For creatives struggling to make ends meet and clients not proud to pay… These terrifying side job stories are for you.
As people will remind us over and over again, it can be hard to make a living as a creative. Many creatives are forced to seek side jobs to maintain their creative practices, but terrifying stories of such endeavors abound.
Fear: Are side jobs sustainable for creatives?
As an English major, I have been told by many of my peers that the major I chose is “not practical” and that I will never find a job after graduation. Honestly, I’m afraid they’re right.
It’s hard to be successful like any type of artist, so many choose to do something more “hands-on” on the side. However, these scrambles are not easy either. Here are stories of hustles gone wrong that remind us how hard it can be to make a living as a creative.
Exploited carpool drivers
Last week, Uber Eats driver Smithson Michael posted an emotional TikTok of himself after receiving a meager $1.19 tip. He had been driving for this client for over an hour.
Even if you don’t consider how Uber tends to financially exploit its drivers, it’s an insulting bit of advice. “I got $1.19 and $2 from the app. What is it? It’s not even enough to cover gas.
Many of us take these services and the people who provide them for granted. Drivers like Michael deserve our respect and compassion.
Failed the big stampede: the would-be Amazon tycoon
In his blog Accelerated FI, writer Jim shares stories and tips to help his readers achieve financial independence. Its content includes failed side stories. One in particular stands out because it lost $1,600 after being promised he would earn at least $10,000 a month.
As with many failed side stories, it starts with misleading advertising. A few years ago, it seemed like everyone was talking about how much money you could make selling products on Amazon. And that’s technically true; some people have managed to monopolize product sales. But it’s not easy to start.
Jim paid $60 for a course on Amazon product companies. He learned a few rules such as “Your product should be small and relatively light” and “It should sell for between $15 and $50”. After researching products, Jim settled on a garlic press.
It was small and light, and there were very few competitors. There were only four other garlic press sellers on Amazon at the time. However, as soon as he ordered $1,600 worth of supplies, the competition skyrocketed. Long story short, he lost $1600.
Copywriting, bad for the soul?
Many young creatives will happily accept any job remotely related to their field of interest when they start out. For example, Zulie Rane writes how she took a job writing product descriptions for bidgets. She earned a penny a word writing mundane descriptions of furniture.
Although annoying, the side hustle might have been worth it if it made him a lot of money. But with only a penny per word, you would have to spend a lot of time to earn a substantial amount of money. There aren’t enough hours in the day for that. Additionally, Rane writes that “it will crush your soul”.
Many of us have to pay our dues when we enter our chosen career, and that’s not fun. Sometimes it’s not even worth it. Do your best to prioritize both your long-term goals and your happiness.
What’s more terrifying than a side job story with no payback
Joseph Terndrup writes on his site Side Hustle Nation about his failed attempts at shoving. In one of his anecdotes, he describes how he tried to generate advertising revenue by creating a content website. He spent month writing and producing content, but it generated absolutely no ad revenue.
If you google “how to make money on the side” or “how to make money from home”, writing some sort of blog will always be a suggestion. But making money from your writing isn’t as simple as Google will tell you. It can take years to establish stable website traffic.
For Terndrup, he spent $500 and 6 months of his time, and raised $0 for his efforts.
Dishwasher Horror Story
Melanie Lockert writes about her secondary failure in her blog Dear debt. She likes to use TaskRabbit to help her find gigs or odd jobs to earn extra money. She organized end-of-year parties, helped people move house, etc.
One of Locker’s gigs involved cleaning out someone’s fridge and throwing a load of dishes in the dishwasher. Sounds simple enough, but unfortunately Locker but the wrong kind of soap in the dishwasher. She had to clean up loads of foam and water.
After cleaning up the mess, she restarted the dishwasher, but made the same mistake. She didn’t see that the soap bottle said, “Do not use in an automatic dishwasher.” Needless to say, she must have had an awkward conversation with the man who hired her. It didn’t seem like he wanted her back anytime soon.
As creatives, not all of us are fully appreciated in society. It’s not that easy to get a high-paying job right after graduating. Luckily, Locker managed to get away with some pushing and shoving, but the dirty work isn’t always as easy as it seems.
After these terrifying tales of side jobs, do creatives appreciate more?
If you’re looking for a side hustle, try to figure out what’s profitable and what will make you happy. “Profit” and “happy” aren’t exclusively synonymous words, but do your best to strike a balance.
And for the rest of you, be sure to show your appreciation for the people who work to support themselves as creatives. Many of them could be the people helping you through your day – your driver, your dog walker, whoever – so they deserve your support.