9 online side hustles for college students that pay well

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Being a student in the US today can cost a small fortune. Tuition. Textbooks. Pretty standard living expenses. It apparently costs students over $104,000 for the average four-year course now! It’s a huge drain on the bank account.

So it’s no wonder we’re seeing more and more students looking for ways to make some extra cash on the side. Side hustles (especially those online) can be a super easy and flexible way to add some more dollars to your account

The options are endless when it comes to side hustles right now, so we’ve picked nine of our favorites that can pay good money and help you study (and live) a little easier as a college student. Enjoy.


Side hustles for college students:
9 well-paying options

  1. Freelance writing
  2. Online tutoring
  3. Matched betting
  4. Social media management
  5. Virtual assistance
  6. Graphic design
  7. E-commerce
  8. Stock trading
  9. Affiliate marketing

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1. Freelance Writing

Freelance writing can be an excellent online side hustle for college students who possess a knack for words. If you’re a student with strong writing skills, offering your services to clients in need of content creation, blog posts, or article writing could be a big win.

Freelance writing platforms provide a gateway to connect with clients. So, for students with a talent for writing, this side hustle can be an accessible way to earn a solid extra income.

Freelance writer college student writing on notepad

Benefits of freelance writing:

  • Flexible schedule: Freelance writing allows students to work at their convenience, accommodating their academic commitments.
  • Skill development: Writing for diverse topics enhances research, critical thinking, and communication skills. These can be transferrable into college work.
  • Portfolio building: Each project adds to the student's writing portfolio, showcasing their expertise to potential clients.
  • Income potential: Freelance writing offers an opportunity to earn a steady income, which can scale up as skills improve.
  • Networking opportunities: Collaborating with clients and fellow writers can lead to future partnerships, referrals, and full-time job opportunities.

Risks of freelance writing:

  • Uncertain income: Freelance writing rates can vary, and securing a consistent client base can require considerable marketing efforts.
  • Competition: The freelance writing market is competitive, and students may face challenges in attracting clients initially.
  • Time management: Balancing writing assignments with academic responsibilities can be demanding. Effective time management skills are a must.
  • Revision and feedback: Dealing with client feedback and revisions is part of the freelance writing process. As a result, this requires resilience and adaptability.
  • High skill level required: Being an in-demand freelance writer means possessing strong writing skills. If you are not a confident and flexible writer, this may not be the side hustle for you.

Average hourly rate: $29.32

 

2. Online Tutoring

Online tutoring has been a booming side hustle for students in recent years. Today, experts say the global online tutoring services market is set to grow to a huge $23.73bn by 2030!

If you’re a student with expertise in a subject, you could make some serious side-cash offering personalized tutoring services. From languages to test preparation, online tutoring can be a well-paying side hustle for college students keen to make some extra bank whilst mastering their subject. 

Online tutor giving lecture to college student

Benefits of online tutoring:

  • Flexibility and convenience: Online tutoring allows students to schedule sessions around their academic commitments and tutor remotely.
  • Skill enhancement: Teaching others reinforces understanding and mastery of the subject matter.
  • Personal satisfaction: Witnessing the progress and success of students can be rewarding and fulfilling.
  • Competitive rates: Online tutoring rates can be lucrative, especially for high-demand or specialized subjects. For tutors that start a blog, create downloadable guides or other value-adding resources, these rates can be increased further.
  • Professional growth: Developing effective teaching methods and communication skills contributes to personal and professional growth.

Risks of online tutoring:

  • Adapting to student needs: Each student has unique learning styles and challenges, requiring tutors to adapt their teaching methods.
  • Subject expertise: Tutors need to stay updated with their subject matter. Continuously enhancing knowledge is key to providing effective instruction.
  • Building a client base: Attracting and retaining students may require marketing efforts. Positive reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations are crucial.
  • Availability of students: Tutoring opportunities may fluctuate depending on student demand. This requires tutors to ensure a steady stream of clients.
  • Time management: Balancing tutoring sessions with academic workload may require careful planning and prioritization.

Average hourly rate: $20-$40

 

3. Matched betting

In the realm of online side hustles, this past year matched betting has skyrocketed in popularity for college students. Seeking to top up your income remotely? Matched betting enables students to make serious monthly gains with zero prior experience.

While it might sound like traditional gambling, matched betting (also known as free bet conversion) is a risk-free technique that takes advantage of sportsbook and casino promotional offers and free bets. With the right platform, students can take advantage of matched betting to generate major profit (up to $5,537 in your first month with ProfitDuel).

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Benefits of Matched Betting:

  • High earning potential: Matched betting allows students to unlock significant profits by utilizing sportsbook and casino promotions and free bets effectively. Some matched betting sites even offer free trials.
  • Risk-free approach: Unlike traditional betting, matched uses a mathematical method that converts free bets to guarantee a profit regardless of the outcome.
  • Flexible schedule: Students can engage in matched betting at their convenience. With zero time, location, or client restrictions, it doesn't get more flexible.
  • Sign-on bonuses: Some websites enable members to earn additional bonus income for every member they get signed up. At ProfitDuel this is $50 per member.
  • Passive income: Certain providers offer revenue share for members that become affiliates. At ProfitDuel we offer affiliates a 50% profit share every time a member they refer pays us, opening up the potential for considerable passive income at no extra cost.

Earn $100+ Risk-Free with the ProfitDuel 14-Day Free Trial

Considerations with Matched Betting:

  • Time commitment: While matched betting can be highly profitable, it does require time to execute. This can be as little as a few hours a week.
  • Initial startup cash required: to kick off your matched betting hustle, initial cash is required. This can be as little as $50, but to maximize earnings around $300 is recommended.  
  • Limited to certain states: today online sports betting is available in 34 states in the US, though this number is set to grow in the coming years. As a result, not every state can take advantage of matched betting.

Average hourly rate: $230/hr in the first month with ProfitDuel

 

4. Social Media Management

One of the biggest switch-ups to the way businesses are run in the 21st century - social media has been a game-changer. Today a massive 93.79% of businesses in the US say they use some form of social media, can you believe that?

With Gen Z the most social media savvy generation to exist, if you’re a college student you’re at a massive advantage with this side hustle. Involving managing and curating content, engaging with followers, and more, for those with a passion for social media this can be an incredibly profitable online side hustle.

Social media management icons

Benefits of social media management:

  • Flexibility: Social media management allows students to work remotely and manage multiple clients simultaneously.
  • Skill development: Managing social media platforms can enhance strategic thinking, content creation, and data analysis skills.
  • Networking opportunities: Working with various clients exposes students to different industries and professionals. This can expand their network and open up future opportunities.
  • Creative expression: Social media management provides an outlet for creativity. in developing engaging content and brand strategies.
  • Insight into digital marketing: By staying updated with social media trends and analytics, students gain valuable knowledge in the field of digital marketing.

Risks of social media management:

  • Time commitment: Social media management can be time-consuming. Consistent monitoring and content creation can eat up hours.
  • Handling client expectations: Each client may have specific goals and expectations, requiring effective communication and project management skills.
  • Adapting to platform changes: Social media platforms constantly evolve. Staying updated with algorithm changes and new features is essential for success.
  • Handling negative feedback: Social media managers may encounter negative comments or criticism. A professional and proactive approach is key to managing an online reputation.
  • Balancing personal and professional brand: Students must be mindful of aligning their personal brand with the clients they represent. Maintaining a professional image online is key.

Average hourly rate: $25.29

 

5. Virtual Assistance

Virtual assistance is one of the most awesomely varied side hustles to arise from the gig economy in recent years. Allowing side-hustlers to assist in a range of tasks from the comfort of their own home (or dorm), tasks can include email management, scheduling, data entry, customer support, and more.

In recent years the global virtual assistant industry has seen rapid growth in demand as businesses become increasingly digitally interconnected. Today, VA is among the most in-demand side hustles that pay weekly, with the industry forecasted to grow at an annual rate of 22.3% until 2028. 

Virtual assistant giving lesson online

Benefits of virtual assistance:

  • Diverse skill development: Virtual assistants build skills in various areas such as communication, organization, time management, and problem-solving.
  • Low skill barrier: Certain virtual assistant roles, such as admin and data entry tasks, don't require the same level of prior experience level as more complex side jobs. This can make virtual assistance more accessible.
  • Flexibility in hours: Virtual assistance allows students to work remotely. In some cases, virtual assistants can also choose their own working hours.
  • Versatile job opportunities: Virtual assistance opens doors to various tasks and industries, providing exposure to different work environments.
  • Resume enhancement: Virtual assistance experience demonstrates adaptability, initiative, and the ability to handle multiple responsibilities.

Risks of virtual assistance:

  • Managing multiple tasks: Virtual assistants often juggle multiple clients and tasks simultaneously. This requires top-tier time management and organization skills.
  • Communication challenges: As virtual assistants work remotely, clear and effective communication becomes crucial in understanding client requirements and delivering results.
  • Confidentiality and privacy: Handling sensitive information requires virtual assistants to maintain strict confidentiality. Ignoring privacy guidelines is a big no-no.
  • Availability and responsiveness: Virtual assistants must be prompt and responsive to client requests. Not maintaining a professional relationship can result in unhappy clients.
  • Client turnover: Clients may have varying project durations (and therefore demands for assistance). This can result in uncertain job security and high client turnover. 

Average hourly rate: $16-$28

 

6. Graphic Design

If you’re a college student with a creative mind or a keen eye for aesthetics and editing, freelance graphic design could be the ultimate way to perfect your passion profitably.

From interior designers to branding specialists and architects, the neverending potential for graphic designers can make the side hustle perfect for the right student. What's more, high-end designers can charge as much as $150 per hour. So if you’re a super-talented creative student, this choice could be a major income booster.

Graphic designer college student drafting art

Benefits of graphic design:

  • Broad range of applications: graphic design spans everything from illustration to interior design. As a result,  this side hustle can suit a broad range of creatives. 
  • Creative expression: Graphic design allows students to express their creativity through visually compelling and engaging designs.
  • Portfolio development: Each project adds to the student's graphic design portfolio. This can showcase their talent to potential clients or employers.
  • Flexibility and remote work: Graphic design can be done remotely. This offers students the flexibility to work from anywhere and at their convenience.
  • Skill enhancement: Engaging in graphic design hones skills in visual communication, software proficiency, and project management.

Risks of graphic design:

  • High skill barrier: individuals must have a high degree of skill in their field to attract and retain clients.
  • Creative restrictions: Dealing with client feedback and revisions is a major part of freelance design work. Ultimately, this could lead to designers having to restrict their creative identity. 
  • Competitive market: The graphic design industry is competitive. In turn, students will need to build their reputation and brand to attract clients.
  • Client expectations: Meeting client expectations and project deadlines can be challenging and require effective communication.
  • Intellectual property considerations: Graphic designers need to be mindful of copyright and intellectual property rights. Ignoring these can be costly and threaten profits.

Average hourly rate: $25

 

7. E-commerce

E-commerce is the highest-searched side gig on Google with 24,000 monthly searches! So there’s no doubting the opportunities it can offer if you’re a student with a fine-tuned business brain. 

Students can seek, source, and sell products and services they're passionate about on hundreds of global marketplaces such as Amazon and Etsy, making e-commerce one of the most accessible (and profitable) ways to kickstart your side hustle career.

Young lady smiling with her e-commerce clothing side hustle

Benefits of e-commerce:

  • Passion-driven profit: E-commerce can turn hobbies and passions into profitable businesses. This can allow students to work on what they love and believe in.
  • Broad range of application: From selling digital products to reselling vintage clothes, e-commerce can allow students with a range of interests to make mega side income. 
  • Business ownership: Running an e-commerce store can empower students as entrepreneurs, with control over branding, product selection, and pricing.
  • Market reach: E-commerce platforms provide access to a global market. This can skyrocket students' potential customer base. 
  • Customer interaction: E-commerce facilitates direct communication with customers. This can foster relationships and generate valuable feedback.

Read More: What women want: the 8 best side hustles for women

Risks of e-commerce:

  • Inventory management: Handling inventory, shipping, and stock availability requires efficient logistics and organization.
  • Competition: The e-commerce market can be competitive. Bossing effective marketing and a unique selling point (USP) is priceless. 
  • Financial investment: Starting an e-commerce store can involve upfront costs for product sourcing, website development, and marketing.
  • Customer service: Excellent customer service is vital for customer satisfaction and retention. Ignoring this can be catastrophic for customer trust.
  • Adaptation to trends: E-commerce is fast-paced and requires staying updated with market trends and consumer preferences. Without this, your side hustle could get left behind.

Average hourly rate: Varies on product and sales

 

8. Stock Trading & Crypto

You'll have no doubt heard of stock & crypto success stories like Amazon and Bitcoin, and the astronomical returns they have returned for some part-time investors. For college students dreaming big, this can make stocks & crypto seem like the holy grail of side hustles.

However, beyond the handful of mega-return success stories covered by the media,  stock trading and crypto are among the highest-risk side hustles you can take part in. In 2022 alone, the top 10% of American earners lost $8 trillion in stock market wealth

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Benefits of stock trading & crypto:

  • Income potential: Successful stock & crypto trading can yield significant profits should students capitalize on favorable market conditions and make informed investment decisions.
  • Financial literacy: For students with an interest in finance, stock and crypto trading enhances understanding of financial markets, investment strategies, and economic trends.
  • Analytical and decision-making skills: Successful stock & crypto trading requires analyzing market data, conducting research, and making informed decisions based on careful analysis.
  • Independence and flexibility: Stock trading can be done remotely and offers flexibility in choosing when and how to trade.
  • Long-term wealth creation: With proper risk management and a long-term investment approach, stock trading can be a vehicle for building long-term wealth.

Risks of stock trading & crypto: 

  • Significant risk: Stock and crypto trading involve a high level of risk. Students can experience major losses if they make poor investment decisions or are exposed to market volatility.
  • Emotional discipline: Students need to manage their emotions and make rational decisions. Avoiding impulsive trades driven by fear or greed is key.
  • Time commitment: Active trading requires dedicating time to monitor the markets, research investment opportunities, and stay informed about relevant news and events.
  • External volatility: Outside of the internal risks the stock and crypto markets can be impacted by unforeseen events. Even the most experienced traders struggle to predict these.
  • Regulatory and compliance considerations: Students engaging in stock and crypto trading should familiarize themselves with industry regulations. Failure to do so can lead to serious legal and tax issues. 

Average hourly rate: Varies on type and amount invested

 

9. Affiliate Marketing

If you’re a keen marketer and have ambitions to achieve a passive income, affiliate marketing could be for you. As an affiliate marketer, students can partner with brands to promote their products or services and take a slice every time they refer a sale. 

Providers can range from fashion apparel to tech and even online profit-building platforms like ProfitDuel (which offers affiliates a 50% revenue share on referrals). For entrepreneurial students seeking a passive income, this can be a game-changer.

Cloud representing affiliate marketing referrals

Affiliate marketing benefits:

  • Passive income potential: Referral revenue can continue without any further action on subscriptions. This can lead successful affiliates to achieve a passive income.
  • Diverse niche opportunities: Affiliate marketing caters to various niches and industries. This can provide students with the flexibility to explore markets they're passionate about.
  • Minimal upfront costs: Affiliate marketing requires minimal financial investment. For college students, this makes it extremely accessible.
  • Flexibility and scalability: Affiliate marketing allows students to choose the products they promote and scale their efforts as their audience grows.
  • Skill development: Engaging in affiliate marketing can enhance digital marketing, content creation, and analytical skills. All of these are valuable and transferrable skills in the workplace.

Affiliate marketing risks:

  • Market saturation: Students need to differentiate their affiliate marketing efforts to stand out among competitors in highly saturated markets.
  • Compliance and disclosure: Failure to stay in line with disclosure regulations and provide transparent information about partnerships can destroy an affiliate's reputation.
  • Complex tracking and analytics: Monitoring affiliate performance and analyzing data can require familiarity with tracking tools. Without these campaigns can be unsuccessful.
  • Conversions and customer trust: Students must build trust with their audience to encourage conversions and maintain a positive brand reputation.
  • Affiliate program changes: Affiliate programs may alter their terms and conditions, impacting commission rates or eligibility criteria.

Average hourly rate: $28-$39

 

Accessing the right side hustle as a college student

Finding the side hustle that best aligns with your free time, financial goals and personal ambitions can be the key to unlocking long-term earnings as a student. 

Yet with the ever-expanding side gigs on offer, this can seem like an impossible task. To help with this, we've created our weekly Side Hustle Newsletter. 

Deep-diving into some of the most profitable side hustles of the past week - and expert info on how to maximise their returns - you can sign up for the weekly newsletter here.

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