Massive layoffs. Millions of American kids diving back into remote learning. Government benefits drying up. This pandemic is still going strong. Now is the time that many people are looking for secondary and/or passive incomes either as a backup or as a means to sustain themselves.
Whether you’re newly-thrust into working from home or juggling a few gigs, diversifying those revenue streams is probably a bigger priority in the new economic reality. Major gig economy platforms have already begun to cut their workforces:
- Deliveroo (14%)
- Uber (14%)
- Airbnb (25%)
- Lyft (17%)
Everyday workers are already feeling these cuts and…it hurts. Their families rely on these incomes.
Many gig workers are now pivoting to embrace remote work while looking for new ways to build wealth. The good news is that there’s a lot of opportunity out there for entrepreneurial gig workers looking to build new careers and income streams.
Let’s dive into some of the ways gig economy workers and making those dollars stretch and keeping their bank accounts padded.
Reconfigure your schedule and map out those finances
A big first step is to reorganize how you spend your time.
You’re now likely spending much more time around the house, so setting up a new schedule is critically important. Don’t try to do the same things you did in non-COVID times because it probably won’t work.
Take the time to mourn your old life and then embrace the change.
From grocery shopping and doctor appointments to learning and even some government services (like renewing your car registration), there are many activities that can now be shifted to being completed at home.
This opens up more hours for personal health, family, and other priorities—which is a good thing for most people.
The next step is get a handle on your debt.
Now that you’re spending less (and differently), it’s a good moment to catalogue what you owe and start thinking about shoring up that emergency fund (if you don’t already have one).
If you’re still earning, you can likely save a bunch and ensuring you’ve got savings to fall back on is critical. Do that before you start aggressively paying down debts on credit cards you likely won’t be using as much.
Once you’ve got your schedule reorganized and a good sense of your financial picture, it’s now time to think about boosting the money you’ve got coming in the door.
Passive income ideas for gig economy workers
The goal is to make your money work for you.
Trading time for money your entire life is unsustainable and undesirable. At some point, you’ll want to take a vacation, retire, or support family members beyond what you bring in the door from hourly wages.
We should note that some of the ideas below aren’t strictly “passive” in the purest sense, but once you’ve put some time in, you can watch these products and services start to make money for you beyond each hour you’ve put into them.
Here are some legitimate and unique money-making and money-saving ideas to fill up your cup:
- Peer-to-peer lending: If you’ve got some discretionary income available (and you’re pretty risk-tolerant), you can invest using platforms like LendingClub and Peerform to put your extra cash to work.
- Make YouTube videos: With some personality and a little pizzazz, you can build a following and eventually pull in significant ad revenue on YouTube.
- Invest in stocks or bonds: Traditional investing is still an option and platforms like Robinhood and Acorns make it more accessible than ever before.
- Refinance your home: If you’ve already got a valuable asset like a house, you can always talk with your local lender to see about putting some of that equity to work in the form of cash from a refinanced mortgage. Lots of lenders are willing to help out due to the pandemic.
- Micro-investing: Apps like Stash and Rize allow you to invest in fractional shares rather than buying whole stocks.
- Rent out your spare space: Tools like Neighbor allow you to turn your garage, attic, and other available spaces into money-making storage spots. For example, people providing boat storage in Tampa, FL, on average, can bring in an additional $257 each month.
- Create and sell audiobooks and ebooks: Once you’ve got a solid asset built, you can rake in the sales for these over time which is a great addition to your regular income.
- Develop an online course: Everyone has something to teach! Put your know-how to work by creating a course that will bring in sales long after you’ve created and shared all of that great content. Platforms like Teachable make it super simple.
- Sell digital downloads: Lots of people are willing to shell out $5 or $10 for some insider knowledge. Create an ebook, put it behind a paywall, and market it to the right people.
- Create a podcast: If you’re good at digging deep into topics and interviewing people, consider starting your own podcast. If you attract a big enough audience, you can watch those ad dollars start to roll in.
- Run a membership site or blog: Platforms like Mighty Networks allow you to build a community around specific interests that you can eventually monetize. The trick here is offering real value to members so that they’re willing to invest in a monthly or annual fee.
- Join an affiliate program: If you’ve got (or you’re building) a strong online audience, you should consider joining an affiliate program where you get paid to pitch specific products to your audience. You’ll get a cut for every click or purchase, which can be a great deal.
- Launch an email newsletter: Services like Ghost and Substack allow you to build an email newsletter of your own and monetize it. If you’ve got smart things to say on a niche topic, consider putting your thoughts out there and asking for monthly contributions from your network.
Regardless of which ideas you select from this list, there’s great value in diversifying your income and savings. Even when things return to some form of “normal,” you’ll be thanking yourself for building out a few new sources of income.
Now is the time to break out of the gig economy “box” and flex those entrepreneurial muscles. With a slightly more frugal mindset and some extra hustle, you can ride out the pandemic and hopefully come out the other side more financially stable.
Author’s Bio: Paul Perry is a freelance writer for Neighbor, a peer-to-peer marketplace for storage. A world traveler and a self-made pizza connoisseur, he covers business as well as consumer interest from strategy to education.