E-commerce insights

Remote work: Make money from home

We’re all still unsure about how long we’re going to be confined to our homes during lockdowns that have emerged globally in response to the growing pandemic that is COVID-19. News about the pandemic is everywhere, with businesses fearing long-term effects as a result of trading interruptions and the forced reality of adjusting to a ‘new normal’. Businesses that can operate remotely won’t be hit as hardly during the COVID-19 eruption period – including digital services in a number of industries. Fields that could gain popularity from increased time spent at home include the video game industry, software-as-a-service businesses such as Zoom and tech companies that support working from home. 

But what if your finances can’t wait to weather the storm, or don’t fit in with the aforementioned list? You should know that you’re not alone at this time,as millions of people are facing retrenchment or unemployment at present. We’ve got some more exciting ways to make money during lockdown that we’d love to share with you so that you can still keep your income going during this difficult time.

  1. Start teaching online

As long as you’ve got a stable internet connection and your own computer and perhaps a pair of earphones, you’re all set to become an online tutor. However, we’re sure that there will be a lot of applications for online teaching at present due to the mass of social distancing that’s occurring right now. 

It would be wise to sit down and consider an area that you can teach. One example may be teaching English to Foreign students such as China, as this has already been a popular method for employment since before the COVID-19 outbreak.. If you’re a highly-skilled online tutor, you may find yourself supplementing your income efficiently. Typically, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree for some positions. 

If that’s not for you, there’s also an exciting platform to consider called Symposium, as the requirements are less strict.Symposium is an online application and marketplace that allows anyone to market and sell presentations in either one-on-one or group capacities. You could use this app to consult with individuals by offering private services, which means that you could sell anything that you’re skilled at that might be a bit different than usual, such as fitness sessions, drawing techniques or individual consultations.

There really is no limit to what you can teach on Symposium, so you could offer classes in any field where you’re skilled and confident in your abilities. On Symposium, you can  charge people between $5-$10 for attending presentations – so you could be making a few hundred dollars per lesson if your topic is popular. Your funds are also instantly transferred to your debit card, after your session, so this is definitely a quick way to earn cash.

  1. Become a virtual assistant

One profession that’s been growing steadily is virtual assistance; as a virtual assistant, you’ll help businesses remotely with specific tasks, such as managing appointments, customer support, digital marketing and writing reports as just some examples. The key part to remember is that all of your work is done online/remotely, so you’ll probably be using a couple of communication platforms, such as Slack, Google Hangouts or Zoom to communicate with your clients. Essentially, you’ll be an outsourced employee for a business or entrepreneur, so there’s really no limit as to what you can do online as long as you’re being useful to your client.

You might be thinking ‘where do I sign up?’ since this seems like a simple way to transition to more permanent remote working. Some websites you can sign up to start a virtual assistant career include  Any Job Virtual in SA as well as TaskRabbit, Zirtual in the US, UpWork and PeoplePerHour. You’ll usually need to set your own price per hour on these platforms, however payments differ for each platform, so do your own research first!

Some of the benefits for employers to use virtual assistants include reduced salary and training costs, better utilisation of employees and saving time on basic tasks.

  1. Work in transcribing audio

All you need to start doing transcription work is a laptop and decent typing and listening skills. You’ll be able to choose your own workload for the most part, so you’d best get used to working from your home if you aren’t already!

Many transcription websites pay per word or per minute of audio transcribed, so you can line up lengthy jobs and varying deadlines to create a steady flow of income for yourself. 

One tip for this line of work would be to ensure that your working space is in a quiet environment so that you won’t be distracted when you’re busy listening to audio files. 

Some websites you might consider signing up with include TranscribeMe, Rev.com and Way with Words

  1. Sell digital art or photography

This is the perfect time to turn your hobby into a proper side gig. If you’re into Adobe software or Procreate, or even just scanning in your paper drawings and paintings, you should look at 99 Designs. 99 Designs is a great online marketplace for graphic design and art, and can connect you with clients who are looking for specific pieces of work to be done – which might be something you’d like to sign up for. You can even choose the industry and design categories you’d like to work in if you’re feeling overwhelmed. 

Similarly, you might want to consider selling existing photography that you might have to a website such as Society6. If you don’t have a professional camera, sometimes your smartphone can do the job just fine – depending on the task at hand. Society6 will be able to print your photos onto a variety of different media, including wallpaper, phone cases and pillowcases among others. Society6 is an open community, meaning that anyone can join and sell their art there – you’ll need to upload ideas and assign prices to your works. 

  1. Get rewarded for speaking out

While this is likely to net you many small amounts of money over time as opposed to lump sums, it could be a useful side job that you work on in your spare time. You can take surveys everyday – as brands, research groups and other organisations are looking for help with trends and opinions regarding products and consumer behaviour. In exchange for imparting your opinions, you’ll get paid for your time. 

The majority of surveys are between 5 and 30 minutes, and you usually get paid more for longer surveys. Typically, surveys require little involvement and will instead be assigned using specific participant criteria. You can expect to be part of a focus group and give your feedback regarding brands, some anonymous data about your household and sometimes, a deeper dive into your personality and interests. 

South Africans might want to use The Brand Surgeon, who regularly post different surveys and focus groups as well as the qualifying requirements to participate in each province, as well as the expected reward. Some surveys can pay up to R1000 for just an hour or two of your time. 

Global survey platforms include SwagBucks or Survey Junkie – two highly-rated apps who have great track records for paying out timeously. 

  1. Use Job Boards to look for Remote Positions

We’re predicting that working from home is going to become more popular as we see global lockdowns in action. You could use a remote job board such as Remoters, Remote positions on Glassdoor, LinkedIn and Pnet to search for more specific positions that cater to your existing skills and experience. You never know what you’ll find, so it’s a good idea to keep your job search going on a continuous basis until you’ve managed to secure a valid contract.

Some examples of jobs specifically mentioning remote work at the time of writing include digital marketing and marketing management, online teaching, editing and content writing, software development at various levels, recruitment consulting, customer support services, graphic design, secretary services, research assistance and desktop support technicians, to name but a few. We expect this list to keep growing, so keep an eye on these channels to find a career prospect that works for you. You can even do a simple Google search and net these results from multiple job databases to save time.


Don’t despair if you need to start working from home. This is a great time to start to monetise your side-gig or enter a new industry in a remote or virtual capacity. There are a ton of different ways you could start a new position working from home, including becoming a virtual assistant, online teacher or tutor, working in audio transcription, participating in online surveys and selling your own designs to smaller marketplaces. You could also simply scour the job boards for positions that are exclusively remote.

Right now, we’re focusing on this period as one of solidarity and working globally to create new working conditions. ShoppingFeeder emphasises the importance of staying informed during this period, and reminds you to stay at home, stay healthy and stay active. 

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