These 5 Popular Side Gigs Promise Big Money but Too Often Leave Us Burned Out and Angry

These five side hustles might not be worth your time (or energy).

Man with no money. Businessman holding empty wallet

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We’re in the era of the side hustle when you can make extra cash by delivering groceries or taking surveys online. With ease and flexibility (you can do them on your own time), many people find great success with their side gig, sometimes turning it into a full-time enterprise.

But occasionally people take up side hustles and realize—you know what, this just isn’t worth my time. It happens more often than you think, and it happens more often with these five popular side gigs.

1. Tutoring

Tutoring is one of the hardest side gigs to get right. For one, the pay isn’t very high. You might get around $55 to $60 an hour if you’re very experienced. Most of the time, however, you’ll get around $20 to $30 an hour.

The pay isn’t the worst part. The inconsistency is. Your students will likely have irregular schedules, making it nearly impossible to establish a routine. You might have one or two students who meet with you regularly if you’re lucky. Otherwise, get ready to have students cancel a half-hour before your tutoring sessions, or call randomly and ask for help.

Now, don’t get me wrong: tutoring to help is different from tutoring to earn money. If your primary intention is to help students learn difficult subject material, and the pay is secondary, then by all means—tutor students. But if you’re looking to make serious cash, tutoring will be a difficult venture.

2. Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk)

Amazon “MTurk” might be the first digital “work from home” job that ever existed.

Basically, MTurk helps companies outsource low-skill tasks, such as transcribing audio or working with excel spreadsheets. It sounds good in theory—after all, who wouldn’t want to earn a little extra cash doing something that requires only time—but in practice, it can be a mind-numbing experience.

For one, the pay is low. You might—might—earn $7 to $8 an hour, if you’re lucky. Otherwise, you can easily find yourself pumping out high-quality work for peanuts. You’ll also get paid in Amazon store credits. Though MTurk says it’s going to start paying Canadians in Canadian dollars soon, it’s been three years since they made that announcement. I’m not holding my breath.

Additionally, most of the work is available to Americans only. Canadians have more work than other nationalities, true, but with the swathe of people in MTurk, the likelihood of snagging top jobs consistently remains low.

3. Youtube

Making a Youtube channel is simple. Making money off your Youtube channel? Now that’s a different story.

If you have dreams of becoming the next big influencer on Youtube, I hate to break it to you but the path is long and all uphill. Unless your Youtube channel is unique enough to differentiate you from everyone else, you’re unlikely to make a profit, at least not for many years.

4. Adjunct professor

Again, if your call is to teach, and you like helping students learn, being an adjunct professor might be a great side hustle. But if you’re looking to make money—and “adjunct professor” pops up in your head—do yourself a favour and keep thinking.

Adjunct professors do make money, true. In fact, they might make more than any of the other side hustles listed here. But it’s time-consuming. And the pay isn’t that great, not as great as being a full-time professor.

The subject material might come easy to you, in which case you don’t have to spend time preparing lectures. But then there’s the papers, the grading, the discipline when students cheat or plagiarize, the bureaucracy of colleges and universities. If you’re not called to teach, these things will only leave you burned out and angry.

5. Online surveys

I saved the best (read: worst) for last: online surveys.

If there’s one side hustle that will anger you the fastest, it’s surveys. For one, you have to qualify for a survey first before you fill it out. Then, even if you’re chosen to fill out a survey, you’ll get very little pay to do it. Between finding surveys for which you qualify and actually filling them out, your hourly rate will likely be low.

That said, some Canadians find a way to fit surveys into nonproductive time, such as lunch breaks or slack time. If you can manage to do that, good for you. Otherwise, keep looking.

Foolish bottom line

Keep in mind—this is just an opinion. A side hustle that isn’t worth the time to one person might present itself as a lucrative opportunity to another. But if you’re looking for a side hustle that makes you money, you might want to rule this out from the start.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium service or advisor. We’re Motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer, so we sometimes publish articles that may not be in line with recommendations, rankings or other content.

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