One of the hardest things about living with a chronic illness is losing the ability to work.
As your illness progresses and your symptoms get worse, getting yourself to work and staying focused throughout the day can become a massive challenge. That’s assuming you still even have a job to go to.
Many chronic illnesses are also invisible. Your boss and coworkers can’t see your pain and discomfort. Vertigo, brain fog, and fatigue don’t look like anything specific from the outside. There is a real chance that your colleagues will underestimate the severity of your symptoms.
Having to give up a job you love is a terrible thing for anyone to have to go through. And it’s not just the loss of income either, for a lot of people it’s a loss of meaning and purpose as well.
But as I’ve said time and time again, there is always hope. There are opportunities available if you know where to look for them.
Last year I published 10 Ways to Make Money from Home with a Chronic Illness.
Today I offer you 8 new strategies and a list of resources to help you out along the way.
8 More Ways to Make Money with a Chronic Illness
1) Convince your boss to let you work from home:
If you still have a job but are struggling to keep up, sometimes the simplest solution is to just ask your boss to allow you to work from home. Even if it’s something that your company doesn’t normally do, it’s worth it to try. A good tip is to ask for a trial run. See if they will commit to even a week-long trial period. Let them know you will be available at all times by phone and email during business hours.
If they grant you a trial period, and you can get all of your work done from home and are able to do a good job, there is no reason that they wouldn’t at least be open to the idea of allowing you to work from home on a more permanent basis.
2) Sell your art:
Do you consider yourself an artist? Do you take great photographs or like to paint? Maybe you’re a graphic designer. You can sell your art online fairly easily with a print on demand service.
There are many companies to choose from but the basic premise is simple: just upload the image of your art, choose the type of product you would like your art to be printed on, and go sell! You can choose from art prints, stretched canvas, coffee mugs, and so much more. Whenever someone orders something, the company will create the product, ship it to the customer, and pay you a royalty. It lets you sell your art with no upfront investment.
Also, if you would prefer to sell original works of art, rather than prints, check out Artfinder.
3) Sell crafts and handmade products:
If you enjoy making crafts, sewing/knitting, or making any other kind of handmade products, you can make money selling your work on Etsy – the largest online marketplace for buying and selling handmade goods. All you have to do is sign up, upload images of your products, and you are ready to sell!
To give you a good example, my friend Ali recently had a baby and also suffers from an inoperable lipoma tumor located on her acoustic nerve. It causes terrible vestibular symptoms like vertigo, Tinnitus, and dizziness, and as a result, she can only work part time. Recently, she decided to put her sewing skills to work and started making adorable baby bibs that attach with magnets to sell on Etsy.
Check out Ali’s store (especially if you have a baby) for a great example of what you can do on Etsy.
4) Become a business consultant or coach:
If you have a lot of experience in a specific field or business, you could put that knowledge to use as a business consultant or coach. It would be up to you to find clients, but if you were good at your job and have good ideas, there is no reason that you couldn’t offer your expertise to others. And you wouldn’t have to leave your house to do it. With Skype, Google Hangouts, and Facetime, video conferencing has never been easier and is a great way to meet with clients. You can use project management software like Basecamp to assign tasks and communicate. You can set your own hours, work from home, and continue to make a difference in your field.
5) Make money with affiliate sales:
If you have a large social following online, or access to one, affiliate sales are a simple way to make extra money. Being an affiliate basically means you are an independent online commissioned sales person. In other words, you sell other peoples products and receive a percentage of the sale as compensation.
There are a lot of ways to do this and many different companies use affiliates to sell their products. Amazon.com, for example, is an easy one to get started. You can set up an affiliate account and whenever people purchase products through your link, you get a small commission on every order.
If you have ever seen the Amazon portal link on the Mind Over Meniere’s homepage, that’s an affiliate link. If you click my link when you want to buy something on Amazon, Mind Over Meniere’s gets a small percentage of your order from Amazon at no extra cost to you. I really appreciate everyone who shops on Amazon through my link. It’s helped to support the costs of running my site.
There are also affiliate networks, which are essentially marketplaces where you can browse products to sell and see the commissions offered. I recommend sticking with products that relate to things you are knowledgeable about.
6) Design and sell T-Shirts:
T-Shirts are an interesting way to make money and can be quite lucrative if you have a good idea. Teespring is a crowdsourced T-Shirt company that lets you design and sell shirts without any upfront investment or costs. You simply create a design and choose a period of time for your crowdfunding campaign. If you hit the minimum order threshold in the time frame that you set, then at the end everyone’s credit cards will be charged and the T-Shirts will be printed and shipped to all your customers. If you don’t sell enough, no one gets charged and no shirts are printed. You can make money if you create a unique design for the specific interests of the people in your network.
7) Become a Virtual Assistant
Being a virtual assistant is a great way to make money from home and allows you to set your own hours, schedule, and work on your own terms. A virtual assistant is essentially someone that helps a business remotely with all kinds of different tasks. It could include typical assistant type duties, such as sending emails, data entry, taking phone calls, setting schedules, setting appointments, and so on. But Virtual Assistants (VA) also help with other tasks, like writing blog posts, marketing, social media management, advertising, bookkeeping, web/graphic design, providing customer service, and so much more.
Sometimes you can land a VA job by reaching out to people and businesses that you have worked with before. But if you don’t have an established network, you can apply to be a virtual assistant on Priority VA, Fancy Hands, eaHelp, or you can apply and bid on specific VA job postings on freelancing sites like Upwork and Freelancer.
8) Online Retail Arbitrage:
Retail arbitrage is another fascinating way to make money online. On a basic level, here’s how it works: you purchase products that are on sale or clearance from one retailer and resell them on Amazon, Ebay, or Craigslist for a profit. It takes a bit of time to find these products, but they are out there.
Because of the way the Amazon Marketplace and Ebay are set up, there is often a big difference in the prices of products. If you can find these products, you can make money on the spread. It can be as simple as scanning products with the Amazon Seller app (Android / IOS) at your local big box retailer’s clearance isle to see if there is a price differential, or finding deals on online retail websites and reselling them on Amazon.
Also, if you know a lot about a specific kind of product, let’s say baseball memorabilia, you can go even deeper. A keen eye for deals and specialty items can go a long way. You can find deals on Ebay and resell them on Amazon. The price differential between Ebay and Amazon alone is enough to make money if you have a good eye for the right memorabilia.
4 Resources and tips to help you succeed
1) You don’t need to be a designer to create beautiful graphics:
Canva.com is an incredible (and free) web based design software that lets you create beautiful graphics in minutes with an easy drag and drop interface. There are thousands of free images, icons, shapes, and more for you to work with. There is also an integrated stock image search engine. If you find something you like, it’s only one dollar per stock image.
2) If you don’t know how to do something, hire a freelancer to do it for you:
I often find I have things I need to do for my blog, book, or other online projects, that I just don’t know how to do myself. Freelancers are always my go to solution. If at any point you need help with something that you don’t know how to do, you can quickly and easily hire a freelancer to do it for you
For example, lets say you have a great idea for a T-Shirt that you would like to sell on Teespring but you aren’t an artist and don’t want to make the actual design. Freelancer websites like Upwork, Fiverr, and Freelancer.com make it easy. You simply post the job description, in this example you would describe your idea for the T-Shirt design, set your budget (hourly or fixed amount) and freelancers from around the world will bid and apply for your job. It’s an amazingly powerful system. I found the editor and cover designer for my book on Upwork.
3) Use TaskRabbit for help with Errands:
TaskRabbit is a service that basically lets you hire freelancers to run errands for you in the real world. Need something picked up? Need your dry cleaning dropped off? You can hire a qualified person on Taskrabbit to help you out. The only problem is that at the moment, it’s only available in these 18 cities.
4) Take an online course to learn new skills:
In my first post, I recommended creating and selling an online course. But it’s also extremely valuable to take online courses yourself. It’s a fantastic way to learn new skills that you can use to make money from home and many of the courses available are free. Check out Udemy, Coursera, and Skillshare. It’s never too late to reinvent yourself. (I will put together a list of great courses in a future post)
To keep everything in perspective, all of these ideas will take work, and a bit of an entrepreneurial spirit, but it’s possible to start earning money again if you’ve had to give up your career because of your chronic illness. Many of these ideas won’t replace a full-time income, at least not right away, but each has the potential to become a business.
I have personally used many of these ideas to make money, as well as some of the strategies from my first post. I am living proof that it’s possible, and if I can do it, so can you!
I wish you the best of luck on your entrepreneurial journey!