50 ways to demean yourself

The key to surviving on the income of a part-time job is in minimising your overheads and learning to live within your means.

You should also indulge in the luxuries denied to the greying full-timer. Stay in bed until 10am. Have a leisurely breakfast with friends or the radio. Enjoy your hobbies. Spend extra time in the library and the pub.

A list of fifty side businesses in yesterday’s Guardian, however, doesn’t advocate either of these things. Instead, it suggests filling your non-work time with side business. This is a good idea if you want to wean yourself off part-time work and if your side business is likely to lead to full-time self-employment by developing relevant skills. The fifty suggestions in the Guardian, however, are astonishingly unambitious capers that will serve only to encroach on your leisure time for few meager quid:

– Some of them (car-boot sales, eBay campaigns and garage sales) rely on converting existing assets into money. This is not business. At best, it is liquidation. Even if your goal is to declutter rather than make money, selling your stuff is usually more trouble than it’s worth.

– Selling your spare time to do other people’s admin work (by becoming a virtual assistant, selling your time via sliversoftime.com or volunteering for data entry or IT troubleshooting) is so soul-destroying and a submission to white-collar work, you’d be better off sending out CVs for a legitimate admin job.

– Other suggestions woefully underestimate the amount of time, effort and skills go into them. Web design, wedding planning and catering are best left to web designers, wedding planners and caterers. These are not sidelines: they are career changes.

– Others are staggeringly juvenile: babysitting, dog-walking and scrapbook making. Teenagers have enough problems as it is without adults encroaching on their limited employment options.

– Some are amazingly parasitic or demeaning. Buying and selling lost airport luggage? Renting out your possessions? Becoming an ‘ugly model’? Why not just go out and throttle a few pigeons in Leicester Square for meat?

I think the intention of these pocketmoney projects is to help ‘fill the gap’ between a part-time situation and taking up a proper business. There may be desparate situations which call for such measures and they are certainly better solutions than taking a loan from a scumbag at Ocean Finance. Generally though, they are terribly undignified and a waste of time at best. When you’re walking other people’s dogs for a few quid, you could be learning the ropes in a choice industry, building up a body of clients or just having a pleasant time.


Robert Wringham is the editor of New Escapologist. He also writes books and articles. Read more at wringham.co.uk

4 Responses to “50 ways to demean yourself”

  1. Roxie says:

    Most of your comments are very true, I have however made a large chunk of money by buying from a local auction and selling on eBay for profit. And it all starting with selling my old books, believe it or not!

  2. Rob says:

    That is good to hear, Roxie. So you used the liquidation of your personal book collection as a segue into a business? That is cool. A local bookshop here started in much the same way apparently.

  3. As an adult, I wouldn’t feel happy asking money in exchange for dog-walking or baby-sitting. After a point, these seem to be the sort of things that one does out of the kindness of one’s heart. The article suggests approaching people with dogs or children that one knows and offering them your services. Most of the people I know are friends or family and I wouldn’t be happy asking money for what is, essentially, a favour, the unspoken barter system of friendship.

  4. Rob says:

    I know what you mean. I actually find exchanging money between friends extremely taboo. It’s even a problem with New Escapologist: friends want to support the project by buying a magazine but when I give them a copy I’m more likely to say “buy me a coffee some time”, which is obviously not conducive to making money! I’ve started asking them to just buy it through the website or become a contributor instead.

    But yeah, in the adult world, things like dog walking are surely services you’d offer for free. My feelings precisely.

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