Have you lost your job recently when businesses collapsed in the pandemic? Or are you short of money because you took a salary cut? With fewer jobs in the market and hundreds of applicants for each, your new job options are limited.
It’s time to step out of your comfort zone and explore ways of earning money while working from home or under severe limitations. Begin by asking: what can you do? How? Where? And how much can you earn?
Rent your time. Did you realise that renting your time in return for money is the basis of all formal employment? Apply the same principle to self-employment or earning smaller amounts from many customers, by carving out pieces of your time.
The easiest is to complete tasks for other people as a freelancer. You can find customers and tasks on websites like Upwork and Freelancer, where you will need to set up a payment account. You can have greater continuity through time commitment by working with a startup or friend’s business and offering services like data entry, remote customer service or recording sales leads.
A better version of renting time is selling a skill. Write down a list of skills where you are better than an inexperienced employee. Now find individual customers, aggregator platforms or small businesses that will pay for any of your skills.
You will either be paid for achieving an outcome or for a substantial fixed time commitment in translating documents or content from another language, transcribing recordings or helping small businesses with accounting entries. If you like variety and have more time, be a remote office assistant for busy founders or small business owners, where you can handle multiple small tasks. Even a routine skill like cooking meals can make money if you set up a tiffin service.
Move up the value chain with indepth knowledge and communication skills. You can share your expertise as a mentor, consultant or teacher. You are either paid a periodic retainer or on an hourly basis. With experience, you can mentor business owners in return for money or a piece of their business. As a specialist in finance or marketing, you can consult a business on a project or a problem.
Mentoring or consulting works best when you build potential customers through referrals within your network. Alternatively, consider online tutoring, or teaching individually, or through platforms like Vedantu and WhiteHat Jr.
Leverage your money to create income through your own financial literacy. Put your money to better use than a savings account by learning about mutual funds and growth or dividend stocks. Alternatively, invest to create and sell products through e-commerce marketplaces like Amazon or Flipkart.
You could also sell your creations through resellers like Meesho or Shop101, where you can leverage their existing catalogues without investing money. If you are comfortable, consider lending money to a family member’s business where the money is safe and earns a higher monthly interest. With a greater risk appetite and investment of time, consider lending money through a P2P lending platform like Faircent.
You could also tap your creativity with an Internet connection. If you love photography, upload high quality pictures on stock photo sites like ImagesBazaar, where you are paid when people download your creations. Love making videos? Use video sharing platforms like Youtube.
If you are a writer or blogger, create readership through blogs or platforms like Medium. You can also earn by creating content on an assignment basis: bake cakes, paint on demand, online music classes. You could learn how to build a social media following and aim for the big league. As an influencer, you can earn money through advertising, sponsored posts and brand ambassadorship.
Any tech-related skill is good enough to get you going. If you can code or are willing to learn, there are individuals and small businesses that require your services to run a website, automate tasks or build part of a solution where they are short of tech hands. If you are good with social media, you can help with strategy and effort or boost a brand. Learn affiliate marketing to earn commission by generating traffic or sales through a client’s website or your own. In each space, begin with freelancing platforms and then tap into your own network to add new clients.
The biggest boost to your income comes from using two multipliers. The first is your ability to connect. Discover and leverage connections between diverse situations and people to find a new solution or bring together a team that can find one. Voila! you are an entrepreneur. Find tasks, projects or internships that accelerate learning new skills through the scope of the problem or the kind of people involved. Even if you work for free, you are creating cash flow and wealth in your future!
HOW TO LOSE MONEY FASTER
1. The tip
First of all, stop losing money faster than you are making it. Idle at home? You may receive all sorts of tips about the stock market or the next big thing for consumers. Instead of buying bluechip shares or basic reliable technology for a new business, you invest in the hottest stock or the most expensive technology and lose a ton of money.
2. The scam
Do you believe shopkeepers’ maths and pay bills without checking? If not, then why hand over your money to someone who promises 10 times return in 10 months through his efforts and your money? Do your own calculation and bet your money on yourself instead. Don’t let your brain scam you with the lure of easy money.
3. The gamble
I felt lucky. I took a loan. And lost it all in online poker. Or maybe something illegal. Without the time commitment of a job to stay occupied, there are more emotional swings. This could lead to risky behaviour related to money, time or health. Stay grounded by investing time in communicating often with friends and family.
4. The commitment
Fear of the future and temporary cash struggles can lead to bad long-term commitments. It’s ok to choose something that meets your current need as long as you can walk away when a better long-term option emerges. Don’t lock yourself with someone or into something too quickly until you are certain about both immediate and future returns.
5. The shell
Opportunity knocked but I didn’t hear it, because I was wearing headphones! Without the forced commute to work and socialising at your office, it is easy to spend weeks at home and retreat into a shell. When you stop meeting people or stop heading out to seek human connection, you miss out on employment opportunities and kill future income.
(The writer is career coach, mentor and author of Your Sorting Hat.)