“If you follow this list of side hustle ideas, you will see your income grow.” Watch ten YouTube videos about making money, and read ten money making blogs, and you will hear it about twenty-five times.
This statement, or something similar, is typically followed by encouragement to sign up to drive for Uber or Lyft, deliver for GrubHub, DoorDash, or UberEats, or sign up on websites like Fiverr, Upwork, or Care dot com offering your services.
Each of these services can generate income, but there are a few things to keep in mind. Most of the claims made in these money making videos or articles are there more to make their own post more compelling than to paint an accurate picture of your potential earnings.
“You can start making money today” is like “You might find a hundred dollar bill blowing in the wind today.”
Theoretically, you could sign up and start making money on one of these sites today. But it is very unlikely to happen. These sites are not jobs. They are platforms you can use as an independent business person to market the product or service you offer. Someone still has come seeking the service you provide, and wind up connected to you via the app or web page. You could sign up to drive for Uber or Lyft and drive around for an entire week before anyone connects with you for a ride. Fiverr and Upwork accounts can sit inactive for months.
“My friend started working on <some app or website> and she made $700 a month” should not be taken to apply to anyone else.
There are going to be some people who make money with any money making venture. Perhaps that person is simply in the right place at the right time. Or maybe they have no other responsibilities, and could devote their entire day to the money making venture.
Someone with two kids in school, a full-time job, four pets, and an ailing relative they care for in the evenings is not going to be able to devote the same amount of time to delivering orders, giving rides, or pursuing clients for their graphic design or resume service on Fiverr as the person who has nobody to care for and parents or a spouse whose income covers their basic expenses. This is going to make a huge difference in the amount of money each could potentially make.
“This app or website allows you to make up to $18 or $36 per hour” leaves out the fact that you have to take your own taxes out of that income.
When you drive for Lyft or Uber, deliver for DoorDash, or write resumes or articles through Fiverr or Upwork, you do not work for the company. You are an independent contractor working through the company. The agreement is that they let you take up space on their site or app and use their technology and staff to run your business, and you pay them a large cut of what you make.
If I want to give people rides, I can sign up to drive through Uber and Lyft, or I can put a sign in my window that says “Rides: $15-$20 one way.” Going through Uber allows me to ensure that I get paid. It helps me find and connect with people looking for rides. And it provides me a safety feature by tracking everyone who gets in my car, tracking the car anytime a stranger is in it, and offering me an emergency button in case of danger. If I just put up the sign, there’s a chance nobody will happen by who needs a ride. I might also meet someone who is out to scam or hurt me, and have no way of protecting myself. In exchange for those services, Uber or Lyft gets a large percentage of that $15-$20 paid out for that ride, and gives me the rest.
Once I get the rest of that money, my pay, it’s money made as an independent driver. I still have to pay taxes on it. Anytime you see a “you can make” statement, deduct around 20% from it. That’s how much you will actually be able to pay yourself from your earnings.
“You can learn about investing and make passive income by letting your money work for you” is completely accurate. They’re just leaving out how much money you will need to invest, and the amount of time it will take to start earning significant amounts of money.
Investing is an excellent option. Learn all you can about investing. Invest as much money as you can. Just don’t expect to sign up for a microinvesting site with five or ten dollars, choose a stock package option, and wake up to enough money to pay the bills the next day. Take the time to learn about investing money, and develop a realistic plan.
Despite most of the advice on YouTube and blogs today, if you really need or want to make more money, you may need to go on an old-fashioned job hunt.
No, I’m not saying “Just go get a job.” Anyone who thinks you can just go out and get a job like you’re picking up some takeout is being as unrealistc as the people who think you can just sign up for Fiverr and wake up a millionaire next week.
There are ways you can invest time and effort in yourself now to buy that time and energy back later. You could work as many short-term and temporary jobs as you can find now, save the paychecks, and buy yourself some time to devote to your art later. Those who want to make a career change in their day job, but can’t afford to go to school might want to look for an entry level job in that new field. And of course, side jobs, day jobs and all that other work we do just to pay the bills can yield excellent material for our art.
YouTube videos and blogs teaching us how to make money without getting a job often contain a useful tip or two. They may even spark an idea that leads to your complete independence from paychecks. The process just isn’t as easy, painless, or guaranteed as most YouTube and blog “money gurus” claim.