Top Five Worst Side Gigs for Earning Extra Cash

Let’s face it, some months we’re cash-short, and we need to bank extra bucks to make our monthly student debt payment.

There are so many “alleged” ways to “easily” earn extra money (both online and in real life). What I’ve found, though, is the vast majority are gimmicky, unreliable, or pay far less than advertised. Since you value yourself (or at least you’re trying to fake it ‘til you make it), you are not going to settle for such BS as working for under $10/hr, exchange something of actual value for very little money, or subject yourself to the pain of feeling like you’ve given up your free time for chump change.

Here are the top five worst possible side gigs. I’ve researched them to save you the time and wasted effort.

1. Filling out online surveys for money

Billions are invested into marketing research online. Research corporations apparently rely on the average person to take surveys to determine marketing information? Popular sites are Swagbucks, Vindale Research, My Survey, Pinecone Research, to name just a few.

So many different sites offer online survey taking as a “quick and easy” way to make money. I signed up for a few — there are tons — and from what I can tell they are all total wastes of time! Most promise to pay you a few dollars immediately just for signing up, but you can’t withdraw any money until you reach a certain amount (like $10 or $20) which never happens. Many have you fill out lengthy surveys which are promised to be “fast” but end up taking 30-45 minutes (which for $1 is not even remotely worth it!). About 50 percent of the time, when you get to the end, the page times out or you get an error message and have to start over. You will be feeling homicidal and/or suicidal by the end, I promise. There are better ways forward.

2. Being an Online Matchmaking Coach

Low-key paid matchmaker sites like Tawkify and Personaldatingassistants allow you to either use your social network to set people up on dates or work at home as a “dating assistant”.

Tawkify is a platform where you use your social network (like Facebook) to set people up on dates. You get paid for dates that actually happen. Unfortunately there is NO actual wage or salary to doing this and it’s completely commission based. No thanks.

Personaldatingassistants.com advertised $14/hr for work-from-home employment. I submitted a lengthy application (complete with essay questions that had to be answer) and never heard from them.  Next.

3. Reviewing Jury Cases

Lawyers “test drive” cases by using regular people to represent a jury. You can read cases , give your thoughts and make money. Or so they say. Sites include JuryMatters.com,
OnlineVerdict.com, and EJury.com.

When I heard about this side gig, I thought, “Cool. I’m obsessed with true crime documentaries and podcasts. I’d be totally down to read over some cases and type out my thoughts.” Sites promised to pay $25-$50 to read a case and submit my thoughts in “45 minutes or less”.

I registered at JuryMatters.com, OnlineVerdict.com, and EJury.com. No one ever got back to me. Not sure if this is actually a real thing.

4. Working as a Secret Shopper

Also known as mystery shopper, this is a tool used by market research companies, watchdog organizations, or by companies themselves to gather info about products. Companies include Bestmark, and Sinclaire Customer Metrics.

Don’t believe the hype. These are also (for the most part) a waste of time. Of course, I acknowledge there are probably some exceptions and perhaps some of the people reading this book actually had good experiences with secret shopping and getting paid.

I personally signed up for Bestmark, Sinclaire Customer Metrics, to test them out. For the month I was a member, the following “opportunities” came up:

*Seemingly easy things that, when I clicked on the alert email, had already become unavailable.

*Jobs that I could not do because they were for 15- to 17-year-old boys, or required me to service a Buick I don’t have.

In a month I made $3 for filling out a request for more information on a website and reporting on how long it took for someone to contact me. This almost made me forget the deluge of pointless emails I had been spammed with three times per day. However, between reading the instructions, completing the survey, taking screenshots etc, I spent around 20 minutes, meaning the hourly rate was around $9/hr. This is not a way out of six-figure student loan debt, let me assure you.

5. Online Transcription

Online transcription is the conversion of audio and video files to written documents. Sites include VerbalInk.com, rev.com and transcribeme.com.

Perhaps these jobs used to be decent – before everyone in the world found out about them. If you are a writer like me, and a fast typer it sounds like the perfect job – particularly due to the flexibility and nonexistence of associated costs such as wardrobe or fuel/commuting.  I tried Rev.com and Transcribeme.com. Accutran Global looked good but was not looking for people who could work the hours I was available. The Rev.com platform is most comprehensive, but I didn’t pass the online test.

Here’s the problem: transcription basically sucks. Jobs claim to pay $20/audio hour, but it took me about an hour to successfully transcribe about nine minutes of audio the first time I tried. If you want to know what it’s like, try watching a TV show and typing every single word the characters are saying. You must start a new line every time there is a new speaker, and follow other formatting rules or you won’t be paid. Just….no.

There are many more bogus side gigs, which I explore in depth in my upcoming book. For now, let me just say that after the hours I spent researching “easy” money-makers, I passionately suggest NOT doing any extra work if you can live even somewhat comfortably off your primary income – your sanity is more important than a few extra bucks. Only do it if you can find something you actually enjoy, that doesn’t make you feel angry/frustrated/ or loser-ish. It’s never worth it.