Side hustles that aren't worth your time

When I first started working online, I took on any job I could get. I took online surveys, wrote for low-paying clients, and did virtual assistant tasks for minimum wage to build my reputation. Now that I’m an established freelancer, I’m much more protective of my time. Over the years, I’ve realized that some side hustles and business ideas just aren’t worth the work or risk involved. Even if you’re a beginner who’s new to freelancing and working for yourself, your time is still valuable, so you shouldn’t waste it. Here are 5 side hustles I steer clear of because they just aren’t worth it.

Renting a Vehicle on Car Rental Sites 

I’ve seen a lot of influencers recommending car rental sites as a way to earn side income lately. One influencer I enjoy watching has even gotten a fleet of cars using loans and is leasing them out on a car rental site. 

I wouldn’t try this business idea for a few reasons. One, letting a stranger drive your car comes with inherent risks. There’s no guarantee that the person renting your car is a good driver who will take care of your vehicle. Your car could get totaled, trashed, or even stolen. Even if your customers respect your car, your vehicle will still undergo wear and tear due to being driven extra miles. 

I’ve also heard that car rental sites are a race to the bottom price-wise. Hosts try to undercut each other to get customers, so you may not end up making much of a profit, especially if you’re still paying one or more car loans. 

If you try to turn your car rental side hustle into a business by taking on loans, you could end up overleveraged and default on your debt. Remember how much indebted Airbnb hosts struggled at the beginning of the pandemic when no one was traveling? It’s risky to go into debt to fund a rental business, so I’m steering clear of this side hustle.

Taking Surveys 

For several years, I completed mindless surveys while sitting on the couch and watching TV at night. More recently, I’ve realized that I was robbing myself of much-needed relaxation time for little reward. Surveys on sites like Swagbucks only pay $1 to $2 each and can take up to an hour to complete. I got tired of spending my limited free time answering questions for below minimum wage.

Even lucrative study opportunities that pay $100 to $200 per hour-long session require unpaid work. On sites like Respondent and User Interviews, you have to try to qualify for studies by filling out preliminary surveys. You don’t get paid anything for doing this and aren’t guaranteed a spot in any of the studies you fill out screeners for. I had to fill out dozens of questionnaires to get chosen for a study, making my effective hourly rate low.

You should get paid for all of the work that you do even as a beginner, so I wouldn’t recommend this side hustle.

Selling Plasma 

Selling plasma is often recommended as an easy way to make side income. But for me, the health risks don’t seem worth it. You can experience side effects like dizziness, fatigue, nausea, dehydration, and even fainting after donating. Since I deal with similar symptoms on a daily basis from my chronic illness, I don’t think it would be a good idea for me to donate. But even completely healthy people can feel run down after donating.

I’ve heard the needle used is also pretty big, which can be scary if you have a fear of needles. All in all, I don’t think this side hustle is worth it to earn a couple hundred bucks a month. Health is wealth, so I don’t want to do anything that could compromise my wellbeing just to earn extra cash.

Writing for Content Mills

Many writers start their freelancing journey working for content mills that pay $0.02 per word (or sometimes less). Although it’s possible to crank out these articles and make an ok hourly rate, I suggest you find your own clients instead. Even as a beginner, you deserve to earn more than a couple bucks per article. Use the time you would’ve spent hammering out blogs for content mills to cold email potential clients and network with editors on LinkedIn, and you’ll earn much more money.

Mystery Shopping

Getting paid to shop probably sounds like a dream come true if you’re a shopaholic. All you have to do is shop at a particular store and report back on your experience. Although this is an easy, fun gig, the pay usually isn’t great, and scams abound. You can only expect to earn about $20 to $30 per assignment. After factoring in gas, taxes, and any purchases you make at the store, you’re probably just breaking even. And that’s if you manage to find a legitimate gig among all the scams.

Which side hustles and business ideas are worth it and which ones aren’t? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!

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