Trying to make money as a freelancer can feel like a laborious task, particularly if you’re someone without a specific skill or direction. If you’re a professional accountant for example, working freelance in a remote capacity life is far less complication. You have a skill and a direction that’s in high demand. However, for those of us with less defined skills, working online or freelance is more complicated. And people often turn to a ‘side hustle’ to supplement their income.
What’s a side hustle?
The idea of a side hustle is a supplementary income. It’s not your primary job, but it’s something that brings in a little extra money on top of your day to day work.
In the traditional, pre-internet days, this might have been doing some work for a mate. Cleaning windows. Working on a bar in the evenings. Stacking shelves. That type of thing. Shorter shifts, little training. High turnover of staff.
These types of side hustles will still be very much relevant for many people, particular those with a pressing need to make plenty of additional cash. At the end of the day, working on a bar might not be overly glamorous or well paid, but it brings in a definite wage for your labour.
I’ve personally never been someone who’s full of bags of energy. I don’t find it overly easy to get out of bed in the mornings and I find myself exhausted by the end of the week. The idea of taking on extra manual labour seems impossible to me, but if you’re someone who doesn’t need a deal of sleep, why not? I even know of people who have taken on bar work for the social aspect, to meet new colleagues and customers on the bar – possibly even in a romantic capacity. Why not!
Since the internet though, and particularly recently with internet being so reliable and widespread, there are loads of side hustle opportunites. Chances to make a little extra cash online, but probably not enough to live on.
But what are they, and is it worth it?
Types of side hustles.
If you do a Google search for ‘make money online’ or ‘side hustles’ the same types of gigs come up again and again. Here are a few of the most popular, and some of the main sites where you can earn through a side hustle:
- Online Surveys – Swagbucks
- Complete Offers – Quidco
- Paid Tweeting – PayU2Blog
- Competition Entry – LatestDeals
- Micro Jobs – Mechanical Turk
- Audio Transcription – Take Note
- T-Shirt Design – Tee Spring
- Sell in Online Auctions – Ebay
- Review Music – Slice the Pie
This is just snapshot of some of the main side hustle types. There are of course thousands of them, all with varying degrees of success and trustworthiness. But are any of them worthwhile?
Are side hustles worth my time?
There are a number of impressive blogs that go into great detail about the merits of these types of ‘online jobs’, but are they really worth it? In my opinion, that depends entirely on what you’re trying to achieve.
The fancy online blogs will only really tell you the merits of these sites. If you put a big headline about ‘make money online!’ with a picture of a smiling housewife with a bundle of £50 notes in her hand then, yes that does indeed sound appealing. But it’s just not realistic. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you aren’t going to get rich from this type of thing. In fact, you aren’t even going to make much money. But you could make some money. And that’s why it really depends what you want to achieve.
If you’re serious about making a living online, and you want to put in proper, full time hours dedicating yourself to making it work then you’re probably looking in the wrong place. It’s simply not time effective to fill out endless, monotonous surveys online for 50p or £1 at a time, especially when many of them suddenly claim ‘you’re not suitable for this survey’ half way through, and suddenly throw you out – leaving you without payment.
Likewise reviewing music through Slice The Pie pays so little, you’d have to complete over 100 reviews in a day before you got anywhere near proper money, and even then it would be nowhere near enough to live on. It’s seriously low, and I’m not even sure how they get away with it legally, considering the equivalent minimum wage when you work out the pay per hour…
So are side hustles a waste of time?
No, not entirely. If you’re someone who’s not trying to make a ‘serious’ money online, but you’ve got some spare time and you’d like to make some pocket money, then why not?
Let’s say you’re a student, a retiree, or someone simply looking for a hobby to pass the time – then why not? You could make a few quid filling out those surveys, and I suppose some people even enjoy them, although it’s not my idea of fun.
And then the paid tweeting, for example. There are genuinely people out there who will pay real money for you to simply tweet, or write a blog entry. Payu2blog is the example I used, but there are plenty out there which I’ve tried and yes, they do work. But the ‘jobs’ are usually few and far between, won’t pay a huge amount, and will require you to ‘spam’ your own time line with marketing about new kettles and mobile phones and all sorts of stuff.
Sounds like they’re not for me..
Maybe not. As I say, it clearly depends on what your motivations are for trying to make a bit of money online. If you’re looking for that bit of pocket money, just for fun, to supplement your pension or true income then fire away.
However, if you want to make serious money online then it seems to me that it’s a good idea to steer clear from these side hustles altogether.
Something I mention on this blog often is the need to focus on your skill and stick to it. If you’ve decided you want to write, write. Get really good at it, and stick to it. Learn about SEO, marketing and keep abrest of the latest trends in digital marketing.
If you develop websites, spend your time learning about WordPress, researching viable niches and writing quality and appealing content.
By focussing on these serious, viable ways to make a living online – even if you’re not earning a deal to begin with, at least you’ll be developing your skills and building towards something. Particularly in an industry that is growing exponentially, and skills are always likely to be needed.
For the more serious freelancers, there really doesn’t seem like there’s any benefit at all to getting side tracked by these side hustles that promise to help you ‘make money online’ then deliver money that you could bare buy a bag of crisps with, let alone live on.
So my advice would be simple. Decide what you’re good at and stick to it. Don’t get side tracked and stick to your goal. If you’re in dire need of making money you might be just as well to pick up a traditional gig on a bar somewhere while you work towards your goal.
But whichever way you go, good luck and have fun doing it!