Read virtually any get out of debt success story, and you’re pretty much guaranteed to see two words: side hustle. Want proof? Take a look at ours. It has side hustle written all over it.
For as long as I’ve been blogging, I’ve had a lotta-love, little-hate relationship with side hustling. Because my primary side hustle is another iteration of my true passion, it doesn’t bother me. Generally. In fact, I tutored long before I started blogging. I worked at the writing center in undergrad to help pay my tuition, and I have tutored off and on since then. At first, it was just a few odd sessions here and there, but when I set my sights on $700 wedding shoes, I went full throttle into the world of side hustling.
If side hustling has been so beneficial, why the bitterness? As much as I’d like to tell you that this post is the product of waking up on the wrong side of the bed, it’s much more than that. It’s real talk and a real hard look at bloggers’ favorite thing to peddle.
Think about the last “top side hustles” post you read. Or wrote. In fact, do a Google search. I’ll wait. More often than not, tutoring is at the top of many of those lists. And for good reason. It can be really lucrative. There are specialized mathematics tutors (think AP BC Calc) and foreign language experts that net $50-$75 an hour where I live.
The problem with most of these tutoring posts, though, is that they’re followed by the reminder to “brush up on your skills” or “skim through a textbook at your library”. Here’s the thing. Kids and teens deserve better than that. No, I do not think that every tutor should also be a certified teacher. In fact, there is much to be learned from experts from all disciplines. But I also firmly believe that if you are going to promise to help someone, you should have a clue. And not just a little clue. A big one. Because chances are, if someone is seeking out your services as a tutor, their child is either trying to get ahead or is struggling with some kind of learning difficulty. Putting that kind of trust in someone deserves more than just a cursory glance at BOB* in the dusty old math book at your library.
*If you don’t know that BOB is back-of-book where the odd-numbered answers are, I can tell two things about you: You probably took AP BC Calc, and you’re not a teacher.
The Rise of the MLM
MLMs annoy me just as much as the next person, but I refuse to do more than pick on the handful that could actually do serious harm to people. In fact, there’s nothing I delight in more than reading irate posts and tweets about MLMs from bloggers who sound the trumpet and wave the side hustle banner. Um. You know that bloggers are partly to blame, right?
I get that we are fast approaching hydra status. I am no longer willing to share any detail of my life on my personal Facebook page because I know that no matter if I am sick, pregnant, happy, or simply still alive, that there is an oil, wrap, nail sticker, or legging pattern for that. And someone will offer to sell it to me. It’s that bad.
But honestly, MLMs are the low-hanging fruit of the side hustle world. Imagine not being an expert side hustler. Imagine not making money from your blog. (You’re basically imagining my life right now, TBH.) How do you get started? Well, you might click someone’s Bluehost affiliate link and start your own blog, or you might think back to your friend who literally does nothing but broadcast her love of leggings. If she loves selling this much, maybe you could get in on it, too. And these MLM setups make it so easy to see the positives. Never mind the fact that they largely gloss right over the hefty startup fees and the unlikely reality that you will ever actually get to drive a pink Cadillac.
It’s Just Downright Exhausting
But what’s the real reason that I sour on side hustling?
They’re a lot of flipping work.
This year, I’m side hustling more than I have in a long time. It turns out, an unpaid maternity leave is just as motivating as a sparkly pair of Jimmy Choos. I am also more stressed and have battled far more colds than I ever have. In short, yes, I am creating real financial peace of mind for myself. But I’m also burning the candle at both ends and through the middle in the name of extra income.
Maybe you are cool as a cucumber. Maybe your immune system isn’t turning out to be a total lemon. Maybe your side hustle is something that you truly enjoy (because the new name for side hustling is the passion project). Still, it takes time, energy, and effort.
And maybe it’s the fact that I am seven months pregnant or maybe it’s the fact that I am closer to 40 than 20, but I am starting to think more and more that nobody really has time, energy, and effort for that. At least in a long-term, sustainable way. Side hustling is a starting point, a safety net, possibly even a means to switch careers. But I’m also really starting to be convinced that side hustling isn’t forever.
So Tell Me…Where do you fall on the spectrum of side hustling?