• Hannah Desmond

How to Earn Money in Lockdown: Finding Income During Coronavirus

Updated: Apr 15, 2020

Ways to Make Money if Your Earnings Have Been Affected

Obviously, life has changed a lot in the last month. And work has changed drastically for a lot of people.

If you’re up shit creek without your normal income, you’re likely wondering how on earth you’ll make any money if your normal work/earnings have dried up.

This article is for the self-employed, the unemployed, the recently redundant, the partially employed. It’s for anyone who needs to make money right now.

A hand coming out of a laptop with twenty-pound notes and the caption "money now please".

I wanted to create a resource of ideas for people who need to:

- make changes to their current business to keep it going;

- diversify their income;

- start a new business;

- or find a new job.

At the end, I will also give you a few suggestions for key skills you could learn to help with future employment or self-employed work. This might also be useful for people who have been furloughed and have concerns about the future of their job. (This is strictly about giving you employable skills rather than taking online tap-dancing classes and learning how to weave baskets out of old crisp packets…)

Most of these ideas are not overnight money-makers. I wish they were. There are a lot of ideas on here that you might need to build around financial aid or employment.

And on that matter – I won’t cover the different forms of financial help that are available. Government information on financial support for the employed, self-employed and businesses can be found on the government website.

Martin Lewis is also extremely helpful in outlining specific financial advice and has a nice Q&A section, so if you need to find out what you’re entitled to, head over to Money Saving Expert.

My freelance story

Much, although not all, of this article is about work you can do from home. I wanted to share my own working from home story so you know I know what I'm talking about!

I’ve done a lot of research into work from home/freelancing options over the years and have worked remotely on a full-time basis for the last two years. I’ve also written a number of blog articles on work-from-home options for one of my clients.

I never really enjoyed working in an office. I was always interested in working from home, although I really didn’t know how to go about making it happen.

An empty classroom with English teaching materials on a teacher's desk.

I’ve had plenty of face-to-face jobs, from working in psychological therapies in the NHS to teaching English in South Korea.

(I was at the healm of this lovely classroom for a while...)

I started proofreading online after answering a Gumtree advert.

My next remote job was full-time English teaching for an online school called Lingo Live, which netted me a steady income.

However, I wanted to do something more creative and work for myself properly. So at the beginning of 2019, I took a copywriting course at the College of Media and Publishing. I now make the majority of my income from copywriting.

After starting the course, I wrote some articles for a content mill (these are somewhat Draconian online factories where writers produce listicles and product reviews). I did this for a month or two around my teaching.

Once I had a couple of articles in my portfolio, I started applying for gigs on UpWork to get experience. Admittedly, the pay was pretty crap to start with. But it was a good starting point. I grew my portfolio and reviews and was able to raise my prices.

Reviews from my clients on UpWork

I then had a couple of sessions with a couple of different career coaches. This really helped me to get my own business up and running. Now I get clients through word of mouth and from my digital efforts, although I still have a few decent clients that I found through UpWork.

It is not easy to make an income online, but it certainly isn’t too difficult. And it doesn’t take that long to start making money online, particularly if you’re less choosy about what you do.

Make sure you research the area you choose, talk to people, and if you can, take a course to help you build skills and experience.

How to Earn Money

I will start with ideas and opportunities for self-employed people or people who wish to become/remain self-employed then throw out a few resources for new places to look for employment.

Check out the helpful links at the bottom of the article too.

Move your business online

Offer your existing face-to-face business online

If you are an entrepreneur, small business, or freelancer, you may be able to offer some of your skills online as a stop gap or as a move in a new direction.

A man working on a laptop and talking with earphones in.

This section particularly applies to professionals who deliver their services face to face, such as personal trainers, therapists, teachers, coaches, performers, creatives, and so on. There is also some advice that is applicable for other professionals such, as chefs and gardeners.

An online offering may not be easy to set up, but if you are unable to provide your services face to face for some time, it could just help you to tick over. And your business may even benefit from it when the lockdown is over.

  • Video call appointments.

Could you offer anything to your clients via video call appointments? That could be your normal work (such as psychological therapy), or lessons, or perhaps you can teach them new skills, such as relaxation techniques if you offer massage therapy.

Zoom, Skype and Google Hangouts are popular platforms, but there are others on the market. There has been some controversy about privacy issues with Zoom, so do some research into the various options.

Think about what you are able to offer to your clients and make sure this is reflected in your price. Can you create some new packages for clients? For example, if you are a personal trainer, could you offer weekly video calls with a few message check-ins between sessions?

It might be difficult to figure out where to put your energy. Try contacting your current clients and ask them what they would pay for. You can knock up a quick survey easily on Survey Monkey or use a poll on social media.

Write to your clients to let them know you are offering your services online. Post on social media and ask for shares. Learn some digital marketing techniques for promoting your re-invented service (Facebook ads are usually the cheapest and most effective).

Facebook advert for a Personal Trainer that reads "A closed gym doesn't mean you have to get out of shape".

  • Run webinars, workshops or classes

Teaching your skills or providing practice advice via webinar or an online class or workshop is a potential avenue for generating income. Brainstorm your skills and what you have to offer.

For example, if you’re a gardener, chef, or handyperson, could you teach what you know to people stuck at home? Do some market research first and if you can, survey some potential attendees.

  • Host other virtual events

As well as workshops and webinars, virtual events include ticketed conferences, musical performances, interviews, theatre, or comedy. Take into consideration that you’re likely to need some decent equipment for this – cameras and microphones – so do your homework before jumping in.

  • Build an online course

Creating an online course is a lot of work on the front end in comparison to running webinars or classes, as you have to prepare everything in advance.

However, you might be able to turn this into passive income later down the line, so it could be a worthwhile investment if you are in a position where you can wait for money. Or you could fit it around something else.

  • Sell your knowledge

Creating eBooks and PDF guides for people to buy is another way of sharing your skills and generating an income. You can either sell these individually on a website or offer a membership, or both.

Don’t forget, if you create these types of resources and want people to buy them, as with the ideas above, you’re going to have to market them. It might take time for you to start building up an income from this. Taking a short online marketing course could be a good plan.

Things to think about

This might be a time for you to adapt your work and pick up some new skills.

Unfortunately, depending on what you do, it’s likely that you’ll have to reduce your rates to compete with other online offerings, and to keep your clients/customers who are suddenly experiencing financial difficulties.

However, clients you pick up during this time may become full-paying clients later down the line if you build up loyalty by offering online classes at lower prices, etc. You may also find that when you’re back up and running face to face, you still reap the benefits of having an online business.

A great platform for offering a combination of these ideas is Patreon. You can offer a subscription to online events (workshops, classes, webinars) and member-only content such as newsletters without having to have your own website.

How Venues and Local Businesses Use Patreon to Keep Going During the Pandemic

Moving sales of physical products online – starting an online shop

If you made a good portion of your income from a physical shop or sold items at events such as craft fairs, you might want to consider selling online or boosting your existing online shop. E-commerce is, unsurprisingly, booming at the moment, and you might be able to make the most of offers to help you get set up online.

There are pros and cons to various e-commerce platforms. I suggest checking out some unbiased comparisons of places like Etsy, Shopify, and Wix.

Moving food and drink businesses online

Lots of cafes, pubs, and restaurants are moving towards offering takeaways. Check out whether there are any local delivery services near you or whether you can work with Just Eat, Deliveroo, or any local apps, for example, City Grab in Sheffield. Try asking in local Facebook groups for any new delivery apps or services in your area.

Government guidelines are changing all the time, so keep yourself informed of the developments.

Finding new work

But what if you can’t offer your skills online, or you need some extra revenue streams? Here are some suggestions of where you can look for work that may not be related to what you do usually.

Online gig economy

The gig economy, if you can make it work for you, is a good way to pick up experience, build a portfolio, and start earning money (pretty much) straight away.

There are plenty of options for different types of work in the online gig economy: online admin, data entry, transcription, voiceover work, accounting, business consulting, translation, proofreading, and writing. I suggest having a browse of sites like UpWork, Fiverr, Guru, Freelancer, etc., and see if there is anything that you think you could do. Do some research into your chosen area and find out how other people have managed to build an income using these sites.

Unfortunately, it’s likely that there will be a ton of competition on these sites now, so it’s crucial to write a proposal or application that is spot on.

Other online jobs

There are other jobs online that may or may not be contracted. Ordinary job websites like Indeed and LinkedIn have jobs advertised. There are a ton of articles on the web that list sites for remote jobs. You’ll definitely have to hit this from all angles though, as I have found most of these sites, such as Flex Jobs or The Dots, don’t have a massive range of jobs on them.

It’s also worth getting in touch with recruitment agencies in your area.

Joining Facebook groups is usually a good source of jobs, or at least advice to point you in the direction of some good job boards. You can search groups for terms such as ‘remote work’, ‘remote jobs’, and ‘freelance jobs’. Digital nomad job boards can also be helpful.

  • Teaching English/other languages

You can get language teaching work with no experience and no qualifications, but to get better paid teaching work, you should get certified. If you decide to get a certificate, do your homework, read unbiased reviews, and research the type of certificate required by online schools.

I took an in-person course with Trinity College, but I know plenty of people with great teaching jobs who did an online TEFL course for a fraction of the price.

Dave’s ESL Café is a good place to look for online language teaching jobs. You can also set yourself up as a freelance teacher on sites like Verbling and iTalki, but be prepared for it to take a bit longer to bring in an income while you build up a good reputation.

  • Tutoring online

With the kids off school, you might find that there are more tutoring jobs available than usual. If you have knowledge in a particular area or you have a background in a specific subject, tutoring could be an option.

You will find tutoring jobs in plenty of places online, but you could also advertise as a freelance tutor, either with your own website or a social media presence.

  • Administrative jobs, customer service, data entry, and transcription work

These types of jobs are always popping up online. The pay is not fantastic because often you’re competing with people who live in countries with lower salaries, but if you need work quickly, it could be worth a pop.

  • Content mills

I started out writing for a website called Crowd Content. The pay is mediocre at best but if you want to get into writing and have no experience, it’s worth doing some work for them or a similar outfit to build up a little portfolio of work.

  • Proofreading

If you do a Google search for proofreading UK (or wherever you are based), lots of companies come up in the results. Some have application information on their websites, and others just have contact details. I have been successful in picking up a few additional proofreading jobs this way in the past.

Businesses to start right now

Now might seem like a weird time to start a business. It probably is a weird time to start a business. But the foundation of good businesses is that they solve problems. And if you can solve problems for people – even in the midst of a crisis – you might have a business.

  • Delivery business

  • Charity

  • Technological solutions (e.g. building an app to combat loneliness)

  • Business consultancy

  • A creative business

  • Online businesses such as SEO, social media management, etc.

There is plenty more info on the web about businesses that you can start online. Online career coaching could be a really useful tool to help you brainstorm potential business ideas based on your skills and experience.

Things to start learning that could get you work later on

This section is last for a reason. Plenty of people have plenty of crap on their plate without being internet-pressured to learn Latin and get a six-pack. These ideas are strictly ones to help you find work or start a business in the future.

This definitely isn’t stuff you can just learn overnight, but most of this stuff you can teach yourself for free using resources online. (Although, personally, I have found that paid courses tend to give me much more motivation).

  • Coding

  • SEO

  • Website building

  • Graphic design

  • Social media management

  • Accounting and financial management

New, in-person ‘key worker’ jobs

There has been an increase in demand for various industries, not only healthcare, but in other services too. You could look for temporary employment if you’re fit enough to leave the house for work every day and don’t live with anyone vulnerable.

You don’t have to be a medical professional to help the NHS. There has been a huge push for support staff such as porters, post room staff, catering, drivers, cleaners, pharmacy staff, and administrators.

  • Care work

There are a lot of care agencies looking for staff. Not all require experience. If you’re patient, a good listener, and good with people, it might be something to consider.

  • Warehouse and delivery work

With the majority of retailers closing their physical doors, there has been a massive surge in online shopping, meaning that companies that deliver goods need bigger workforces – in warehouses and delivery, including by bicycle.

  • Supermarket staff

Supermarkets are in need of a load of extra staff at the moment given the current restrictions. Check out their jobs pages online.

  • Farm work

Farm and agricultural work is usually done by seasonal workers, many of whom are from overseas. This workforce has taken a huge hit with people leaving the UK, and there are positions to fill to help ensure that the UK gets fed.

  • Cleaning

Industrial cleaning has scaled up massively. Lots more cleaners are needed in healthcare locations, shops, places delivering food, and anywhere that’s still open.

Where to find the jobs

You’re likely to find lots of these type of jobs on the bigger job boards like Indeed. You’ll need to do an advanced search and search by ‘date’ instead of relevance, as they have a lot of posts on there from weeks ago that are no longer relevant.


I hope that this article might have given you a fresh perspective or new ideas regarding finding new work during the coronavirus crisis.

Like I mentioned, many of these ideas won’t earn you money overnight (although some might). And many of them aren’t easy to implement. However, with careful research and planning, you may be able to earn money using one or a combination of several of these ideas.

If you become self-employed, make sure you check out what your tax responsibilities are on the government website.

I want this to be a useful resource and have included some useful links below.

There are some nice little social media buttons at the bottom of this page so you can share this post. Also, please do comment below with any other ideas, updates or comments!

Good luck!

Hannah Desmond

What I do

Creative Copywriter & Content Creator

If you need help communicating with potential or existing clients and customers, or you want content to help you market and grow your business, I can help.

My writing inspires people to make positive changes. My copy is engaging, authentic, and calls people to action without being too salesy.

You can find out more about me here.

For people and businesses affected by the crisis, I am offering my services half price. I also have some limited capacity to do a little work for free for entrepreneurs and businesses that are helping with the crisis, for example, an advert, blog article, email correspondence, etc.

Contact me and let's talk about how I can help you.


Career coaching

Career coaching is a great investment. I have worked with two superb career coaches to help me get my copywriting business up and running.

Sarah Lister is an amazing and affordable career coach who specialises in freelance work and entrepreneurship. She’s currently offering sessions online and is a great person to talk to for getting advice on getting a freelance business up and running.

Karen Perkins is another fantastic career coach who has also provided me with some great help in firming up my business plan and gave me a push forward with my online presence.

Helpful resources

The Design Trust has a paid course to help you learn to teach your creative skills online.

Make it Click has free courses, tools, and templates for building all sorts of digital skills, including how to teach online, how to run webinars, etc.

Codecademy is a well-respected, free online coding school.

Google Digital Courses – does what it says on the tin!

Helpful blog posts

How to Host a Successful Virtual Event: Tips and Best Practices

How to Run a Webinar

10 Digital Marketing Ideas to Consider During the Coronavirus How to Write a CV: Tips for 2020

9 Websites to Help You Find Remote Work or Freelance Jobs Quickly

How to Start a Takeaway Business Urgent Appeal for Brits to Work on Farms

22 Online Business Ideas You Can Start Tomorrow

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