How to Make Money Online As A Brick and Mortar Business

Written by Laura Roeder

On March 23, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting businesses around the world. Small business owners are having to come up with creative ways to make money online. MeetEdgar has been a fully remote business since the beginning so we know a thing or two about online business. We’ve also helped thousands of entrepreneurs and small businesses market themselves online.

The switch to online sales isn’t always easy, especially in times of stress like what we are in now. However, there are many different tools and resources available to small businesses right now, no matter what industry they are in.

The Small Business Association is offering low-interest disaster loans.
The Treasury and the IRS are delaying the tax payment deadline by 90 days.
Many businesses and organizations are offering private loans and grants. Finder has been keeping track of all the loans available.

There are also many industry-related resources available. Search online for groups, forums or organizations that support your industry or any other small business owner community.

Reach out to your community, too. Your patrons want to support you but you need to communicate how they can do that. Post updates on social media and send emails to your email lists. Even with things changing rapidly, you still want to be frequently communicating with your community so they are up to date on all the available options. If you need ideas on what to post or share, then read on!

Don’t see your industry here? Email us and we’ll update the post to include ideas for you.

Gyms, Fitness Studios or Personal Trainers

Teachers and Tutoring Services

Restaurants, Bakeries, Coffee Shops, Ice Cream Shops or Food Service

Hair Salons, Nail Salons, and Cosmetologists

Retail Stores, Clothing Shops, Bookstores, Art Stores, Craft Stores


How to Make Money Online as a Fitness Studio, Gym or Personal Trainer

People aren’t hustling in the gym anymore but everyone still needs exercise. In fact, some would argue that it’s more important than ever that people maintain their fitness routines. We need fitness experts to keep us moving!

You don’t have to be in the room with someone to coach them through a workout. Many fitness studios and trainers are offering virtual sessions and classes. You can use Facetime or Skype if you coach one on one. If you teach classes or larger groups, the free Zoom plan can host up to 100 participants for 40 minutes.

Remind your audience how important it is to work with certified instructors, especially if they have worked with you in the past! If they’re a former or current client, you already know their fitness goals and what their body needs so they’re more likely to get a better work out with you than through a free YouTube video.

Some studios have also started engaging their audience by offering donation-based live workouts on Instagram and Facebook. This can be a great way to actually reach more potential clients and give them a taste of what a workout with you is like.

You can also sell meal plans or work out plans for your audience to follow. There are tools like Podia or UScreen that make it easy to monetize your content or your videos. You can even customize these to fit the current situation too! Create a workout plan that parents can do with their kids or that couples can do together or at-home workouts people can use throughout their workday.

How to Make Money Online as a Tutor or Teacher

If you are a private tutor or you specialize in teaching an artform or special skill, like music, pottery or cooking, you can jump on the virtual learning train! Schools all over the world are switching to virtual learning while schools are closed and you can pick up on some ideas to keep you in business.

If your students have the materials they need (like instruments, books or tools), then you can continue teaching private lessons over Zoom or Skype. You can also widen your opportunities and create recorded videos or lesson plans that you can sell to a larger audience. Skillshare offers a wide variety of courses and classes and any creator can sign up to become a teacher. You can also sell lesson plans on Teachers Pay Teachers, a website for teachers to sell and share lesson plans. Interested in learning more about online courses? We covered everything you need to know about scaling your business with online courses here.

How to Make Money Online as a Restaurant, Bakery, Coffee Shop, Ice Cream Shop or Food Service

The foodservice industry has been hit hard but many are thinking creatively with how they can increase their revenue without opening their doors.

The first idea and probably the easiest to implement is to sell gift cards. Steve McHugh, owner of Cure in San Antonio explained to the Washington Post that “Gift cards are like interest-free loans.” Remind your customers that gift cards help support you right now and they’ll be able to enjoy them once business has resumed as normal. You can also encourage customers to order a few gift cards if they want to plan ahead for dinner dates, celebrations or holiday or birthday gifts. Gift cards can be sold online. If you don’t have a system set up online yet, you can use a gift card software like Roller or GiftFly to get set up.

Are you still offering delivery or carry out? Then get creative with what you’re offering. For example, many distilleries are including homemade sanitizer with their pick up orders and some restaurants are even including free rolls of toilet paper with orders.

But you don’t have to just include something extra with an order. You could also create something not on your menu to sell. You can create meals that are easy to heat up or can be frozen. You can also create a custom meal by bundling a few of your items together. For example, if you’re a coffee shop, consider creating “Breakfast Bundles” of a coffee, pastry and breakfast sandwich.

If you have excess ingredients or you still have access to your supplier, you could create “At Home Meal Kits” with simple recipes that include the raw ingredients. With so many grocery stores sold out of products and people wanting to avoid shopping in stores, this can be a great option. You can do this if you’re a bakery too! With so many people at home with their kids, they might love a fun baking project.

You can also use this time to teach people your craft with videos or online events. Marie Kirsch who owns the Knotty Pine Bakery in Minnesota explained to the Brainerd Dispatch how she sold sugar cookie baking kit and then held a cookie decorating class on Facebook live.

You can do online classes to promote meal kit sales or you can do these videos for a fee or donation based. Carlie Steiner, a restaurant owner in DC, has been offering free virtual cocktail classes on Facebook and Instagram live. While the classes are free, viewers can donate to a virtual tip jar to pay the restaurant’s out-of-work bartenders.

How to Make Money Online as a Hair Salon, Nail Salon or Cosmetologist

With people cooped up at home, hair and nail appointments are being canceled left and right. But there’s still a market for people who want to practice self-care through haircare, skincare and nail care.

If you sell retail products, like styling products, hair masks, nail polish or hand lotions, you can sell those online! If you don’t currently sell them online you can quickly add an e-commerce section to your site or create one using an e-commerce platform like Shopify or BigCommerce. You can bundle up different products to create special bundles for spa nights or self-care days. Nail salons or technicians can sell removal kits for their customers who need to remove their polish or acrylics.

Information products such as how-to videos or tutorials are also perfect for this industry. You can create tutorials around how to do nail art, create the perfect up-do or create different makeup looks. These can be added in with any retail products you sell to create a bundle so customers can learn from home. You can also host live events such as a “Paint Your Nails Party” to promote your online products and teach your audience something new.

How to Make Money Online as a Retail Store, Clothing Shop, Bookstore, Art Store, Craft Store, etc.

For product-based industries like retailers, the switch to online sales is the obvious choice. But there are still some fun, friendly personal experiences you can offer your customers that will help you stand out from the crowd of online retailers.

You can also still allow people into your store — virtually, that is! You can accept orders by phone, email or online and then invite your customers to see your products online. Local boutiques are sharing products on their social media pages, doing flash sales on Instagram stories and making Facetime shopping appointments with customers so they can virtually browse the store.

You can curate unique kits or bags of items for your customers. Customers appreciate brick and mortar retailers because they can be so much more personal than online retailers. You can still offer that high level of customer service with unique kits or personalized options. Capitol Hill Books, a local bookstore in Washington DC, is selling Mystery Bag of Books available for curbside pick up. Customers can email the store with some broad ideas for books they enjoy and pay via PayPal $25, $50 or $100 and the staff will create a personalized mystery bag of books that customers can pick curbside at the store.

You can use a similar idea for any craft stores or hobby shops. More people are looking for ideas on how they can spend their days now that they are stuck at home. Boutiques and clothing stores can do this as well by creating personalized style boxes for clients. A customer can give you an idea of an event they’ll be attending or outfit needs and you can create an outfit for them.

How to Make Money Online as a Photographer

Spring is a busy time for photographers as it’s the beginning of the wedding high season and graduation photos. If you can’t get out and photograph events and sessions as you normally would, you can use your skills and experience as a professional photographer to make money online.

Your first option is to consider selling your photos online. You can sell these as prints to your audience. If you don’t want to set up an e-commerce section on your website, you can use a site like Etsy. Or you can sell directly through your Instagram pages. Many photographers sell their prints on Instagram by posting the photo on their page, naming their price in the caption and requesting users DM them if they’d like to purchase it. They then accept payments through Venmo or PayPal. You can also sell your photos to stock photo websites.

Another way to earn extra money is by providing photo editing services. There are many amateur photographers or even some businesses who may need the help of a professional to edit their photos so they look their best.

You could also teach photo editing. In fact, you can teach any of your photography skills. You can use an online learning platform like Skillshare or a course creation tool like Podia to create photography lessons and tutorials.

Some Final Thoughts on Making Money Online

Our last tip for making money online is to prioritize content creation. Creating content for social media, your website and email keeps you in connection with your audience. It reminds them that your business is here and they can continue supporting it.

In hard times, we have to rely on our creativity and innovation to keep our businesses strong. We’re all in this together so we want to hear from you! What are your questions or ideas about making money online? How are you supporting small and local businesses?

Looking for more support in building your business online? Download our signature course, Social Brilliant! It’s the step-by-step process our founder followed to build a 7-figure business with social media!

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