Being a college student is expensive. We understand. Apparently, attending college in the US can cost somewhere between an eye-watering $20,000 and $50,000 per year!
Whether it's for covering tuition fees, securing textbooks, general living expenses, or just funding fun weekend adventures, making some extra money online is a must for a lot of students.
And thanks to the booming gig-economy and the rise of online side hustles, there are a load of flexible ways of doing so that will fit in around your studies.
To get you started, here are seven awesome, simple strategies for making money online as a college student.
7 simple strategies for making money online as a college student
- Affiliate marketing
- Virtual assistance
- Matched betting
- Reselling clothes
- Social media management
- Online surveys
- Freelance writing
1. Affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing is a cool side hustle where you promote products or services online and earn a cut whenever someone makes a purchase through your special affiliate links.
If you have a blog, YouTube channel, podcast, or are active on social media, you're already on your way to being able to monetize your online presence and earn some extra cash with affiliate marketing.
All that's left to do is sign up to some affiliate programs – big companies like Amazon, Walmart, and Best Buy have affiliate programs, as well as specialized websites and platforms like ShareASale, ClickBank, and CJ – and promote your links.
Benefits of affiliate marketing:
- Flexible and convenient: Affiliate marketing can be done from anywhere with an internet connection, whether it's your dorm or the library, and at any time that's convenient for you. Whilst you will have to be a little persistent in pushing your links if you want them to keep generating a side income, affiliate marketing doesn't have to be done according to a set schedule, so it's easy to fit in while juggling your studies.
- Passive income potential: Once you've set up your content and affiliate links, they can continue to generate income over time. Even when you're not actively promoting, your older content can still attract clicks and conversions.
- Diverse income streams: You're not limited to promoting products from a single company. You can join multiple affiliate programs and promote a variety of products or services, diversifying your income streams.
- Low startup costs: Affiliate marketing requires minimal upfront investment. You don't need to create your own products or services, which eliminates the costs associated with production, inventory, or shipping.
2. Virtual assistance
A Virtual Assistant (VA) is one of the most exciting roles to have emerged from the gig-economy.
VA's help businesses and entrepreneurs with a range of tasks like data entry, managing emails, scheduling appointments, customer service and much more, all from the comfort of your own home (or dorm).
For college students, being a VA is a great way to kill two birds with one stone. You can make some money at times and from locations that suit you while doing something and building upon skills that will look awesome on your resume.
Benefits of virtual assistance:
Flexible schedule: Virtual assistance allows students to work around class schedules and study commitments. You can take on tasks during your free hours, evenings, or weekends, ensuring your academic responsibilities remain a top priority.
- Remote work: As a VA, you can work from the comfort of your dorm room, apartment, or even a cozy café. This eliminates the need for commuting and provides a conducive environment for productivity.
- Varied skill utilization: You can leverage a diverse range of skills as a VA. Whether it's data entry, social media management, content creation, research, or customer support, you can apply and refine skills that align with your academic pursuits or personal interests.
- Networking opportunities: Interacting with clients and collaborating on projects exposes you to a network of professionals and industries. This can lead to valuable connections, mentorship opportunities, and potential career pathways after graduation.
- Income generation: Virtual assistance provides a steady source of income that can help you cover tuition fees, textbooks, or everyday expenses, reducing financial stress and allowing you to focus more on your studies.
3. Matched betting
Perfect for fitting into a student's busy schedule, matched betting is a fun, risk-free way to spend a few hours each week earning some extra cash.
Here's how it works: You place bets on all possible outcomes of an event using free bets and bookmaker promotions. This guarantees a profit, no matter the result.
Benefits of matched betting:
- Risk-free profits: Matched betting involves placing bets in a way that guarantees a profit, regardless of the outcome. This risk-free approach eliminates the uncertainty associated with traditional gambling and ensures consistent earnings.
- Flexible schedule: Students can engage in matched betting around their class schedules and other commitments. It offers the freedom to work from anywhere with an internet connection, making it ideal for students who need a flexible source of income.
- No prior experience required: Matched betting doesn't require extensive knowledge of sports or betting. There are online tools and resources available that guide students through the process step by step, making it easy to get started.
4. Reselling clothes
Unwanted clothes, shoes and accessories overflowing from your closet and taking up precious real estate on your dorm floor? Sell them!
Platforms like Depop and Vinted make reselling your items simple and convenient. And with 26 million and 21 million users respectively, there's a huge network of buyers waiting to get their hands on your pre-loved clothes.
Benefits of reselling clothes:
- Extra cash flow: As a student, every bit of extra cash matters. Reselling your clothes provides a simple and effective way to earn money from items you already own.
- Flexible schedule: You can photograph and upload your items to reselling platforms whenever you want, and once they're up there, you don't need to do anything until they're sold. This makes it easy to fit reselling clothes around your class schedule and other commitments. It's a fantastic way to earn money without a rigid work routine.
- Low startup costs: Unlike starting a traditional business, reselling your own clothes doesn't require significant upfront investment. You're working with inventory you already possess.
- Declutter and organize: Reselling your own clothes forces you to take stock of your wardrobe. It's a chance to declutter and let go of items you no longer wear, creating a more organized living space.
- Business skills: You'll gain valuable business skills such as inventory management, pricing strategies, negotiation, and customer service.
5. Social media management
Gen-Z clearly one of the most social media-savvy generations, with 38% of Gen-Zers in the US spending more than four hours using social networks each day.
Now, imagine that time spent scrolling Instagram and TikTok could be earning you some cash. Well, it can!
A huge 93.79% of businesses in the US use some form of social media, and they're always on the lookout for creative people who know how to harness the power of social media to help out with managing and curating content, engaging with followers and more.
Benefits of social media management:
- Flexible work schedule: Social media management can be tailored to fit a student's busy schedule. This flexibility allows you to balance online responsibilities with coursework, exams, and other commitments.
- Earn while learning: As students manage business social media accounts, they acquire practical skills in digital marketing, content creation, analytics, and customer engagement. This real-world learning complements their academic education.
- Monetize online skills: Students who are already familiar with social media platforms can monetize their existing skills and passions. By managing business accounts, they transform their expertise into a money-making venture.
- Income Potential: Effective social media managers are in demand. As students gain experience and build a reputation, they can command higher rates and potentially turn social media management into a full-time career.
- Diverse experience: Business social media management exposes students to various industries and sectors. This diversity of experience enhances their understanding of different markets and consumer behaviors.
- Networking opportunities: Interacting with clients, collaborators, and industry professionals expands students' professional networks, potentially opening doors to future internships, jobs, or partnerships.
- Resume enhancement: Managing social media for businesses adds a valuable entry to a student's resume. It showcases their ability to drive online engagement, create compelling content, and contribute to business growth.
- Skill development: Students hone a range of skills, including content creation, social media strategy, data analysis, customer service, and problem-solving – all of which are transferable to various career paths.
6. Online surveys
A super simple and convenient way to make some extra money online, online surveys can take up as little as a few minutes of your time – perfect for fitting into a student's busy schedule.
Benefits of online surveys:
- Flexibility: Online surveys are like the ultimate side hustle for students. You can fill them out whenever you have a spare moment, whether you're waiting for class to start or taking a break between study sessions.
- No special skills required: You don't need a fancy degree or special training to do online surveys. Just be yourself and share your opinions – it's that easy!
- Earn while you learn: While you're busy acing your studies, online surveys let you earn extra cash on the side. It's like getting paid for expressing your thoughts.
- Minimal time investment: Most surveys don't take too long to complete. In just a few minutes, you can make some extra bucks without cutting into your study time.
- Remote work: Online surveys are the ultimate work-from-home gig. You can do them from your dorm room, the library, or even while lounging at a coffee shop.
7. Freelance writing
Have a knack for words? Freelance writing could be the perfect gig to monetize your passion in your spare time.
Benefits of freelance writing:
- Flexible schedule: Freelance writing lets students be the boss of their own time. They can take on assignments whenever it suits them, whether it's after class, during weekends, or even during study breaks.
- Income potential: While earnings may vary, successful freelance writers can earn a substantial income over time. It's a rewarding way for students to fund their education, cover expenses, or save up for future adventures.
- No commute necessary: Say goodbye to commuting hassles! Freelance writing lets students work from their dorm room, favorite coffee shop, or anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection.
- Skill development: Writing isn't just about crafting words; it's about conveying ideas effectively. Freelance writing helps students sharpen their writing, research, and communication skills, which are valuable in any career path.
- Build a portfolio: As students complete various writing gigs, they create a portfolio showcasing their versatile skills. This collection of work can impress future employers and open doors to writing opportunities down the road.
- Resume enhancement: Listing freelance writing experience on a resume demonstrates initiative, versatility, and the ability to work independently – qualities that stand out to potential employers.
Making money online as a college student: a recap
From diving into affiliate marketing or matched betting, to hustling in the gig economy, we've explored how the digital realm is your playground for cashing in on your skills and passions.
The online world isn't just for fun – it's a legit way to earn some green while still rocking your college life.
For a regular deep dive into the best side hustles for making money online, sign up for The Hustle Report, our weekly newsletter, here.