3 Side Hustles Everyone Told Me to Try

  • I’ve tried every side under the sun, from dog-sitting to working in a sewing factory.
  • Three side hustles that everyone told me to try that really sucked.
  • I lost money driving for Instacart and working in a cookie shop put my health at risk during the pandemic.

I tried every side under the sun.

In Chicago, while in college, I hand-sewed leather wallets for a high-end accessories brand, worked as a personal assistant for two wealthy businessmen, all doing my first internship at a local magazine.

In New York, I decluttered people’s homes, worked again as a personal assistant for my downstairs neighbor, worked backstage at Fashion Week, and watched people’s dogs.

In Los Angeles, I worked in a cookie shop, started delivering groceries via Instacart, and continued to get paid to be the best uncle and dog sitter in the world.

I was in desperate need of money and accepted all the gig suggestions people had, including becoming a delivery driver for services like


and Instacart. While I’m grateful for the side gigs that helped put food on the table as I struggled financially, a few of them just sucked my life away.

Here are the three side gigs I wish I’d never tried.

1. Drive for Instacart

Nothing has made me lose faith in humanity like seeing how much people tip. Instacart buyers during a global pandemic. Some customers ordered 12 packs of soda and gallons of water, which I had to climb many stairs while my car was precariously double-parked on the street – and they only tipped 1, $50 on an order worth hundreds.

After calculating the cost of gas in LA and the precious time wasted searching for specific store items, I actually lost $2 an hour driving for Instacart.

The only plus is that they pay out reliably and regularly, with an option to get paid instantly using the Instant Cashout feature. On days when I couldn’t afford to eat otherwise, this feature came in handy.

2. Personal Assistant

Don’t get me wrong: being a personal assistant comes with many unique benefits. When my wealthy bosses no longer wanted their clothes, furniture, books, or other expensive items, I was able to keep them or resell them for a profit. I got paid to shop at fancy stores, like high-end furniture store Restoration Hardware, while swiping my boss’s credit card. I had an influx of money during the holidays when they needed more help choosing and wrapping presents.

But the stress of someone texting me at all hours of the day to make sure their needs will be taken care of just wasn’t worth it. I felt powerless over my own schedule, and couldn’t help but feel like some tasks were just busy work that had no real impact on their lives. Especially as a person of color who worked mostly for wealthy white people, I had a hard time coming to terms with the nature of the job.

3. Cookie Baker

I started working in a cookie shop in Los Angeles in February 2020. I am grateful for this opportunity as it helped me make ends meet during a difficult time, however once the pandemic started things have changed dramatically in our work environment.

While everyone else was collecting unemployment checks worth twice what I earned in a month, we were risking our lives during the pandemic to bake cookies. It was heartbreaking and frustrating that the store would not close, choosing to prioritize profits over worker health.

Many customers were unwilling to wear masks. To make matters worse, the company decided to add more food delivery platforms, like

Uber eats

, in addition to our own delivery service. Soon we were swamped with cookie orders, but the store didn’t increase its budget to put more workers on the schedule to meet the demand.

At the time, I had no choice but to take these gigs. I had to bake cookies for minimum wage, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to afford groceries. I’m grateful that those days are behind me, but those three side gigs in particular did more damage to my long-term mental health and self-esteem.


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