As the COVID-19 pandemic hit us last year and prompted global lockdowns, social distancing and masks became a new norm. The lockdown not only dragged and confined us to our home, but it also ended up costing many of us physical, emotional, and financial loss.
Over 100,000 businesses, especially small businesses, closed forever following the lockdowns. Business closures lead to the highest-ever unemployment rate across the globe.
So, did it make global lockdowns a curse for the masses? To many people, yes.
But on the flipside, lockdowns also brought a boatload of opportunities to many people. Since people got more time to themselves in their home, they made the most of it either by learning a new skill, cooking up a new idea for a business venture, or working on their long-awaited dream ideas like publishing a book.
We asked some people what new skills they learned, a venture they started, or a dream project they realized. Here’s what they said.
Some Started a Side-Hustle Using Their Creative Juices
In today's overheated economy, time is often regarded as the most precious resource one can have. While before the pandemic, our routine was packed with full-time jobs, social events, and entertainment, the sudden global lockdown offered a huge amount of free time.
Colt Sebastian Taylor, an artistic soul, spent a big chunk of his time utilizing his creative juices in different areas, turning them into a few side hustles.
Rizzle, a short series app, appointed him for producing engaging content, and now he is one of the most recognizable faces on the app with over 19 million views and 240k followers.
“I've won several contests on this app and have been paid to create content.”
Colt also hosts a radio show on AWSM Radio called the Saturday Report w/ Colt Sebastian Taylor. The radio show has turned into a roaring success.
“It is the most popular news program on the channel. I get a cut of advertising on the channel.”
We found several examples of individuals starting side hustles during COVID-19. People on furlough got a unique chance during lockdown to explore entrepreneurial ventures that had previously always felt like pipe dreams.
Nick Rowan, an avid woodworker, and a freelance writer started a website: Tiny Workshops. The website features interviews, advice, and guides from worldwide creatives to help get newbies on board with new crafts.
“As an avid woodworker, the pandemic gave me the opportunity to spend even more time in the workshop, but I wanted a way to inspire more people to take up creative hobbies.”
A Lot of People Explored Their Interest
We have become so engaged in our day-to-day routines - from work to home and back again - we have stopped exploring what really ticks our interest. Lockdowns brought enough “me” time to people that they began exploring their interests.
Gianna Barrere bought herself Cricut Explore Air 2 and learned the art of crafting through TikTok how-tos.
She started off with crafting her dog's face onto a mug and eventually created a separate Instagram account and Etsy page while naming her small business “Double J Designs.”
Now, she’s expanded her product offerings from mugs to sweatshirts, t-shirts, wine glasses, tumblers, keychains, and much more.
“I've always wanted to start my own little side hustle (on top of my full-time job) and I finally found my niche, and the pandemic gave me the time to do it. This business keeps me busy and creative and I love it!”
Marcoiya Fair started a side hustle during COVID-19 by becoming a career service provider. She started her own business venture: Fair Share Career Services. She crafts professional resumes, conducts interview preparation sessions, and counsels on career strategy.
She told us that this sideline has not only helped her to acquire clients but also to facilitate webinars and workshops for professional organizations, high school and college students, and a job fair.
In her words, “This side hustle has allowed me to explore my interests in supporting others on their career journey.”
Some People Added Another String to Their Bow
Mazia Ahmed, who works as a corporate communication and content specialist, authored her long-awaited book.
On 11th November 2020, eight months past the lockdown, with hard work of uncountable sleepless nights, her book named ‘Eulogy for the Color Lavender’ got published.
“During the lockdown, I got ample time to work on my dream and make it a reality. Had it not for the lockdown, I would have never found enough time to work on my dream,” she said.
Nia Jonesz and her husband found an opportunity to start a side hustle during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nia transformed her husband’s woodworking hobby into a full-fledged family business: ROAM Creative Play.
Her husband utilized his lunch breaks and spare time to crank out more of the children's climbers, whereas Nia took over the content marketing, social media, and customer service roles in bringing good luck and fortune.
“We now have eight different products and have made nearly 400 sales to customers across the United States,” she said.
Some People Kicked Off Their Startups
Lindsey McPheeters and her husband decided to expand on their skill sets by launching a startup they had long been dreaming of.
Both of them wished to create topics across podcasts related to quilting, homeschooling, or Deshaun Watson. Since there were no relevant services in the market, they built one.
“We spent the last year building Ivy Podcast Discovery - ivy.fm, a podcast discovery service that has over a million tags and 750k podcasts,” she said.
A Lot of People Landed a Lucrative Job
Stephany Kaufman was an English teacher in Vietnam before the pandemic but due to the impending lockdowns, she had to return back to the United States. She took it as an opportunity to start a graduate program in Digital Marketing and successfully landed a remote marketing job.
As she says, “It was not exactly a side hustle per se, but I can certainly attribute this major career change to the pandemic.”
A lot of Them Transitioned into the Freelancing World
With the pandemic upsurge and the unceasing lockdown situation, freelancers have experienced a rising tide of demand. Hundreds of laid-off employees stepped into the world of freelancing.
Others started freelancing out of boredom or simply because they had a substantial amount of time on their plates.
With his fondness for anime characters, he started watching anime-related videos and stumbled upon an artist who painted sneakers with anime characters, and he decided to start freelance sneakers painting too.
“After months of practice, I am now benefiting in this newly learned skill,” he said.
Pauline Goff, with her mother, started a freelance proofreading business as a side hustle during COVID-19. To learn this skill, she attended Caitlyn Pyle’s proofreading training course and started off with her own small business named “Fresh Eyes Proofreaders.”
“Getting the business, Fresh Eyes Proofreaders, set up and ready to offer proofreading services has been a learning experience,” she said.
A Few Made the Best Use of the Circumstances
Many entrepreneurs also started making products that were specifically tailored for life amid the pandemic.
Andrew Pires shared a useful tip for successful entrepreneurship. “To find success as an entrepreneur you need to find ways to evaluate the market and see what businesses need to be created.”
So when Andrew realized that face-coverings were here to stay for quite some time, he found a niche in the market and pulled off with his face-mask business.
“Starting The Maskie is something that would have never been possible without the pandemic occurring.”
Some Freelancers Turned Into Business Owners
The excessive time offered by the lockdown allowed people to think big and bring home the bacon. Some part-time freelancers took their freelancing off the ground and turned it into a full-fledged business.
Melissa Reeves, who was a freelancer for more than ten years and had also worked on consulting projects, officially launched her own business consulting company in April 2020: Fortune Avenue Consulting.
“I have been drawn to serving human capital needs to help people and businesses unlock their potential by realizing it and teaching them how to convey it to the world,” she said.
Another existing example is Jesse Acosta, who with his fifteen years of experience as a self-employed entrepreneur, founded ‘The Day Trader Chatroom’ with an aim to teach people to trade and profit consistently.
“My fifteen years of experience has made mastering risk management in my stock trading career a second nature,” he said.
Some Learned New Skills
The Coronavirus pandemic fueled a trend for learning new skills. According to LinkedIn, people viewed 1.7 million hours of video material on LinkedIn Learning in the first week of April, compared to 560K hours in the first week of January, a 3X upsurge in time spent learning.
We got responses from a lot of people about the different skills they learned during their spare time in lockdown.
Stephen Montagne learned the most important of skills – time management skills while staying at home. He shared that his productivity has leveled up three times as it was before the pandemic.
He further shared his secret recipe which was to create a daily plan and focus on the most important task with the help of the Pomodoro technique and time blocking.
“All of these things together and I've become a time management ninja. Not only that but I can actually work on multiple projects on the same day and not lose my mind,” he said.
Mrs. Helen Nuttall got the opportunity to learn copywriting by taking an online course called ‘Filthy Rich Writer.’ The course taught her how to approach prospective clients and help them with their copywriting needs.
“It gave me the skills to successfully convert discovery calls into paying clients and helped me through the creative brief process,” she said.
Catherine Way, Marketing Manager at Prime Plus Mortgages, learned MS Excel skills by taking various courses on how to use the software and use it for her own reporting.
“It has been a huge eye-opener on how I can use data for my job!” she said.
Julie Navickas, Project Impact Manager at Burning Soul Press, turned to creative writing and learned the art of storytelling during the COVID-19.
“I completed a 62,000-word contemporary romance novel and I’m working to secure a publisher at the moment,” she told.
The pandemic and lockdowns have clearly backed up the saying that crisis breeds innovation and opportunity. People have made the most of that opportunity to start side-hustles or learn new skills to get ahead in their careers.
What’s your story? Share with us in the comments section below.