If the recent surge in Covid cases makes you nervous about going into work, you should know that you don’t have to sacrifice your health to keep food on the table. Even if you have a physical job that normally requires in-person attendance, you can use online platforms share your skills and profit from a distance.

Profit from a distance

Remote work has been relatively easy for professionals. A host of consulting and professional job sites, including FlexProfessionals, WAHVE, GLG and Maven, are available to help find remote jobs for lawyers, accountants, engineers, human resources and marketing experts, among others. Many big corporations also allow their professional staff to work at home.

But it’s been a challenge for people with physical jobs — contractors, cooks, bartenders, and personal trainers, to name a few. Because these jobs are traditionally done in person, many workers either lost their jobs completely or have been told to mask-up and muddle through. 

Teach what you know

If that’s not a risk you’re willing to take as case counts rise, you may need to pivot in order to earn some of your income from online sources. The good news is that if you’re willing to share your skills through an online teaching platform, you can profit from your expertise without showing up in person. 

Better yet, online class platforms can help you generate revenue that can continue long after you return to regular work — or even after you retire. 

It’s like training an assistant

Before you dismiss the idea, arguing that you’re not a teacher, consider whether you’ve ever trained an assistant or apprentice. If so, you’ve already practiced the skills you need to put a course online.

Several teaching platforms, including Thinkific, Teachable and Udemy, are free to use and easy to navigate. These sites help you handle the technical side of an online class — the software and sales. Better yet, there is no charge to design and post your class online. These sites only charge a commission when someone pays you to attend. 

All you have to do is talk into a camera — most likely on your phone — in the same way that you’d talk to someone you were training. You can use a simple tripod — or a friend — to help you film. Upload your film, type in descriptions of what people can learn with your class, hit the publish button and you are an online instructor.

Baby steps

Keep in mind that you don’t need to teach people everything you know to sell a class. Quite the opposite, in fact. Classes are best when you break them into small bite-sized pieces.

Consider teaching people to do one simple thing, like building a wooden rocking chair, for instance. And divide your course into relatively short — 15 minute to one-hour — lessons to keep it digestible for new learners.

Your first lesson on building a wooden rocking chair might be about safety and what tools and supplies you need, for instance. Details are key. Explain the specific saws, blades, screws, wood type and why you’re using those. You might also demonstrate how to safely use — and store — the power tools. To be sure, this is probably second-nature to a woodworker. But to millions of people who haven’t assembled anything more complex than IKEA furniture, those details are revelatory.

In lesson two, you might walk through cutting and sanding the pieces. Lesson three might involve the assembly, staining and showing off the final product. Again, things you know — like the dangers of storing staining materials in a pile — are not common knowledge. Make sure your course covers all the basics.

Pricing

You also don’t have to charge a fortune for your course to make this worth while. If you charge $20 for your video series, for instance, you gross $2,000 for each 100 people who buy this lesson. Your net (after costs) profit will vary based on the platform that you use to sell it.

With Thinkific and Teachable, you pay a modest 10% commission on each sale. Thus, you take home $1,800 per 100 sales. However, Thinkific and Teachable expect you to market the class yourself. If you’re no good at marketing, you can also sell through Udemy. Udemy does some marketing for you, but charges dearly for the service. Udemy’s commissions amount to 50% – 75%, when they find the customers for you. That said, you can also publish your classes on Udemy and one of the other platforms to see which works best for you.

Using online platforms in concert

But that’s just a first step in using online platforms to profit. Since you’ve now built a beautiful rocking chair, you also have a rocking chair that you can sell. Several websites, including Etsy, EBay and Amazon, can help you find a buyer.

And, if you want to take this side hustle to the next level, you could make rocking chair “kits” and sell them on those same platforms.

Ideas for cooks, bartenders, personal trainers and others

Naturally, it’s not just contractors who can use online platforms to make money teaching some physical skill.

Online cooking classes also are highly popular. In addition to the other teaching platforms, CozyMeal, a site that normally arranges in-person cooking classes, has pivoted to offer its classes online. EatWith, which normally ranges dinners in the chef’s home, also offers live online cooking classes from all around the world.

Cooks also use Etsy, Nextdoor and Instagram, to sell their homemade baked goods. These range from soups to artisan breads and cookies.

Bartenders can use online teaching platforms to teach how to make beautiful and tasty cocktails. Fitness trainers can create workout tutorials. Artists can use these sites to teach people to draw or paint. Teach crafts? You’re likely to have an avid following — and products to sell at the end of each class.

Need a class idea? Brainstorm with your friends. If you have a skill that other people want to learn, you most likely have an online class that will allow you to profit from a distance.