The Covid-19 pandemic is probably going to cause the biggest economic crisis many has ever seen in their lives. Employment rate is rising everywhere and fresh graduates unable to secure jobs. In Singapore we see unemployment rate rising to 4% for Singaporeans, this highest in the past decade, and it’s expected to worsen.a

While the foreseeable future may look bleak, there are still a number of opportunities to make a living especially via digital means. In this article we’ll focus more on the different digital platforms and opportunities, rather than the type of work / skill-sets involved.

1. Freelancer Marketplaces

Yes I know these places are flooded with many sellers that provide extremely cheap services. You may wonder how is it possible to compete with sellers from developing countries like India where they’re willing to work at very low rates.

I’ve been working with freelancers for over 10 years now and the one thing I’ve learnt is that quality doesn’t come cheap. Here’s my opinion:

Sellers from India are mainly programmers / developers. They are very good in what they do, but aren’t proficient in English and require very detailed instructions and a lot of hand holding. Else the outcome would be very different from what was discussed

Sellers from the Philippines and Indonesia are generally decent in design. However they aren’t very good when it comes to coding jobs. Though English is one of the main language in Philippines, I feel that they have a very strong accent and use of local slang in their writing, so I wouldn’t be comfortable with their writing jobs as well.

These are the countries that provide very low rates for their work, however there are many shortcomings while working with them. If you look deeper, you’ll also see a number of sellers from America, Europe, and other countries providing services at premium rates, and they’re doing rather well on these freelance portals too.

As Singaporeans, many of us a bilingual. We are fairly proficient in English, as well as our mother tongue (Mandarin, Malay, Tamil, etc). This opens a number of opportunities such as translation jobs, content writing and so on.

I would also tend to think that a our chances of being engaged is higher, being branded as a “realiable” Singaporean. So if you’re willing to work at a lower, more competitive rate, you should be able to some opportunities.

Upwork and Fiverr are two freelance marketplaces that I’d recommend to explore. You may want to check out my article on “how you can get your first order on Fiverr

2. Selling Custom Designed Merchandises

Assuming you’re fairly proficient with Photoshop, this could be something that you can grow into a business. Basically you can create your own designs and put them on merchandises such as T-Shirts, Tote Bags, Jackets, Socks, Mobile Phone Covers.

You don’t really need a budget to start, as you don’t have to keep an inventory of the items. You only need to pay for the item when a sale is made.

Here’s a brief summary of how it works.

  1. Create your design on Photoshop or other image editing software you’re comfortable with

  2. Download blank product templates (e.g. blank t-shirt / blank tote-bag) and overlay your design on it. You should be able to Google for free product templates. (tip: you can check out PlaceIt for more fancy templates if you have a bit of cash to spare)

  3. Create a store on Etsy and list your products. Its free to create a store, and just US$0.20 to list each item. There’s millions of shoppers on Etsy so your items will definitely get some visibility without you having to invest in marketing dollars.

    There are paid options within Etsy, but I wouldn’t recommend going that route unless you’re very comfortable with the marketplace. If you list enough products on your store, and label them effectively you’ll get enough visibility from organic shoppers to make some sales.

  4. And finally when you’ve made a sale, you can go to Printful to create the order and have them manage the printing and shipping process.

3. Become A Social Influencer

Contrary to belief, you don’t need good looks to be a social influencer. Social Influencers comes in many shapes and sizes. You could be a foodie, a photographer, a home baker, or even a housewife! Though being good looking does have its perks.

Consider the likes of Xiaxue, LadyIronChef, Marie Kondo, and many others, each unique in their own ways. Whether you’re controversial or funny, there will be an audience that are interested in what you do.

What’s important is to do something that you’re good at and giving value to your followers. And this can range from photography / videography tips, to cooking or food reviews. Milelion found his niche in hacking credit card for the best rewards.

There are many platforms that you can leverage to grow your following. It could be a blog, a Facebook Page, Instagram Account, a Youtube Channel, and many others. Ultimately you need to choose what best fits the type of content you’re going to create.

I’m not going to lie though. Unless you’re really good looking, or creating a content that really appeals to the audience, this would be a long journey. The initial months are probably the toughest because of almost zero viewership. But if you preserver an regularly put up good content, you should see results from the 3rd – 6th month onward.