It’s no overstatement to say that the pandemic changed everything — even entrepreneurship. COVID entrepreneurs are the ones who observed the changes, saw an opportunity and seized it. With these new opportunities came a flourishing of side hustles.
According to William Stringer, co-founder and CEO of Chisos Capital, “In 2020, the coronavirus increased the number of business applications by nearly 100 percent year-over-year and monthly business applications are still near record highs, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.”
Overall, the economy suffered during the pandemic. But, “many employees who were laid off from their pre-pandemic job have decided to start their own business and entrepreneurs are actively seizing opportunities created by the coronavirus,” says Stringer.
Here are some of the new side hustles that have emerged during the pandemic and will continue to thrive in our new normal.
If you're a software engineer, creating your own software product on the side to meet a specific need could be a viable choice.
“Software as a service (or SaaS) projects grew in popularity during the pandemic due to the ability to offer services over the internet rather than in person. The pandemic made it difficult for people to offer services in person. SaaS projects allow founders and side hustlers to offer services over the internet,” says Stringer. “SaaS projects can range from numerous industries and ideas. For example, one Chisos portfolio company offers a SaaS model to lawyers and paralegals to permanently redact their sensitive data.”
SaaS software typically charges a fee each month for use, leading to a nice income stream once your product is created. According to Stringer, "The fee can range from $10 per month to $100 per month, so if the business has 1000+ customers, the income can add up quickly."
While not a new side hustle, per se, delivery services took off during the pandemic. With stay-at-home orders and shelter-in-place recommendations in many states and counties, people changed their shopping habits. In the Spring of 2020, Instacart brought on 300,000 new drivers.
But don't think that just because orders and mask requirements have been lifted that delivery driving isn't a hot option anymore. “...While people are venturing out to shop more now, many others are hooked on the convenience of having essentials dropped off at their door,” says Nick Loper, founder of Side Hustle Nation. Between high customer demand and average earnings between $14 and $24 per hour, this side hustle is here to stay.
Creators and the Passion Economy
One of the many effects of the pandemic was that people had more time on their hands. With restaurants closed, no commute and minimal social events, people had to find ways to fill their time.
Many turned their passion projects into side hustles and became creators. “The passion economy can be thought of as niche social communities that are focused on creating and sharing content,” says Stringer. “The passion economy focuses on connecting and empowering creators to engage with their audiences, rather than traditional social media giants who focus on generalized content.”
Passion economy side hustles include anything you're passionate about and can turn into a money-making side hustle, such as Twitch streams, YouTube channels, TikTok fame, recording a podcast about your favorite TV show and so much more.
Income from the passion economy is usually from advertising revenue. "Creators that have built large audiences can regularly pull down five figures of income each month," shares Stringer.
Hand-in-hand with the creator and passion economy niche of side hustles are ecommerce sellers. According to Mike Nemeroff, CEO and co-founder of Rush Order Tees, small ecommerce stores have seen a boom during the pandemic.
“With more time at home, people have had the freedom to use their unique talents to make things, whether that be art, music or apparel, and with so many places online to sell products independently, this idea has taken off fast.”
Ecommerce was a growing business even before the pandemic, and it’s here to stay. “I definitely don't see this side hustle going away, as ecommerce has only seen a massive boom thanks to the pandemic and quarantine, and it's likely going to continue in an upward trend even though things are returning to normal,” says Nemeroff.
A side hustle that you might not consider is becoming a mobile notary.
“Inspired by low interest rates, many homeowners decided to refinance their mortgages,” says Loper. “And overseeing those closings were mobile notaries, earning anywhere from $50–$200 to walk the borrowers through the documents and verify their information. With housing demand through the roof and prices surging across the country, I think there will continue to be plenty of work in this space.”
Another enticing aspect of becoming a mobile notary: inexpensive startup costs. The training and application cost is low in most states, meaning you need minimal investment to start up this side hustle.
While many businesses floundered and suffered because of pandemic changes and new rules, others got creative and thrived. No matter the conditions, look for what people need and want. Give them that and you’ll have a successful business. Even as normal begins to come back, people will have changed their lifestyle and adapted to this new normal.
At its simplest, look for what people need and want. If you can provide it, you’ve got a strong start to your business.
One example Anna Barker, founder of LogicalDollar (which she launched during the pandemic), shared was of student Caroline Haegeman who launched Box427. Box427 provides everything you need for an at-home date night delivered right to your doorstep. “Examples like this show how the different circumstances we've all faced can present the perfect money-making opportunity for those with a bit of creativity,” says Barker.
While the world is slowly opening back up, some people aren't yet comfortable being out and about. Virtual events, hybrid gatherings and at-home experiences are here to stay and will be part of our new normal.
Other at-home experience side hustle might include family experience packages and gift baskets, at-home spa or self-care kits, date night meal kits or toy boxes for kids.
Choosing the Best Side Hustle for You
Many people were able to start side hustles during the pandemic that addressed customer needs. There will be lots of new opportunities as the world finds its new balance and normal. This is your opportunity. Barker shares two rules for starting a side hustle during the pandemic:
Sell items directly related to the pandemic.
Take advantage of people being at home.
As much as we're all ready to go back to "normal," what we're actually going to get is the new normal. Masks may become a permanent part of cold and flu season, sanitizing surfaces in our homes will become routine and button pushers and door openers will be used to not spread germs.
As the world enters this new normal, be watching for problems and think of potential solutions. If you find one, that just might be your new side hustle.
Page is a freelance content marketing writer with experience writing about small business, the future of the workplace and health. She also operates a weekly email newsletter where she shares advice on living an authentic, intentional life. When not writing, you can find Page traveling, fostering older cats and working as a sexual assault advocate.