I Tried Selling Kids' Books as a Side Hustle. Here's How It Went

A parent reading a book to their young child sitting in their lap on their living room floor.

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Peddling products for money isn't as easy as you might think.

A few years ago, it seemed like almost everyone I knew was selling some sort of product to earn extra money. Since I was working full-time, I didn't feel compelled to follow in their lead.

But curiosity got the better of me, and I wondered how much success (or lack thereof) I'd have in direct sales. So I signed up to sell children's books.

Why that product? I'm not into high-end soaps, face creams, makeup, or anything of that nature (I own maybe one lipstick and wear it once a month), nor was I okay with selling $150 baking pans to my friends, many of whom were on a budget. Rather, I wanted to try selling a product I could be passionate about. And since reading is one of my favorite hobbies, and something I do a lot with my kids, I figured selling children's books made sense.

I also chose that product because it was affordable, and the finances made sense. I paid about $80 for my starter kit, which came with a wide selection of books. I figured that in a worst-case scenario, even if I didn't sell any books and got no money back, I could still use those books as holiday gifts for my children and my friends' kids. (Spoiler alert: I didn't sell a single book.)

But, while the product I chose made sense, my venture into direct sales was a colossal failure. And it taught me a very important lesson.

Why direct sales wasn't a good side hustle for me

Some people have no problem blasting promotional messages out on social media. I'm not those people.

I don't spend a lot of time on social media. My friends who do direct sales constantly post about their items on offer, but that requires them to engage a lot online. I'm not suited for that.

Also, I'm just not a pushy person. It's hard enough for me to ask family members to support my kids' sports teams or schools with fundraisers. So I'm just not comfortable asking people I know to buy products to pad my own bank account.

At the end of the day, I really only made a few attempts to sell those books. Once, a friend hosted a "product night" at her house, so those of us who sold stuff could share our wares. In the end, everyone was quite enamored with one friend's magic wrinkle-erasing face cream, and no one seemed interested in my books. And I wasn't feeling up to pushing sales.

Another time, I sent out an email blast to a bunch of fellow parents, advertising my books as holiday gifts. No one wanted any.

After a few weeks without a single sale, I gave up. That was easy for me, because I hadn't sunk a ton of money into my side hustle. I had a use for the products I was left with, and, frankly, I wasn't counting on the cash. As mentioned, I signed up to do this more out of curiosity than anything else. But I learned that the world of sales isn't right for me -- no matter the product.

It's all about trial and error

If you're looking for a side hustle, you may be considering direct sales. If you have the personality and desire, you may find that it's quite profitable. But if you're like me, it's probably the wrong fit.

At the same time, you won't really know how successful you can be unless you try. And if your venture doesn't work out, you can always shift gears and try out another side gig. Just make sure that signing up for direct sales doesn't require too hefty an investment up front. That way, if things don't work out, you don't face a big financial hit.

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