Conventional work wisdom says that the best way to find work is to network. Searching ads, sending out applications and resumes, and walking into businesses to talk to the manager may yield desired results for some people, but the best way to find the work you’re looking for is to reach out to people you know who are in a position to hire you, and people who might be connected to those people. This makes the cloning work scam particularly lucrative for scammers,
The con begins with a classic case of facebook account cloning, sometimes called spoofing. We have all gotten the non-work version of this scam. Somebody on our friends list appears to send us a message, but when we open it, all they have to say to us is “Is this you?” or “Look at this video I found of you!” with a link we can click on. These messages are not from the person they appear to be from. The scammer has stolen their profile photo, their name, and any other details they can copy, and created a second account that they control. Clicking on the link opens your computer up to the scammer’s malware, allowing them access to your financial accounts and other personal information.
To run the work scam, the scammer does the same thing with a local facebook account, only instead of sending messages to the person’s friends, they post a job ad in local groups. A recent ad circulating around the Utica area offers the opportunity to work from home doing data entry for $25 per hour. Group members are asked to private message the account for more details.
Once you send a message inquiring about the job, you receive the following reply:
“This is an online and work from home job the working hours are flexible and you can chose to work from anywhere of your choice,the pay is $25 per hour training is $15 per hour and you will be getting payed weekly via direct deposit or credit card top up and the maximum amount you can work a week is 40 hours. I believe working from home will not be a problem for you ?”
Notice that although the account appears to be someone in your community working in a data entry job, the grammar, spelling, and word choice are incorrect and awkward. It is also noteworthy that the company can only pay you in ways that require you to give them your banking and/or credit card information.
Once you assure them that working from home will not be a problem for you, they say, “Okay good. Job Description & Responsibilities. Data entry is all about speed, accuracy, and attention to detail. You enters information into computer databases for effective record keeping. Daily responsibilities include: Organizing files and collecting data to be entered into the computer and appropriate software entering. I'm sure you can handle all this as a Data. Entry clerk ?”
Again, they are recruiting for a job that requires accuracy and attention to detail, yet their dialogue is barely readable, and contains mistakes and strange phrasing, even in that short message.
Further messages include pressure to download their preferred private messenger app from the Google store, so that you can communicate with the hiring manager.
At this point, it may still be tempting to convince yourself that this is genuine. After all, you do give your direct deposit information to any job that offers direct deposit once you’re hired. And many Americans who speak English as their native language do have poor written communication skills these days. Seeing posts that say “Your doing great!” instead of the correct “You’re doing great!” or “What are there hours?” instead of “What are their hours?” is far from uncommon. And we use “positive” and “negative” to refer to anything that pleases or displeases us on any level.
But even a person who forgets basic grammar and uses the same two words for everything can understand and answer a direct question in their native language, especially when the question is one they would likely hear and be expected to answer on a regular basis. There is no reason why a fully functioning, native English speaking adult whose job involves recruiting others to work for their company would not be able to understand and answer the question, “What is a typical work day like for you?” The person you are talking to when responding to these ads cannot do that.
“They like to see an had working and fast people,” was the first answer I received to that question. I asked it again, using slightly different phrasing. The answer was, “I work 30hrs week.” When I tried a third time, they said, “You can work as hours you want to in a day Once you start the interview you will understand everything”
“But what is a day of work like for you as an employee?” I asked.
“I work from Monday til Friday,” the scammer said.
“Can you describe a typical workday?” I then asked.
“I don’t no the kind of job that is available right now When you start your interview you will be good,” said the scammer.
Before blocking them, I tossed out a couple of silly questions and statements, just to see if they could even follow a conversation. The scammer I talked to can pick up on a few words. They asked if I was only focused on the money when I asked if I could earn millions of dollars, responding, “Are you looking after the money or.” I assured them that no, I also wanted a job that would allow me enough time to teach my dog to drive. They said, “Your dog to drive Wow I don’t know dog also drive car.”
This is clearly not really someone working for a company that demands anything fast and accurate, unless you count quickly collecting the credit card and bank account information of their scam victims.
In order to learn the details of the scam, I interacted with this account even more than I should have. The best response is to simply report any of these “looking for people to do data entry at home” job ads to the group administrator right away. And if you happen to know the person whose name, photo, and other details are being used, let them know what’s going on.
When looking at job ads on social media, respond only to those posted by an established local business or a well-known professional. Make sure the content makes sense, such as a hairdresser posting that they have space for another stylist, or a hotel seeking a desk clerk. If they offer an application on Indeed dot com or through their website, or provide email or phone contact information, use it rather than sending everything in social media messaging.
If you must communicate with a prospective employer or client through social media, spend enough time chatting with them to determine that you are communicating with the person presented. Never give out your banking information or any other sensitive information until you have been given and completed a W-4 form, or signed an independent contractor agreement, with an established company. Taking extra steps may seem like a hassle, especially when you need work right away, but it would take a lot more time and energy to deal with identity theft or a drained bank account.
. “Nobody wants to work,” is a familiar refrain from hiring managers. “There are all these jobs available, but nobody wants to work.”
In reality, the problem is not that nobody wants to work. Plenty of people want to work.. They just cannot afford to devote so much time to a low-paying job with few to no benefits that they can neither pay their bills nor search for a better job. If the paycheck you’re offering me is gone before I make it down the list of the bills I have to pay each month, but I’ve been working so long I can barely walk to my couch to collapse never mind go on a hunt for a better job, I simply cannot work for you, whether I want to work or not.
Job ads that ask the applicant to agree to do the work of multiple positions, keep themselves available to the company at all times, and accept pay that would only cover their expenses if they were about fifteen years old and just needed to save up for prom are standard anymore. But some ads have requirements that are so absurd, it’s like the higher ups don’t even want employees, just another excuse to whine. Names and other identifying details have been changed to protect the ridiculous.
Please be prepared to step through the screen at a moment’s notice
A tutoring company we shall call “Tutory Tutors” is looking for someone to work a variety of shifts. Their focus is on business and engineering, but they’re looking for someone to enlighten and inspire the next generation, because they want certified and experienced elementary and middle school teachers to join their staff. Reasonable so far, at least in today’s job market. Someone who has gone through the rigorous educational and testing requirements needed to become a teacher, and has put in their time student teaching and building their own teaching career should be a bit too far along on that path to do work that has traditionally been done by people who haven’t even finished college yet, but that simply isn’t the way things work today.
But “Tutory Tutors” isn’t done. They would also like their tutors to have CPR certification. The tutoring is done online.
We trust you with our students’ academic futures online…but not with your own resume.
Online teaching makes up a large part of my career as a writer. I am an Online Adjunct English Instructor at a university that offers classes online. In order to get my job, I first filled out the application on their personnel website, complete with my resume and references. Someone from the school then called me on the phone and conducted an interview. Once I received an offer, I was asked to verify my identity by submitting to a background check and stopping in at the County Clerk’s office in the town where I lived to have them notarize a paper verifying that the person who had applied and accepted the job was indeed the person they were presenting themselves to be. This was all perfectly reasonable. I got everything done quickly, and seven years later, I still work there. But I have still never even visited the main campus. It would be nice to tour my own workplace, but it would be a long and expensive trip, and it is not at all necessary. Everything is done online.
Another school, in a different state, posted an ad for an identical job recently. There is just one difference. In order to be considered for this online adjunct teaching job, one that is actually possible to work for several years without getting near the place offline, you have to bring your resume into the office in person. While all schools are not corporations, they have certainly taken a lesson in absurdity from “big business” here.
Work for us and we might not pay you…but we will sure appreciate it!
Artist Cafe Utica serves as a place for local artists to get free content once per week, and as my online office as a content writer. My niche is tiny. I only write for artists in and around Utica. Most content writers have much larger niches, marketing their work throughout the country or even internationally. This can be lucrative if your niche is a high demand, high paying field like tech or business, and if you are careful and selective about the clients you choose to work with. Or you can take on anyone with the word “writing” in their ad or profile as your client, and wind up with the content mill that posted this job ad:
“We focus on college students. We are having US-based articles, Knowledge-based, we do job reviews of US, and we are also having knowledge based articles, we are having book reviews articles, company's review, job descriptions, puns and we also have the articles for swot analysis, mission statements of companies, etc.”
And here are the “perks”: stipend up to $50 to $100 for 40,000 words per month…with extra payment for extra work, including a bonus upon completion of your three-month “internship.” Most blog articles are around 800 words. This breaks down to being offered the chance at $1-$2 per article, for around 50 articles per month. But don’t worry about only being offered the mere possibility of a dollar or two a day. You also get a certificate of completion and a certificate of appreciation.
Most job hunters will agree that the search is frustrating, even demoralizing. Hiring managers and CEOs commonly complain that they can’t find workers, then make it impossible for anyone to qualify for or keep the jobs they offer. But some job ads go beyond the impossible…all the way to the absurd.
The position on direct selling/multilevel marketing has shifted back and forth a bit over the years here at Artist Cafe Utica. There have been pro-direct selling and anti-direct selling articles. These shifts have not happened on other topics, but multilevel marketing, also known as social selling or direct selling, seems to be one that keeps changing.
Unlike the other topics covered on this site, it is a relatively new topic for me. Everything else is something I’ve either researched and written about in my past career as a reporter, something I have been learning about for years for personal interest, a topic I studied as a student in graduate school, and/or something I have already done extensive research on for past creative writing work. Direct selling was the topic of a single article, coverage of a fundraiser, during my years as a reporter. I researched it briefly after that, then never thought about it again until 2018. Opinions shifted as new information was learned.
In May of 2022, I returned to working with Avon as an independent sales representative. Although I do enjoy their products, Avon was chosen as a side gig because nobody pressured me into it, there was the option to sign up to sell for them for free, and I am neither required nor pressured to purchase and maintain inventory. Anyone who decides to sign up to sell Avon, or any other products through a direct selling company, may also want also keep the following lessons I’ve learned over the past four years in mind:
You do not own your own business selling the company’s products. You are in business for yourself, but your business is you working as a freelance salesperson who has hired yourself out to the company to sell…and in some cases recruit…for them.
People who own their own business while also working for a large corporation own franchises. With a franchise, the corporation does not make money from that business unless the franchise itself makes money. When you sign up for direct sales, the company makes money from you anytime you purchase a product for personal use or re-sale, sign someone else up who sells, or purchase business materials. You also give that corporation free advertising every time you promote yourself selling their products. This can be beneficial to you in that, should you change your mind, it is very easy to simply walk away. After all, you’re a freelance sales agent. It can also be detrimental to you, as the corporation itself has no incentive to offer you any support. Whether they do or not will depend on the specific company you choose and the people above you. And you still have to take taxes and business expenses out of your earnings yourself.
Promises of limitless income, especially for little to no work, should always be a huge red flag.
The vast majority of people do not become wealthy by selling products for a direct sales company. Most people sell for these companies as a side hustle. They love the products, and they earn enough to get those products free by only spending the commission they earn on their personal orders. Some direct sellers earn a bit more than that. They generate enough extra income to give themselves a bit of side cash, or to pay a single bill, or pad their emergency fund a bit.
And it takes work to do even that. Whether you have hired yourself out to sell products, play music, write, walk dogs, or do anything else as an independent worker, you are going to have to do that work in order to earn anything. People who try to recruit you by promising that “all you have to do is share your love of the product” are not being honest with you. At the same time, signing up to sell something, then doing nothing but staring into the screen of your online store, throwing your promotional materials on a single table, then declaring the business a big scam isn’t fair either.
Keeping track of the time you spend on sales and/or recruiting a team along with your income, is important.
One of the strongest arguments against direct sales is that you can make more money working the same amount of hours at a minimum wage part-time job. And this may indeed be true. Or you may earn a bit more. It is all going to depend on a variety of factors, ranging from the type of work you do, to the number of people you know, to your neighborhood, to where you will be able to sell.
If you live in a community where your company’s products, or direct selling in general, is immensely popular, there are a lot of public places that welcome sales materials around, you know a lot of people who will buy from you already, and you do all you can to promote your sales as efficiently as possible, you could earn a lot more than you would earn doing a comparable amount of work in a wage paying job. If the market is weak, you have nowhere to promote anything, and you aren’t willing or able to get your promotional materials out in front of people, getting that part- time entry level job will pay more.
You should be keeping track of your income either way. Keep track of how many hours you devote to your direct sales and how much you earn. This is not to say that if the pay turns out to be low that you should quit. If you are having fun, enjoying the experience, then it’s fine to keep at it for little to no profit. Just be aware that you will need to do additional work of another kind to reach any financial goals you set.
You have to treat each person you meet through the company as an individual. Everybody is not your new adopted sibling or best friend. But everyone is not out to use you for their own gain either.
The anti-MLM movement is correct that some people who get into direct sales are predatory and entitled. They engage in “love bombing,” pretending to be a friend to get you to buy from them or sell under them, pressure you into doing more work than you planned to do, or doing work that you truly do not want to do, and then berate and belittle you for telling them “no.” These are the people who call others’ polite refusals to join the company “excuses,” and try to make college students, single parents, and anyone else they can think of feel ashamed for doing traditional work, just to bully people into doing work that benefits them. Other people in direct sales would never think to do anything like that.
Take a step back before making a decision about someone. While you don’t want to get taken in by someone who is predatory and deceitful, you also don’t want to shun somebody who is genuinely trying to befriend or help you just because you saw a nasty person on YouTube from the same industry.
Direct selling has its benefits and its downside. The industry is not set up to generate easy riches, or even to make most of the people who work in it rich or well-off at all. There are predatory people who make promises they can’t keep in order to benefit themselves, and engage in bullying and manipulation. It takes a lot more work than some people care to admit. But if you approach it with reasonable expectations, use caution, and make careful decisions, it can be a fun way to get products you love cheap or free to you, meet new people, and gain new experience in sales and promotion.
Whether you call it a side hustle or a side gig, “the gig economy” has grown into a social trend. People are working for themselves, or at least doing work for corporations on their own terms. Like most social trends, the gig economy has grown its own niche online. Some of these, like YouTubers who share their experiences doing gig work with the goal of inspiring and helping others, are useful. Others are not so helpful, and may actually be a waste of your time and the money you have set aside to invest in your side gig.
Joining “side hustle/gig” groups on Facebook
Billed as a place to gain inspiration and advice from those who have been there, most of these groups are completely useless. Screening questions are not geared toward finding out what each person’s goal for their side gig might be, and if they have found a side gig that actually helped them reach the goal. And while this is helpful for welcoming those who are still searching or struggling, it also allows anybody to jump on, declare themselves a great success, and dispense advice to others.
I posted to one group asking what non-driving side hustles people had found success in. A few people told me what amazing business people they were with few to no details. One man informed me that it was “dangerous” to ask what others succeeded in doing, and to ask myself what I would like to do in my spare time instead. Anyone who has so much as read a single sound business advice article can tell you that’s wrong. Doing the work you love regardless of whether or not it makes money is a fine approach if we’re talking about work that is your passion and your calling. If you’re just doing something to supplement your income, fund a goal, or make some spare cash…a side gig…. you do indeed want to find something that people are actually paying others to do. Getting paid is the whole point of having a side hustle.
Paying for courses.
Paying for courses is an excellent idea if the course teaches you a new skill, or helps you strengthen a skill that you can use in your side gig. If you’re a guitarist and music teacher as your career, and you want to start selling music memorabilia online as a side hustle, taking a course in sales might be useful. Someone who works in landscaping and poetry and wants to go outside of that and offer virtual assistant services on the side might find an office skills refresher course helpful.
The courses you want to avoid are the “How to be a great gig worker” or “How I made a million dollars with my side hustle, and you can too…” for only a “small investment in yourself” offerings. More often than not, students quickly learn that their teacher’s most lucrative side gig is convincing naive people they need to pay hundreds if not thousands of dollars to learn how to do gig work, when they could gain the same knowledge for free by reading books and web pages and watching the many free videos with similar content posted online.
If you have a website for your solo career, band, novels, poetry collection, or your last exhibit of paintings, photos, or sculptures, you may have gotten one or more of these yourself. Somebody you have never heard of before, who has absolutely no connection to you whatsoever, has happened upon your page and just “knows” they are the writer who can grow your traffic by a thousand per cent. Or perhaps they have written an article in their niche subject, and want to work out a deal with you to add it to your page.
These are “cold emails,” and are a popular way for people either building a career or a side gig as a freelance writer, copywriter, photographer, or editor to market their services. But “popular” does not always equal “quality,” and most people who would purchase content from a freelancer find them obnoxious. If you want to reach out to potential clients, take the time to learn who in your community might actually want to pay for the service you are offering, and write them an original, personal email or message rather than just “blasting” a collection of people with your copied and pasted pitch.
Working your side gig all day, every day.
Traditional American beliefs about work include the assertion that the longer and harder you work, the more you earn, and the better you do at the job. At one time in our history, this may have been true, at least for the people who were given the full opportunity to do the work and keep all the money they earned, treated fairly, and respected as workers. In the gig economy, devoting all your time and energy to the work can be counterproductive.
Gig work by definition earns money on a project by project or piece by piece basis. If nobody is buying, you are better off putting the work aside and coming back to it when there is more demand than you are letting other things slide while you sit and wait for business to pick up.
Driving for Uber can earn some people so much money they replace their steady job’s paycheck with it. But those people earn money by being available when there is the most need for rides, and accepting as many clients who need rides as they can. They don’t do it by logging in and sitting there for eight hours on a day when nobody needs a ride.
As we continue to see more and more people turn to gig work, we are going to see the “how to succeed” articles, videos, and other content increase along with it. Some of this may be sound advice, and a sound investment in your side work. But just like any type of work, there will be plenty of misleading information out there too.
As wages remain low and prices go up, many are left to depend on tipping even more than before. While tipping is always optional and up to the audience member, customer or client, here is what to reasonably expect…and what to give when you are receiving a service in the course of your work.
You and your band are being paid to perform at an event.
The standard tip is $25 to $50 per band member. This tip is typically offered by the event’s host or coordinator. If you’re playing a wedding, for example, a member of the wedding party or the wedding coordinator will be most likely to offer you a tip.
There is an open mic at a local business, and you are a performer.
Don’t count on the money from the tip jar. Unless otherwise announced, the tip jar money is for the event’s host, not the performers. Tips for people who take the stage to read their novel or poem or play or sing a song are placed in a jar, basket, or case onstage. If you play an instrument, tips are customarily tossed into your instrument’s case. If someone chooses to tip, they will probably contribute between $5 and $10. Anyone who requests a song will probably add a few more dollars.
You’re performing online. Your audience is watching you via livestream.
The standard tip for an online performance is $10 minimum from each audience member. Fans who have been following your career, audience members who request a song via the chat function, and anyone else who simply wants to offer extra support may offer $20 or more.
The event is live and offstage. You are the D.J. or music program host.
Tipping the DJ at the rate of 10-15% of the total charge for the performance is customary. The person who hired you will offer the tip. Audience members may offer anywhere from $1 to $5, but that is typically done only when someone requests a song.
You arrive early for the open mic or gig, or hang around after your performance. You are seated in the dining area and a waiter serves you food or drink.
As with any other situation in which you sit down at a restaurant staffed by waiters, tip at least 20%. If the person went out of their way to provide excellent service, quickly bringing drinks for late- arriving band members, carrying trays around your guitar case, or doing anything else extra to accommodate you, increase the tip to 25% or more.
The rehearsal or writing session has taken up more time and energy than expected and you need to order food and/or drinks. You use a delivery app like Uber Eats, GrubHub, or DoorDash.
If the driver does nothing more than show up at the door with the correct order packaged neatly, you need to add a tip of 10% to 15% to your total bill. Delivery drivers who go out of their way for you, waiting at the door until the band finishes a song, bringing extra plates and utensils so orders can be shared, or walking up an especially steep hill to get to your rehearsal space should be tipped 20%-25%.
You are unable to drive yourself to the performance or rehearsal. Nobody is available to give you a ride. You depend on Uber or Lyft to get you there.
Rideshare drivers should be able to count on a tip of 15% to 20%. This is for the average safe, clean, pleasant ride. You may want to offer a slightly higher tip to the driver who helped load your instrument or other equipment into the car.
The band is taking a break and everyone is hungry. You run out and pick up the takeout order. When you get to the counter, there is a tip jar next to the cash register or order pickup window.
In the past, tipping was not expected at self-service windows. Today, a tip of 10% of the total bill is customary. While you are picking it up yourself, the tip is for the staff who carefully prepared and packed your order.
Writing this song (or poem, or novel) has absorbed so much of your focus this afternoon, you completely forgot you were supposed to run to the store and pick up some items you forgot the last time you went grocery shopping. And you have to do it fast because you need to be at a venue to perform this evening. At the store, a floor associate goes out of their way to help you gather the items quickly, and the cashier bags everything according to the room it belongs in to save you time.
Retail employees at “big box” stores are one of the few categories of service people you should not tip. They will certainly deserve it, especially if they have gone out of their way for you. But tipping them will likely get them reprimanded, if not fired. And don’t try to sneak them some cash when the manager isn’t looking. Large corporate retail stores have cameras all over the place. If the manager doesn’t see them, somebody else on staff certainly will.
Some appearance maintenance is in order before your next performance. You head to a salon for a cut, color, professional skincare service, or manicure or pedicure.
Tip professionals who help you look your best at least 25% of the total cost of the services. As with all other tipped work, if you asked for something that was especially difficult or time consuming, tip a bit more. This applies to time spent in consultation too. If your goal was to adopt an obscure retro style, and the stylist took extra time to scroll through multiple web searches on your phone with you, or if you weren’t sure what you wanted when you walked in, and they spent time helping you make a decision, show your appreciation with a higher tip.
When you are in a position to receive a tip, of course you will respond with grace and gratitude, regardless of the amount offered. When you are in the position to offer a tip, always err on the side of generosity. You are supporting your fellow artists and community members.
by Jess Szabo'
Originally published on Artist Cafe Utica
Add a piece of Utica art and history to your business with a painting from the Paul Parker Utica Trust
Artists’ workspaces are always pictured as colorful and inspirational. While we do not all fit that expectation, most of us do all we can to make the place where we create and practice our art as comfortable and productive as we can.
When we’re working our second jobs and day jobs, workplaces today can be rather stark and even a bit cold. Decorating trends favor a lot of white, gray, and black. There is little color, and when it is seen, it is usually in the form of traditional “lobby furniture” and “office furniture.” This type of furniture and decor is of course easy to find, more affordable than filling the space with more comfortable furniture intended for a home, and much more durable. Still, it does little to help customers, clients, potential employees, or collaborators feel welcome or remember the business.
Many public places add works of art to their lobbies, offices, or meeting rooms to generate pleasant feelings in their customers, and make their businesses stand out among the many similarly furnished and decorated places around town. This has been shown to be an effective tactic. Looking at art can cause similar reactions in the brain to falling in love, or looking at someone you love. Reduced stress, improved memory, and greater feelings of empathy have also been noted in studies that examine the impact of viewing works of art.
One way local business owners and managers can use the visual arts to make their workspaces inviting and memorable is to lease one or more paintings from the Paul Parker Utica Trust.
Paul Parker was a painter, Hamilton College professor, and chair of the Hamilton College Art department for twenty-two years, from 1948 until his retirement in 1970. He was born in LaGrange, Illinois in 1905. Parker held degrees from the University of Illinois, and the University of Chicago. Before moving to Utica, he served as the Head of the Art Department for the University of South Dakota (1937-1939), Director of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center (1940-1945) and the Director of the Des Moines Art Center (1945-1948).
During the 1950s and 1960s, Parker sketched and painted scenes of pre-Urban renewal Utica. When he retired, Parker set twenty-two of his paintings aside to form this permanent collection.
Each painting in the trust is an original, framed oil painting featuring scenes that will feel familiar to many who grew up in Utica, during these decades, and welcoming to those who moved here after the time reflected in the work. When shown prints from the collection, long-time residents immediately begin sharing memories of Utica’s past, while newer arrivals are typically moved to ask questions about their new hometown.
Parking Lot, painted in 1956 features a row of five distinctive 1950’s cars sure to bring back memories of first driver’s licenses and first vehicles. Barber Shop, created in 1952, instantly brings to mind the days when men of all ages gathered in these places for both grooming and socializing. Encounter, from 1952, is a street scene in which a group of people meets up on the sidewalk. Seat Cover Installed, a painting done in 1955, contrasts a crisp, clear ad for seat covers painted on the side of a building with the collection’s signature soft, muted tones. Other paintings are named after the specific Utica location portrayed in them, such as North Genessee Street (1952), Park Avenue (1956), Encounter on Bleecker Street (1956), and Terminal Hotel (1953).
The color palette for most of the works tends toward warm shades of rust, reds, greens, and teals, with soft blue-gray skies.
Business owners and managers can lease the works for $250 per month, per painting. They must agree to lease them for at least three months. Businesses of all sizes and types are welcome to display the paintings, but rentals are limited to public places. The paintings may not be hung in private homes. Workplaces that choose three or more paintings for extended periods of time will be asked to pay for insurance on the paintings. But there are no other costs. Representatives from the Paul Parker Utica Trust will transport the paintings of your choice to your place of business and hang them for you.
Whether your business is in the arts or not, choosing a painting from the Paul Parker Utica Trust supports your fellow Utica artists. All funds raised through the leasing of these paintings are used to support Utica artists.
“The Trust was a sponsor of the play ‘The Wizard of Was,’ Trustee Cassandra Harris-Lockwood noted, referring to a play she wrote, directed and produced locally. “The Trust also sponsored Utica artist Clint Shenendoah for his entire career.”
The Paul Parker Utica Trust is based out of the local nonprofit organization “For the Good, Inc.” Detailed information about leasing the paintings is available by calling the organization directly at 315-797-2417. Those who prefer to communicate in writing may email For the Good at Forthegoodinc@gmail.com
Don’t miss out on this special, unique to Utica opportunity to beautify your workspace, boost your business’s reputation, and support your fellow local artists.
by Jess Szabo'
originally published on Artist Cafe Utica
Work done to supplement your main income or raise funds for specific goals, known as “gig work,” or “side gigs” today, can lead a worker to discover new skills and callings, meet new business contacts, or at the very least, meet a financial goal or put some money aside.
But like any work environment, working in the gig economy can bring its own dangers. Whether you flip items, drive for Uber or Lyft, deliver for GrubHub or DoorDash, tutor offline or online, give in-person lessons in something you do as a hobby, or offer your services as a virtual assistant, there are some safety reminders it is often much too easy to forget or dismiss.
The risk of walking into strangers’ homes outweighs any increased tip or rating you may earn.
Delivery drivers, rideshare drivers, and those who flip items often see carrying the groceries or meal into someone’s kitchen, bringing the flipped item into the home and placing it for the customer, or carrying heavy shopping bags into the house for the rider after dropping them off as extra service provided. And it is. Your decent, safe customers will likely appreciate the extra effort and reward you with a big tip and/or a five star rating.
But that tip or rating is not worth the risk that your next client isn’t someone safe to be alone with in a private home. Those same decent and safe people will understand why you want to hand them their groceries through the doorway or leave them on the porch, meet them in public to sell a flipped item, or allow them to carry their own bags into the house. They may even be uncomfortable having you walk into their house, as they have only just met you too.
Some of the things you do to make the work more pleasant can be safety hazards if taken too far.
Riders using Uber or Lyft often appreciate listening to music on the way to their destination, and most enjoy a pleasant, casual conversation with the driver. Of course, blaring music, private phone conversations, and excessive personal questions or chatter are typically not appreciated. You will likely earn a low rating, possibly even a customer complaint. But these things can also cause safety issues. While you are in constant contact with the rideshare company through your app, never forget that you are in a car with someone you just met a second ago. Keep aware of the person and what they are saying and doing at all times.
Moving quickly to get on to the next order often makes for a better day for anyone who does deliveries, but don’t be in such a hurry that you are not aware of your surroundings as you walk up to the drop off place and back to your vehicle.
Anyone who does online tutoring or virtual assistant work via webcam probably likes having family pictures, mugs, and other comfort items around. Check over anything left in your workspace that may be picked up by the camera, and anything visible on the wall behind you when you’re on camera, to make sure you are not inadvertently showing your last name, the name of your child’s school, or your address to strangers.
Opening up to clients may feel like making a connection or helping them understand something, but you could be sharing with the wrong person.
It may be tempting to tell the visibly upset rider the story of your last horrible day, tell the delivery client all about your problems as an excuse for being late or arriving with an incorrect or badly packed order, or share your story of depression or anxiety with a tutoring student who is struggling to write their psychology paper. And it may work out the way you hope.
But oversharing in any situation can open you up to manipulation by psychopaths and narcissists, and gig work is no exception. Assuring yourself that you’re smarter than that, or brushing it off by thinking it doesn’t matter because you’ll never see this person again is naive. Manipulative people do not play on your intellect, they play on your emotions, and if you gave them too much information, you just taught them which ones can be most easily worked to their advantage. As for never seeing them again…you might not. Or you might have them as a client again, run into them in town, or even get a friend request from them on social media. Facebook’s “people you may know” feature often suggests people simply because you both had your phones open and were in the same place at the same time.
That bad rating, or even a complaint, is worth it if you ended a situation that seemed unsafe.
Gig work is great, but be sure to keep it in perspective. You’re flipping items, driving, delivering, tutoring, or doing whatever it is you do on the side to earn some extra money. You’re providing a service to others. Both of these things are important, but neither money nor being known for providing good service or even being liked in general, are more important than your safety.
Stop the car and end the ride if a passenger becomes belligerent or threatening in any way. Drop a delivery and run back to your car if you arrive to find people fighting, or see or hear anything else disturbing. Even if you are online, you have every right to immediately close your camera and end the tutoring lesson or office work session if a student or client of your virtual assistant gig work says or does something inappropriate. There will be other work opportunities.
Side gig work is growing in popularity. It can supplement, or even replace traditional income for some people. But it can also expose people to new dangers. Keep safe out there.
Gig work, also called your “side gig” or “side hustle” can be a great way to supplement your income. Some people even build their side gig into a full-time business. And like all forms of conducting business, there are practices that may be legal, but are not honest or a decent way to treat other people. Here are just a few practices to avoid.
Re-selling free items from “helping hands” or other need focused groups
Flipping a free item you found on a general “buy, sell, or trade” group is perfectly acceptable. If someone has posted a general classified ad that reads, “Free couch, just need to clear space so we can bring in our new one,” and you take that couch, use a three dollar stain remover to get rid of a slight coffee stain, add two six dollar throw pillows, and sell it for a hundred dollars, you made a nice…and perfectly ethical…profit.
The ethical issue arises when someone is posting in a group intended to help those in need get the items they lack. If you join “Helping Hands Here,” find someone who is offering a couch to a household that cannot afford to pay for basic furniture, take the couch, and sell it as your side hustle, that is dishonest. You misrepresented yourself and lied about your situation in order to get that couch.
The same applies to items received from a food pantry or soup kitchen or other organization that has given you something to meet a need. If you receive food you can’t eat or a toy your child won’t play with or some clothing that does not fit, give it to someone who can use it, free…just as it was given to you.
Asking people to give you a five star rating
The constant rating on those gig work platforms is obnoxious for both the worker and the customer. I’m a regular customer with Instacart, and a regular, if infrequent user of Uber and Uber Eats. On Tutorme, I’m a gig worker. As a customer, I give everyone a five star rating unless they did something dangerous or practically threw something at me. There just isn’t an average, below average, great, or absolutely dazzling way for somebody to drive me to the store to pick up office supplies or drop off the chicken riggies I ordered for dinner or the milk, cereal, and drinks I needed for the week. And as much as it would make me feel good about myself to think otherwise, I doubt me spending twenty minutes going over some college student’s essay and suggesting they revise paragraph two but leave the rest in the final draft is truly a five star learning experience for this person.
Still, as silly as they can be, asking for a five star rating can make the customer a bit uncomfortable. It’s just awkward. Your best practice is to provide the best service you can provide, and let the customer choose their own way to handle the rating system.
Trying to make your customers into something other than customers
Relationships have formed during gig work. People have met future romantic partners, good friends, and people who would later be important professional contacts outside the gig work through their gig work. But the platform you use to do your gig work is not designed for you to create these relationships.
If you’re single, your Uber or Lyft driver account is not a dating app. A customer you find attractive may be unavailable, not interested in dating for another reason, or just not interested in being hit on at that moment, and might report you for asking them out on a date or flirting. If you’re happily coupled, the people who get in your car for a ride or chat with you while you bring their takeout or groceries into their building are not there to provide you with a pool of potential babysitters so you and your man or woman can go out this weekend. The person on your tutoring app asking for help writing a paper for their class on interior design did not log on so you could turn on your webcam, swing your computer around, and ask them which chair would go best with the couch you just bought. Friendly, polite chat to help the person feel at ease is fine, but keep the focus on the service you are providing for them.
Taking the “side” in “side hustle” or “side gig” a bit TOO far
Your side gig/side hustle should absolutely come last in your work priorities. Your career, the work you are called to do is going to be your first professional priority. Steady employment that pays your bills is either also first or second, depending on what that work may be. Side hustles come last. They’re supplemental income.
This means you can schedule your side gig work after all other work has been done. It means you can refuse to give up anything, and only work your side hustle when you have absolutely nothing else to do if you want to. It doesn’t mean it’s okay to do the work in a way that wastes other peoples’ time, energy, or money or puts them in an unsafe situation.
Talking on the phone when you have customers in your ride share car, tutoring online while watching television, or showing up late to meet someone coming to buy something from you are not okay just because it’s “your side hustle.”
Letting people take unfair advantage of you or make you uneasy
Behaviors that are unethical or bad form for you as a side gig worker are equally unacceptable when you are on the receiving end. You are not obligated to keep dealing with someone who lies about an emergency to get you to give them something free or at a reduced cost. Customers should not threaten you with a lower rating, or make you feel uneasy with overly personal requests. You don’t have to put up with people who make you wait an overly long time, or refuse to pay attention and allow you to do your job.
This is not to suggest that you start fighting anyone. If anything out of line happens, terminate the transaction as fast as you can, report the situation if you need to, and avoid working with the person again, if at all possible.
Like any work, managing a side gig takes some practice. Nobody is going to do a perfect job all the time. But there are some behaviors that, while they may not get you fired or reprimanded, are not ethical. They’re not the way anyone, including your customers…or you… deserve to be treated.
by Jess Szabo'
originally published on Artist Cafe Utica
We have all heard those stories “everyone” swears are true. Occasionally, they do turn out to be true. Most of the time, they turn out to be the result of poor research, or intentionally invented or exaggerated. A few of these tales and claims revolve around making or saving money.
Urban Legend: You can start with a penny or a paperclip and trade up to things like cars and houses.
Reality: This has been done. Beginning in 2005, Canadian blogger Kyle MacDonald set out to trade a red paperclip he found on his desk for a house by gradually trading up. He swapped the paperclip for a pen, and kept trading and making deals until he had his house. YouTuber Ryan Trahan has successfully duplicated this experiment this past year, starting with a penny, and trading up until he owned a tiny home.
The process just isn’t as easy or as fast as it appears to be. The original challenge took an entire year to complete. Trahan often does his trade ups in the span of a week, but he uses his status as a content creator with a strong following to help with his trades. People participate because they recognize him from YouTube and want to be included in the video. This is fine, and actually makes the videos fun to watch. But the experience is likely to be a bit more of a struggle for those without a large established following.
Urban Legend: Dollar General puts items on sale for as little as a penny.
Reality: While penny items have been found at Dollar General stores, this is the result of a mistake, not a sale. Items that ring up for a penny have already been discounted as much as the store allows, and were supposed to be cleared from the sales floor.
Employees do not know which items may have been missed and are ringing up for a penny. They are not allowed to help customers search for penny items, or allow them to go back and grab another pile of merchandise should they find something that rings up for a penny. The best way to stumble upon penny items is to learn the season and discount codes from the tags, and select the oldest, most out of date pieces in the store. But there is no guarantee any of these will ring up for a penny, and if something should, the staff will be required to remove all other items from the floor.
Consider yourself blessed if something in your Dollar General haul rings up for a penny. But don’t show up at Dollar General stores and make a mess digging through sale items, make the cashier ring up items and then say you don’t want them when they don’t ring up for a penny, or demand the staff sell you something for a penny because you heard about someone else getting that item for a single cent.
Urban Legend: You can get anything you want for a fraction of the price by charging it on a credit card, then sending in a small payment with “paid in full” written on the check.
Reality: This will absolutely never work. The urban legend seems to have originated because it is possible, in some situations, to settle debt for less than what you owe. But this only happens if both parties agree to it. Both the credit card company and the customer would have to agree to discharge the debt for only a few dollars, and put it in writing, for this to happen.
Credit card companies are corporations. They exist to turn a profit. Nobody working for any credit card company in America would have a job the next hour, never mind the next day, if they allowed a customer to charge up a credit card, and then wrote off the entire balance upon receiving a check for a fraction of that amount with “paid in full” written on it. Charging $1,000 on your credit card, sending the company $10, and writing “paid in full” on the memo line will get you a $990 credit card balance…plus interest if you don’t send in the rest of that $990 before the next billing cycle.
Urban Legend: If you follow the example of many millionaires and set up seven income streams, you too will become a millionaire.
Reality: The “millionaires have seven income streams, so seven income streams is the path to being a millionaire” legend emerged from a misunderstanding of the term “income stream.” Millionaires have too much money for it to just sit around in a bank. They have professionals invest their money for them, in stocks, real estate, bonds, and CDs. These three forms of large scale investment alone count as three streams. Capital gains from selling off assets counts as a fourth. Any royalties the millionaire may be entitled to counts as stream number five. Profits from businesses they own is number six. Their paycheck is stream number seven.
If you already have the funds to make these major investments and earn income from capital gains, the rights to something that pays you more than a few dollars here and there in royalties, and a business that is turning a profit, maintaining all of these income streams may indeed be your key to becoming a millionaire. And there is certainly nothing wrong with getting started on all of these on a smaller scale. But making money from seven different places will not automatically result in great wealth.
Working two part-time minimum wage jobs to equal forty hours per week, going back and forth between driving for Uber or Lyft on Saturday, using two of those “points for internet searches” programs to earn the occasional ten dollar gift card, and selling makeup to your sister and cousin through direct sales adds up to seven income streams, and for a lot of people that would barely cover the bills plus earn them a few free items, never mind generate millions.
Urban Legend: You can save money by making all of your own cosmetics.
Reality: Creating items like eyeliner, mascara, lipstick, and eyeshadow is a complicated process. By the time you purchase the equipment and the ingredients needed to make a single item, you will have spent more than if you just bought the same thing from a high end brand. Getting around this by using one or two non-cosmetic items in place of makeup, such as spices for eye shadow, does not always work, and may cause irritation or infection, depending on what is placed too near the eyes or lips.
To truly save money on cosmetics, narrow your routine down to only those items you truly feel you need or want to use. Choose drugstore items, or watch a few videos and read some beauty blogs to learn which less expensive brands offer duplicate shades of your favorite high end products. Wait for sales and use coupons. Some items can be made at home to save money, but makeup, hair color, and many skincare products are better purchased premade from a store or salon.
Did you believe any of these money making or saving urban legends? What others are floating around out there?
As earning a living has become more of a challenge for many, jobs in the “gig economy” are increasingly common. In addition to being a freelance, or independent, artist, we can now hire ourselves out as independent contractor delivery drivers, transportation providers, or personal shoppers. If driving, spending long periods of time out of the house, or approaching strangers’ homes presents an obstacle for you, or if you’re not already a driver or retail worker and you want to do something within your field, tutoring online may also be an option. Here are some tips on getting started.
Look for U.S. based, multi-subject tutoring websites that are currently accepting new tutors.
Due to a hastily enacted law in China, opportunities to teach English as a Second Language to Chinese children online are pretty much gone. The law, in part, forbids foreign workers from conducting business inside China. And while you were of course never truly in China when you taught online, the government counts visiting the country virtually, via webcam, as conducting business inside China. Many of the well known companies may still exist, and may even appear to be hiring tutors, but the most you would be able to do is sell pre-recorded lessons. The income potential simply isn’t there anymore. U.S. based sites pay a bit less, but once accepted to one, you will have access to their platform and be able to accept tutoring sessions and/or clients.
Schedule a couple of “just looking around” days at first.
As with the shopping, driving, and delivery gig work, gig work in tutoring is pretty straightforward. You use their platform to connect with students and to conduct the lessons. Some may require a student to select you and schedule each lesson. Others will allow you to log in and claim lessons students post. Depending on the site, you may have the option of scheduling lessons with specific students or claiming lessons as they come into the website.
Spend a few days learning the format your tutoring platform offers. Make sure you’re reasonably comfortable there, and that the site is easy for you to navigate. Give your first few lessons without setting any goals for the money, and get a picture of how much you might earn during an average lesson. Take note of common issues that come up.
Make safety for you and your family and friends your first priority.
Before tutoring for the first time, check to make sure the company records all lessons for everyone’s comfort and safety.
The only information students need is your knowledge and insight about the subjects you choose to tutor in. There is absolutely no reason why some guy stuck on his Creative Writing class homework needs to ask the poet who’s tutoring him where she lives, where she hangs out offline, or where he can find her online outside of the tutoring website. Nobody needs to know your last name, any of your financial information, or details about your personal life. If anyone requests video or voice tutoring and says or does something unsettling or disgusting, or types something upsetting or threatening in the chat pod, end the lesson and report the person to the company immediately.
Log out of sessions that violate the company’s rules immediately.
Tutoring companies, at least the honest ones, have strict policies about helping students cheat on tests, doing homework for the student, or in any other way helping them plagiarize writing or any other material. If you are tutoring and realize the student is taking a quiz, trying to manipulate or bully you into doing their editing or writing for them, or is adding a few details to a purchased paper, let the student know that this is not what tutoring is intended to do, and log out.
Don’t worry about being rude or hurting the person’s feelings. Chances are, they know what they’re doing, are well aware that a lot of people are going to “hang up” on them, and are just shopping around for that one dishonest tutor willing to pretend they don’t see what’s going on. Even if you aren’t bothered by the idea of helping students cheat academically, remember that the tutoring center can terminate your association with them if they catch you.
Watch out for scammers.
Most tutoring platforms have some type of free communication area. Some have “waiting rooms,” where the student can chat with you free of charge for a few minutes to see if you can help them, and nearly all have some type of messaging system designed to allow the student to arrange lessons. Some students will attempt to ask you specific questions about their work in these areas, in an attempt to get the homework help they need without scheduling a paid lesson. Prompt them to pay for a lesson once. If they ignore you and continue to try to get you to tutor them through a free area, send one last message telling them that you will be online should they decide to schedule a lesson, and log out of the area.
Be prepared to deal with a wide variety of people.
Students may log in from all across the country. Depending on the platform, you may get all grade levels and all skill levels. You will internet meet the most gracious, studious college students, and the ones who clearly got one too many “self-esteem” workshops and just want to sit there while you tell them everything they’re doing is amazing and their teacher is a fool if they don’t give them a hundred for anything they hand in. Some of them will have trouble paying attention, while others are intensely focused on every detail of their work. You’ll deal with people who take an extra minute to thank you, and those who rudely hang up on you when they realize you’re not going to do the work for them.
While leaving any situation that feels dangerous or is truly distressing is something you should absolutely do, a successful tutor is going to be one who can tolerate and/or shrug off typical, expected variations in student attitude and behavior.
Don’t let tutoring take over your life.
One of the drawbacks of the gig economy overall is that because you can work at any time, you feel like you should be working all the time. You develop a tendency to scold yourself with “I could be making money,” anytime you start a little later than usual or take a day off from the gig.
Make a rule that there are certain things you absolutely will not give up to spend the time tutoring. You may decide that…okay…you’ll give up a few evenings of watching TV to tutor, but you will absolutely not reschedule rehearsals with your band or your music practice time for it. Or maybe you need to make a rule that the time you spend with your kids is not to be interrupted with tutoring, but you’ll give up going out with the guys one weekend a month to tutor. Even if you eventually turn your tutoring practice into a full-time business, everyone needs time off.
Don’t count on the money from one tutoring platform, even if it seems to be going well during your “looking around” period.
People who build gig work into a full-time, or steady part-time business either do it the old-fashioned way, by creating and marketing a service in their community, or they take on a variety of “gig” jobs, and treat each service like just one tool in their overall business plan. They drive for both Uber and Lyft or deliver meals for DoorDash and GrubHub. Gig job platforms are just too overcrowded with workers to offer consistently reliable work.
Tutoring online is no different. Sticking to one platform, I started tutoring online on November 17, 2021. By November 26, I had earned $117.00 My first month’s total was $318.00. My most recent paycheck as of the time of this writing was $10.40 for the entire week.
Unless you’re planning to use online tutoring gig work to supplement a larger tutoring business, it can really only be counted on for extra cash, or for small, short term goals, such as earning the money to make a special purchase, pay a single unexpected bill, or pay for your family vacation or Christmas shopping later this year.
Joining the gig economy as a tutor has its challenges and drawbacks, but it can be a flexible and reasonably fast way to earn some extra cash while doing something that serves others. As with all gig work, it requires a lot of hard work and is far from a get rich quick scheme. Time, effort, realistic expectations, and reasonable limits are the keys to success.