Smart side hustles for college students
College life may be financially challenging for some students. The high cost of tuition, living expenses, and the other fees that come with attending college may lead to financial stress. As a result, some students take on side hustles to generate extra income while balancing their academic responsibilities.
What’s a side hustle, exactly? It’s an employment opportunity that provides supplemental income. Unlike a part-time job, a side hustle typically provides some level of freedom and control over what a person does, when, and how many hours they devote to it.
Because of the flexibility that side hustles typically provide, it’s an income stream that can benefit busy college students.
Continue reading as we explore a range of smart side hustles that might be attractive for college students, along with some tips for starting a side hustle if you’re in college and looking to earn money in this way.
1. Freelance digital marketing
Freelance digital marketers assist companies and organizations. Job duties might include creating content such as videos, blogs, podcasts, or social media posts, working on paid media strategy, or other responsibilities. While sometimes done in an office, this work can also be done remotely, and many organizations hire remote freelancers.
2. Freelance web developer
If you enjoy making websites, consider making it a side hustle and doing this work for clients. To get started, you might consider building a portfolio to advertise your work that you can share with potential clients.
3. Data entry
Data entry roles typically don’t require advanced skills or experience, making it accessible for students who might not have a robust resume and don’t have an advanced degree yet. Another benefit of these roles is that many are remote and provide flexible hours.
4. Translation services
If you’re proficient in multiple languages, translation work might allow you to leverage your language skills and turn it into a side hustle. Translation ad hoc work can often be done remotely and flexibly, making it convenient to fit around class commitments.
5. Complete surveys
Some companies pay people small amounts of money to complete surveys online. Online survey opportunities allow students to work on their own schedule and can conveniently fit into free time between classes and studying.
6. Teach an online skills-based class
If you have a particular skill (yoga, cooking, public speaking), you might consider teaching an online class or webinar. You can build the class, market it, and conduct it online. This might even be an opportunity to develop a passive income stream
7. Freelance writer
If you enjoy writing (and maybe are even considering pursuing it as a career), freelance writing as a side gig could be a great way to get your foot in the door and work on your own schedule. You can set an hourly rate for your work or rates based on projects to find opportunities. If this interests you, there are many writing projects to explore – think of options like writing social media posts, copy for websites, writing articles, and more.
8. Sell handmade items online
If you’re creative and love making things, consider selling handmade items online. For instance, maybe you're a great knitter. Or you love making jewelry. Turn this passion into a side gig you can do when you can.
9. Work as a content creator
If you’re already spending a lot of time on social media creating content, consider turning this into a side gig by becoming a micro-influencer earning money collaborating with brands or by creating content for individuals or companies needing freelance help.
10. Review resumes
Some of your fellow college students are likely in the process of applying for jobs. If you’re skilled in building and editing resumes, consider setting up a side hustle doing just that for your peers. The great thing about this side hustle is that you can usually do the work online.
In-person side hustles for college students to consider
1. Dog walker
If you like animals, dog walking might be a side hustle to consider. Some dog owners may not have time to walk their dogs or simply need assistance for whatever reason, so this need exists. Consider advertising your services or joining a company that offers dog walking services as a next step if you’re interested in pursuing this side hustle.
Babysitting can be a great side hustle for those who enjoy working with children. It allows you to earn extra money while providing a valuable service to parents needing childcare help. You can limit this gig to the hours you’re free from other commitments, like evenings and weekends.
Working as a handyperson can be a great way to use your skills and earn extra income. Whether you’re skilled in carpentry, plumbing, electrical work, or general home repairs, there’s often a demand for these services in many communities, including college campuses.
Starting a photography side hustle can be a rewarding way to express your creativity and earn extra income at the same time. To get started, consider offering your services for parties, campus events, weddings, and family gatherings. Consider offering your services for portraits or social media shots, too. Building a portfolio of your work can showcase your photography style and range of skills to potential clients.
Tutoring can be a rewarding way to share your knowledge and skills while earning extra money. If you excel in a particular subject or have expertise in a specific area, you can offer tutoring services to students needing academic support.
6. Rideshare and food delivery services
Rideshare and delivery services can be a great way to make money without working pre-determined hours. You can apply to work with a rideshare or food delivery service app and only work when you have time. This allows for flexibility with school commitments and classwork.
If you like cleaning (some people do!), why not offer housekeeping services? You can do this on a freelance basis or work for a service that provides housekeepers. This is a side hustle that you can often do just when your schedule will allow for it.
8. Start a home-organizing small business
In the same vein as working as a house cleaner, if you have a strong organizational bent, consider offering your services to those needing help. Think of work like helping people organize their pantries, closets, offices, and more!
9. Style hair or become a makeup artist
If you have a passion for makeup or hair, why not offer your services on a freelance basis? This can involve working with clients needing to attend events, photo shoots, and more. This work allows for flexibility regarding hours, but you’ll need to market yourself effectively to build a client base. The rewarding part of this freelance path is getting to see the transformation and confidence boost clients' experience through these services.
10. Wash cars
Washing cars can be a way to earn extra income in college as it doesn’t require a set work schedule, which can accommodate academic commitments. This work doesn't require specialized skills or extensive training, making it accessible for most students. It can also be an opportunity to work outdoors and stay active while earning money.
How to start a side hustle
Depending on the side hustle you’re interested in, there might be some steps to take to get started (like marketing your services to build up a client base). If you’re considering starting a side hustle, here are a few tips to get you started.
- Identify your skills and interests: Consider what you’re good at and enjoy doing. Your side hustle will be more sustainable if it aligns with your passions and strengths.
- Research potential ideas: Investigate various side hustle ideas and assess their market potential. Consider the demand for certain services, the competition, and the potential for profitability.
- Create a business plan: Even for a side hustle, it’s important to have a clear plan outlining your goals, target market, marketing strategies, and financial projections.
- Set a budget: Determine how much you’re willing to invest in your side hustle, if anything. If you’re going to be investing some amount, establish a budget for start-up costs, marketing, and ongoing expenses.
- Register your business: Depending on the nature of your side hustle, you may need to register your business, obtain permits, and fulfill specific legal requirements.
- Build a robust online presence: In today’s digital age, having a solid online presence is often essential for a business to succeed. Consider creating a website and leveraging social media to promote your side hustle.
- Market your side hustle: Spread the word about your side hustle through word of mouth, social media, and other marketing channels. Networking with potential clients and collaborators can also help you grow your business.
- Manage your time effectively: Balancing a side hustle with college and other responsibilities can be challenging. Create a schedule that allows you to dedicate time to your side hustle without neglecting other important aspects of your life.
Side hustles can benefit college students in many ways. They allow students to earn extra income while working only when their schedule allows it. Starting a side hustle may take time, effort, and dedication, though. Be patient and open to learning as you build up your earning potential as you get started.