“If it sounds too good to be true…”

I’m guessing you’ve heard this phrase before, haven’t you? “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is!” It’s a cliche—but that’s because it’s so true.

We’ve seen too many well-intentioned people with high hopes jump into extra income opportunities that sounded amazing and promised the world. Unfortunately, the “opportunities” ended up being burdens that left them with less money than they started with.

To help prevent more of these situations from happening, we put together this list of “warning signs” to look for when you’re searching for extra income opportunities. When you see or hear the things on this list, you should quickly take a step back—and avoid the “opportunity.”

What To Avoid & Why

“Get Rich Quick!” Language

Companies that use “get rich quick” language are playing up the urgency factor, knowing that it will attract people who are in a tight financial spot. Legitimate extra income opportunities won’t promise you’ll see immediate results with hardly any work. In fact, at Traveling Vineyard, we tell our prospective Wine Guides that if they’re looking to get rich quickly and do a minimal amount of work, you’re in the wrong place. Our Wine Guides do really well, but their success comes from hard work and their entrepreneurial spirit—not because they simply spent some money and sat around in their living rooms, waiting for something magical to happen.

A cousin to “get rich quick” language is the pyramid scheme. In a pyramid scheme, the recruiters earn their money based on how many people they recruit and the money those recruits pay to be part of the business. The money comes from inside the organization. (It’s also illegal.)

These schemes use a number of different gimmicks as a front: “investment clubs” or “gift programs” are common phrases you might hear. Some of them even present themselves as direct sales opportunities—but the specifics of their business model will likely be unclear; the executives in these schemes, will be very excited to recruit people into the chance to sell some kind of “miracle” product. (Herbal remedies with a top-secret, ancient-wisdom-type ingredient are a popular example.)

You can read more about these types of fake opportunities in our article Pyramid Schemes (and how to tell Traveling Vineyard isn’t one).

High Startup Costs

If an extra income opportunity comes with a hefty price tag simply to “join the club,” beware. We’re not saying there won’t ever be an investment cost to begin, but we encourage you to make sure the cost is reasonable, not prohibitive.

Before you jump in, read the fine print to see exactly how much you’ll be paying, how often you’ll be paying it, and why you’re paying it at all. Some less-than-reputable companies say it costs a certain amount to get started and tack on excessive fees later, including hefty monthly dues, penalties for selling less product, etc. By investigating beforehand, you can save your hard-earned cash and find an extra income opportunity that doesn’t require a second mortgage to finance.

Traveling Vineyard Wine Guides purchase a Success Kit for $189 to get rolling—that’s it! Plus, we include three complimentary months of website fees in the initial start-up fee (after the first three months, the monthly website fee is $15.95).

If you decide being a Wine Guide is not for you and send back your kit in 30 days, we’ll refund your expense 100%; for up to a year, we will refund your kit at 90%. (You can learn more about our startup costs and get answers to other common questions on our FAQ page.)

Carrying A Ton Of Inventory

Similar to high startup costs is the requirement to purchase a significant amount of inventory from the outset. Be careful—if you don’t sell the full amount, very often you’re stuck with it. That’s one of our differentiators: We won’t inventory-load you. Our Wine Guides aren’t required to keep inventory beyond their current five-bottle Tasting Set. Policies like this set our business model apart from many other jobs where you earn extra income at home.

Getting The Runaround When You Ask Questions

What happens when you have questions? Do you get straightforward answers or are you passed from person to person, or, even worse, ignored completely? If you can’t get your questions answered at the beginning of your career with the company (or even before you start!), then you shouldn’t count on their responsiveness later. It’s OK to ask questions about a business if you don’t understand (especially one you’re paying to become a part of). Any company that makes you feel embarrassed about asking isn’t one you want to belong to.

An Undisclosed Or Unintelligible Compensation Plan

Some companies’ compensation plans are difficult to get your hands on and even harder to understand when you do. If the extra income opportunity you’re pursuing has a compensation plan that reads like gibberish or is so complicated that you can’t understand it, you should do two things: First, see if someone from the company can explain it to you and answer all your questions. Then, if your questions are answered satisfactorily, it may still be an opportunity worth pursuing. If not, we recommend walking away.

A Job That Doesn’t Fit Your Lifestyle

Some extra income opportunities aren’t bad by any means, they simply aren’t a good match for your lifestyle. If you work 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, it would be impossible for you to pick up retail shifts during the weekdays. Or maybe you’re a single mom who’s juggling school, a job, and your kiddos’ activities and schedules, in which case waiting tables throughout the night probably won’t work for you. With other jobs, you’re stuck working weekends, nights, and holidays, which might not be feasible in your situation. While there’s nothing wrong with these type of jobs, they may not fit your lifestyle, which makes them the wrong choice for you.

“Trendy” Products & Jobs

One note of caution about some extra income opportunities in the direct selling world: Make sure your customers aren’t going to tire of your product. Many companies offer products that don’t (or can’t) ever change, and sellers lose customer engagement once they’ve saturated their local markets.

Try to find a company whose products won’t go out of style in a couple months or years. That’s one of the benefits of consumables like wine—our customers will continue to buy it! At Traveling Vineyard, we release new varietals frequently, so not only does your product continually stay interesting, but your wine tasting events stay fresh, too.

An Extra Income Opportunity That Isn’t Too Good To Be True

Now that we’ve shared many of the warning signs that signal unreputable extra income opportunities, maybe you’re wondering how to find legitimate opportunities that can help you reach your goals. Check out Direct Sales Jobs & Opportunities: What Are They? and The Best-Fitting Jobs & Extra Income Opportunities For Single Moms to see what types of jobs aren’t scams.

And if you’re someone who loves wine, consider becoming a Traveling Vineyard Wine Guide! It’s a good fit for you if you have an entrepreneurial spirit, and you want an extra income opportunity that embraces fun, friendship, financial reward, flexibility, and fulfillment. Just click here to get started!


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