Updated: Nov 17
2020 has been a strange year thus far. Being hit with an unexpected pandemic isn't much fun to say the least. Covid-19 has not only disrupted the entire world, it also has made many people re-think their careers, finances and lifestyle.
With stay-at-home mandates, mask wearing and social distancing, the way we communicate with each other outside of our immediate family has changed tremendously, whether you've swapped meetings at the office with zoom calls or you're conducting online classes via YouTube instead of in person, we have definitely entered a "new normal" and technology has made the difference in the way we interact with the various people in our social circles.
If you're struggling financially and you're not sure how you can make ends meet during this uncertain time, I've compiled a few ideas that you may want to consider, that will help you earn an extra income during these hard times. It's one thing to complain about the situation, it's another to take action and be the solution.
Check out these 5 types of businesses you can start from home right away
No. 5 | Direct Sales
Direct selling is an effective way to build long-lasting customer relationships and grow a flexible, low-cost business. Independent sales people use direct selling to sell their products and services directly to customers in meeting places such as homes, offices and cafes, instead of in retail outlets.
Direct selling allows you to avoid expensive overheads, reduce advertising costs and run your businesses flexibly. Customers also benefit from the convenience and personal attention they receive from direct salespeople. However, there are disadvantages to direct selling.
Direct salespeople can find it hard to reach new customers and can spend a lot of time on customer interactions to make sales. Without the use of a retail outlet, you also need to carefully consider storage and delivery logistics. With the help of social media, finding leads isn't as hard as it was in the past, and now they're are companies that offer dropshipping platforms to help combat the costs of buying inventory eliminating storage and fulfillment costs.
The reputation of direct selling has been harmed in the past by illegal pyramid schemes, so direct selling businesses need to market themselves purposefully and professionally, and be clearly aware of legal selling practices and obligations.
Different Types of Direct Selling
Direct selling methods include:
person-to-person sales — arranging individual appointments with customers to make presentations, demonstrate new products or arrange product tests or fittings. (recommended during Covid-19)
door-to-door sales — approaching homes and businesses by appointment or unannounced to leave catalogues and offer products or product demonstrations. (not recommended during Covid-19)
in-home presentations — arranging parties and at-home gatherings to present products (often called 'party plan'). (not recommended during Covid-19)
online shopping — using websites and email lists to build customer networks and offer online ordering facilities. (recommended during Covid-19)
venue sales — setting up booths or kiosks at events to generate new leads and promote and sell products. (not recommended during Covid-19)
network marketing — recruiting other sellers into a network to 'duplicate' your product sales role, earning a percentage of their sales revenue and expanding your product reach. (recommended during Covid-19)
Tips for Direct Selling
Focus on growing relationships first, not sales. Encouraging your customers to give you their time and attention is your first goal. Create a rapport and identify their needs, then you can match your products to those needs. Follow-up on new prospects quickly to build new relationships.
Know your products and have confidence in their ability to meet your customers' needs. Salespeople who are passionate about their products sell more. Support your passion with a thorough knowledge of your products.
Keep thorough customer records. A detailed customer database helps build and track your networks, and is an invaluable source of information that can influence sales. Use your database to communicate periodically with your customers and distribute marketing material such as e-newsletters and event or product updates.
Organize your sales environment. Arrive early at your party or event and carefully plan your product display, presentation space and seating position. Choose a layout that will help your customers maintain eye contact with you rather than each other. Consider ways to remove distractions in the room. For example, ask your host or hostess to close doors that are letting in noise or external activity.
Build your networks. Your network marketing strategies are central to growing your business. Build strong, mutually beneficial relationships with your direct marketing colleagues. Catch up with, or communicate with, your colleagues regularly to share your selling tips and keep them motivated.
Polish your sales skills. Your conversation skills, listening skills and well-developed approach to communication will help you build lasting customer relationships and grow a rewarding business.
No. 4 | Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is a great way to make money from the comfort of your own home by selling products and services offered by other companies and earning a commission from those sales.
It's very simple to start, all you have to do is pick a niche or topic that you're interested in, preferably in something that you have knowledge about and are comfortable selling products in. Then you want to start by building a simple website around that niche so that you can facilitate your affiliate links. Many companies will want to know the URL of the website that you'll use to sell their products. They do this because they want to ensure that the content on your website won't hurt the company's reputation.
Once you found your niche, you'll want to build a website around the topics you'll be covering, it may seem like a hard task but it's very simple nowadays. There are many website platforms that will help you develop a website using drag and drop methods such as Wix.com and wordpress.com ,I personally enjoy using Wix because it's fairly easy to use and you have plenty of options when it comes to templates and designing your own. Once you have your website built, then you can start adding content that will attract visitors.
Now that you have your website all thought out and built to your specific niche, you are now ready to research affiliate programs with product and service offerings that'll interest your website visitors. Companies such as Amazon is good for starters because everyone knows the brand and it's a trustworthy source for shoppers. You can also check out Commission Junction and Clickbank as alternative options.
Marketing Products On Your Website
Now that you have your website up and running, it's now time to create relevant content that you're visitors will enjoy and provides them with value in some way. Do this in a consistent manner so that your visitors have something to look forward to every time they visit your website. Incorporate your affiliate links within your content to start earning commissions.
A way to do this would be to write content about a specific topic that your visitors can relate to, for example you may write a blog post about home gardening that includes gardening pots and tools, make the phrase "gardening tools" a link to Amazon's site that shows people only gardening supplies. Your readers can browse through Amazon's offerings and maybe purchase an item that they like. In scenarios like this, companies make it very easy to get links to their site. The way that you get those links varies from company to company, but it's usually very easy to find a link to the product or products that you're looking for.
No. 3 | E-Commerce Store
If you're like me and have an interest in developing and selling products, an e-commerce store might be the right fit for you. This is a great way to earn additional income but you will definitely incur some upfront costs in the beginning stages. Starting an e-commerce business is not a quick way to earn money, just like any business you'll have to do your research, put in time and effort, register a domain & business name and last but certainly not least, comply with laws and regulations in your state or province.
As an online business you have access to millions of customers at your fingertips. However, competition is fierce and you'll have to figure out a way to set your business apart from the competition. If you decide to go this route, be sure to research the market, see how many product offerings are similar to yours. If you find yourself in a sea of red sharks, try and establish a blue ocean by finding a niche specific to your skills and expertise, build a personal brand around your business, or specialize in an area that will create a strong selling point for you.
Once you have all your ducks in a row (registered business name, viable product offering, domain hosting) and you've done the necessary research. Start developing a website where you can start selling your products. Be sure to set up a merchant account such as PayPal to start receiving payments and be actively present on social media platforms to market your business, this will definitely help you attract new customers. Another idea would be to create a YouTube channel and have a budget for paid advertising to get the ball rolling.
If you're interested in starting your own branded e-commerce store, check out Printful, an online platform that allows you design custom merch that you can sell online. You can learn more from my previous blog post HERE.
No.2 | Instagram Influencer
Becoming an Instagram influencer is a fun way to potentially earn an additional income while building your personal brand. Pick something that you enjoy and that you're passionate about and start building your page around that topic. For example you can focus on a topic such as food, makeup, travel, fitness, fashion, faith or something that combines a few topics that you enjoy.
Once you've narrowed down your topics focus on 1-3 ideas that you can fuse together, that'll make your profile unique, interesting and engaging, think of it as creating your own personal niche. Once you figured out what your Instagram page is going to be about, describe it in your bio. Your bio should be short, sweet and catchy, it should give your audience an understanding of what your page is all about so that they'll want to follow you.
Now that you have your niche, and you have a brief description about your page, it's now time to start building an audience. I suggest building your audience organically instead of paying for automated services, this way you have full control of who you're following and who's following you without having to worry about spam accounts. To start, invite those in your inner circle such as family and friends to start following you then start building your followers through people who you meet in person or through other social networks where you may have a social presence such as Facebook or Snapchat.
Now that the housekeeping is done, you can start doing the fun stuff, and that's generating content for your Instagram feed. Using your smart phone or a simple point and shoot camera, you can start capturing photos to fit your Instagram focus. Keep in mind this doesn't have to be photographs in particular, if you're a graphic artist you can post various graphic or logo designs, the options are limitless.
Create a unified feel for your photos so that they fit a theme that aligns with your focus, you don't have to be a designer just as long as the images flow in a cohesive manner, you're good to go! Be sure to add genuine captions and relevant hashtags to every post so that your feed tells a story, once that's done you can start building your Instagram page with compelling content that will attract attention. A rule of thumb would be to get a week or 2 of photos built up before you start posting, so you have lots of quality photos to post on your account. If you find that your schedule is getting hectic and you can't keep up with posting to you're account, you can always use online schedulers such as Hootsuite.com or Later.com to schedule posts in advance so that you're always up-to-date with posting your content.
You may be wondering how you can earn additional income as an Instagram influencer, well if you keep posting amazing content on a consistent basis your account may get noticed by a huge brand that can potentially lead to a brand deal where you can promote their product(s) and get paid in return.
No.1 | YouTuber
If you're looking for another way to make an income, you may want to consider building your own YouTube channel, this is a great idea for anyone with a charismatic personality but not limited to. Having a YouTube channel is a great way to build a loyal following with unique content that you can't find anywhere else. Showcasing your gifts and talents in areas that bring other people value is a sure way to garner attention.
When developing your YouTube channel, choose a topic that you're interested in and that you don't mind talking about, you can also make a creative or artistic video that'll entertain your viewers. The main thing is to be authentic and follow your own path, don't rely too much on other people's successes because what brought them to where they are doesn't mean you're destined for the same path.
Start uploading your videos with content that interest your audience, be sure to be consistent with this. If you find that you enjoy creating videos and your audience can't get enough of your content, you can start monetizing your channel for extra revenue and this can help you earn additional income.