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Terrifying side job stories show us the lengths creatives go to be successful

For the creatives struggling to make ends meet and clients who aren’t proud to pay… These terrifying side jobs stories are for you.

As people will remind us again and again, it can be hard to make a living as a creative. Many creatives are forced to seek side jobs to sustain their creative practices, but terrifying stories of these endeavors swarm.

The fear: Are side jobs sustainable for creatives?

As an English major, many of my peers have told me that my chosen major is “impractical” and that I’ll never find a job after graduation. Honestly, I’m scared they’re right.

It’s difficult to be successful as any type of artist, which is why many choose to do something more “practical” on the side. However, these side-hustles aren’t easy either. Here are stories of side-hustles gone wrong that remind us how difficult it can be to make a living as a creative.  

Exploited rideshare drivers

This past week, Uber Eats driver Smithson Michael posted an emotional TikTok of himself after receiving a measly tip of $1.19. He had been driving for this customer for more than an hour.

Even when you don’t consider how Uber tends to financially exploit their drivers, this is an insultingly small tip. “I got $1.19 and $2 from the app. What’s that? That’s not even enough to cover gas.”

Many of us take for granted these services and the people providing them. Drivers like Michael deserve our respect and compassion. 

Big side hustle fail: The Amazon tycoon wannabe

In his blog AcceleratedFI, writer Jim shares stories and tips to help his readers achieve financial independence. His content includes failed side-hustle stories. One in particular stands out, as he lost $1,600 after being promised he would make at least $10,000 per month.

As with many failed side-hustle stories, it starts with misleading advertising. A few years ago, it seemed that everyone was talking about how much money you could make from selling products on Amazon. And that is true technically; there are some people who have successfully monopolized product sales. But it’s not easy starting out. 

Jim paid $60 for a course on Amazon product businesses. He learned a few rules such as, “Your product should be small and relatively lightweight,” and “it should sell for $15-$50.” After researching products, Jim settled on a garlic press.

It was small and lightweight, 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 $1600 worth of supplies, competition exploded. Long story short, he lost $1600.

Copywriting–bad for the soul?

Many young creatives will happily take any job that remotely relates to their field of interest when they’re first starting out. For example, Zulie Rane writes how she took a job writing product descriptions for bidgets. She earned a penny per word writing mundane descriptions of furniture. 

Although boring, the side-hustle might have been worth it if it was making her plenty of money. But with only a penny per word, you would have to dedicate a lot of time to actually make a substantial amount of money. There aren’t enough hours in the day for that. Plus, Rane writes that “it’ll crush your soul.” 

Many of us have to pay our dues when we first enter our chosen career, and it’s not fun. Sometimes, it is not even worth it. Do your best to prioritize both your long term goals and your happiness. 

What more terrifying than a side job story with no ROI

Joseph Terndrup writes on his website Side Hustle Nation about his failed side-hustle attempts. In one of his anecdotes, he describes how he tried to generate ad revenue by creating a content website. He spent months writing and producing content, yet he 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 some up as a suggestion. But making money from your writing is not as easy as Google will tell you it is. It can take years to establish steady website traffic. 

For Terndrup, he spent $500 and 6 months of his time, and reaped $0 for his efforts. 

Dishwashing horror story

Melanie Lockert writes about her side hustle fails in her blog Dear DebtShe likes to use TaskRabbit to help her find gigs or odd jobs to make some extra cash. She’s worked holiday parties, helped people move, etc. Lockert has relied on these jobs to help get her out of $81,000 of student loan debt, but it has been no easy feat. 

One of Locker’s gigs was to clean someone’s fridge and to start a load of dishes in the dishwasher. It sounds simple enough, but unfortunately, Locker but the wrong kind of soap in the dishwasher. She had to clean up loads of suds and water.

After cleaning up the mess, she restarted the dishwasher, but made the same mistake. She failed to see that the bottle of soap said, “Do not use in automatic dishwasher.” Needless to say, she had to have an awkward conversation with the man who hired her. It didn’t sound like he’d want her back anytime soon.

As a creative, not all of us are fully appreciated in society. It’s not that easy to get a well-paying job right after graduating. Luckily, Locker has worked her way out of it through side-hustles, but the dirty work isn’t always as simple as it sounds. 

After these terrifying side jobs stories are more appreciative of creatives?

If you are searching for a side-hustle, try to consider what is profitable and what will make you happy. “Profit” and “happy” aren’t exclusively synonymous words, but do your best to find a balance.

And for the rest of you, make sure to show appreciation for the people working to support themselves as creatives. Many of them might be the people helping you throughout your day—your driver, your dog walker, whoever it may be—so they deserve your support.