I don’t know how we got here, but we live in an era of side-hustles.
While working my 9-5 (which is actually more like an 8:30-5 because, work culture) I am constantly wondering what else I could be doing to add a bit more to my savings, or bump up my contributions towards retirement, or buy a pair of those Rothy’s shoes that everyone keeps talking about.
I’m pretty damn frugal.
I shop second hand for all my clothes (ok, not bras and panties.) I don’t splurge on high-end items or buy new electronics (my “new” phone is refurbished from [BackMarket] and works great!). For groceries, I love Aldi for their prices (but hate the plastic packaging) and occasionally stock up from the bulk bins at our local co-op. I drink the complimentary coffee at work (even though it is well known for being terrible.) I have a reasonable amount of money in savings (although not the 6-month emergency fund I’ve heard is recommended.)
So why this infatuation with the idea of a side hustle? Of cashing in just a few more dollars that may (or may not) be worth the extra time at my computer, brain space to put towards improvement, or creative-outlet turned small business venture?
Is it really worth it?
Well, friend – I don’t know for sure. It probably depends on your personal circumstances, financial goals, your space in time and place, and a million other factors that I can’t speak to.
What I do know is that the two side-hustles I’ve tried so far have been “meh” on the scale of terrible to great. Here they are, and here is why:
I don’t remember how I heard about “Influenster,” but I’m going to assume it was through Pinterest. That deep dark pit of scrolling for creative inspiration with no motivation to actually pursue said project(s). I friggin love Pinterest.
Influenster is, from what I can tell, a place where companies go to buy your thoughts, opinions, experiences, and Instagram pics with their products.
Pros: It’s kind of fun and creative to write product reviews – especially for things like cat treats. Seriously. You could write the review from the perspective of your cat and that would probably be totally fine with the powers that be.
Another pro? Sometimes they will send you free stuff – sometimes. I received a box a few weeks ago with a shampoo, conditioner, chocolates, and facial moisturizer. The chocolate was definitely the highlight for me, personally. Unfortunately, I ate it before I remembered to take any aesthetically pleasing Insta-worth shots of the in-tact packaging or, for that matter, the nutty caramel-y chocolate bits inside.
Cons: You usually don’t get anything for your creative juices. I wrote my review of cat treats and you know what, I got shampoo.
Secret confession time – I don’t use shampoo. I wash my hair with a conditioner. It’s called “co-washing” and it’s great. I love it.
Another con, I’m not very insta-savvy. Sure, I’m a millennial so some social media knowledge just comes naturally through osmosis with my peers, but in general I don’t love the idea of having my instagram out there in the world. (She says, while typing a public blog post that will live “out there in the world.”)
All in all, Influenster is fine as a hobby, it is no side-hustle. Unless you want a side-hustle with no guaranteed rewards, and the occasional shipment of free products to try with the expectation that you write about them and don’t eat them immediately. Then, have at it.
My second attempt at the side-hustle was with Rev – a captioning service that hires people to watch videos and caption them. It’s got rigorous standards, and videos can range from one minute to over an hour. I think sometimes they are for full episodes of something, maybe even a movie.
Pros: This shit is legit. They pay you weekly, on Mondays, and clearly state how much you can expect to make from each video that you caption. Their metrics for success are clear, albeit very detailed, and they have reviewers go over your work and give feedback while you learn (a process that can take as long as you are willing to put into it.
Cons: The pay is shit. At least while you’re learning. Most videos pay $.50-$.60 per minute of video time, which can take much much longer to caption, so you’re not going to be making much until you’ve put in the time to learn the system and get really food at typing incredibly quickly.
Another con, some videos have terrible sound quality. You don’t realize how wonderful a newscast can sound until you’ve spent half an hour trying to caption the indistinct screaming of two grown adult humans trying to prank their friend in a moving vehicle. It’s not the most fun way to spend a free hour of your life.
The biggest con that applies to all side hustle gigs is the drain on your free time.
Sure, if you are being paid to sit around and do nothing for hours on end, get yourself a sweet side-hustle and have at it! But, if you are looking for meaningful work that fills your wallet and your joy-meter, this isn’t it.
A side hustle won’t make your day job any more fulfilling and it probably won’t pay for that new pair of shoes. Unless you toil away at your side hustle for hours on end for months and months – at which point, can you really call it a “side”-hustle? That’s more of a 50/50 shuffle.
If you do, like some people in this world, have a fire in your belly to create something – whether it pays the bills or not, then friend – do it.
This blog? Pays nothing! Who cares! I write it because I want to, and I’ve heard from a few people that they enjoy reading it. That is more than enough for me.