“Life is tough. You just have to be tougher.”
Welcome to another week in quarantine!
Coronavirus / COVID-19 is evolving extremely quickly, so we'll continue starting things off with an overview of its latest developments – how its evolved, how its impacting different economies, and the outlook for the future. Hopefully these insights help you understand some of the wider trends so you can plan your next move.
Then, in the second half, we'll go through eight ways to make money from home so you can provide for your family during this difficult time. We know that there are a lot of people who have lost their jobs, or who have partners who have lost their jobs, so it’s more important than ever to diversify your income.
Remember, as we said in Episode 23, it’s ALWAYS your move, so use the lessons here to start being proactive about how you respond to the uncertainty, rather than reacting to the news or simply waiting for something good to arrive.
In Los Angeles (where I'm based), we're now in Week 4 of isolation. As is human nature, social media and the news are full of people complaining about being stuck at home or in a government-mandated quarantine, but spare a thought for those who are in the trenches of this truly frightening battle.
When you see what is going on in some of the worst affected areas on the planet, such as Italy and Spain, it should make it easy to be grateful for the simple things, such as a roof over our heads and the health of our family.
I wanted to take a moment here just to recognize and say an enormous thank you to the emergency services people, the first responders, and all the medical personnel (the doctors, nurses, cleaners, etc.) and everyone else on the frontlines who are fighting this battle for us. Thank you for your heroic efforts.
Your bravery is a phenomenal example for all of us and a reminder that we need to be just as strong in making sure we don’t succumb to the negativity that’s drowning the world right now.
So what has been going on with COVID-19? Well, more than 1.4 million cases have been reported around the world and 80,000 people have died. Even British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has fallen ill and is reportedly now in ICU.
Of all those deaths, more than 60% of them have come from four European countries: Italy, Spain, France and Britain. Clearly, Europe is all hands on deck to increase its medical capacity and care for the sick, while trying to prevent further spread throughout the community.
Just last week, the UN Secretary General called this pandemic the greatest test the world has faced since the UN was formed 75 years ago.
“COVID-19 is the greatest test that we have faced together since the formation of the United Nations.”– U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
Sporting events like Wimbledon have been cancelled for the first time since World War II, and there’s already whispers that the NFL season will be completely shelved for this coming year, even though it’s not scheduled to start until September. It’s such a tough call because its sporting events that would give people a much needed distraction from all the doom and gloom.
As I’ve been saying for months now, it would be a very difficult time to be a policymaker. Everything COVID-19 related is moving so fast, and 'readiness for pandemics' is not exactly a prerequisite for most government positions. The World Health Organization has certainly botched significant elements of this crisis since day one – due, in part, to China's preference to save face on the world stage – which has left inaccurate data as the inputs for the models that each government has been relying on.
Even with conflicting models, the health concerns remain paramount (for now) and governments are looking to mobilize all available resources.
Speaking of the NFL, the New England Patriots even sent their team jet to China last week on an official humanitarian mission to bring back more than 1 million N95 masks, which they then distributed to hospitals in Massachusetts and New York.
The unemployment numbers are just as horrible as analysts expected. Check out this extraordinary chart (below) to see how this period compares to unemployment claims going back 50+ years.
CNN reported that first-time claims for unemployment benefits have surged more than 3,000% since early March. In just two weeks, 10 million jobless claims have been filed. This implies an unemployment rate of 9.5% in the US, according to Citi economist Andrew Hollenhorst.
As the quarantine and uncertainty continues at a voracious pace, expect this number to go way up – and, while these are US statistics, this is a global event so you can expect bad news on the job front in every country. Underscoring how impactful this black swan event has been, this is the fastest unemployment rise in US history and will, thus, be interesting to see how it plays out everywhere else.
Even during the global financial crisis of 2007-2009, also called the subprime mortgage crisis, the highest number of unemployment claims per week stood at about 665,000, so we’re certainly breaking records for all the wrong reasons.
Many people are receiving employer benefits for another 1-2 months, or have been asked to take leave, but the longer this goes on, the more stress it puts on companies – and they simply will have no other option than to fire staff – otherwise there will be no company for the workers to return to. While seeming to contradict government policy in many regions, the long-term viability of companies is of vital importance to each country's economy, especially if a quick recovery is to occur as more than a few analysts have suggested it might.
Even with President Trump's $2 trillion stimulus package, the largest in history (and similar stimulus packages being announced internationally), this money has to come from somewhere. The government cannot give cash handouts to its citizens forever. As soon as possible, they’re going to need people to get back to work.
Results are finally being released to highlight the impact of COVID-19 at a socioeconomic level. The below chart (via Axios) reveals that it is the lower and middle income groups who have been most affected.
You can also see that the lower income group is far less likely to have the ability to work from home, with it being reserved overwhelmingly for middle / upper income groups.
A lot of people are claiming that COVID-19 is a healthcare issue, but it’s not – it’s a community issue. If everyone stayed home for 3-4 weeks, and stayed out of contact with others, the virus would likely stop in its tracks. But because there continues to be human interaction, as people adjust to the situation and grapple to understand the severity of it, the confirmed cases will continue to rise.
The speculation of it being a healthcare issue is actually a byproduct of the community not doing what it should be doing. And that creates issues of medical capacity.
A lot of fuss has been made about the US having by far the most positive cases worldwide (more than 350,000 at last count), but that’s irresponsible reporting once again. It’s simply a matter of tests being made available. If there were no tests, there would be no cases, and the US would be at the bottom of the list.
A much more accurate metric to see what country is most impacted is to look at the deaths per capita of each country. And, for the last couple weeks, the US has been hovering around 20th on that list. If you use that metric, France is 3x worse than the US, and countries like Italy and Spain are more than 8x worse than the US, so there’s a lot more to be reported than “number of positive cases.”
There’s even doubts over the data from a lot of these countries, including places like Italy, so it’s hard to even figure out how the health experts are doing their modelling for things like illness and death projections.
Also, the more widely available testing is, the quicker a society should theoretically be able to recover. So 'more testing' could actually be a good thing. But, again, everything is evolving extremely quickly, so we’ll just keep looking at the data as its made available and do the best with the information we’ve got. (After seeing what's happened in New York and Louisiana, there's every chance the US could move up the 'death per capita per country' rankings quickly in the next few weeks.)
As always, the media continues to prophesize the end of the world. Just last week, major network CBS was caught showing alarming footage of an overflowing ward in a New York City hospital. The only problem was that this footage was actually from a hospital in Italy! And one of the most hard hit hospitals in the whole world, for that matter. That’s not doing anyone any favors, except CBS who makes money from clicks.
So, remember, go to the source when it comes to news. Look at the fire rather than the smoke and make up your own mind based on the facts.
I’m following the whole COVID-19 thing very closely. And I’m a 'glass half-full' person, so I’m still optimistic that we're not approaching the end of the world. However, when you see how seriously governments are planning for this pandemic, I’ll admit it’s a little unnerving.
Across the globe, governments have been occupying giant convention centers, warehouses, and hotels so they can stack them with beds in preparation. It gets a little eerie when you think how they would even staff those locations, since the healthcare industry was already overworked prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
For the benefit of my readers, I will continue to keep an eye on how it all unfolds and share my thoughts with you. (Feel free to email me with your thoughts, too, or to let me know if there's something I missed that should be included.)
Just to close off the first part of this newsletter, I want you to remember to focus on what you CAN control, rather than worrying about what you can’t. And in this situation there’s actually a whole bunch of things you can control. Panic leads to inaction, and we need you resourceful enough to figure out how you can not only survive but benefit from how things are changing.
The world will get through this and adapt to a new normal, just as it has done for global recessions and wars throughout history.
Let's now talk about how you can make money from home. I see a lot of people promoting “side hustles” where you trade cryptocurrency or foreign currency and – for the average person – I think those fields (and the people who are flogging them) are absolutely ludicrous.
You also shouldn't enter a position that puts you in more debt through some type of expensive educational program or other business certification, with no airtight guarantee of results. Your short-term goal should be to earn an income that provides for your family and allows you to build up your emergency fund.
If someone approaches you with an opportunity to 'get rich' in the future by, first, outlaying a substantial sum that makes the other person rich in the present, run.
Here, I'll share with you things that will actually work, so pay close attention and think about how you can action them in your own way immediately.
This sounds a little elementary, but if you can’t get into the groove of working from home, you’ll never be able to make money from home. To do this, clear it of distractions and procrastination. Make sure the environment – your work sanctuary – inspires you.
Then, set expectations with all the other people who are in quarantine with you. The last thing you need is to be interrupted constantly just as you’re starting to get into the flow.
Studies have even shown that what you wear while working from home can impact your productivity, so throw on whatever makes you feel the best and get to work.
This step alone might 2x your daily productivity.
There’s a simple question you can ask yourself during moments like this: What audience am I best positioned to serve?
If you can get clear on what that audience is, and what problems they face, you can start creating solutions that solve those problems. Ideally, it would be an audience you enjoy working with and who have meaningful problems that you are passionate about solving.
Once you’ve got your audience in mind, look at your network – whether it’s your friend list on Facebook and / or the contacts in your phone – and make a list of all the names who are in that audience you want to serve. This is the perfect foundation for you to start generating an income from your expertise.
Let's quickly recap the process:
Then, get to work on a plan to add as much value to that audience as possible. Reach out to 2-3 people and listen to what problems they have. Ask them where they want to go and why they haven’t achieved the results they want. Talk to them about what support they would need to achieve their goals.
As you refine your product / service and you're ready to make it widely available, communicate! This is where a lot of people fall down. They either wait for the phone to ring, or they do the complete opposite where they’re too 'salesy' and people can smell their desperation from three countries away.
When you start a new business or create a new product, it almost certainly won’t be bought – it will need to be sold. The best way to sell it is to get clear on what problems your audience faces and then demonstrate how your solution alleviates those problems.
Hopefully by the time you have a product available, you’ll have built up so much goodwill from your audience because of how much time you’ve spent understanding them that they’ll be contacting you to ask when it’s available. But there’s nothing wrong with calling people to let them know that your exciting new solution is now available and that you’ve got a special offer just for them.
In times of uncertainty, like we’re in now, people want leadership – and that’s what you can deliver.
You might even want to start a podcast. We know that more than 37% of US adults – over 104 million people – now listen to podcasts every month. Interview experts in your industry whose calendars have likely cleared up given that they’re stuck at home, and use their guidance to help refine and add more value to your product. The more value you add, the more money you will make – they are perfectly correlated.
If you can build a team, you can exponentially amplify your impact. Virtual teams are very affordable right now and can do things around the clock if you set them up correctly. Project management company Trello wrote a fantastic guide to embracing remote work, which I highly recommend reading if you’re looking to build a high performing team without all the costs, or even if you want to simply outsource some of the tasks that you hate so you can do more of what you love.
For example, you could have someone who takes your podcast and turns it into a blog. They could then automatically turn it into multiple posts (i.e. value nuggets), and then post on your website and all your social platforms. You could have someone reach out to your clients so they feel the love during a difficult time and are less likely to fire you. You could have someone create a whole list with hundreds of people who are your prospective audience, which you can then approach knowing they at least have some degree of interest.
Or you can hire one virtual assistant who does all of that (and more) while you focus on the bigger picture. Really, the opportunities are endless.
Don't get so bogged down on the daily grind that you forget the bigger picture.
Modelling success is one of the most important attributes to have. It gets us out of our own head and inspired by the actions of what real industry leaders are doing. Then, you can apply that expertise in your own way on your own business with your unique voice.
For example, you could arrange a time for a Zoom call with 3-4 friends who you respect and are good at what they do. During the call, set a timer for 30 minutes on each person (to ensure the entire session is not inadvertently monopolized by one person) and go around, as a group, to brainstorm ways each person can benefit from the current situation. If you did this every three weeks, you’d never be short on ideas to thrive in this period.
I would take that one step further by organizing separate 1:1 calls with those who are more seasoned in the world of business – the people who have come through global recessions before, who can serve as mentors. Seek their counsel. I assure you, the billionaires and the heads of multinational companies are far less rattled and much more action-oriented than those who sit on the couch all day watching the news.
There are services like Upwork and Fiverr that give people around the world access to professionals in each field. You can make money by helping other companies, associations, and individuals from the comfort of your own home. As you help more and more people, you will obtain better reviews and a comprehensive portfolio so you can increase your pricing.
Whichever platform you're on, look at the most in-demand people on that platform in your field and see what their profile has that others don’t. Channel that inspiration into creating your unique profile. Again, this is an example of modelling success that we mentioned earlier. If you model the losers (i.e. the under-performing profiles), you don't need me to tell you what happens.
Also, these platforms want to help you get more work because that’s how they get paid! Here's an example that Upwork wrote to help their freelancers create a profile that stands out – it's got some great tips.
And please, for the love of all that is holy, do not create some boring, generic profile. If you’re going to take the time to do something, do it well. Let your personality stand out and, most importantly, show HOW your expertise will help make other people’s lives easier.
While being aligned with one of these platforms has its advantages, you can also do this on your own. Use a free service like Loom that records your computer screen so you can create a course or share your expertise with people all over the world.
In the last month, I've also heard of individuals and companies who have ramped up their 'Pay What You Can' models, which allows people to contribute what they're able rather than having a set price – although you can still have a recommended price so people have a guide. That way, you don't feel guilty for charging a standard retail price during a time when many people are hurting (in fact, you'll probably feel better about yourself for offering flexibility to your community) and your audience is still able to use your service.
Often, for various reasons, this approach brings in more sales, and revenue typically sits closer to the regular price than you might think.
If you’re unsure of what areas of expertise you have, or you feel like you don’t have any areas of expertise at all, focus on our next point...
Remember, the more valuable you become, the more you’ll be able to help others and justify a higher fee for doing so. There’s always an opportunity to grow and the best investment you can make is in yourself.
For example, are there any free online certifications you can get? Are there topics or industries you can learn about for free via YouTube?
Even if you’re concerned about time, you can increase the playback speed to 1.25x or 1.5x – maybe even 2x the speed – so you can get through the material at a much faster pace.
For example, building simple but engaging websites for individuals or small businesses is always an in demand field and the upskill process is short. Plus, you can essentially use the same template and follow the guidance of Squarespace, Wix, etc.
If you allocated 40 hours in the next two weeks to becoming a website designer (remembering that if you increased the playback speed it could be the equivalent of up to 80 hours of training), and then worked on 2-3 friends' websites for free (or a minimal cost), you would then have the expertise and testimonials to be able to launch your company.
Once you acquire a level of knowledge in a particular field, you can think about how you want to share that with your audience, which ties into the second point on our list.
Just remember to very explicitly state HOW the services or products you create solve the problems your audience faces. That is so important and why I am reiterating it.
The better you are at articulating the problem, the more they’ll assume you have the best solution. And the more expertise you have, the more you can help people.
A friend also sent me this spreadsheet last week. It includes links to websites that teach skills in a whole heap of different areas, everything from software engineering and computer programming to language learning and arts and crafts. Seriously, there’s some absolute gold here, with some of the links providing free access to hundreds of courses alone. Make sure you check it out.
If you have an engaged audience, find a product that is a great fit for your audience and become an affiliate. This allows you to promote your own or someone else’s product and earn a commission on it – whether it’s an Amazon link (which anyone can setup) or something for a higher ticket item.
It’s great way to boost your income from home. Just remember to make sure you do it in the right way and actively communicate how the solution will help alleviate your audience’s pain points, as I’ve stressed. If all you do is sell, people are going to quickly tune out. But if you create value for people, they will want to support you.
For example, there’s a website called The Wirecutter that, before it was sold to The New York Times, earned money almost exclusively on affiliate sales. It recommended the best product for most people in pretty much every category, building up a lot of trust so their quickly growing audience respected their opinion. When the audience was ready to buy an item, they wanted to use the affiliate link as a way of thanking The Wirecutter for the help it provided.
When my book Think and Grow Rich: The Legacy was launched on Amazon, I created an affiliate link for it that provides income from Amazon in addition to what the publisher pays. Today, I have affiliate links setup for products that I greatly believe in and talk about often, such as The 5 Minute Journal and Think and Grow Rich (original), etc. and just include those links whenever I mention those products.
It only takes a minute to setup affiliate links on Amazon and you can do it for millions of products. Amazon is happy to pay because you're promoting a product on their platform, and your audience wants to support you so you can keep helping them.
Think about how you can run affiliate sales in your own way that adds value to your audience.
Maybe it’s my background in financial planning, but I had to include this one here! The easiest way to make more money is to cut your costs, just as one of the easiest ways to lose money is to spend more. This is one of the most painfully obvious and simple tips, yet it eludes so many people.
Look at your household spending and find out where you can cut costs. Perhaps you can buy in bulk, or buy online. There’s many ways you can do this and I included it in one of my most popular ever posts called How to Become a Financial Winner.
My wife will tell you that I hate paying full price for anything in retail. Even at the grocery store, I make a game of trying to buy as much on special as I can so I can beat my record on savings at the register. That’s why, when the whole coronavirus thing hit, we had a house full of paper towels, dishwasher tablets, toilet paper, toothpaste, pasta, pasta sauce – you name it. I had bought those items in bulk at 40-50% off the full price when they were on special.
You can save thousands of dollars each year by spending a few extra minutes doing your research online, looking at comparable products in the supermarket (or wherever you’re shopping), and planning long-term.
That’s the end of our list, and hopefully you’ve already thought about this, but those items aren’t mutually exclusive. You can stack several of those methods together and start earning a lot of money from home right now. Think about what actions you want to take, and then get to work.
Stay safe out there. I have a feeling the next few weeks are going to be rough, but don’t let it stop you from winning the day.
Onwards and upwards always,
PS - If you found value in this post, I would greatly appreciate it if you could share it with a friend or loved one 🙂