your network.

Become a voiceover artist

Do you listen to audiobooks?  You might enjoy recording them! Websites such as Amazon’s Acx give you ways to create income from fees and/or passive royalties for audiobook narration. This voiceover artist explains how much she earns and this article tells you where to start and 7 places to find voiceover work.

Make and sell products online

Etsy is a website where people sell homemade goods—everything from art to jewelry to soap to pottery to vintage treasures! (It’s also a lovely place to shop where you can buy unique things while supporting creators/curators.)

You can also build your own virtual storefront with Shopify or install the WooCommerce plugin on your WordPress website and run your e-commerce store from your own blog.

Build a drop-ship business

“Drop-shipping” means that you never have to see or handle the product yourself. (You just have to make the sale!)

Amazon offers one form of drop-shipping, but there are other resources. Providers such as SaleHooWorldwide Brands, and other sources offer drop-shipping products.  

Make deliveries

If you live in a major city, you’ll find options to deliver food, groceries, and other items that customers order through apps such as Instacart, Uber Eats, Door Dash and Postmates. Here’s the full rundown.

Become a $100/hour consultant

Clarity.fm pairs business owners with experts who can help them with marketing, branding, business development and other topics. While not a steady way to earn money, it is a way to add some occasional dollars to your wallet. This Side Hustle Nation article explains how it works and how the author has earned nearly $8,000 over time with Clarity.

Set yourself up for future recurring revenue

If you are a business owner or freelancer or simply want to generate income on the side, this is the perfect time to set yourself up for multiple streams of income. To create (eventual) passive income, you could:

  • Write a book to sell on Amazon.
  • License intellectual property.
  • Sell photos through stock photo websites.
  • Invest in cash-flowing real estate or mineral rights.
  • Buy—or sell—an income-producing website on Flippa.com or Deal Flow Brokerage. (This can be very profitable but definitely study up and/or get professional advice on this.) 

Start a blog

If you like to write, a blog is a wonderful platform for creating a following and selling an online course. Pick a topic you enjoy writing about. Learn how affiliate marketing might create extra cash for you. Write a book to launch on Amazon Kindle—and your blog! (See Problogger for solid information and training.)

Blogs and YouTube channels can be quite profitable, yet they are not “quick cash” strategies! It usually takes months once you earn your first dollar. These strategies work especially well when you have a product or service to sell.

Step 4: Focus on Forward Progress

Working from home, self-employment and freelancing are definitely not the same as punching a clock! These strategies require focus and discipline. They may also require boundaries with other family members—something that may be extra challenging right now if everybody is home.

A few tips: Take action. Get out of bed early. Resist watching endless news media. Do not wait for government bailouts or Universal Basic Income. Empower yourself by looking for how you can provide VALUE and EARN results!

This is the one commonality in all cash flow strategies: you must create VALUE for someone else. No employer, customer or client hires you because of your education, your resume, or your experience. They decide to work with you because they have a need they believe you can solve.

So whatever strategy you choose, focus on the VALUE you will provide and how you can help someone else.

Could you use some support? Two people I can recommend are:

  • Nathan Teegarden at YourTrueCalling.com is a career coach who helps people transition into purposeful work.
  • Tammi Brannan of BlueprintProcess.com is gifted at helping people figure out “what’s next” through an exploration process. (Tammi is also my best friend and sister!)

Make the most of your opportunities. You just might end up grateful that you found yourself in need of creating “cash from scratch”!

And of course—contact Partners for Prosperity if we can assist with your personal finances!

—By Kim Butler and Kate Phillips, updated 09/17/2020

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