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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
It was just after the World Trade Center fell to terrorist attacks on 9/11 that I first started my online business. Times were tough then and times are tough now. I wasn’t sure if I could make it work but, while my business has gone through several big changes over the years, I haven’t had to be back in a cubicle since then. Going online with my business ventures was the best decision I ever made.
It’s offered me freedom and flexibility that I would never get working in the corporate world.
What I’ve found is that during tough times, lots of people look for ways to make some extra cash in order to put food on the table or put money back into savings. Just like I did in the wake of 9/11.
Fortunately, there are many more options than there used to be for making some extra cash. Door Dash and Uber are popular ones. However, in my opinion, starting a gig online is one of the best options.
Here are nine reasons why starting an online side hustle during tough times can be a great decision.
Online side hustles can grow into full-time incomes
One of my favorite things about online side hustles that they often have the potential to grow into a full-time income.
Related: 50 Ideas for a Lucrative Side Hustle
If you start picking up writing clients online or start offering website building services and learn how to effectively pick up new clients then you can quickly replace your day job income with gig work. yOu can work around your day job and bank the extra client work.
Low overhead to start
It can cost tens of thousands of dollars (or more) to start a traditional business and if you are doing a side hustle or driving for a rideshare or delivery service, you will put loads of wear and tear on your car.
Starting an online side hustle generally costs very little money and can be bootstrapped for as little as a few hundred dollars and sometimes quite a bit less depending on what you want to do.
There are very few options that are as cost-effective as an online side hustle to start.
More platforms than ever before
When I started out the only option for getting a web presence online was hand-coding a website. It took many, many hours of learning and writing HTML code and was a big pain to do.
Now there are many, many platforms that are easy to use and effective:
You can list handcrafted goods for sale on Etsy.
You can showcase your freelance services on Upwork, Toptal, Fiverr, 99Designs, and more.
You can resell local finds on eBay.
You can start a publishing business on WordPress.
You can easily build a website on WIX.
You can list original designs on products fulfilled through print on demand vendors on Amazon.
That’s just scratching the surface. If you are creative and willing to learn, the sky is the limit and there are many more possibilities available.
Related: How to Find the Right Idea for Your Side Hustle
Potential global reach
When you use the internet for your side hustle you aren’t limited to your local area. This is one of the reasons that side hustles can turn into full-time gigs so easily.
You can reach people anywhere in the world who are interested in what you are offering. You can even build a truly global brand over time.
Many recurring revenue possibilities
This is the other one of my favorite reasons to start side hustles online. There are many, many opportunities for passive and recurring revenue if you structure what you are doing properly.
For instance, if you start a publishing business you can earn ad revenue from posts that you published 3 years ago. You can also start a subscription-based business, like a membership site, that pays you month after month.
There is almost nothing more exciting to me than recurring revenue. I love seeing dollars come in for work I did years ago.
You can’t get recurring revenue by driving an Uber.
Low cost to gain knowledge
From LinkedIn Learning to Udemy, you can brush up your skills in almost any area for very little money.
Tip: Always watch for sales on Udemy: They often offer 90% off their courses.
As an example, there is a high demand for salesforce administrators. You can learn all of salesforce through a course on Udemy and then take the Salesforce Administrator certification course and possibly start landing gigs or get a work from home job with that skill set.
There are many areas where you can do this. These are often new skills that are highly marketable and that you don’t need a college degree in order to get good pay.
Many online side hustles will give you location freedom — meaning that you can do them from anywhere with a laptop and internet connection.
As you build your side hustle up to a full-time income the potential to live a true “digital nomad” lifestyle becomes huge.
That means being able to travel where you want, when you want and not miss a beat of work.
Related: I Built My Multimillion-Dollar Side-Hustle While Working a Full-Time Job and So Can You
Freelance gigs can pay very well
There are many areas of freelancing where you can potentially make $40 to $150 per hour of work. It can take a while to learn how to get and keep clients, but once you have that skill set down you can pretty much write your own paydays.
Because of the nature of working online, there is almost always flexibility in when you work. Unless you are working at a remote job, you will have flexibility within timelines.
This allows you to work when kids are in bed, on the weekends, or around whatever other obligations you have — including a day job.
The world is going more and more digital all the time. By locating your side hustle online, you give yourself enormous upside potential and will gain skills that are marketable both in traditional jobs and in freelance gigs.