Profitable side hustles should help you achieve the financial freedom to do whatever you want. That can be quitting your job, fulfilling a passion in your time outside work, or just having some extra cash to do stuff you like.
Profitable side hustles should not:
Take up so much time that you’re earning less than minimum wage
Suck your happiness and energy
Require a huge audience to be profitable right away
I’ve tried all of these methods and none of them were worth my time. If you want to have more financial freedom, think twice before trying any of these unprofitable side hustles.
1. Don’t try Patreon unless you have 334 true fans.
Here’s a fun fact: most Patreon monthly contributions are $6/month. If you wanted to make a bare $2,000 a month from Patreon, you’d need 334 patrons. Do you have that many people willing to contribute to you on a monthly basis? I don’t. And I’m not alone — research shows that only the top 5% of Patreon creators earn more than $750/month.
In order to be successful on Patreon, you need a vast pre-existing audience. It doesn’t matter if you are the best artist or novelist in the world unless you have a fanbase. Nobody will support you, and certainly not enough to make a comfortable wage.
I had and loved my Patreon for over a year, but it was time-consuming and difficult to keep up with. It caused me to undervalue my own services (I sold consultations at $50/month when I sell them at $200/hour today). That’s why I ultimately shut it down.
Patreon is a great way to connect with your audience who want to get more from you. But it’s not a profitable side hustle.
2. Copywriting pay is abysmal and soul-sucking.
I got my blogging start by writing product descriptions for bidets. I’m serious — for about a penny per word, I wrote descriptions for all kinds of furnishings. It was dire.
At the time, I was very happy to earn any money with writing. But looking back, it was a terrible side hustle.
There are two reasons this side hustle won’t make you rich.
It’s not scalable. To earn more money, I had to spend more time. I did not have enough hours in the day to make this worthwhile.
It’ll crush your soul. Writing is very, very hard. Only people who really love it tend to have the stamina to do it long-term. The reason I’m still blogging after nearly three years is that I get to blog about what I love. Writing about bidets is not what I love.
As far as profitable side hustles go, it’s possible there are high-paying copywriting jobs out there, but unless you have a lot of experience, you probably won’t get them.
3. Don’t get caught up in the NFT hype.
Yes, I too fell prey to the excitement about NFTs. Don’t buy into the hype.
The problem is that value from NFTs is both speculative (i.e. NFTs are not perceived as valuable in themselves, but rather buyers think they will hold more value in the future) or entirely subjective. Yes, buying an NFT work of art for $69 million means you hold the only original copy of that work of art, stored on the blockchain. But why would most people bother?
When I interviewed an NFT buyer/seller earlier this year, they confirmed my suspicions: most of NFT buying and selling activity is by people already deeply buried in the crypto scene. It’s unlikely to be meaningful for everyday creators like you and me. It’s a profitable side hustle for a very, very few.
4. Surveys from home are not the answer.
When I was a college student, I googled “how to make money from home.” If you do this today, you’ll see the same thing I did: surveys.
These surveys typically pay about $0.20 or $0.50 per survey. They usually take about 15–20 minutes. Before completing the survey, you actually have to take a pre-survey to make sure you qualify. If you don’t qualify, you may earn a small consolation prize of $0.05. I know this from long and bitter experience, unfortunately.
They’re billed as a way to make money “anytime, anywhere” from the comfort of your own home and even in your pajamas (!). You can earn some money, sure, but it won’t be anywhere near even minimum wage. Surveys are not a profitable side hustle.
5. YouTube is (probably) a bad idea
I started my own YouTube channel back in 2019 when I had a lot of folks asking me the same sorts of questions and limited time to answer emails. So I uploaded a video answering some of the most frequent.
It quickly snowballed into one of my favorite ways of creating content. Today, after two years of posting videos, 11.2k followers, a couple videos with 10k+ views and even a brand sponsorship, I earn about ….$300-$400 per month from it. It’s something, but not a lot.
A lot of aspiring videographers think you can hop on YouTube, start posting in a profitable niche and earn thousands yesterday. The truth is unless you’re doing it because you love posting, YouTube will not be a profitable side hustle any time soon. It’s a long, hard road to even get monetized, much less start earning enough money to change your life.
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