Home Money The Side Hustle Hunt: Why None of Them Work…Yet

The Side Hustle Hunt: Why None of Them Work…Yet

by Bethany

The side hustle. It is a big deal here in the personal finance sphere. It is held on a pedestal as the way to go for creating another income revenue. After all, more money means we can pay off debt, fully fund our retirements, and get our kids set up for college.

What is not talked about as often is how hard it is to find a side hustle that actually works for you. I have tirelessly read the long listicles about side hustle options until my eyes glazed over.  Don’t get me wrong, I have tried some of them too, but finding a side hustle that lasts a whole year has not yet happened.

Side Hustles Attempted:

Teachers Pay Teachers:

This turned out to be the only side hustle that actually made me some income. However, I am finding it to be an ethical conundrum. Teachers spending their own money from their own paychecks to find materials and lessons in order to bring new ideas into the classroom seems like a problem. It is a choice. I have made that choice before. We are paying each other for home made curriculum.

Due to this, I have not added any more to my shop because I am still grappling with whether or not I want this to grow?  All of that said, I have made some money on it. I have only a few resources on there and make about $10 a month. Also TPT asks that at least one of your items is free. So that is one up-side. I do think I could make this grow in the future.

Pros: Online, Passive Once Set Up
Cons: Ethically questionable

Etsy Printable Shop

This is one of those side hustles I was SO stoked about. People have found GREAT success on Etsy from an actual product or from the printables. However, I did not find success and it was probably because I had no idea what I was doing. I created the logo, the cute shop look, and of course products that I thought were worth a few dollars. They even have Photoshop templates to insert the images into so people could actually imagine them on the wall and then I shared my stuff wherever I could.

I just did not have any audience for it. Perhaps this was part of the problem, but I actually have made $0 on Etsy. In fact, I spent so much time on there I ended up buying myself a pair of earrings…so technically I lost money.

If I were to continue on this, I would probably enroll in a course so I could have more of a clue for what to do.  I know that Millennial Boss has one you can find here: Fire Drill Masterminds.

Pros: Online, Passive Once Set Up, Fun and Creative
Cons: Must have audience, a course on HOW to sell needed, oversaturated printable market

Online Surveys:

Oh my gosh. What a brilliant idea. Multiple choice and little short answer survey questions about YOU that will make you money. People actually care what I think?

Well, in reality only a few companies actually want to hear from a white millennial female. I signed up for online surveys while sitting in an airport waiting for a flight. I thought I could fill my boredom with taking some surveys and maybe pay for my $8 airport coffee. While I sat there for 2 hours, I made a total of $2.08. I took one full survey about Ant and Pest control and took about 30 of the “pre-intro” surveys only to be denied.

What are the pre-intro surveys? Well the survey company will list surveys that you can take providing you a point value and an amount of time it will take. You click on the survey that was “hand picked for your profile” and start it. Sadly, I started SO many and they asked my age, demographic etc then said “Oops- we are not looking for your opinion right now.” This is the pre-intro part that started to get frustrating and seemed like a total waste of time. Granted, I was not doing anything at the time, but I can tell you that when I got home I never picked up the survey app again.

Pros: Online, Accessible, Easy,
Cons: Time consuming, Not Targeted, unfulfilling

Amazon Selling/Books

This is an awesome side hustle.  All throughout college and into my first few years of teaching I would sell my used textbooks (that I had purchased) on Amazon or use their trade in program. I even sold a Kindle, an iPad and some tech stuff that I had never used. Amazon was a legit platform and I was able to make my money back on most of book sales if not make a profit.

Like I said, GREAT side hustle, until you run out of things to sell. Eventually I was finding that I no longer was buying the expensive text books, nor was I buying much more of anything and I ran out of items to sell. I have known people who take to Goodwill or Garage Sales and continue the online book business. However, this is becoming increasingly more challenging since Goodwill started scanning all of their books and selling the big ticket items online- removing that as a resource for people in this side hustle.

Now, I use the Amazon trade in program for any odd PD books that I buy and then no longer need and that is about it.

Pros: Online, Good Profit Margins
Cons: Not passive, product supply required= money invested

The Summer Job

This is a side hustle that does work. I have had a summer job every single year except this one. From running a summer art camp, to day care, to working at an art gallery; I can always find a summer gig to bring in some more money. This summer was different because I was taking three college courses in order to move up a pay lane as a teacher. The course work was enough to keep me busy. The courses did cost me, but I will make that up in the end once I am moved up in salary placement.

The summer job is a choice for me, yet this is not the case for many teachers. Another ethical conundrum. Ideally, one job would be enough and summer could be spent taking PD, building curriculum or going pee when you want and taking some time to be with your kids. The choice should be ours- to bring in extra money for a goal or to pay for a vacation.

Pros: Can be tailored and fun, new experiences, consistent funds while employed
Cons: Should be a choice, temporary

Blogging and Podcasting are NOT Side Hustles (for me)

Notice that I did not mention blogging or podcasting. While these can make money for some, it is not immediate nor is it guaranteed. It is certainly not fair to preach a “Write your first post and start making money” approach. This really does not happen.

Plus, blogging and especially podcasting takes money upfront to get started– so there is a level of investment that is required before an income stream can start.

Pros: Fun, Rewarding, Builds a Community and Connections, Allows you to be creative
Cons: Takes time, Can be seen as “scammy” if you put up too many ads, Consistency required

Things that prevented me from “succeeding” in the Side Hustle Hunt

  • Not having any idea what I was doing.
  • Feeling like it was unfulfilling.
  • Time and feeling like my time was not valued.
  • Ethical boundaries crossed.
  • Trying to make money from what others preached.

My Side Hustle Goals

I would like to find a side hustle that I can do year round, that I find interesting and meaningful without crossing personal or ethical boundaries.

Things I love doing that I am going to look into for future side hustles:

– Dog Walking and Pet Sitting

– Travel Planning and Travel in General

– Design

– Writing

I have to admit I am nervous to try free lancing and am not sure where I would start with this either. Thank god for Google and all those paving the way as I am sure I can research it more. I also LOVE making things look organized and pretty- including web design, logo design etc so this could be another freelancing option for the future.

Has anyone tried these things and has some insider tips or an article please comment and link it below!


freddy smidlap September 19, 2018 - 12:01 pm

aren’t you an artist? my wife is an artist and applies for several grants every year. she has gotten some. i think it only works if you have recent work, but when they hit they pay thousands.

Kayla September 23, 2018 - 12:31 pm

Thank you for writing this! It takes courage to stand up to the Cult of the Almighty Side Hustle. I am likewise unconviced that most of them have a worthwhile risk/effort-reward schedule. I’m lucky that my job offers overtime… OT is now my “side hustle.” I’ve given some of your examples a whirl as well, but it’s disheartening to work as a professional by day and take $0.10 surveys by night.

Bethany September 23, 2018 - 12:42 pm

Of course! Your last sentence had me cracking up, because it is so true. The mindset of advancing your career, promotions, pay lanes, OT etc seems to be much more profitable than some of the common side hustles.


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