The financial advice of “get thee a side hustle” has become ubiquitous in the 21st century. If you’re feeling the pressure to join this trend, it’s important to be aware that scammers have also been paying heed to this advice. Indeed, there are probably more scams than legitimate opportunities out there, so consider the information below before taking a chance on any lucrative-looking opportunities.
1. Dropshipping – not a scam but not always legit
Many people run legitimate online retail businesses with the support of reliable eCommerce fulfillment services. However, this is vastly different from dropshipping. You may have been enticed into starting a dropshipping business on the promise that you won’t have to worry about warehousing or order fulfillment – just create an attractive site, bring in customers, and take a cut of all the sales.
While it is possible to make a decent living with dropshipping, it is a highly competitive market. There’s also an abundance of scammers claiming they can train you or sell you a site that’s guaranteed to start making money right away.
The field itself isn’t necessarily a scam, but there are so many unscrupulous players within it that you must exercise extreme caution before considering any deals, offers, or business proposals.
2. MLMs – technically legal but potentially life-ruining
A Multi-Level Marketing business (MLM) is exactly the same as a pyramid scheme. The one difference – the thing that makes it technically legal – is that MLMs sell products. In fact, to avoid being classed as a pyramid scheme, they must at least make it look like the products are the main money-making aspect of the business. However, with most MLMs, you will find that recruitment is where the real money lies.
You will also find that the people at the bottom either make no money or lose so much that they go into debt. Since the foundation of the pyramid isn’t stable, even those who have some success will eventually lose out. It’s only those at the tippy-top who walk away with millions.
3. Writing and editing – it’s complicated
There are legitimate writing, editing, and proofreading jobs available. However, many of the “opportunities” advertised online are either incredibly underpaid or outright scams. Websites that advertise for writers are generally churn-and-burn sites that underpay desperate writers who will work for a few months to collect bylines and then quit. If a site is always advertising for writers or editors, it’s a major red flag.
Another common scam is to have applicants do “test articles,” which the company then sells, essentially getting you to work for free under the guise of applying for a permanent role. Of course, legitimate companies may ask you to do a test piece in addition to providing work samples. Sites like Reddit and Glassdoor are excellent places to research a company and learn from the experiences of other applicants.
4. Mail and money forwarding – 100% scam
If you’re offered an “opportunity” whereby you receive packages at your home and forward them to other addresses, do the digital version of running for the hills. Not only will you not get paid for the work you do, but you will also be committing a criminal offense that could see you in major legal trouble. If you send your SSN and other personal details, you’ll also be at risk of identity theft. The same goes for “jobs” in which you receive money in your bank account and forward a portion to another account.
Keep this information in mind as you consider your side hustle options, and always do plenty of research before sinking any capital into a business idea. Good luck!