Since the last economic downturn, many individuals have turned to side hustles. However, just like other aspects of the economy, the income from many of these part-time jobs has rapidly declined in this economic recession.
With social distancing, isolation, and widespread concern about the pandemic, coupled with people having less money to spend, certain jobs like ridesharing no longer yield as much income as before. Some jobs even became impossible during statewide lockdowns.
On the flip side, some side gigs have seen an increase in activity or, at the very least, haven’t been significantly impacted.
Editor’s Note: When deciding on suitable side gigs or gig economy jobs, there are several decision-making approaches. This article covers jobs that can be safely started during a pandemic or global shutdown, but it also explores side gigs that can be done anywhere and are suitable for digital nomads. While these may sound similar, they are not all created equal.
Let’s explore some of the side gigs that are less susceptible to the economic downturn and the peculiarities of a global pandemic.
What We Consider the Safest Side Gigs
In the past four weeks, over 20 million Americans have had to file for unemployment. With so many facing the risk of unemployment, the last thing we can afford is for side gig income to disappear too.
If you’re looking to maintain income through this crisis, consider the following avenues:
People always need to eat, whether it’s an economic downturn or a pandemic. Some prefer takeout even if they never ordered it before. Even those who don’t opt for takeout still rely on online shopping for groceries and other essentials.
Therefore, if you want to earn extra money during an economic slowdown, consider signing up for a delivery service like Postmates, UberEats, Instacart, or Amazon Flex.
An additional perk of being a delivery driver is that you can work within the safety of your own vehicle. This means you can still earn money even in the face of the next pandemic. Some platforms even offer contactless delivery options for those who prefer social distancing.
Surprisingly, many businesses depend on freelance designers to avoid the costs of hiring agencies or full-time designers. Moreover, this job has always been something that can be done anywhere with a WiFi connection.
If you have a good eye for aesthetics or skills in design software, consider signing up on platforms like 99Designs, Fiverr, or Upwork. Alternatively, reach out to local businesses or leverage personal connections to build an independent client base and avoid platform fees.
Did you know that 300 hours of content are uploaded to YouTube every minute? And almost every second of it is paid for. But it’s not just videos; many businesses and individuals struggle with putting together coherent sentences. That’s where they pay people like you to write content.
If you’re good at communication and want a side gig with decent protection during an economic recession, consider doing some writing/blogging/video blogging. You can take on client projects, write articles, or create content and monetize it on YouTube or a simple WordPress site.
Remote Customer Service:
Some airlines have been using remote customer service for years, but we swear this is better. Instead of dealing with stressed-out travelers or explaining the size of shampoo bottles, why not partner with companies like LiveOps to provide reliable customer service for businesses, charging per minute for your phone conversations.
And yes, you can do this from home.
Much like graphic design, building websites is another side gig that won’t disappear. No matter what happens, as long as there’s an economy, someone will be trying to sell something to someone else or looking to establish some kind of online presence.
In fact, during turbulent times like these, this type of work often sees an increase. Various small businesses eventually have to change policies or build new products, and they need to create pages explaining their new doorstep delivery or no-mask-no-service policies.
In some cases, entirely new products requiring new websites are launched. When the SBA launched its new loan program in response to COVID, thousands of banks across the U.S. had to build brand-new landing pages and portals to handle all the applications. Many of them didn’t work, but that’s beside the point.
Yes, this is another technical side gig. No, it’s different from web design.
Developing software and writing code or applications is a highly valuable skill (as evidenced by the real estate prices in San Francisco), and the demand for these skills hasn’t slowed down due to COVID. In fact, in many cases, the demand is growing because many businesses want to launch new products immediately after the crisis.
If you have programming skills, you might already be accustomed to working from home and finding your own clients. If not, adapt to it—even if it’s just in the evenings and weekends. You’ll thank us later.
Online Product Sales:
If history has taught us anything, it’s that no matter how bad an economic recession is, there will always be people willing to spend money. While the economy may be impacted, people still celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and other personal milestones, treating these events as an opportunity for self-indulgence or a luxurious gift for someone else.
So, why not sell people what they already want to buy?
Using platforms like Etsy or eBay, you can sell or resell items online. They could be refurbished/upcycled/upgraded antiques or handmade items you crafted during your free time. Sourcing materials and shipping the final product might be a bit challenging, and sales during an economic downturn are almost certain to be lower, but it’s still income.
If there’s one thing the coronavirus pandemic has underscored for many parents, it’s that educating their children takes time and attention.
Granted, the demand during a pandemic has been particularly unique. However, this experience has deepened the need for kids to get after-school tutoring, standardized test preparation, and individual guidance for ESL (English as a Second Language) students. Anyone with teaching experience or even just a solid understanding of various high school-level subjects like calculus can be a savior for parents struggling to keep their children’s education on track.
Imagine doing a lot of work upfront and then receiving checks indefinitely. That’s how royalties work. Sound cool? Then you might be an aspiring author.
Getting a contract from a publisher is extremely difficult, to say the least. However, with self-publishing platforms like Kindle Direct Publishing from Amazon, you don’t have to wait for one of the big companies to come knocking. Now, you can write your next great American novel in your spare time, self-publish it, and wait for the checks to roll in.
To be fair, royalties from self-publishing are usually not very high. But if your book sells well, it can still be decent income. And, people still need to do something during an economic recession. Ironically, the COVID-19 pandemic has been somewhat beneficial for the publishing industry, as millions of people were forced to stay at home, giving them time to do things they love, like reading.
Create Downloadable Content:
So, I have to admit, spending time writing, reading, and working outdoors didn’t happen for me overnight. But, I’ve been assured it’s a thing.
Besides selling physical goods on platforms like Etsy, many people make money by designing things that people are willing to pay for. People upload everything from hand-designed items to diary templates.
With this side gig, you get paid each time someone downloads. If you have skills and time, you can even offer custom downloads for an extra fee.
This side gig comes in various forms, but the forms most resilient to economic downturns are often tech-related. Examples include system administration or e-commerce integration, freelance marketing, SEO consulting, loan brokering, etc. Lead generation, especially during an economic recession, is a big-money industry because businesses have to work harder to attract their target customers.
We’ve identified some of the side gigs that are most resilient to events like economic recessions and global pandemics. There are other side gigs, while not necessarily as protected as these, are still good options for those looking for remote work anywhere.
Note that during an economic downturn, some people will cut these services first.
Virtual Assistant Work:
For many business owners and independent entrepreneurs, virtual assistants can add significant value. Depending on time and skill set, assistants can help business owners manage calendars, invoice clients, and perform other administrative tasks that allow business owners to focus on the profit centers of their businesses.
The reason this valuable side gig didn’t make it to our top list is that during an economic recession, many business owners have to cut expenses, and this often includes assistants and other administrative staff.
In recent years, virtual bookkeeping has become an excellent remote business that people can start. Using software like Quickbooks or Xero, you can set up tracking and manage the finances of business owners, small entrepreneurs, and even individual households.
However, with many businesses shutting down in response to the coronavirus, there’s much less work for bookkeepers to do currently, making them viewed as a luxury that many business owners have to give up. Nonetheless, under normal circumstances, virtual bookkeeping is an excellent source of work that you can do from anywhere and usually with flexible scheduling.
An economic recession makes everything tougher, but keeping cash flow is still crucial, especially as full-time jobs become scarcer. Even if you’re laid off from a full-time job and are eligible for unemployment benefits, knowing how to make money after the welfare runs out is still important. These are some side gigs that remain in demand during an economic recession or shutdown, so you can keep earning during these times.