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Individuals affected by the restrictions put in place to combat the coronavirus pandemic are finding new and creative ways to virtually make money these days.
Fitness instructors are streaming their classes online for donations, beauticians are offering video consultations, and writers are selling personalized pieces of work. BuzzFeed News spoke to a handful of people trying to make the most of a new, stressful, and unpredictable reality.
"We were forced out of the studios we rented and left without a space to teach our regularly scheduled classes," said Jess Duffy, 29, of Chicago. She and her business partner founded Wearhaus, an exercise and dance company, less than a year ago.
"Our students were scared and craving community. We knew we had to be on a platform that was accessible and one that would allow participants to be able to take class regardless of their financial situation," Duffy said.
At first, instructors were opening their classes to anyone who wanted to tune in for free. But she was pleasantly surprised that people offered to pay for them.
"They wanted to help support us in whatever way they could [so] we attached a way to donate via Venmo, and added a $5 drop-in option," she said.
Others, like 39-year-old Jess McGuire, have had to get really crafty to come up with new sources of income. McGuire describes herself as a "jack of all trades," balancing being a DJ, broadcasting host, and writer.
Over the past few weeks, McGuire's festival and wedding bookings were canceled one after another in Brunswick East, a suburb of Melbourne in Australia, where she's based.
"Generally clients were wonderful and told me to hold on to the deposits so they could rebook a date with me later, but losing the remainder of payments I'd been counting on was devastating," she said. "Just thousands and thousands of dollars I'd been counting on that suddenly were no longer going to be paid on the day of the gigs."
She added that she's very understanding of these strict measures to contain the spread of the virus, but it's been stressful.
"My first idea was to offer to record personal podcasts for people in exchange for a PayPal donation — they tell me a topic they want me to talk about, and I make them a 20-minute show about it — which I thought was a funny, goofy idea," McGuire said.
People apparently loved it. She said she got many requests asking her to talk about all kinds of random things, like "cats versus dogs," "a 2020 horoscope for an Aries," and "the history of Melbourne's docks."
Then, more spontaneously because people also know her as a DJ, she started getting requests for her to make personalized "isolation playlists."
So she went with it, and shockingly, she's been busier than ever working these days.
"Being a freelancer means you're kind of used to hustling for gigs, so even though it's been hard losing some of the traditional ways I've made money in the past while the COVID-19 parameters are in place, I'm also familiar with having to be super flexible and used to having to push myself forward to get work," she said.
"It's an honor and a privilege and I'd love to keep doing it in lieu of having an actual radio show where I get to select all the music."
Christian Tucci, 28, has also had to figure out how to use his multifaceted skills for work. Both his daytime jobs, as both a patron services associate with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles and an employee of a workout studio, were put on hold.
"I’m a [comedy] writer and I wanted to kill a day or two of quarantine by exercising my writing muscles," he said. "I thought short poems like haikus or limericks would be fun for others to receive while being low-pressure productivity for me."
So Tucci offered just that on Twitter last week. For a small Venmo payment, he wrote poems of all formats and lengths for anyone online.
"The response was honestly better than I expected — I made about as much as I would in a day of work. Everyone seemed to love their poem, and some people even threw in a tip after reading," he said.
While most subjects BuzzFeed News spoke with are waiting for their normal lives and work to pick back up, Cali Strauhs, a licensed aesthetician based in Queens, is having to remodel her work permanently. She and a staff of beauticians in a shop in Manhattan were laid off due to city mandates in response to the health crisis.
Strauhs said she had already taken on private clients before being laid off, so she began investing all of her time to offering "virtual skincare consultations" for an hour for a charge of $65. She even noted in her Instagram post announcing the service that this allows her to recommend any skin products she wants — and not just expensive brands beauty shops are forced to sell.
"Ever since I launched the online consultations, my weekend became booked and it really kept me at an all time high," she said. "I encourage other people in the service field to be innovative."
These savvy hustlers all agreed that the COVID-19 orders should be in place right now, even if it affected their work.
But they're as determined as ever to keep themselves afloat and keep themselves hopeful.
"There's a lot to be fearful about during a worldwide pandemic, but I've also seen the best of human nature on display...love and kindness and generosity and ingenuity...and it's made me feel so oddly hopeful despite all the awfulness going on," said McGuire.