A couple of months ago there was a big brouhaha over former Cosby Show actor, Geoffrey Owens, about the fact that he was working at a Trader Joe’s. He was basically work shamed and it really ticked me off.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had an extra job. Whether I was working at Starbucks or even an olive oil store. I will admit that there were moments when I’ve felt embarrassed about having an extra job, more importantly — the reasons why I had one.
Currently, I am on an entrepreneurial journey. And believe me, I’ve worked a ton of side hustles as I’ve gone through the process of building up my business. I thought it would be fun and enlightening to share different side hustles that I’ve worked.
Why work a side hustle
There were years when I had more time in the month than money because I had bad financial habits. Let’s be clear — I didn’t know I had bad financial habits. I just knew there was more time for bills to hit in the month than money stashed away.
And there were years when I had great financial habits. But I still had more month than money, because I didn’t earn enough to take control of my finances.
And don’t get me started on my student loans. The average student loan debt in the U.S. is up to $32,731, according to the Federal Reserve. Many people will pick up a side hustle to earn more to gain traction on debts like student loans. I was one of those people for a long time. It was necessary for me to pick up additional work so that I could gain momentum on my bills and get ahead.
My side hustle story
I’d like to share one of my favorite side hustles — brand ambassador work.
The primary purpose of a brand ambassador is to connect with current and future customers of a brand. You share talking points about the product. And if it’s a consumable try to get people to try it. You’ve likely encountered brand ambassadors at fairs, concerts, sporting events, races, and randomly downtown.
I love meeting new people. Even better, I love that I can double my typical income from my retail job in half the amount of time. In my experience, I’ve typically made an average of $20 an hour. Even after taxes were taken out, that was more than what I’ve earned working retail — and a lot less stressful.
This type of work can be easy to find if you live in a medium to large size city. If your city is large enough, you can find daily listings of upcoming events that need ambassadors to work them. The larger the city, though, the more challenging the job hunt may be. The process of getting hired is a lot more competitive — because more people are applying. I’ve found brand ambassador work looking on Craigslist under the “Gigs” tab and the “Events” tab. Future brand ambassadors can also go on Facebook and look for closed Facebook groups that post brand ambassador work daily.
The downsides of a side hustle
Many jobs hire side-gig workers as 1099 contractors, which means that you are responsible for withholding taxes. As a brand ambassador, I met a gentleman who hadn’t filed his taxes for five years. Yes, I was scared for him!
Surprisingly, an unexpected issue that brand ambassadors find themselves dealing with is wear and tear on their car from driving to different events (Uber and Lyft drivers feel my pain). I made a point of choosing events located pretty close to my home, carpooling, or taking public transit whenever possible.
As a person with two degrees who has worked many side hustles, I was disgusted by how Owens from the Cosby Show was treated. We don’t know if he’s a millionaire who’s bored and wants to be around everyday people at a job like Trader Joe’s. But I am sure that I will continue to side hustle well into the future and I look forward to sharing the best and worst of my experiences.