I looked around for side hustles.
I was not impressed.
While side hustles are often spruiked as a great way to increase and diversify your income, including in my own book, I reckon we need to separate the wheat from the chaff.
There are many online jobs that pay next to nothing. Captioning, Fiver, copy writing, office tasks, typing up meeting notes and so on. They seem like a good idea because there’s no cost to entry or commute, but once you calculate the hourly rate it is not worth it for the vast majority of people.
Workers often complain of making <$10 per hour, all told. The management of these companies, cough Indian cough, can also be difficult, with frequent comments about arbitrary rejection of work or favouritism towards Indians in promotion.
Unless your Uncle Rajiv owns one of these businesses, stay away.
There are some professionals or semi-professionals who can make these jobs worthwhile. Extremely fast typists, the very best copy writers and so on. These are probably <5% of the people who ever seriously try it.
There are also people in Third World countries who find working for $10 per hour worth their time, including Westerners. I was not one of these.
The good – online
The best online side gigs are ones where your skills are valuable enough to be paid properly and you are not competing with Filipina housewives living in bamboo huts.
Online nursing, teaching, web design, counselling and so on are much better prospects for the average person looking to make a bit of beer money. Some people turn it into a career.
This is not an exhaustive list. The point is, you need the skills, experience and/or qualifications to make most online work worth considering. This applies whether you run your own business or work for someone else. Better to spend time acquiring those skills than to fuff around with $7-per-hour stenography.
The good – offline
Always remember that the real world still exists and can be a fun place to visit.
I once had a Sunday-morning gig that paid half my rent. I ended up quitting because the boss lady was intolerable, but while it lasted I couldn’t believe how much extra cash I had in my wallet.
If you can find a weekend job locally that pays a reasonable hourly rate, that will beat most online gigs for most people.
These day, people turn their nose up at stocking shelves overnight at the supermarket but will spend the same number of hours creating monetised YouTube content that earns next to nothing.
Your time, your choice.
Pick a real-life side gig that you don’t hate. Some people enjoy warehouses because it’s a compete break from their regular office work. Some like teaching piano. If it’s fun or you can at least have a laugh with merry coworkers, there’s a better chance it will last.
Just working one extra day per week can make a big difference to your budget, as I discovered. The poorer you are, the truer this is.
Cash-in-hand whatty what now? Sorry, no idea what you’re talking about.
The bad – offline
Not everything in the real world is flowers and puppy dogs. There are plenty of side gigs out there that are not worth your time.
Chief among these are jobs where you are classed as a sub-contractor, which enables your employer to say they are not really your employer and pay you under minimum wage.
Long ago, I did ‘walking’ as a part-time job – delivering those annoying advertising materials to letterboxes. The job itself was easy in good weather but when I calculated my hourly rate, including time spent picking up and collating the materials, it was ridiculous. Second-shortest job I ever had. The shortest I quit before I started but that’s a story for another day.
Every hour that you put into one thing is an hour you cannot put into something else.
If you’re working ridiculous hours for a low return, you’ll be exhausted and lose the creative spark to think about what else you could be doing.
Your time is precious.
What about you? Anybody tried a side gig and how did it go?
- This article provides general information. It does not take into account your personal circumstances and is not intended to influence readers’ financial decisions. Get your own, professional advice.