As the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world, the economy was shaken to the core. Businesses that catered to crowds were shut down indefinitely, and desk workers were sent home to toil in front of their laptops at their kitchen tables. And for a huge number of unlucky workers, jobs disappeared.
For some, the only feasible course is to find a new full-time job outside the home. But for others, a different sort of work may be possible. If you’re able to risk a variable income, if you want to reduce your working hours, or if you need supplementary income while you’re home with your children, these remote work opportunities might be a good fit.
What skills can you employ in a new way?
1. You have a way with words
Freelance writing is an in-demand skill as companies look to fill their websites with fresh content, providing more value to their customers and improving their rankings in search results. Ongoing writing jobs are posted on standard job listing sites, such as Indeed, Monster, and CareerBuilder.
If you’d rather remain flexible, you can bid on individual writing jobs using general freelance work sites (such as Upwork, FlexJobs and Guru) or writing-specific sites (like iWriter, BloggingPro and Constant Content).
If grammar and punctuation are your strengths, consider proofreading and editing instead. You can find gigs reviewing and editing anything from feature articles to business letters.
How about blogging? If you really want to go it alone, blogging is a popular way to get your writing—and your own thoughts—out into the world. You can write about exactly what interests you. For most people, though, it’s a better hobby than a job. Very few blogs ever generate substantial income, and if you do get to that level, you’ll spend more time handling advertisers, social media and networking than you will spend writing.
2. You’ve got people skills
For people who are polite, friendly and patient enough to handle angry customers, online-only customer service jobs are plentiful and increasing in number. Remote customer service has been around for a long time in the form of phone support, but many companies now hire people to work exclusively through email or a chat service.
Businesses are also in need of people who can help them get customers in the first place. Remote sales jobs are an option for competitive and often outgoing individuals with great negotiation skills.
3. You’re brainy
Teaching abilities are in high demand today, with many schools and kid-centered businesses turning to remote learning and interaction. Parents, too, are looking for help with their kids’ education in a changing ecosystem.
One popular option is to teach languages. If you’re a fluent English speaker and have experience or skills in teaching, you can work for a company like VIPKID or Qkids, teaching English to children overseas. This can be a convenient option, offering flexibility and the ability to work outside the 9-5 hours due to time zone differences. Many of these companies have pre-established lesson plans, so you can jump in quickly.
Tutoring is another great option if you’re great at a particular subject and can explain it patiently to a student who may be struggling. You may be able to find local opportunities through community websites and boards like Craigslist and NextDoor, or through care sites like Care.com.
Specialized sites for students and tutoring include Tutor.com (acquired by The Princeton Review), Chegg, and ClubZ. More of these companies appear every day, so do your research before you sign up to make sure you’re working with a reputable business.
If you love to dig into a variety of subjects but teaching isn’t your style, you might be happy as an online researcher. Wonder pays its researchers based on a number of parameters, such as the turnaround time and how challenging the question is. In turn, researchers set their own schedule and choose which requests and prices to accept.
4. You’re comfortable on the phone
If you’d like to have real conversations with people, there are still a lot of jobs available that will connect you to your customers by phone. You won’t have to work hard to find them; traditional job listing sites will bring up many options, and you can also try working through websites such as LiveOps or Pink Callers.
For any industry that interests you, you can probably find a phone representative job. Some are specialized (such as medical or tech support), and others are general and open to anyone who can work reliably with a good attitude.
The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed many people from the office building to the home office, but it has also created new jobs in certain fields. In particular, many states are looking for individuals to work by phone as contact tracers. The tracers contact people who have tested positive in order to determine who they have been in contact with, and reach out to those contacts to notify them, ask them to be tested and provide care advice.
5. You are ultra-organized
If you’re never late and never miss an item on your checklist… if you have color-coded calendars and neatly labeled file folders… you have a skill that people will pay for. Look into work as a virtual assistant.
This role can be widely varied; you may be scheduling appointments, checking over spreadsheets, entering data, drafting business letters or handling any number of projects and tasks required of you. You can find these jobs on freelance sites or with dedicated VA companies like MyWorkers, Bottleneck Virtual Assistants or Fancy Hands.
6. You are artistic
Artists are often used to working alone, and there are more opportunities than ever to find artistic gigs you can do remotely. Graphic designers, for one, can do freelance, gig-based work or even full-time jobs working entirely from home.
For those without much career experience, a freelance site like Fiverr can be a good place to start out. You may need to do some work for very low rates in order to raise your profile and earn good reviews, but you have complete control over which jobs you take, and once you’re successful the clients will come to you.
If you’d rather do some hands-on work, consider providing calligraphy services to companies that send handwritten cards. Punkpost is a popular option.
For the truly industrious crafter, Etsy is the marketplace of choice. It’s easy to get started, but not so easy to build up to a significant income—though there are a lot of resources available to help you. And for the most successful stores, the income potential is high.
7. You love to find bargains
One of the first big ways to earn money online, eBay is still a thriving marketplace for products of all kinds. To be an eBay reseller, you’ll have to set up a store, source your inventory, set prices, and handle customer inquiries. Then, of course, you’ll need to ship purchases quickly and safely.
You might focus on selling items that are being cleared out in bulk. If you can turn around products from going-out-of-business sales and overruns, you can clear a profit. Alternatively, you can seek out individual items at thrift stores, garage sales, etc., that have little local demand but are of great value to specific customers nationally or internationally.
Drop shipping is another remote retail option. You can set up a store using eBay, Shopify, or another platform, then find wholesalers who are willing to drop-ship. You receive the orders and submit them to the wholesaler, who ships them directly to the customer. That way you don’t need to keep any inventory.
Companies big and small want to avoid being left out of the social media revolution. Large companies may have account managers in house—and some of these jobs might be available as remote work—but smaller companies may require part-time help.
Search job listing and freelance sites for keywords like “social media,” “Twitter,” and “Facebook.” When you apply for these jobs, make sure your own web presence is impressive; you’re more likely to be hired to be the public face of a company if you already represent yourself well.
9. You are opinionated
You may have noticed that everyone you buy from lately wants your feedback. Perhaps you’re the type who dutifully rates every transaction, or maybe you don’t give those requests a second thought. But what if you were paid for your opinion?
It’s not a quick path to wealth, but if you want to make a few bucks here and there, on your own schedule, without long-term commitments, there are companies who will give you more than a penny for your thoughts.
Your options are many: Survey Junkie, InboxDollars, Swagbucks, LifePoints, and Branded Surveys are just a few. Keep in mind that they’ll want to know more about you; if you’re highly protective of your personal data, this might not be the job for you.
If you want a hands-on experience, look into product testing opportunities. Again, these are unlikely to add up to a full-time income, but they can give you a bit of extra spending money. Most will send you a free product and require some significant feedback. Companies to check out include Vindale Research, Homescan, Pinecone Research, and American Consumer Opinion.
You can also test websites instead of consumer products. User testing helps companies determine what is working, what is failing, and what attracts users the most on their websites. UserTesting is one of the biggest, or check out Respondent, Userbrain, TestingTime, or TryMyUI.
You don’t have to be a whiz to be a good tester; companies need to try out their sites on a variety of users. You just need to be able to put your experience in words, or at least have your screen recorded.
If “remote work” and the “gig economy” were buzzwords in recent decade, with the 2020 pandemic they’ve become fully mainstream. With more businesses pushed into new ways of operating—and workers seeing the appeal of life without a commute—the number of opportunities is skyrocketing. Many of these jobs are easy to get into, and with some discipline and persistence you can turn them into a satisfying income.
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