Margie Zable Fisher
Almost every day since the outbreak of the coronavirus, we’ve heard stories about businesses shutting down. Yet new businesses have also been launched during the pandemic at the fastest rate in over a decade, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Some of these new businesses and side gigs are being launched by Americans over 50 from home.
Here are stories of three such entrepreneurs who are using clever marketing tactics, networks of friends, family and business connections and good old-fashioned ingenuity. They might inspire you to start your own home-based business.
Glen Muñoz: From recording studio to podcasting
For the last 10 years, Glen Muñoz, 52, of New York City, had been operating a recording studio out of leased space in lower Manhattan. Then, COVID-19 brought his business — providing audio services for TV shows and other clients — to a screeching halt.
In early April 2020, Muñoz came up with an idea that would let him use his 30+ years of experience in digital marketing and audio services: he’d create a full-service podcast production and distribution company, Pod Pro Audio , which he could run from the safety of his home.
“I had enjoyed listening to podcasts for years,” Muñoz says. “I knew they were continuing to grow in popularity, and I thought it would be fun to make them.”
He filled in podcast knowledge gaps with research from Google /zigman2/quotes/202490156/composite GOOGL -0.03% and the New York Public Library, which began offering video chats with research librarians during the pandemic.
“There was very little expense involved in setting up what I needed for podcast production,” says Muñoz. He used his existing desk and bought software for his home computer ($149), a webcam ($79), a basic USB microphone ($49) and a quality set of headphones ($249). Total cost: just over $500.
Muñoz knew that one of his biggest challenges would be competing with low-price competitors. “I offer a premium service,” he says, “but the internet allows for anyone to be a ‘podcast producer’ from anywhere. That means that a kid in his bedroom in Billings, Montana can afford to do it for next to nothing.”
In early discussions with others about his business, Muñoz found that many potential clients were unfamiliar with podcasting and nervous about the gear and technology involved. So, he developed a handful of brief “How-To” manuals that helped them understand how to be a successful podcaster, which also showcased the value-added services he provided.
His first client was someone he knew from college who wanted to launch a podcast to support a new consulting business. Muñoz produced that podcast in April. Within the first few months of launching the business, Muñoz was turning a profit.
After three decades working, Muñoz has built up a large network; reaching out to them is the main way he gets clients.
“If my contacts aren’t interested in podcast production services, I ask them to refer me to two or three people who might be able to use my services or provide any other guidance,” he says. They often do.
Muñoz offers this tip to aspiring entrepreneurs: “Stay nimble and be receptive to what the market demands. In my case, my initial goal was to create original content podcasts similar to serialized fiction stories like the old-school radio-drama productions. But the demand for my skills and service lay in working with professionals and brands looking to create ‘branded content.'”
Samiksha Rawool: A tasty side gig
Samiksha Rawool, 50, of Jeffersonville, Ind., is a senior business analyst for Heartland Payment Systems and self-described techie by day and a lover of cooking and good food in her off hours. In January 2020, Rawool started a food blog, Yummy Tummy Recipes , (as Samiksha Sanwet, using her husband’s last name) to share her passion and recipes for cooking healthy, easy and tasty Indian meals.
Success has come quickly.
“In the first month of launching my blog, I had $1,200 in revenue,” she notes. That came through advertising networks including Google AdSense and Media.net, which show ads on her site.
Today, Yummy Tummy Recipes gets about 7,000 unique monthly visitors and continues to be profitable. Rawool earns a minimum of $250 a day through the ad networks and by promoting products and services from the meal kit delivery service Green Chef on her blog, through an affiliate relationship.
She spent $125 to start her blog: $11 for a domain name, $70 for annual website hosting and $44 for a website design. Since Rawool was managing her side hustle while working full time, she spent weekends and holidays educating herself on skills to help move her blogging business forward. Web platforms including Udemy and Udacity taught her about digital marketing and web development.