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Why You Should Avoid SEO As A Side Hustle If You Need Money Now


by Nick Valle, founder of Restoration Rocket

Every year, millions of people around the world look for ways to increase their monthly income. This mentality has given some of the world’s fastest growing companies the labor force they need to provide a service. Think of Uber, Instacart, or Grub hub. These companies rely on a workforce who are generally looking for ways to make some extra cash.

For those who are entrepreneurial, working for someone else just doesn’t cut it. These individuals want to build something for themselves. They want to have the ability to grow their income at their pace. They don’t want to be capped at making an extra $15 an hour working for a company like Uber. They are seeking financial freedom.

Why People Start a Side Hustle

Financial freedom is the broad reason that people begin looking into a side hustle. Beneath that, people are driven by their individual circumstances. No two people are the same. Each person’s particular circumstance will be nuanced based on their background and current situation. Common reasons people start a side hustle include:

  • Being recently laid off, in need of a stopgap
  • Needing to pay off debt
  • Saving up for a purchase
  • Being tired of the instability of an hourly schedule
  • Wanting to develop a skillset
  • Wanting to diversify income streams

Side Hustles In the Digital Age

The first step in the journey of finding a side hustle is often a simple Google search for the phrase “how to make money online.”

Why is that?

Making money online provides flexibility that no other income-producing medium can. The barrier to entry is nothing more than an internet connection. Overhead is practically nothing. Startup time is nearly immediate. The only thing standing in the way is knowledge. As the saying goes, “you don’t know what you don’t know.” This is why millions of people turn to the internet for the answer. They’re looking for 2 specific things.

  1. Ways they can make money online
  2. How to do the thing that best fits them

Unfortunately, the results for the first query are overwhelming. A sea of lists containing idea after idea. Without fail, these lists make mention of things like:

  • Starting an online course
  • Becoming a coach
  • Flipping Domains
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Website Building
  • Running ads
  • Completing surveys
  • Copywriting

There are never-ending possibilities. Thanks to the growth of search engines, search engine optimization (SEO) has become a popular online side hustle choice. However, if someone needs money immediately, SEO is probably not the right choice. Let’s discuss why that is.

Avoid SEO As A Side Hustle If You Need Money Now

Sadly, many bad actors pitch SEO as the key to the get-rich-quick kingdom. Often, these individuals are just trying to push their own courses or products. Here are several real reasons why SEO is not the right choice if you need money fast.

SEO lacks structured education.

SEO is more art than science. Search engines are constantly changing their algorithms. This article from Moz indicates that there are thousands of algorithm changes every single year. Every website is unique as well. From the structure of the website itself to the competitiveness of the industry, no two websites are the same. Because of the high number of variables, there isn’t a “right” way to do SEO. The industry flourishes on testing and learning. Implementing a change and seeing what works.

There is no set way to success. For that reason, you won’t find any accredited SEO courses. No formal education. People can merely teach theory and best practices. If you need to make money right away, you need to know exactly what to do. You don’t have time to test and learn. This leads us to point number 2.

SEO takes time.

No matter what SEO tactic is implemented, it still takes time. First, a website has to be analyzed for opportunities. A careful examination of things from HTML code to the number of backlinks. That analysis takes time and is necessary. Neglecting analysis before implementing changes would be similar to an auto shop changing parts on a car without doing a diagnosis. Second, the changes themselves must be implemented. This requires a developer to go into the website and make adjustments.

After all of that, everyone waits on the search engines. The search engines have to index those changes. Sometimes that happens in a matter of days, sometimes it takes weeks. Then the results are reviewed. Were the changes positive? Did they move the website up the rankings? Is there more work to be done?

SEO is a game that is never finished. The cycle of researching, implementing, and reviewing happens again and again. SEMrush reports that SEO should show results within 6 to 12 months. If you’re just starting out, and you need money now, you can’t wait 6 to 12 months to find out if your tactic works or not.

SEO is a tough service to sell.

Thanks to the reasons mentioned above, SEO is an extremely tough service to sell to businesses. The instant gratification mentality of today’s world certainly applies to business as well. Owners and executives prefer to see immediate results. They want to know that there are specific and measurable tactics in their marketing strategy. In SEO, it’s very difficult, if not impossible to measure the ROI of one specific change.

In lieu of that, owners will rely on your experience and your case studies. They’ll want to see testimonials from previous clients. Again, you see the problem. If you’re just beginning your online side hustle, you don’t have case studies. You don’t have experience. You don’t have testimonials. Without those things, all you can provide is a promise to do your best. For most business owners, that isn’t enough to close the deal.

The Best Online Side Hustles If You Need Money Now

The goal of this article isn’t to push you away from the idea of making money online. Rather, the goal is to provide honest advice. If you need an online side hustle that can make money right away, stay away from SEO. Instead, focus on some of these ideas.

Running Facebook or Google ads.

Running these ads is very straightforward. Every publisher has the same options when creating an ad. What you see is what you get. Success is measured immediately. As soon as you begin running an ad, you’ll get data that shows how the ad is performing.

Online surveys.

The barrier to entry is zero. You don’t need experience or education. Often, you’re simply sharing your personal feedback. Swagbucks is a terrific place to begin if you want to get started right away.


If you have a knack for writing, this may be for you. Many website owners and businesses are constantly looking for content. You don’t have to spend hundreds of hours learning to write a blog post about a topic. Freelance marketplaces are perfect for landing these types of jobs, especially if you’re experienced in a particular niche.


Very similar to the copywriting suggestion. Don’t limit yourself to one language. If you’re fluent in a language outside the main language of your country, that is a huge opportunity to write and proofread in a way that others can’t.

Answer Questions As an Expert.

Several online sites allow people to ask questions, with the hope that they will be answered by an expert in the field. PrestoExperts is a great example. If you’re already an expert in a particular trade or niche this is perfect for your online side hustle. You’re capitalizing on something you already have, expertise. No need to practice, study, or learn. You’ve already invested that time.

Take It From An Expert

If you’re still having doubts and believe that SEO is the right choice for you now, consider this. Before starting my SEO agency Restoration Rocket, I freelanced SEO for over 5 years. My path was similar to many others in the field. I began by working for friends and family. My very first SEO gig was working with a friend who owned a local cake bakery. That lasted for more than 6 months.

After seeing success, I took to freelance marketplaces like Upwork and Guru. In the beginning, landing clients was extremely difficult. Again, I had no reviews, no testimonials, and no reputation on these sites. I spent more time applying to jobs than I did working on them. When I did land a job, it was at a rate far less than what I wanted. However, to get the job, I took a discount. The jobs were small projects. Nothing life-changing. It took more than a year to establish enough of a reputation to land jobs regularly.

All the while, I was investing time into learning. I’d consume any information I could get my hands on. Blogs, YouTube videos, Udemy courses, you name it. I knew that to be successful, I had to learn. That learning took time. I created my own websites to put into practice the things I was learning. Without many clients, I didn’t have a sandbox to play in. With SEO, I knew I had to test for myself and see what works.

How did I learn to create websites? Blogs, YouTube videos, and Udemy courses. The same ways that I was learning SEO.

I don’t share my story to brag about my achievements. I share it to illustrate the point. SEO is a long game and time is money. I chose to invest my time educating myself for the long game. However, every hour spent learning is an hour spent not making money. Every hour spent practicing is an hour you’re not making money. Don’t believe the hype from those who would like to sell you an SEO course. Instead, I’d encourage you to invest in a copywriting course or a Facebook ads course. The turnaround time is quick and the barrier to entry is low.

Don’t give up on your desire to make money online. The internet is the best place in the world for a side hustle. Anyone can do it. If you need money now, take action. Pick a hustle that you can provide results quickly. Save every project. Gather testimonials. Once the snowball gets rolling, there’s no stopping it. Financial freedom through an online side hustle is closer than you may think.


Nick Valle is a digital marketing expert with a strong focus on search engine optimization. His experience ranges from working with enterprise-level companies to local mom-and-pop businesses. He is founder of Restoration Rocket, a SEO agency laser-focused on the restoration industry.