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The side hustles no Aussies should waste time on: 'No easy money here'

Australians looking to make some quick cash shouldn't waste their time with these highly-promoted side hustles.

In the colourful world of TikTok side hustles, where the promise of easy money collides with hard reality, not everything that glitters is gold, or even knock-off gold plated. Many of these ventures promise the moon but deliver only a handful of space dust.

I made $70,000 in 28 days using a side hustle every budding entrepreneurial TikTok user would've had shoved down their throat. So, from a first-hand perspective let me tell you exactly why this is no longer the cash cow I milked.

Here are four 2024 side hustles I think are a waste of time. As we unpack them, remember, that sometimes the most profitable shortcuts are detours in disguise.

Taylor Reilly sitting in a black t shirt with a gold watch on
Taylor Reilly made some quick cash on a TikTok side hustle, but it didn't take long before he realised it was not worth it. (Taylor Reilly)

Dropshipping

Dropshipping often sails into the entrepreneurial world under the flag of convenience: start a business with no inventory and no overhead, just pure profit. Sounds dreamy right?

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Well, brace yourself for choppy waters. This model hinges on you being a middleman by marking up products that others fulfil and ship.

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But here's the catch, you're at the mercy of third-party suppliers. A delay on their end is a direct hit to your reputation, one I had to learn the hard way.

On top of that, with the market as crowded as a lifeboat, making your brand unique becomes nearly impossible. You're not just competing with other drop shippers, you're up against retail giants who are wholesaling and can afford to slash prices until your margins vanish.

During the first lockdown of 2020, I had my business breakout moment. I had a store selling crafts and hobbies products to families bored at home during quarantine.

They sold like crazy. My first weekend we made over $10,000, and by the end of the month, we had made over $70,000. That’s when the problems started.

Taylor Reilly's drop shipping profits
Taylor made some decent money quickly with drop shipping, but that's where the problems began. (Taylor Reilly)

First of all, no one expected the fallout effects of a global lockdown but this is how it affected small ecommerce businesses.

The way I had it explained to me was that shipping is so cheap because the products generally come on passenger planes as extra cargo. However, with no one travelling on planes, no products were being shipped or at the least, there were insane delays.

This led to ridiculous amounts of refunds and customer service emails. I think I spent a whole month of evenings staying up until midnight replying to customers. As a 19-year-old trying to figure this out, it was very stressful.

As one of the very few people who have actually had success with this, I can tell you this, dropshipping can be a very good stepping stone in learning how to build websites or understand suppliers and advertising, but you’re not going to make an easy million dollars here.

Cryptocurrency Trading

Now let’s explore my good friend crypto trading, a financial rollercoaster without the safety harness. Promoted heavily on TikTok as the lucrative side hustle where the only way to learn is to sign up to some random content creator’s exclusive trading group, which conveniently costs $100 a month.

I’ve never really found taking financial advice from teenagers drawing lines on charts as a solid investing method but I've been wrong before and I'll be wrong again.

The volatility and uncertainty of crypto makes it no different than pushing all your chips on red. There’s nothing wrong with saying you enjoy gambling, but let’s call it what it is.

A safer side hustle might be selling feet pictures on OnlyFans, at least there your money isn't completely dependent on Elon Musk's latest tweet.

I’m pretty sure the last crypto I bought was in 2021, and I just broke even on it this month.

There’s nothing wrong with having crypto as a small diversified and speculative part of your portfolio, just don’t put your life savings on some meme coin a bloke from TikTok told you to invest in.

AI Training

Then there's the newest trend, becoming AI chatbot’s first-grade teacher.

Here’s the gist: sitting at a computer all day, spending hours labelling pictures of traffic lights, people and animals isn't exactly the AI revolution we were promised. It's repetitive, tedious, and it pays less than convincing people to buy white labelled products from AliExpress.

Sure, you're helping lay the groundwork for what could be the next Terminator sequel, but with pay rates that make you wish for a generous AI, maybe one that won’t quip “I’ll be back” after you ask for a living wage.

Faceless YouTube and TikTok channels

Creating content without showing your face? It's the introvert's dream until you realise there are limitless people on the internet flooding algorithms with this content.

These faceless channels leverage YouTube and TikTok creator funds to make it worth their while.

Have you ever been on TikTok before and seen a Reddit storytime with some Minecraft or Subway Surfers gameplay over the top? No? I would say it makes up about 50 per cent of my feed these days.

The reason people love this side hustle is the fact that TikTok pays creators for videos over a minute! So if you strike viral and land a million views, you’ll make a pretty penny.

But welcome to Australia…where we have no creator fund!

So don’t worry about building up that channel, unless you get a lucky sponsorship from another side-hustling drop shipper chances are you’re just wasting your time.

Side hustles can work, but so does hard work

While TikTok and other platforms are bursting with side hustle propositions, the reality rarely lives up to the hype.

It's a world where the promise of easy money draws crowds, but the end result often feels disappointing.

The reality I've learnt well is that the best business is one that’s built on a good, solid foundation which only comes as a result of time. A good friend of mine recently pulled a good quote out which feels relevant here: “Fast money leads to slow problems.”

When in doubt, remember the old adage villages have chanted for hundreds of years.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably involves dropshipping, crypto, or selling your feet pictures.

Oh and don’t buy courses, those who can’t do, teach.