5 Side Hustles Actors Should Avoid

If the promise of the job is too good to be true…it is.

Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

It’s never easy to find a side hustle as an actor that pays the bills, leaves you time for auditions, and doesn’t make you hate every moment you’re on the job. With the rise of the gig economy, actors have a lot more options for flexible work.

But some of that work is garbage. That doesn’t mean the people that do these jobs are garbage. There’s no shame in having any of these jobs, but if you have the privilege to avoid the following “make your own hours, be your own boss, make $$$” semi-scam positions, I highly recommend it.

Again, I realize it’s a privilege to be able to be picky about jobs. This list is to help actors avoid online or gig work that seems like a good idea, but very rarely becomes a supportive side hustle.

Transcription

Getting paid to transcribe video and audio recordings sounds okay. Some places pay around $1 a minute! Before you start spending your potential $60 an hour paycheck, it’s $1 per transcribed minute. On average, it takes 4 minutes to transcribe 1 minute of audio. That $60 an hour is really closer to $15.

Still, $15 an hour isn’t bad. Except that transcription jobs rarely provide consistent work and even if they do it is so boring! It requires all of your attention, every minute you work. And since you aren’t actually paid by the hour, but by how much you produce, you better keep that focus going or your wage goes down.

I’ve had transcription jobs and they’re not fun. I had to transcribe “OK Google” audio recordings, which meant deciphering addresses, mumbled voice notes, and a lot of searches for pornography.

To make enough money, I’d work a lot of hours with complete focus on a very boring task. If you’re working in an office or a restaurant, you get breaks, can listen to music (when not talking to customers), and don’t have to have 100% attention on your job at every moment. With transcription, you do. And it sucks.

Because the pay is low and the work so tedious, it’s likely you’ll burn out in a transcription job. So, it’s not a great side hustle choice unless you need a little bit of cash right away.

Taking Surveys

Getting paid for your opinion sounds delightful, but taking surveys for money really isn’t worth the time. Sure, you can do it from your couch while you’re watching The Office for the hundredth time. But you usually get between $.01-$.25 per survey. If each survey takes 5 minutes, you’ll make a whopping $3 an hour!

Occasionally, surveys pay more, but it’s rare. The allure of surveys is a scam and you’d have to really hustle hard to make minimum wage.

MLMs

Multi Level Marketing (MLM) businesses are all around. Herbalife, Pampered Chef, and LuLaRoe are just a few examples you’ve probably seen in your Facebook feed.

Some people love these businesses. They swear they changed their life and let them finally be their own boss! And that’s true…for an extremely small percentage of people. A study from 2018 found that 27% of people that participated in an MLM made no money. Even sadder, 47% of people lost money on an MLM.

Basically, you have a 1 in 4 chance of making any money at all. That’s not bad odds for a horse race, but horrible odds for a basic job.

To make money at an MLM you either have to be a good salesperson or good at convincing people to join your program. If you’re really good at either of those things, you’d likely make more money getting a conventional sales job (good salespeople are hard to find and often make a lot, so go for it if that’s your skill). Instead, an MLM forces you to buy a bunch of product you may not need and take away paltry percentages.

For more details on the many MLM issues, check out The Dream podcast.

If you’ve made a good living in an MLM, I’m honestly happy for you. But if you’re just starting out and considering it as an option, I suggest you look elsewhere.

Postmates

Driving Uber involves talking to strangers and inevitably having a drunk person throwing up in your car. So, cut out the strangers and just do Postmates. How hard can it be to deliver things?

Well, the pandemic brought greater awareness to the crappiness that is delivery jobs. They’re essential, but exceptionally underpaid. According to crowdsourced data from PayUp, Postmates pays an average of $1.70 per delivery after expenses. $1.70!

Outside of the poor pay, navigating an array of pick up points, finding parking, and dealing with customers that don’t tip are just a few of the downsides of Postmates.

Plus, you have to make your own hours. That sounds fun, but it means you have to motivate yourself to get up and deliver stuff. When you only get $1.70 per delivery, it’s easy to go “to hell with that, I’m sleeping in” and watch your hours dwindle away.

People that work for Postmates work hard and do a good job. This is not a slam on them. But the job is a lie. It’s not a flexible schedule where you get paid to drive around. It’s tough work that doesn’t pay minimum wage. If you have any other job option, take it.

Task Rabbit

People have little tasks they need help with and they can pay you to do it. Similar to Postmates, this job has you running around town for very little.

Sure, the individual jobs pay more than typical deliveries. But it’s difficult to cobble together enough work to make your time worthwhile.

This is good for quick, one-off jobs just to make a little extra cash. But it’s not a great option for a steady side gig to sustain your creative career.

Want a side hustle that doesn’t suck? Try freelance writing. It’s even easier to get started with my Free Guide To Paying Publications That Take Pitches. It has over 240 publications that are open to freelancers and pay real money. Sign up and get the guide plus weekly emails about open writing jobs and freelance tips.

Writer for Thrillist, Bustle, Parade, Greatist, MTV, IFC, Snooki’s blog. Want to hear about open writing jobs? Sign up for my free newsletter at AmberPetty.com

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