4 Reality-Based Alternatives to 4 Get-Rich-Quick Schemes Entrepreneurs Keep Hearing About

Getting rich is not really that hard, unless you're in a hurry.

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By John Boitnott

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You've seen the YouTube ads and Quora answers -- get-rich-quick side hustles claimed to have transformed people's lives overnight. From retail arbitrage to binary options trading, online gurus convince the unwitting to take up long-shot side-gigs in the hopes of striking it big.

While the chances are low that diving into retail arbitrage will make you independently wealthy, there are alternative side-hustles that can boost your income. Here, I'll debunk four common get-rich-quick schemes and provide you with alternatives much more likely to result in a more stable payday, or at least give you some valuable entrepreneurial experience.

Related: 50 Ideas for a Lucrative Side Hustle

1. Retail arbitrage? Try ecommerce instead.

Retail arbitrage is a glamorous name for a thoroughly un-glamourous side-gig. The practice capitalizes on the fact that Amazon allows multiple wholesalers to sell the same product under the same product listing.

Let's say you find a pair of brand new Nike shoes heavily discounted in a big-box store. You could resell those shoes on Amazon under a listing that Nike's team already created. Once your shoes are shipped to the customer, Amazon will cut you a check. In theory, if you could find enough branded items for sale at insane discounts, you could resell them on Amazon for a pretty penny. In reality, this practice requires you to work way-too hard for a relatively small payday.

The better alternative you should consider is creating your own ecommerce brand. Some ecommerce sellers have made it big by selling in-demand items for a low price on Amazon and other websites. Others have created multi-million dollar ecommerce empires by building a product from scratch. There are hundreds of examples out there. You may have even bought one of these products yourself.

While building an ecommerce brand will require a meaningful upfront investment, the business model has significantly larger upside than retail arbitrage that keeps growing as you learn about digital marketing, merchandising and forecasting.

Related: Step-by-Step You Can Turn Your Ecommerce Side Hustle Into a Real Company

2. Social Media Management is saturated by PPC consulting is in demand.

Many Internet gurus claim that launching a social media management consultancy can result in a six-figure income in no-time. I did it myself back in the late 2000's, but I never saw a huge payout. I found that while there certainly are some social-media experts who are successful, the market is saturated with novice social-media marketers who are constantly undercutting one another on price.

As an alternative, the world of digital advertising is complex and in-demand. To put things in perspective, last year more money was spent on digital advertising than on television advertising for the first time in history.

Thanks in large part to digital advertising, Google generated more than $100 billion in revenue in 2017 and Facebook generated $40 billion the same year. Those statistics indicate there is a need for talented digital advertising experts. You can take free online courses offered by Google to get started, or you can opt for inexpensive paid courses produced in partnership with marketing experts from the country's top MBA programs.

Related: Digital Marketing Agencies' Rates and Services Cost Less Than You Think

3. E-Learning used to work. Content marketing still does.

One of the newer trends in the get-rich-quick digital community is centered around creating gated online courses on Udemy. Those advocating this strategy attest that it provides "passive income" for those who successfully create and promote an online course. But as with many get-rich-quick strategies, the days when that may have worked are long gone. Online learning platforms are now saturated with inexpensive courses, making it challenging for anyone new to the game to generate meaningful income.

Instead, those interested in creating content to educate others should consider content marketing. Brands continue to rely on content marketing to attract website visitors and to convert them into customers. As many business owners can attest, finding talented writers is a real challenge.

If you have good writing skills, you can create a profile on freelancing platforms like Upwork and in no-time you may find yourself working with brands in desperate need of well-written content. It's not a get-rich quick scheme. It's a path toward very stable freelance income.

Related: The 15 Best Freelance Websites to Find Jobs

4. Long Term Investing Instead of Binary Options

Quora is filled with finance "experts" who claim to have made millions by trading binary options. While this can work, the process is complicated and risky. Instead, a reliable way to build wealth is by developing a long term investing strategy and sticking to it.

Increasing your wealth in meaningful ways doesn't always require you to start a side-hustle. Many will tell you that the best way to build wealth is by making your money work harder by investing it intelligently and by controlling your spending.

Automated investing tools like Betterment or Wealthfront use AI to inexpensively invest your money in ETFs (exchange traded funds) which are designed to track a specific index (like the generally reliable S&P 500). Inexpensive (or free) services Mint and Acorn help you to track your spending and to save a few extra dollars by taking the loose change associated with everyday purchases and investing it.

Related: Award-Winning Professor Summarizes an Entire MBA in One Course

If it sounds too good to be true...

The first rule of entrepreneurship is: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Remember this as you search for side-gig inspiration. Rather than investing your time and money in following trite schemes peddled by internet hustlers, focus on developing a business that puts your unique talents to good use.

Ultimately, successful side gigs are ones that allow you to operate with some level of differentiation from other businesses. They should also be scalable.

John Boitnott

Entrepreneur Leadership Network VIP

Journalist, Digital Media Consultant and Investor

John Boitnott is a longtime digital media consultant and journalist living in San Francisco. He's written for Venturebeat, USA Today and FastCompany.

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