Guestpost by Mark from HotDog.com
Throughout the 21st century, attitudes toward work have changed significantly. This is partially because of advances in technology that let individuals build their own customer bases in an affordable and scalable manner.
However, the rise of the side hustle is also due to changing attitudes about work and the relationship between companies, customers and workers. To many, the ability to be their own boss is alluring despite the potential risks of doing so.
So if you are stuck in a situation like Annie LeBlanc and Jayden Bartels from Side Hustle 2 (streaming on fubo TV), or just want to make some extra bucks, read on to know what to be careful about.
Not Every Opportunity Is a Legitimate One
Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is that you will typically conduct business on platforms that you do not own or have any control over.
For example, if you decide to sell a product or service, it will likely be listed on a third-party site that is owned by another company. If you make a sale, any funds that you receive will typically be sent from the customer to the platform that facilitated the transaction.
From there, the money may be sent to an independent payment processing company before it is sent to your bank account. In some cases, these steps will be taken care of automatically.
However, it’s also possible that you’ll need to request payment from multiple parties before a funds transfer is initiated or completed.
Lack of Control Over Host Platform
The fact that your content is hosted on a platform that you don’t control may be problematic for several reasons.
For example, any information that you provide about yourself or your business could be collected by that outside firm and sold to other parties without your knowledge or consent.
If there are issues receiving payment from either the marketplace or payment process itself, there is no guarantee that they will be resolved in a timely or favorable manner.
This may be true even if you are in compliance with each outside entity’s terms of service.
Therefore, even if you are planning to sell goods or services that you make or provide yourself, you’ll need to do extensive research before entering the market.
Do a Background Check
Ideally, you should look for reviews of any online marketplace that you want to use before creating an account. You’ll also need to look into the reputation of any payment processor that you are expected to use to complete transactions.
The good news is that sites that engage in financial or other types of fraud will be called out by those it has victimized.
Ultimately, if you do your homework, you will be able to minimize your risk of working with a shady online marketplace or payment provider.
Are you Being Asked to Spend Money First?
Be careful, especially, of employers who want you to spend your own money at the outset.
Platform Fees or Commissions Are OK
It’s fairly common for payment processing companies to charge transaction fees or other types of fees. In some cases, these fees will be covered by the platform that you use to post content, sell goods or otherwise run your business.
It’s also possible that the platform that hosts your online store or hosts your course content will take a percentage of your revenue each month to cover its costs.
Although it may be frustrating to fork over a portion of your income to a third party, this is a legitimate cost of doing business. If a payment processing company or online marketplace doesn’t generate sufficient revenue, it cannot continue to operate.
Ultimately, you might lose out on an opportunity to connect with customers sustainably or generate revenue in a consistent or passive manner.
Be Wary Of Paying For Job Applications
If you are asked to pay a fee in exchange for the right to bid for a job or to have your product listed, you may be getting scammed. The same is true if you are asked to pay a monthly or yearly fee to become a member of a given online marketplace or service portal.
Don’t Fall For Any Promises a Client or Platform Might Make
For the most part, any side work that you do for a client is done on a contract basis. In some cases, your contract will stipulate how much money you are to make and when you are to be paid.
Otherwise, the amount of money that you make is wholly dependent on how many jobs you complete, how many products you sell or your ability to meet some other metric.
Therefore, be wary of any promises made by clients or brokers that aren’t memorialized in writing. You should also be wary of testimonials from users claiming that they make thousands of dollars per week or otherwise make it sound as if earning a living as an independent contractor is easy.
While those claims may be true, the results that these individuals have seen aren’t necessarily representative of what an average person will experience.
Are You Being Asked to Provide Something for Free?
It’s relatively common for clients to ask for samples of previous work that you have done. It’s also relatively common for platforms that provide writing or other creative services to test applicants before allowing them access to their tools.
However, most private clients will be satisfied by reviewing articles, paintings or videos that you have already created.
Furthermore, any test that you have to take to join a platform should consist of little more than a couple of paragraphs or some other easy task that you can complete in a few minutes.
In most cases, a legitimate broker or online marketplace will allow you to retain ownership of your creation or provide compensation for your time and effort.
However, if a client asks for a brand new article, video or piece of work to test your skills, you may be spending time with someone who merely wants free content.
Even if you are given a byline or credit for your work, you should still be cautious about working with anyone who wants to pay you in exposure instead of cash.
Working as an independent contractor can be an ideal way to make extra money or turn a hobby into a legitimate business. However, if you are going to work for yourself, be sure to fully vet your clients and partners before providing any goods or services.
Otherwise, you could put yourself in a situation where you essentially work for free or work for an entity that engages in identity theft or other serious types of fraud.
About the Author
Mark is a freelance writer covering music, entertainment, and technology. He hails from the Pacific northwest.
I would like to thank Markk once again for this useful article on things to watch out before you start that side hustle. You do not want to enter any shady contract or deal with the wrong platform or employer!
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