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3 Ways to Take a Manual Trade or Training Business Online

Staying safe is understandably of utmost importance during the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, and social distancing is an important civic duty to keep ourselves and others safe. This means that many of us (both business owners and salaried employees) are resigned to working remotely from home, often with needy kids and pets in tow. However, the…


Staying safe is understandably of utmost importance during the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, and social distancing is an important civic duty to keep ourselves and others safe. This means that many of us (both business owners and salaried employees) are resigned to working remotely from home, often with needy kids and pets in tow. However, the adjustment to remote working is undoubtedly easier for some than others.

Freelance creatives often work remotely, usually needing little more than a laptop, an internet connection, and their expertise. But what do you do if your business doesn’t really operate remotely? Business owners like plumbers, yoga instructors, guitar teachers, and everyone in between are already feeling the pinch. How do companies like these keep cash flow healthy and business ticking over when isolating at home?

Here at Yell, we don’t pretend to have all of the answers. The novel coronavirus outbreak is still an ongoing situation and nobody has a crystal ball that’s going to tell us how things are going to go. More’s the pity.

But we can offer a few online, remote ideas to keep some money trickling through.

Live & Online Consultations, Lessons, Performances, etc.

Just because you can’t provide your one-on-one expertise in person, doesn’t mean you need to avoid sharing your live, one-on-one expertise altogether. Through phone, messaging functions, and video calls, you can still be “on call” even if it doesn’t mean leaving the house.

Widely used tools like WhatsApp, Skype, and Facebook Messenger may prove invaluable here, as may video conferencing tools like Zoom and webinar tools like GoToWebinar. Using these to best effect will undoubtedly come with a considerable learning curve, especially if you aren’t particularly technical, but it’s totally achievable – you can do it!

Let’s run through a couple of hypothetical examples:

  • Leaky pipe? No problem. Instead of calling an emergency plumber to take a look at it in person, the same plumber could call in on a video calling app and share their expertise that way, guiding the customer towards a fix. Installing a full bathroom suite, complete with power-shower and bidet, is probably out of the question, but solving smaller leaks, glugs, and rattles at a distance may be well within the realm of possibility.
  • It’s likely that we’ll all need to keep active during our stint indoors. A yoga teacher or personal trainer who normally teaches in-person could look at ways to conduct their classes through an online platform like Skype or Zoom – or even to the wider world as a live webinar. It may be more difficult to coach individuals directly on their precise technique in the same way as you would in person, but it’s a great excuse to cover the minutiae of form, shape, and technique to minimise injury and to help others get the most out of their home practice.
  • If you find yourself with extra time on your hands, it’s a great time to pick up a new skill or to reacquaint yourself with an older hobby. Savvy musical instructors may well move their lessons online, still serving old customers and drawing in new ones who want to perfect that guitar lick, operatic aria, or piano concerto during their isolation time. Again, it may be difficult to pick up on precise issues with technique or fingerwork, but again, it’s a great time to perfect the basics.
  • We’re all going to need to stay entertained through these tough times but gigs and shows are being cancelled left, right, and centre. If you are a performer, then performing exclusive, online gigs may be particularly useful to you – whether you choose to monetise them or not!

Digital Passive Income Products

A word of warning – this option may not be available to all of us, and it does take some setup and investment before it can start generating income. But that said, it could serve as a good money-spinner later down the line if we’re in this for the long-haul.

As business owners, many of us will have seen online advertisements for courses, ebooks, or audiobooks dedicated to teaching mastery of a certain relevant skill. These are called “passive income products”, and they have the potential to consistently make money for their creators.

As a buzzword, “passive income” is often presented as some magical money-printing method, but succeeding at it actually requires a lot of time, dedication, and hard work. Seeing other work drying up is disheartening, but it can give you the time to create a monetisable product that lots of people can draw value from.

Before you get too carried away, it may be worth having a conversation with your business insurer to make sure you have appropriate levels of PPL insurance in place to cover these kinds of products. So without further ado, let’s look at a few examples:

  • A tradesperson may see some success in selling a course or ebook guide that helps people solve common problems relating to their trade. I certainly know I’d pay a small fee for a guide to help me solve small plumbing, tiling, or decorating issues myself. In fact, now could be the perfect time for a product like this – as many of us are stuck at home, those annoying jobs that we “promise ourselves we’ll get around to” are likely to become more of an annoyance!

Side note: Remember that for some trades, the health and safety negatives outweigh the financial positives here – publishing a guide like this may be out of the question for businesses that involve significant health and safety risks, such as builders, roofers, and electricians.

  • Those working in fitness or holistic therapies may wish to sell courses or guides relating to their professions too. A personal trainer could sell a “30 Day Ab Blaster Challenge”; a yogi could sell a course on how to nurture and align your chakras through at-home yoga practice; or a reiki practitioner could offer guidance about how to incorporate crystals into reiki healing.
  • Those who teach a skill like music or dance may be able to zero in on their most popularly taught style and provide a monetisable course around that. Alternatively, they could choose to teach a niche practice that they’re an expert in – legendary heavy metal vocal coach Melissa Cross’s online classes immediately spring to mind here!

It’s now easier than ever to include advertisements on your website and generate a spot of ad revenue in return for your trouble. If your site is already relatively popular and features a lot of useful blog posts, then it’s absolutely ripe for monetisation in this way.

However if your site doesn’t include blogging functionality or you’ve let your blogging efforts fall by the wayside, there’s no time like the present to pick it up. Aside from monetisation efforts, content marketing can be a great way of getting your name out there online at a low cost.

If you’re unsure about how monetising your blog or video content works, Google have a great explainer video for their ad network, AdSense

If you do decide to run display ads on your website, you first need to choose which ad network you want to pair with. Some webmasters work with just one, some choose a small handful. Google AdSense and Amazon Native Shopping Ads are two well known solutions, but there are countless other advertising networks out there to help you make money from your website.

Not keen on plastering your site with ads? Not a problem. If you don’t sell products on your website but you frequently talk about specific products in your blog posts and other content, then pairing with an affiliate programme may be worth looking into.

So how do affiliate programmes work? Well, when you register with an affiliate programme, you’ll be provided with what’s called an “affiliate link”. When you talk about a given product in your content, instead of linking to that product directly, you encourage your audience to use your affiliate link. To the end user, this looks just like a normal e-commerce link to the product or website in question, but in reality, it contains a code that links you to any purchase made via that click. When a user buys something as a result of clicking your affiliate link, you get a small cut from the seller. This comes at no additional cost to the person making the purchase.

Many large online retailers like Amazon, Ebay, and Shopify all have their own affiliate programs, though there are numerous options to choose from, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.

Alternatively, if you’ve always wanted to make a name for your business on YouTube, then the current situation may give you the chance to do so (again – video marketing can be a valuable practice whether you decide to monetise it or not). Building a YouTube channel to the kind of levels where you can run ads does a lot of hard work and patience, but once the current pandemic is over, it could become an extra money-making string to your bow.

How is your business coping with the current Coronavirus situation? We’re genuinely interested. Some businesses are unaffected, some are concerned yet carrying on, whereas others are seeing dark times ahead. Where are you on the spectrum? What are your business concerns for the coming months? Let us know over on Twitter @YellBusiness or in the comments below.

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