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5 ways Malaysians are making good money while social distancing

What’s the difference between the MCO and the numbers on our bank account balance? Well, the MCO actually gets longer and longer…

There’s MCO, EMCO, CMCO, RMCO, and the next thing you know…

YMCO… You can hang out with all the boys…

And one thing that’s almost as terrible as that joke is… the economic pinch that many Malaysians are feeling. Because to be honest, we’re really feeling it too! 

Surely you’ve seen enough news about people losing their jobs or getting pay cuts. BNM even stated that Malaysia’s current unemployment rate has gone up to 3.9% in March, higher than it was during the last two financial crises we went through.

Although, this got us thinking, if any of us gets the short end of the stick (pay cuts or even losing our jobs – knock on wood), what are our contingency plans?

Our friends at Lazada told us that plenty of their sellers are making good use of the new normal to earn some extra income, so we thought, aside from getting Gomen handouts, what are some ways people are making good money during the in this new normal?


1. Helping your neighbours get their groceries (no, really!)

Just in case y’all forget how difficult it was to go out during the first few phases of the MCO, only a family member can volunteer as tribute to shop for groceries.

May the roadblocks be ever in your favour. Img from For Fun

While most people were making fun of how the heads of the households (read: husbands) were having a hard time figuring out what’s what at the supermarket, a guy by the name of Jebard Ardjuna took a step further to get groceries… for his neighbours.

“At first, I was only helping out my neighbours to get groceries. I didn’t charge them any fees and it was only for promotional purposes.” – Jebard to Cilisos, translated from BM.

This Jebard doesn’t need a keris, he only needs a Kriss. Img courtesy of Jebard.

Since then, he started receiving more orders and, a week after the MCO was first introduced, he started charging for his services as a personal shopper. And guess what? This is actually his first time becoming a personal shopper!

Jebard, whose service covers areas near Selayang, Gombak and Setapak, also told us that he would normally get two to four customers in a day. And that would mean that he could make about RM80 to RM150 per day, which is his income on top of his other gigs as a runner with several courier companies.

A customer feedback on his service. Img from Jebard

See, becoming a personal shopper isn’t that easy considering how you may need to fulfill your customer’s demands even if it means you have to shop at multiple supermarkets to find one item, but Jebard told us that his customer’s satisfaction comes first.

“For those who want to be a personal shopper, my advice is to always be honest, responsible and always be friendly to your customer although they cancel on you at the last minute.” – Jebard.


2. Opening an online store

Let’s start with the obvious. Online shopping has become more common these days, and at least half of the population are shopping on the net. So you know there is a demand, but where do you even start?

We talked to Jamie who is selling groceries and frozen goods on Lazada. According to Jamie, when she first started, she used to sell everything under the sun, from yoga gears to beauty supplies. But if you ask her to show you her store today, you’ll see…

Ain’t no yoga supplies here. Kalau nak sapot Jamie, visit here

With more experience, she realized that it’s way more effective for her to focus on products she already knows and loves instead, and in her case it’s groceries and frozen food because of how much she loves a good hot pot.

“I used to sell make up, even though I don’t really wear make up. And when a customer ask me questions, I couldn’t give them the best answer because that was not my specialty. But when you really understand your products, then that’s when you can give the best to your customers.” – Jamie

Jamie also used to be in the FMCG industry, and she uses the experience and connections from her old job to source for the products she sells. In her view, it’s easier to start with something you already know, because that makes your learning curve so much easier to manage.

But selling on a massive platform like Lazada does come with it’s own challenges, so you need to stand out among the sea of sellers by having good credibility and a store identity. According to Jamie, growing your online store’s credibility and customer base can be done with something we all already have: Friends!

“When you open your store, let all your friends know. Share it on social media, ask your friends to buy from you and write reviews. When people see reviews, they will feel more confident to buy from you.” – Jamie

Starting this way allowed her to gain new customers, who after a while, kept coming back and became loyal customers. And while she didn’t disclose how much she makes each month, it seems like she’s going pretty steady, as she sold nearly 6000kg of frozen food in March. She also hired an employee to help out, so that’s a really good sign!

3. Selling your cooking online

A lot of people have turned to cooking since the MCO started, but sometimes, there are things you just can’t make at home, and other times…

Your cooking comes back to haunt you. Img from Masak Apa Tak Jadi Hari Ini

And since the MCO pretty much cancelled out 2020’s Ramadhan bazaars, we noticed an influx of home cooks who started selling their dishes online as an extra source of income. On top of that, a few online bazaars have also popped up online, opening up a new channel of income for home cooks.

Since Lazada also had a Ramadhan online bazaar, we tried asking them about this. Instead, they put us in touch with DyLan, who turned out to be someone the Cilisos staff has known for a very long time… or his food at least.

We order from him almost daily. Finally we know how he looks like… Unedited img from Salad Atelier

DyLan owns the restaurant chain Salad Atelier – which has kept our writers well fed and healthy for the past few years – and has not only participated in Lazada’s online bazaar, but also has years of experience in selling food online.

He gave us some not-so-surprising insights of people’s eating trends he has personally seen- dining in has been on a decline since even before the MCO, and delivery has grown exponentially. Therefore, DyLan saw that white space and figured that going into e-commerce is definitely the right move if you wanna reach more people.

During Ramadhan, DyLan and his team were selling food like ayam kunyit, ayam penyet, and kuih muih on Lazada’s online bazaar, and tells us that he can earn up to 4 figures in one day.

One thing DyLan invests in is good photography 🤤

But outside of Ramadhan, DyLan also pushes the restaurant sales on a few e-commerce platforms like Grabfood and Lazada. He says that going onto different e-commerce platforms gives you the chance to tap into their huge customer base.

“People who come to our restaurants are people that stay nearby. But online platforms have their own clientele and a database that you can tap onto. Lazada’s database is damn huge. By joining them [and] being in LazMall, they give us the support like doing email blasts, so we can reach new customers.” – DyLan

Speaking of support, Lazada also frequently comes up with tons of incentive plans to support their sellers. Recently, they just launched the Jom #Sellmore incentive plan to help new sellers grow their online store, which you can read more about at the end of the article.

On top of access to customer databases and incentive plans, food sellers can also use these e-commerce platforms to run promotions. For Dylan, making use of Lazada’s flash sales and mega campaigns does bring in great returns, as he can earn a 5 figure revenue in a day when he participates in them! And aside from his dishes, he also gains new customers by selling vouchers for people to redeem in-store.

However, selling online does come with it’s own set of challenges. For the Ramadhan online bazaar and fresh food delivery that his customers buy through Lazada, Dylan engages a third party runner for delivery, as salads and poke bowls can’t be delivered through a courier service… though he says finding runners is easy. Aside from that, he also says that you have to put in some effort to stand out among other sellers.

“Taking nice picture, taking time to edit, it’s a commitment. You really have to put effort wan.” – DyLan


4. Using your nerd power to tutor school kids

Another way you can earn money during the MCO (and other times tbh) is by sharing your knowledge, especially if you’re particularly good at certain school subjects. And that is what Anwar Afiq, a freelance tutor; and Mohd Noor of Tutor Professional Malaysia are doing.

And that’s a YA from Anwar. Img courtesy of the man himself

We found out that their classes are still going on as usual even though school teachers are now conducting classes online. 

“It is the same concept as before (the MCO) where students would still attend their classes in school but, at the same time, they would require extra classes, especially when they’re staying at home and have ample of free time.” – Mohd Noor to Cilisos, translated from BM.

He also added that parents tend to worry about their kids missing out on learning since schools are closed, so they would enroll their kids for tuition classes. This may explain why he saw an increase in the demand for tuition classes.

But let’s be real. Not every parent would enroll their kids for online tuition classes during the MCO, depending on their current economic situation or even their accessibility of online learning platforms. Anwar shared that the only difference in the classes he conducts before and during the MCO is how some students tend to have more classes than others.

“I believe in the (current) economic circumstance, the T20 or M40 classes do find tutors to keep their children occupied.” – Anwar told us.

But one thing both Anwar and Mohd Noor could agree on was how their income would depend on the number of students and classes they conduct in a month.

An example of online classes conducted by a tutor from Tutor Professional Malaysia. Img from Mohd Noor

Although they didn’t reveal exactly how much they can earn from becoming a tutor, Mohd Noor kinda dropped us a hint. 

“It depends on the number of classes, because we (Tutor Professional Malaysia) do offer free classes as well as paid ones. Besides that, our income also depends on the number of students who join… potentially four to five figures.” – Mohd Noor.

You don’t need a math tutor to tell you how much that adds up to!

But of course there are several challenges that come together with that kinda income la. Other than being passionate in sharing your knowledge, you may also wanna be knowledgeable enough to know how to make your classes engaging and interesting. Mohd Noor also added that it’s good to be involved in a circle of educators, so that you get to exchange knowledge and skills needed to be a tutor.


5. Freelancing as a graphic designer or writer

Freelancing may not exactly be a new thing for some of us. In fact, the World Bank data stated that 26% of the working population in Malaysia are freelancers. While this data came from waaaaayyy before the MCO was introduced, some people like freelance graphic designer Ashleigh Quah went freelance during the MCO because they lost their jobs.

“My previous company shut down and I’ve lost my full-time job due to Covid-19. Even though I opted to be a full-time freelancer as a back-up plan, I’ve always loved that the freelance lifestyle is built on the idea of having more time to do what you love.” – Ashleigh

In fact, Ashleigh felt that there’s more job opportunities as a freelance graphic designer during the MCO! She added that this is because most companies are turning to digital marketing to survive this period.

However, not everyone became freelancers after losing their jobs la. Some people like Yeung Yeu-Gynn, a freelance writer by choice, managed to secure a few freelance jobs (aka gigs) with publishing sites before the MCO started.

But let’s be real. Some freelancers are actually struggling to land a job during this trying times. Yeu-Gynn actually admitted this because gigs from some of the publishers she was working for had stopped after the MCO started.

Yeu-Gynn, a freelance writer. Img courtesy from Yeu-Gynn

However, that didn’t really stop people from becoming freelancers. Yeu-Gynn even told us that she sees an increase in the number of freelance writers at the sites she’s working with. This may be why she told us that she would have to come up with more intriguing titles.

One particular reason why people go freelance despite knowing how hard it is to land a job, is because these guys (or in this case, ladies) are making really good money. How good are we talking about??

“For my main gig, I get RM600 to RM800 per article, and I get published maybe 4 to 5 times.” – Yeu-Gynn. 

“Only freelancing, around RM100 to RM1,000 per project.” – Ashleigh.

If we do the math, Yeu-Gynn would be paid about RM2,400 to RM4,000 per month while Ashleigh, who normally gets two to three projects a month, would get about RM300 to RM4,000 per month. One thing we noticed is how both of them said that their freelance pay is more than what they used to earn in their full-time jobs (tapi have to pandai-pandai save up retirement fund la).

But this kinda pay really comes with hard work la. Ashleigh shared that you don’t have to wait til you’re ready to start freelancing. Yeu-Gynn, on the other hand, highlighted that managing jobs when freelancing might be important.

“I don’t have a lot of experience doing this but when you’ve got freelance gigs, focus on what you have. You can keep applying and stuff but prioritize what you already have.” – Yeu-Gynn.


Everyone has talent(s), and there’s always someone willing to pay for it

The people we interviewed are just a few examples of how people can find opportunities in current situations. In fact, there are more social-distancing-friendly gigs that we had to skip so we wouldn’t end up writing a novel. Some of them can be short term gigs that you can do for a couple of months (like runners), and other can be turned into a long term career (like starting your own business). And yes, starting your own business can be daunting as there are plenty of new skills and tricks you have to pick up along the way.

However, if you’re keen on setting up your business on Lazada, they’ll love to support your business with lots of incentive plans being continuously offered.

The latest incentive they’re rolling out is the Jom #Sellmore incentive plan, which focuses on helping new sellers that have been selling for less than 90 days. It’s a tier based system, and when you hit a new milestone, you’ll get more rewards such as free shipping and ad credits! Jom #Sellmore starts from June 10 2020, so better start signing up soon 🙂

Winners are announced every Tuesdays.

But no matter how 2020 has been for you so far, just gotta remember one thing – If life gives you lemons, there’s someone out there thirsty for a lemonade…

There will always be opportunities. Img from BayArt


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