I’ve always had a tinge of entrepreneurial optimism, if not the business sense to back up my creativity. Though I always stopped short of schemes and scams, here the five most asinine ways I’ve tried to make a buck. What are yours?
(Note: This article is part of the ProBlogger group writing project. Visit ProBlogger to read hundreds of other “Top 5″ articles by great writers from around the world).
1. Selling Cars – It’s funny; my one month stint as a car salesman inspired my last group writing project post “How to Beat the Car Dealerships at their Own Game”.
After I decided I didn’t like the starving lifestyle of an entry-level New York journalist, I moved back home and thought auto sales would be an easy way to make some good money.
The lesson? I wasn’t a complete failure at sales, so the money was there. But six 12 hour workdays a week made it far from easy.
2. Online Poker – Remember early 2005 when Texas Hold ‘Em was all anybody could talk about? I’ve always had a knack for cards and found most other players clueless.
So I played at night until I was winning a few hundred dollars a week. Of course I was eventually cleaned out by a stronger player.
The lesson? Anybody trying to “earn” money gambling deserves a big smack – myself included.
3. eBay – Though I never actually tried to start an eBay business, I count it here because I wasted so much damned time thinking about it.
At one point I was quite adroit at selling my old or unused stuff on eBay (actually a smart way to simplify your stuff and stash some extra dough). But of course I considered taking it to the next level and becoming a full-time eBay retailer.
The lesson? Without a relationship with a wholesaler (or a way to get one), making money on eBay would’ve been a much harder full-time job than I held.
4. Internet Bubble Start Ups – Today, if you know what you’re doing, the Web can be a perfectly sane place to make a fortune. 1999 was a different story.
As a freshman in college, a San Francisco start-up called InsideGuide.com approached me about editing a content site franchise for my college campus. The idea was strong, and the ridiculously inflated advertising revenue was supposedly on its way. With promises of a big monthly salary just down the road I toiled nearly 24/7 for weeks and got in trouble with deans for my marketing tactics only to watch the company fold shortly thereafter.
The lesson? Unless you’re actually a partner in a venture, never do work for free.
5. The Stock Market – Of course, I’m not talking about long-term investing – a truly smart way to earn returns and plan for the future. No, there was a time when I thought that more active trading would be a route to some quicker dollars.
The lesson? So-called “active trading” is one stop short of online poker. Sure, there are some with large bank accounts and nothing better to do all day that make it work. For the rest of us, it’s just a risky waste of time.