It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic have been devastating. From health concerns to the economic downturn, we experienced it all. Luckily, as vaccines continue to roll out and the world starts to normalize again, a plethora of business ideas for post-pandemic opportunities sit on the horizon.
A lot has changed since the onset of the pandemic.
First, we saw digital interaction companies like Zoom, Microsoft and Slack take off as we found ways to stay connected through our screens. Then, we saw companies that relied on physical interaction and travel take massive financial hits.
As we look to the future, we must leverage all the changes over the past two years to build sustainable businesses for the long term.
This post will cover the five business ideas that are perfect for the new post-pandemic world. These ideas will range from concepts that you can run from your iPhone to in-person experiences including:
Start a dropshipping business.
Offer virtual assistant services.
Become an Airbnb host.
Open a food truck.
By the end of this post, you’ll be familiar with these five ideas that you can pursue and leverage to build a profitable business.
1. Start a dropshipping business
More and more people are turning to digital commerce to buy the things they need. People no longer want to go to their local store, wait in line and travel back home. Instead, with a click of a button, they expect to get the products they want in a timely manner.
A great way to capitalize on this new shopping trend is through dropshipping. Dropshipping is a timeless business model that can work under any economic situation.
The great thing about this business model is that it’s a very low-cost business to start. Dropshipping is when the retailer (you) does not keep any inventory on hand. Instead, you work as a middleman, transferring the customer’s order to the manufacturer.
By not holding any inventory, there are virtually no startup costs.
You may have to pay a monthly subscription for many ecommerce platforms. However, your hosting costs shouldn’t exceed more than $30 a month when you’re just getting started. You will likely have to pay for additional tools like a landing page builder or an email service provider, but these services should only cost around $10 to $20 a month.
Interestingly though, it is possible to start a dropshipping business for free. Many successful dropshippers use platforms like eBay and Etsy to list their products. The benefit of using a platform like eBay, outside of the zero-dollar startup cost, is that they already have users on their platform looking to purchase items. Whereas, if you build a brand new store, you start with zero traffic. You will have to run online ads to your website or create content via social media or a blog to attract visitors.
Although the traditional online store strategy is more expensive and takes more time to generate sales, you will benefit from designing your own website and creating your own custom pages. You also will have the ability to collect the email list of your buyers and market to them in the future.
2. Offer virtual assistant services
If there’s one thing the pandemic taught us, it’s that we can continue working even if we’re not sharing the same office space.
With the proliferation of technology that allows us to have virtual communication, it has never been easier for businesses to outsource tasks.
As a virtual assistant, the services you could offer are limitless. I would recommend teaching yourself a high-income skill. When most people think of high-income skills, they think of jobs like being a lawyer or a doctor — skills that need years and years of education before making a living in that field.
However, there are many skills you can learn on the internet with no need for formal education. For example, skills like copywriting, search engine optimization, coding, web designing or social media marketing can all be learned through YouTube or how-to articles.
Once you have a solid foundation of the skill you just learned, you can sign up on a freelance platform like Upwork or Fiverr and create a seller’s profile to start getting projects.
Also, don’t be afraid to leverage social media platforms, like LinkedIn or Twitter, to message business owners about your services.
3. Become an Airbnb host
As the pandemic comes to a close, people are starting to “revenge travel” to make up for all the time they spent in their house since the start of COVID-19.
If you have a spare bedroom in your house, you may want to look into monetizing that space by becoming an Airbnb host.
The process of becoming a host is effortless and can be done within a couple of minutes.
Like eBay dropshipping, becoming an Airbnb host is great because it is entirely free to list your home on Airbnb. In addition, the platform already has more than 150 million users who book vacations or experiences.
If you do happen to have the extra space and becoming an Airbnb host is a reality for you, you can check out the free rental property calculator on their website to see how much money you could make based on your location and property size.
4. Manage influencers
Influencer marketing has grown from a market size of just $1.7 billion in 2016 to an expected $13.8 billion by the end of 2021. With platforms like YouTube, Instagram and TikTok all growing in popularity, it is no surprise that brands are looking for ways to get their products in the hands of influencers who have an engaged following.
Still, many influencers don’t know the monetization potential behind their accounts. Most individuals with a large following have amassed their following because they love what they do, not because they want to sell something to an audience.
A great strategy is to pick a platform and reach out to influencers within a specific niche.
The more specific you get, as in makeup influencers on TikTok, the easier it will be to represent them as a manager.
Reach out to these influencers and ask them how much they would charge to promote a product in their video. Many influencers won’t know the value of their audience and will give a number below market value.
Once you understand how much they would charge for a promotion, message companies in that niche and ask if they would be interested in promoting their product with that influencer. When they ask for pricing, give a number 10x higher than what the influencer told you.
Make sure to be upfront with the influencer that you will be making from these placements. However, they will usually be fine as long as they get the amount they ask for.
5. Open a food truck
Although a food truck doesn’t sound like a sexy idea, it’s one of the most practical ways to get into the food business without taking on the risk of starting a brick-and-mortar restaurant.
The food truck industry has been growing in consumer demand as the need for high-quality, affordable food has increased over the years.
With a food truck, you can meet your customers where they are instead of having them come to you.
Additionally, by not being stuck at a physical location, you can try placing your food truck in different areas at different times of the day to see what strategy generates the most sales for your business.
Editor’s note: If you need point-of-sale payment options for your food truck, check out the offerings powered by GoDaddy Payments. With low transaction fees, you’ll keep more of your hard-earned cash.
Which business idea for post-pandemic needs appeals to you?
There’s no denying that the COVID-19 pandemic is full of unprecedented problems. However, now that we can see an end to it, it’s time for business owners to start looking toward the future. There is no shortage of business ideas for post-pandemic needs worth pursuing in this new environment.
With this new economic landscape, you can do anything from creating in-person experiences to leveraging digital commerce. As long as you deploy patience and consistency, the sky’s the limit.
It’s common these days to launch an enterprise startup based on an open source project, often where one the founders was deeply involved in creating it. The beauty of this approach is that if the project begins to gain traction, you have the top of the sales funnel ready and waiting with potential customers when you move to commercialize your business.
In the past, this often meant providing help desk-style services for companies who appreciated what the open source software could do but wanted to have the so-called “throat to choke” if something went wrong. Another way that these companies have made money has been creating an on-prem version with certain enterprise features, particularly around scale or security, the kind of thing that large operations need as table stakes before using a particular product. Today, customers typically can install on-prem or in their cloud of choice.
“A key aspect of these kinds of technology-developer data products is they have to have a combination of bottom-up adoption and top-down SaaS, and you actually have to get both of those things working well to succeed.” Jay Kreps
In recent years, the model has shifted to building a SaaS product, where the startup builds a solution that handles all the back-end management and creates something that most companies can adopt without all of the fuss associated with installing yourself or trying to figure out how to use the raw open source.
One company that has flirted with these monetization approaches is Confluent, the streaming data company built on top of the open source Apache Kafka project. The founding team had helped build Kafka inside LinkedIn to move massive amounts of user data in real time. They open sourced the tool in 2011, and CEO and co-founder Jay Kreps helped launch the company in 2014.
It’s worth noting that Confluent raised $450 million as a private company with a final private valuation in April of $4.5 billion before going public in June. Today, it has a market cap of over $22 billion, not bad for less than six months as a public company.
Last month at TC Sessions: SaaS, I spoke to Kreps about how he built his open source business and the steps he took along the way to monetize his ideas. There’s certainly a lot of takeaways for open source-based startups launching today.
Kreps said that when they launched the company in 2014, there were a bunch of enterprise-size companies already using the open source product, and they needed to figure out how to take the interest they had been seeing in Kafka and convert that into something that the fledgling startup could begin to make money on.
“There have been different paths for different companies in this space, and I think it’s actually very dependent on the type of product [as to] what makes sense. For us, one of the things we understood early on was that we would have to be wherever our customers had data,” Kreps said.
Money-making hobbies range from walking dogs to blogging to creating and selling homemade goods.
Read about these profitable hobbies, as well as what you can expect to make.
Enjoy cruising around town? Give others a ride and make money by becoming an Uber or Lyft driver. Uber drivers make an estimated $5 to $20 an hour, and Lyft drivers earn about $5 to $25 an hour, according to SideHusl.com, a review site for money-making platforms. Note that earnings depend in part on when, where and how often you drive.
To become an Uber or Lyft driver, you must be the minimum age to drive in your area. You must also meet specific requirements related to your driver’s license, insurance and vehicle. Learn about these exact requirements in our guide to becoming an Uber or Lyft driver.
If you enjoy driving but don’t want people in your car, look into becoming a full-service Instacart shopper, which involves shopping for and delivering groceries. Uber Eats and Amazon Flex also offer opportunities to deliver food and other products to homes. Each of these gigs has its own set of requirements, though, so do your research before signing up.
2. Caring for dogs
If your favorite hobbies involve belly rubs, smooches and long walks in the neighborhood, try Wag or Rover. These apps enable you to walk, dog-sit or board pups overnight for money.
Rover and Wag work in similar ways. They both require you to be at least 18 years old, pass a background check and meet other requirements. For both, you create a profile, set your own rates, and use the app to choose which gigs to take. (See our Rover vs. Wag comparison for more specific sign-up and payment information, as well as how the apps vary in the services they allow.)
On both apps, the amount you earn depends on what you charge, how much you receive in tips, and which types of services you provide. As you would guess, boarding typically pays more than walking a dog, for example. But both companies take a bite from your earnings. Rover charges a 20% service fee per booking, and Wag takes 40%.
If you have a blog that gets decent traffic, try making money from it. Blogging for money can take a few forms. One way is to host ads on your blog through a service like Google AdSense, which is free. Here’s the gist, according to Google: If your website is approved, then you choose where on it you would like ads to appear. Then advertisers bid to place ads where you designated, with the winner’s ads appearing in that spot. (People make money on YouTube through the same service.)
You earn some money when a reader clicks on one of these ads — but determining exactly how much you’ll make is tricky. Explore our guide to Google AdSense to learn more about it.
You could also try writing sponsored content, meaning companies pay you to write about their products. Or, become an affiliate through the Amazon Associates program. That involves linking to an Amazon product from your content and earning a commission when one of your readers clicks through and buys that item. Learn more about how to make money on Amazon through your blog.
4. Posting to social media
Love posting to social media and building a following? On Instagram and TikTok, many users earn money through sponsored photos and videos. Say you regularly post about your at-home exercise regimen. You may agree to post about a retailer’s resistance bands or sweatpants in exchange for cash or free products. (Sponsorships and affiliate marketing are also ways to make money from podcasts, in case that’s one of your hobbies.)
Sponsors may reach out to you to set up this kind of arrangement; you could contact them; or, in some cases, you may consider working through a third-party agency.
The type of content you post, as well as your number of followers and their engagement, will likely impact sponsorship opportunities. Learn more about how to make money on Instagram or on TikTok.
5. Selling your wares
There’s a marketplace for just about everything. So if you’re skilled in a hobby, consider trying to profit from it. For example, if you create jewelry or have an eye for thrifting quality clothes, try selling those items at a local flea market or yard sale, or on a neighborhood website such as Nextdoor or Facebook Marketplace.
Or look into an online market that could attract a wider range of buyers. Consider Etsy for crafts or Poshmark if you want to sell clothes online.
These websites charge fees that will cut into your profits. This guide to selling stuff online will help you think through the math and determine if your hobby can become a viable business.
What to consider before making money from your hobbies
Before taking any of the routes listed above, keep in mind that this work will likely affect your taxes. See our guide to self-employment taxes, which includes expenses you can deduct, and how to avoid penalties.
And as you aim to profit from your hobbies, consider whether you will continue to enjoy them through this new business lens. Let’s say knitting helps you relax. Will it continue to do so if you’re pricing, promoting and shipping your homemade wares through an online marketplace? And that blogging hobby: Will writing still be fun or cathartic if you’re occasionally throwing in a sponsored post?
It may be hard to answer these questions until you give the money-making approach a shot. But it’s worth reflecting on the potential trade-offs as you think about turning your hobby into a job.
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Blogs are an inexpensive and low-risk way for creators and business owners to build an online audience.
Depending on the size of your audience, you can partner with different advertisers to run display ads.
Another lucrative way to monetize your blog is to sell your own products or services.
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There are a million and one business ideas that any aspiring founder can pursue. However, I believe blogging is one of the best options due to the ease of getting started, low startup cost, and ability to scale.
When I started my blog, all it took was getting my domain and hosting set up and then choosing a CMS provider so that I could begin creating content. Running my blog over the past two years has been an exciting journey. I’ve learned a lot about the digital marketing space and what drives traffic to a website. One important lesson I learned is that no one will visit your website for the first few months of its existence. If you’re experiencing something similar, don’t falter. Create a consistent production schedule, see if you can get some writers to help out for free, and try to guest post on other blogs to boost your credibility.
I also learned that when you start, make sure you’re not starting too broad. For example, if you want to start a blog around plants, start with, say, a blog around dandelions. The more specific you get, the easier it is to rank for the terms you want and the less pressure you will feel to cover multiple topics.
Beyond these beginners’ lessons, here’s what I’ve learned about how you can monetize a blog. You can use display advertising, affiliate sales, or sell a product or service.
1. Display advertising
Display advertising, which can be set up through Google Ad Sense, is the quickest and easiest way to start monetizing your blog. The issue with this approach is that it is also the least profitable approach. Your revenue per thousand visitors will be anywhere between $0.30 to $2.
As your blog grows, you can start partnering with more exclusive advertising networks like Mediavine, which requires monthly traffic of at least 50,000 people, or Ad Thrive, which requires monthly traffic of at least 100,000 people. Depending on your niche, these networks will pay you anywhere from $10 to $40 per 1,000 visitors.
2. Affiliate sales
The second method, affiliate sales, is when you get a commission every time you sell another company’s product. This is the approach recommended to most people getting into blogging, as you don’t need to go through the hurdles of creating a product yourself. Also, you don’t need nearly as much traffic as you would need from display advertising to make a living.
The downfall of this approach is that you don’t control the product or service that you’re offering. At any point, the company you are promoting could discontinue its product or cut its commissions.
3. Sell a product or service
The final way you could monetize your blog is by selling a product or service. This is the most lucrative approach but comes with the most risk. When starting your blog, you’re not going to have any traffic. So not only do you have to go through the time and monetary commitment of building a product or service, you also need to do all the necessary steps to grow your traffic.
The most common approach you’ll see is starting with affiliate marketing. Then, once you have consistent cash coming in, build your product or service in the same space and direct your visitors to your offer rather than to your affiliate offer.
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