9 Worst Side Hustles to Start in 2024

When you comb the internet, you can find tons of articles covering various side hustle ideas that you should start, but one thing most people don’t talk about is the side hustles you shouldn’t start or at least know all the facts before you start them.

Side hustles like dropshipping, network marketing, and blogging can take a lot of work upfront work to get started. Side hustles like network marketing, online surveys, mystery shopping, and unrealistic business opportunities should be avoided.

So, if you’re considering any of these side hustle ideas in 2024, read this first, and you’ll at least be aware of all the pitfalls before you waste a lot of time.

What Makes a Bad Side Hustle

Before we get into the list, we should first define what a bad side hustle is. This would include any of the following.

  • Low Paying Gigs
  • High Cost to Get Started
  • High Risk of Losing Money
  • Large Amounts of Time and Work to See Results
  • Promises Big Payouts

I’ve also broken this list of the worst side hustles into three categories: side hustles that are challenging but not impossible, the worst side hustles, and the side hustles you should never start.

Side Hustles That Are Hard But Not Impossible

This first group of side hustles is not impossible but may require a lot of time and, in some cases, money to see results.

If you don’t have the time to put into these side gigs and the patience to wait for the income, don’t start these side hustles.

1. Dropshipping

drop shipping cart and computer
Image by fathershops from Pixabay

The first side hustle to avoid is dropshipping. This side hustle works by setting up an e-commerce site on Shopify, finding suppliers, and when orders come in, you place the order with the supplier, and they ship it directly to the consumer.

While this is a legitimate side hustle, starting this side business is not as simple as it sounds. Here are just a few issues you’ll have to deal with.

  • You need to find products in demand
  • Find products that have enough profit to sell
  • Contact suppliers to sign up with you
  • Setup a great-looking e-commerce site
  • Setting up an LLC, tax certificate, business address, and phone number.
  • Optimize your site to get more people to buy from you.
  • Dealing with customer calls
  • You will need between $500 to $2000 to launch your store
  • Setting up ads that convert
  • Building a team to support your business

As you can see, there are many things you need to know before starting this kind of side business. More than that, this side hustle takes a lot of time to set up and launch.

Chris’s Take on Dropshipping

When I set up my dropshipping store, I spent six months picking my niche, setting up my store, and contacting suppliers, only to learn I was not even close to being ready to run this kind of business. If you start this side hustle, you must be committed, or it will fail, like my store did.

To start a dropshipping business, you’ll need a mentor to show on how to set this up. You can read my complete 7-step article on how to start a dropshipping business here.

2. Blogging

Blogging with WordPress in Ocean
Image by 27707 from Pixabay

Blogging can be a hard side hustle to start. This side hustle works by setting up a blog on WordPress. You write content that promotes affiliate products and earns money from ad revenue through ad programs like Google Adsense.

While I’ve earned thousands of dollars from blogging, it’s not quite like it used to be when I got into it in 2008. Here are just a few issues you’ll have to deal with.

  • Niches can be very competitive, especially if your blog covers online business, personal finance, or health and fitness.
  • Top brand sites like Forbes, Captera, and Reddit tend to rank for the most competitive keywords and are hard to beat out of the top spots.
  • Google updates, such as the Helpful Content Update, have destroyed many blogs and tend to punish the smaller blogs because they don’t have the Domain Rank like the bigger brands.
  • You need to create a lot of content. To see success, you’ll have to create between 500 and 1000 articles at a minimum to find enough winners to make money from.
  • You will need to build links, a lot of links. This will build trust with Google and help you rank better.
  • You will have to update things and keep things fresh. Articles must be updated occasionally to help keep rankings and improve old and outdated content.

Chris’s Take on Blogging

Blogging isn’t impossible to succeed with, but it will require much time and work to see results. You will need to be dedicated. The first 6 to 12 months will be the hardest part because you won’t get much traffic or earn much money.

The first blog I started took a year before I earned my first income with Google Adsense, and that was just a few cents. A year later, I was earning $1000 a month with ads.

To learn more, check out the article on starting a successful blog.

3. Driving

Driving Side Hustles
Image by Brian Penny from Pixabay

If you’ve ever considered starting a ridesharing side hustle or delivering food using apps like Uber Eats and DoorDash, you may reconsider that idea. These side hustles work by picking up people or someone’s food order and bringing it to a destination.

While the idea sounds simple, and you can work your hours, there are some pitfalls you may want to consider before you consider hopping in your car and driving all over town.

  • There is a potential for low earnings. When demand is low, your earnings will be low. You may have to drive long distances and get stuck in traffic for little pay, and tips are not guaranteed.
  • Vehicle Wear and Tear. Now that you’re driving your car more, you’ll have more things to fix. New tires, wheel bearings, and breakdowns will eat into your profits.
  • Unpredictable Schedule. Flexibility is one of the big benefits these companies offer, but this can be a double-edged sword because peak hours may not always be when you can work and can eat into your commitments.
  • Safety Concerns. As a driver, you may encounter people who are intoxicated or pose a physical threat. You may have to do late-night deliveries to unsafe neighborhoods. Traffic accidents also pose a threat as well.
  • Limited Growth Potential. There is going to be a limit to how much you can drive and how much you can earn.

Chris’s Take on Driving Gigs

Driving can earn you a little income, but if you’re looking for growth and higher income. Also consider the wear and tear on your vehicle as you will have to cover these expenses out of your pocket.

The Worst Side Hustles You Should Avoid

The second group is the worst side hustle to do. They require a lot of time, pay very little and sometimes will lose you money. While they are legit opportunities with low payouts, you’ll want to avoid them altogether.

4. Network Marketing

Network Marketing
Photo by Pixabay:

The next side hustle to avoid is network marketing. This side hustle works by working with a company as an independent business owner and marketing their products. When you make a sale, you earn a commission on some of the sales.

On top of that, you focus on building a team of your own. When your team makes a sale, you will earn a small portion of those sales. However, there are several issues you’ll likely deal with when starting a network marketing business.

  • High Failure Rates. Nine out of ten people joining network marketing companies fail and quit because making money with these business opportunities can be hard.
  • Limited Income Potential. When you’re brand new, you earn very little with these opportunities. In most case you may only earn around 25% of each sale.
  • Damage Personal Relationships. With network marketing, you must contact people such as family to have meetings or parties to sell products or recruit others.
  • Pressure to Recruit and Sell. When you join a network marketing company, they will push you to sell as many products as possible and recruit as many people as you can.
  • Huge Time Investment. You will need to spend a lot of time call people setting up meeting which can take a lot of time away from family.
  • Not Transparent. Finally, some of these business opportunities can blur the lines and make it hard to tell whether your actions are legit.

Chris’s Take on Network Marketing

I worked for four and a half years with a network marketing company called World Financial Group, selling insurance and investments.

I found it hard to earn an income and spent more than I ever made with them. Most of all they wanted me to recruit new members and anytime I mentioned network marketing to someone it was like telling someone I had the plauge.

Avoid these business opportunities at all costs. While some might be legit business opportunities, you won’t earn much, and it will take a huge investment of time to get even small results.

5. CryptoCurrency Trading

CryptoCurrency Trading
Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Crypto Currency trading is one of the newest side hustles and probably one of the most riskiest. This side hustle works by buying crypto, hoping it will make big gains. Similar to day trading crypto currency can have big swings in profits.

For example, in 2023 Bitcoin dropped from over $40,000 to just under $20,000 and in 2024 has gained it all back. Here are a few risks to consider with cryptocurrency trading.

  • High Volatility. Crypto can be highly volatile. Some coins can increase by 1000% in a single day but lose just as much simultaneously.
  • Security Threats. Crypto is also not regulated by any government agency, making it a target for scammers and hackers.
  • No Investor Protections. When you invest in stocks their is government insurance to back things up and protect you. Crypto offers none of this.
  • Counterparty Risk. If you store your crypto on a third party market place they’re not safe guarded if they would go bankrupt and you could lose everything.
  • User Protection Error. If you have a digital wallet to store your crypto, you risk losing the wallet, losing the access keys, or sending it to the wrong place.
  • Scam Potential. With the unregulated markets its drawn in a bunch of scammers. Beware of pump and dump or other fraudulent scams.

Chris’s Take on Crypto Trading

I’ve personally bought crypto in the past and lost money when Bitcoin dropped to half in 2023. I ended up pulling most of the money out.

If you want to make a total time income with this, I don’t recommend it. The income is volatile and not guaranteed, and you will likely lose money. Most of all if the company you broker through goes belly up you could lose everything.

6. Mystery Shopping

Mystery Shopping
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio:

Ever seen those ads for being a mystery shopper? This side hustle works by completing a specific task for a brand. You may have to check out a specific product, report on its condition, take pictures, or even buy it.

This sounds like a great side hustle but their can be some big draw backs to doing this.

  • Low Pay. These opportunities never pay that much, so don’t expect to make a full-time income or see much growth here.
  • Inconsistent Work. Jobs will vary daily, and you may not get the jobs you want when you want.
  • Large Amount of Time Involved. These jobs typically require a lot of time. You’ll have to drive to various locations, find the product, and do what they require to complete the task.
  • Unrealistic Results. Often, brands will want you to make the results look positive. This can give unrealistic results to the consumer.
  • Safety Concerns. You may have to drive to neighborhoods out of your area in places that may not be safe.

Chris’s Take on Mystery Shopping

I’ve never done this side hustle because the growth opportunity is nonexistent. You can only do so much daily, limiting your income potential. When you combine that with the low payouts, and time involved its just not worth it.

7. Data Entry

Data Entry
Photo by Pixabay:

Data entry is inputting data into spreadsheets, scanning physical documents, copying and pasting information from one file to another, verifying data, organizing data, or transcribing audio files.

While plenty of these jobs exist, and you can make money with this side hustle, it has its downsides.

  • Low Paying. People just getting started in these side hustles make very little and are typically paid minimum wage with no skills.
  • Risk of Technology Taking Your Job. With the recent growth of AI its only a matter of time until it takes over these simple task.
  • Job Complexity. To do this job you may need to know how to uses Excel spreadsheets, code, and verify that the data is correct.
  • Requires Large Amounts of Time. Data Entry involves a lot of time. If you’re doing this on the side, you may have to work more than you want due to critical deadlines.
  • Limited Growth Opportunity. Data Entry offers minimal growth opportunity which is mainly based on the skills that you have.

Chris’s Take on Data Entry

I have never done this side hustle but the big risk is that AI and other tools will eventually eliminate these jobs, since computers can do these jobs faster and cheaper. While the pay is better if you have specific skills to help organize and validate data, the pay typically starts around $11 to $12 an hour.

Side Hustles You Should Never Do

This final category is the side hustles you should never start. So, no matter where you see these side hustles, stay away because the only person you are making rich is the scammers offering it.

8. Doing Surveys

Doing Surveys
Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Surveys are one side hustle you should never do. This side hustle works by sign up to a survey company like Survey Scout and answering consumer survey questions. You don’t have to go anywhere; you only need a laptop.

However, this is where all the good things end for this side hustle. Here are several reasons you should not do surveys online.

  • Low Earnings. Surveys don’t pay well at all. At best you’ll earn $5 or $10; in most cases you’ll earn just a few dollars per survey.
  • Time Waster. The more questions you have to answer the more you typically earn with surveys. You could spend hours doing surveys with little earnings.
  • Privacy Risk. A big risk with these is that you’ll have to give up personal information you don’t know who will necessarily be using it for.
  • Exposure to Malware. The bad survey sites may even inject malware into your computer. This can corrupt your laptop to steel important financial information.
  • Phishing Scams. On survey sites, people may be trying to get valuable info out of you like your credit card information.
  • Biased Surveys. Brands may be looking for biased information to help make products seem better than they are since you’re getting paid to say it.

Chris’s Take on Online Surveys

Several years ago, I tried Survey Junkie to earn a few bucks. I earned very little and the amount of time I spent doing it was not work the effort. The big problem is the malware and phishing scams. These are the biggest risks, so I don’t recommend this side hustle.

9. Unrealistic Business Opportunities

Unrealistic Business Opportunities
Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

The final side hustle you want to stay away from is all the unrealistic business opportunites you see online. You know the ones I’m talking about that say you can earn $10,000 a month with little to no work.

These side hustles make things sounds easy and that you’ll be living in the lap of luxury in no time. The truth is you should avoid these at all cost. Here a few things to look.

  • Promise Big Earnings. They promise you’ll earn thousands of dollars a month without work experience.
  • Little to No Work Needed. They claim you won’t have to do much if any work to do the job.
  • Requires a Buy-In Fee. They will want you to pay a hefty upfront fee to get started.
  • No Transparency. They won’t be evident in what you have to do.

Chris’s Take on Unrealistic Business Opportunities

I fell into one of these 25 years ago called Purchase Plus. This program promised big earnings, little to no work, but they were unclear on what you had to do. However they require a big buy in fee to join.

This company did just what you might be thinking. They collected the big upfront fee and made things look good but disappeared shortly after. So no matter how good these opportunities look don’t do it.

Final Thoughts…

Hopefully this article helps you avoid some of the side hustles that are not worth it and the scams that are just a rip off. Before you start anything, make sure you understand the risk and take time to learn what is all involved.

Have you ever started a side hustle that would recommend others not start?

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