Best side hustles for students: And How to Get Started.

As a student, you possess two essential resources to make any dream come true: time and skills. When harnessed effectively, this powerful combination holds the potential to bring you unbelievable amounts of professional growth and, of course, cash. Everyone who has ever made it in the “side hustle industry” will attest that they created or had these two valuable resources at their disposal, just as you do. For this reason, launching and growing a side hustle for any student is as easy as apple-pie in unlocking the hidden potential within you.

In this guide, we will explore the best side hustles tailored for students, providing you with not only opportunities to leverage your skills but also insights into how to get started on your journey to financial success. But first. Why would you need a side hustle as a student?

Why Should You Have a Side Hustle as a Student?

Having a side hustle as a student offers a multitude of benefits and can significantly enhance your overall college experience. This is why.

  • Financial Independence: College life often comes with expenses—tuition fees, textbooks, accommodation, and more. By having a side hustle, you can gain financial independence and reduce the burden of student loans and debts. You can also cover your daily expenses without relying solely on your parents or student loans.
  • Real-World Experience: Side hustles provide a practical way to gain real-world experience and develop essential skills. Unlike traditional part-time jobs, side hustles allow you to choose work related to your field of interest, contributing to your long-term career goals.
  • Networking Opportunities: Many side hustles involve interacting with clients, customers, or other professionals in your chosen field. This provides valuable networking opportunities that can lead to internships, job offers, or collaborations, setting you up for future success.
  • Flexible Schedule: Side hustles offer flexibility in terms of working hours. You can choose when and where you work, making it easier to balance your side hustle with your academic commitments.
  • Boosted Resume: Your side hustle can be a standout feature on your resume. It showcases your ability to manage multiple responsibilities, work independently, and take initiative—desirable qualities for potential employers.
  • Financial Safety Net: Unexpected financial emergencies can arise during your college years. A side hustle can serve as a financial safety net, providing you with the means to handle unforeseen expenses or emergencies.

Read also: How to Make a Six-Figure Income While Teaching

  • Develop Entrepreneurial Skills: A side hustle can be your first step towards entrepreneurship. It allows you to test your business ideas, learn about marketing, customer service, and financial management, and even turn your side hustle into a full-time business in the future.
  • Personal Growth: Side hustles can allow personal growth and self-discovery. They challenge you to step outside your comfort zone, build resilience, and develop problem-solving skills.
  • Work-Life Balance: Unlike some part-time jobs, side hustles often give you more control over your work-life balance. You can allocate time for studying, socializing, and relaxation, ensuring you maintain a healthy college life.
  • Potential for Passive Income: Many side hustles can evolve into passive income sources. This means that once you\’ve set up your side hustle, it can continue to generate income with less active effort, allowing you to earn while focusing on your studies.

Having a side hustle as a student can be a transformative experience, offering financial, professional, and personal growth opportunities. It\’s a practical way to turn your time and skills into assets that can benefit you now and in the future. With the right side hustle, you can achieve financial security, acquire valuable experience, and open doors to exciting career prospects. So, let\’s explore the best side hustles for students and learn how to embark on this rewarding journey.

Read on: 20 proven high-paying side hustle ideas that will pay daily and weekly

20 Best side hustles for students

1. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is an accessible and trendy online income source for students. It involves promoting products or services from various brands within your network and earning a commission whenever someone purchases through your unique affiliate link.

The best part? There is no upfront investment! Select a niche that appeals to you and sign up with an affiliate network like Commission Junction or share a sale. Share exclusive deals and offers from brands in your chosen niche with your network. You\’ll earn a commission for each purchase made through your affiliate link (commission rates vary).

With affiliate marketing, you have the flexibility to endorse products you genuinely believe in, making it a way to monetize your network while you study.

How to Get Started:

  • Choose a niche that interests you and aligns with your audience.
  • Sign up with an affiliate network like Commission Junction, ShareASale, or Amazon Associates.
  • Select products or services you genuinely believe in and that resonate with your niche.
  • Create content (blog posts, social media posts, videos) that promotes these products or services using your unique affiliate links.
  • Share these promotions with your network through your chosen platforms.

A free affiliate marketing course

Starting Costs

Typically, there are no upfront costs. You can join affiliate programs for free.

Earning Potential

Your earnings depend on the number of successful referrals and the commission rates of the affiliate programs you join. Commissions can vary widely, but some affiliates earn substantial incomes. With dedication and a growing audience, you can increase your affiliate marketing earnings over time.

2. Virtual Assistant

The internet has fostered significant interconnectedness, leading to a surge in remote work opportunities. Among these is the role of a \”virtual assistant.\” Virtual assistants offer data entry, social media management, formatting, editing, and more. These online side hustles enable students to earn passively without commutes or face-to-face interactions.

How to Get Started:

  • Identify your strengths and skills and the specific services you can offer as a virtual assistant.
  • Create a professional profile highlighting your services, experience, and expertise on platforms like Upwork, Freelancer, or Fiverr.
  • Start bidding on relevant job listings or reach out to potential clients who might need virtual assistant services.
  • Deliver high-quality work and build a solid reputation for reliability and professionalism.

Starting Costs:

Minimal, including the cost of setting up a home office or upgrading your computer and software.

Earning Potential:

Earnings can vary based on the services you offer, your experience, and the clients you work with. Virtual assistants can charge hourly rates per project, typically $10 to $50 or more per hour. You can increase your rates as you gain experience and build a client base.

3. Podcasting

Don\’t underestimate the power of podcasting regarding online side hustles for students. Podcasts have been consistently gaining popularity, attracting larger audiences every year. Just like social networking and blogging, podcasting has become an integral part of online content. Starting a podcast can be a promising option to boost your income.

How to Get Started:

  • Choose a niche or topic that you are passionate about and know about.
  • Acquire the necessary recording equipment, including a microphone, headphones, and recording software.
  • Create a content plan and develop a format for your podcast episodes.
  • Record and edit your podcast episodes, ensuring high audio quality.
  • Choose a hosting platform for your podcast, such as Podbean, Libsyn, or Anchor, and upload your episodes.
  • Promote your podcast on social media and engage with your audience.
  • Consider monetization options like sponsorships, affiliate marketing, or listener donations.

Starting Costs:

  • Equipment costs vary, but you can start with a basic setup for as little as $100 to $200.

Earning Potential:

  • Podcast income varies widely based on audience size, niche, and monetization methods. You can earn money through sponsorships, affiliate marketing, merchandise sales, or listener donations. Successful podcasts can generate a few hundred to several thousand dollars per episode.

4. Tutoring

Tutoring is an incredibly rewarding side hustle that combines financial benefits with the chance to assist fellow students in their academic pursuits. It gives you the flexibility to set your rates and schedule, making it an ideal way to earn while nurturing valuable skills.

Whether you\’re proficient in core subjects like math, English, or sciences or passionate about other subjects, tutoring allows you to earn money from a topic you love. Online tutoring platforms make it convenient to teach either in person or remotely.

Beyond financial rewards, tutoring connects you with diverse individuals, potentially leading to lasting friendships and valuable connections within your network.

How to Get Started:

  • Identify the subjects or topics you are knowledgeable in and passionate about.
  • Determine whether you want to offer in-person or online tutoring.
  • Set your tutoring rates, considering factors like your expertise and local demand.
  • Create a professional tutoring profile on Wyzant, Chegg Tutors, or VIPKid.
  • Advertise your services to fellow students, schools, or educational organizations.
  • Prepare teaching materials, lesson plans, and resources.
  • Schedule and conduct tutoring sessions, providing valuable guidance to your students.
  • Seek referrals and reviews to build your reputation as a tutor.

Read on: Best Practices for Online Course Design

Starting Costs:

  • Minimal. You should invest in teaching materials or software for online tutoring.

Earning Potential:

  • Earnings vary based on subject expertise, demand, and location. Tutors can typically charge hourly rates ranging from $15 to $50 or more, depending on their qualifications and the complexity of the subject. Successful tutors often build a steady income stream and may earn hundreds or even thousands of dollars per month.

Teaching Online: How to Monetize Your Knowledge and Expertise

5. Sell Stock Photos

Aspiring photographers can turn their passion into a profitable side hustle. With dedication, you can create a portfolio of high-quality images buyers seek.

Numerous online platforms allow you to sell your photos. Diversify your portfolio with a wide range of subjects and styles to increase your sales opportunities. Many modern smartphones have cameras capable of capturing stunning pictures, so you don\’t necessarily need professional equipment.

How to Get Started: Create a portfolio of high-quality photos you want to sell. You can then upload photos to stock photography websites such as Shutterstock, Adobe Stock, or Getty Images.

Starting Costs: Minimal, as many modern smartphones have cameras capable of capturing high-quality images. If you\’re serious about photography, invest in some essential photography equipment.

Earning Potential: Earnings can vary widely, but successful stock photographers can make a substantial income by selling their photos. Your potential earnings depend on the quality and subject of your pictures and the demand for specific images.

6. Blogging

In addition to academic essays, you can leverage your writing skills by starting a blog. Blogging can be lucrative, enabling you to earn through affiliate marketing, advertising, or direct product sales on your site.

Consistently creating valuable and engaging content helps you attract an audience and build a following. You can promote products or services related to your blog\’s niche through affiliate marketing, earning a commission for each successful referral or sale. Advertising and sponsored content can generate income based on impressions and clicks.

Additionally, you can sell products directly from your blog, such as e-books, online courses, merchandise, or other offerings that align with your niche and cater to your audience\’s needs.

Blogging offers a platform to showcase your writing skills and the potential to create a steady income stream as your readership grows.

How to Get Started: Choose a niche that interests you, create a blog, and produce valuable content. You can use platforms like WordPress or Blogger to set up your blog.

Starting Costs: Minimal, typically for domain registration and web hosting services, which can be as low as a few monthly dollars.

Earning Potential: Blogging income varies widely, with some bloggers making a modest side income while others turn it into a full-time career. You can earn money through affiliate marketing, advertising, sponsored content, and product or service sales.

Healthy Food Blogs or a YouTube Channel: Monetize Your Culinary Skills

7. Start a YouTube Channel

YouTube can be an exceptionally lucrative side hustle for college students. Starting your channeland creating engaging content for a specific niche can lead to monetization opportunities.

Whether you create software reviews, lifestyle videos, or captivating content, the key is to provide value and engage your audience. A dedicated fan base increases your chances of earning revenue through YouTube\’s monetization methods.

Once your channel meets the requirements, you can apply for the YouTube Partner Program and enable ads on your videos, earning income based on views and clicks. Sponsored content opportunities exist where companies pay you to promote their products or services in your videos.

As your channel grows, you can diversify income streams through affiliate marketing, merchandise sales, or premium content for your dedicated followers.

How to Get Started: Create a YouTube channel, choose a niche, and produce content that resonates with your target audience. Build a subscriber base and engage with your viewers.

Starting Costs: Minimal, mainly for video equipment and editing software. Many YouTubers begin with just a smartphone.

Earning Potential: YouTube income varies significantly. You can make money through ads, sponsored content, affiliate marketing, merchandise sales, and more. Earnings grow as your channel\’s subscriber base and viewership increase.

Read on: How to Monetize Your Channel on YouTube and Build a Sustainable Income Stream

8. Become a Social Media Manager

If you spend substantial time online, you can turn your digital presence into a lucrative opportunity by becoming a social media manager. This side hustle involves managing marketing campaigns on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok.

As a social media manager, you can assist businesses and individuals in creating effective marketing strategies. This may include developing content plans, optimizing posts, engaging with followers, running advertising campaigns, and analyzing performance metrics.

Demonstrating expertise in social media management and showcasing successful results can attract clients willing to pay for your services. This side hustle lets you monetize your online presence while helping others reach their marketing goals.

How to Get Started:

  • Establish a solid online presence on social media platforms.
  • Develop expertise in social media marketing.
  • Build a portfolio showcasing past work.
  • Network with potential clients or use freelancing platforms.

Starting Costs:

Minimal, primarily for any tools or software you might need for content creation and analytics.

Earning Potential:

Earnings can vary widely based on your expertise and the scope of your services. As a social media manager, you can earn anywhere from $15 to $50 or more per hour, depending on the complexity of the work and the clients you attract. Successful social media managers often handle multiple clients, which can lead to a substantial monthly income.

9. Be a Translator

Fluency in a second language or expertise in a primary language provides opportunities to work as a translator. You can leverage your linguistic skills to offer translation services for various events or publications.

Translators bridge the language gap at conferences, meetings, or cultural events, ensuring effective communication between individuals or groups who speak different languages. Additionally, the publishing industry seeks translators to work on books, articles, and other written materials, making literature and information accessible to a broader audience.

You can attract clients or work with translation agencies matching your language pair by showcasing your language proficiency and expertise, building a solid reputation for delivering accurate translations.

  • How to Get Started:
  • Build a professional portfolio showcasing your language proficiency.
  • Register on freelance websites like Upwork, Fiverr, or ProZ to find translation projects.
  • Network with local businesses, universities, or cultural organizations that may require translation services.
  • Starting Costs: Minimal, possibly for certifications or memberships in professional translation associations.
  • Earning Potential: Varies based on language pair, specialization, and project complexity. Translators can make from $15 to $100 or more per hour, depending on their expertise and the nature of the translation work.

Read more: Monetizing your language skills: Tips for starting a translation or interpretation business

10. Sell Merchandise

From printables to mugs, t-shirts, and other handmade crafts, various avenues are available to sell your merchandise and transform your creativity into a profitable side hustle. Online platforms like Etsy provide marketplaces to showcase and sell your unique products. Participating in craft fairs or local events offers opportunities to connect with customers and make sales in person.

To generate income, explore selling digital goods, including calendars, presentation templates, self-created fonts, or licensed stock music.

How to Get Started:

  • Create unique merchandise or digital products.
  • Set up an online store or use platforms like Etsy.
  • Promote your products through social media and local events.
  • Network with potential customers and similar creators.

Starting Costs: Varies depending on the type of merchandise but can be minimal for digital goods.

Earning Potential: Depends on the popularity of your products, marketing efforts, and pricing, ranging from a few dollars to hundreds per item.

11. Become a Graphic Designer

Graphic art or illustration talent opens doors for freelance design work on short-term projects, allowing you to display your skills and earn income from your creative abilities. In addition to working with individual clients, you can collaborate with universities and local organizations needing design work for events, promotional materials, or branding initiatives. This provides valuable experience, expands your portfolio, and builds local connections.

How to Get Started:

  • Build a strong portfolio showcasing your design skills.
  • Join freelance platforms like Upwork, Fiverr, or 99designs.
  • Network with local businesses, universities, and organizations.
  • Offer a variety of design services, from logos to promotional materials.

Starting Costs: Minimal for software or design tools.

Earning Potential: Graphic designers can earn $20 to $50 per hour, depending on experience and project complexity.

12. Sell Old Textbooks

Old textbooks can be valuable for high-demand students, making them ideal for earning extra money. If you have used books, selling them at a secondhand price can generate additional income.

Explore online platforms designed for buying and selling textbooks, connect with potential buyers actively seeking affordable books, or advertise locally on your college campus to target students directly.

How to Get Started:

  • Gather your old textbooks.
  • Check online platforms like Amazon, eBay, or BookFinder to list your books.
  • Advertise locally on campus bulletin boards or in student groups.
  • Price competitively to attract buyers.

Starting Costs: minimal, primarily shipping fees.

Earning Potential: It varies based on the demand for your textbooks, but you can typically make $10 to $50 per book or more.

13. Social Media Influencer

Becoming a social media influencer is a sought-after side hustle, especially if you have a significant presence on platforms like Instagram. You can monetize your following by collaborating with companies and promoting their products, services, or destinations to your audience. Partnerships may begin with free items but can evolve into significant income as your influence grows.

How to Get Started:

  • Build a solid and engaging social media presence on platforms like Instagram.
  • Identify your niche or area of expertise.
  • Reach out to brands relevant to your niche for collaboration.
  • Create engaging content that resonates with your audience.
  • Consider joining influencer networks to connect with brands.

Starting Costs: Minimal, primarily related to content creation (e.g., camera, lighting).

Earning Potential: This varies widely based on follower count and engagement but can range from a few hundred to thousands of dollars per sponsored post or collaboration.

14. Website Testing

Website testing is a lesser-known but lucrative side hustle for students. Many website owners seek feedback from regular visitors to enhance the user experience and attract more readers. They are willing to pay for this valuable data, making website testing straightforward for teenagers and college students to earn extra money.

By participating in website testing, you provide valuable insights into aspects like usability, design, navigation, and the overall user experience. This feedback helps website owners identify areas for improvement, enhancing the site\’s performance.

How to Get Started:

  • Sign up with user testing platforms like Userpeek, UserTesting, Userfeel, or TryMyUI.
  • Complete your profile and practice tests to qualify for website testing tasks.
  • Provide feedback on website usability, design, and navigation.

Starting Costs: None.

Earning Potential: Typically $5–$25 per test, depending on the complexity and length of the test. Some platforms also offer live interview testing, which can pay $30–$60 per session.

15. Delivery Driver

Working as a delivery driver, whether for food, packages, or groceries, is a viable way to earn extra money. You can choose from various roles depending on your preferences, from courier services to grocery delivery.

How to Get Started: Sign up with food delivery or courier services such as Uber Eats, DoorDash, or Amazon Flex. You\’ll need a reliable vehicle for some roles, while others may allow you to use a bicycle or walk.

Starting Costs: This can vary, but you\’ll typically need a vehicle and related expenses if you\’re a delivery driver. Some platforms may also require a background check.

Earning Potential: Your earnings depend on the number of deliveries, distance, and tips. Delivery drivers can make a decent income, especially during peak hours or in high-demand areas.

16. Paid Surveys

Participating in online surveys is a flexible way to earn cash on your schedule. Create an account with a reputable survey company and start taking surveys to gain compensation for each one completed. Payments are often made through platforms like PayPal.

How to Get Started: Sign up with reputable online survey companies like Swagbucks, Survey Junkie, or Vindale Research—complete surveys these platforms offer to earn cash or rewards.

Starting Cost: $0. You should invest your time and information to participate in surveys.

Earning Potential: You can earn a modest amount through paid surveys. The amount you make depends on the number of surveys you complete and the specific platform\’s reward system. Payments are often made through gift cards, PayPal, or other methods.

17. Data Entry

Data entry is an excellent part-time option to make money comfortably from your room. It typically involves inputting information accurately and efficiently, such as by organizing spreadsheets or transcribing data from various sources.

How to Get Started: Search for data entry jobs on freelance platforms like Upwork or Fiverr. You\’ll need a computer and data entry software to begin.

Starting Costs: Minimal, mainly for a reliable computer and software if you don\’t already have them.

Earning Potential: Data entry earnings vary based on factors like the complexity and volume of tasks. Data entry can provide a steady income stream for those with the necessary skills.

18. Help Students Prepare for SAT or ACT Exams

Although this side hustle falls under tutoring, it stands out because it requires extensive knowledge of standardized tests for college admissions. Turn your familiarity with the SAT or ACT exams into a lucrative opportunity by helping students prepare for these crucial tests.

By becoming a tutor for these exams, you offer valuable guidance to students aiming to excel in their college applications.

How to Get Started: Promote your services as an SAT or ACT tutor. You can use social media, local advertising, or tutoring platforms to find students seeking test preparation help.

Starting Costs: Minimal, primarily for study materials or online tutoring platforms if you choose to use them.

Earning Potential: As a tutor, you can set your rates. Earnings depend on your expertise, location, and the demand for test preparation services. Tutoring can be a lucrative side hustle, especially around standardized test seasons.

You will love this: How to Start a Profitable Tutoring Business in 2023.

19. Be a Translator

Fluency in a second language or expertise in a primary language provides opportunities to work as a translator. You can leverage your linguistic skills to offer translation services for various events or publications.

Translators bridge the language gap at conferences, meetings, or cultural events, ensuring effective communication between individuals or groups who speak different languages. Additionally, the publishing industry seeks translators to work on books, articles, and other written materials, making literature and information accessible to a broader audience.

You can attract clients or work with translation agencies matching your language pair by showcasing your language proficiency and expertise, building a solid reputation for delivering accurate translations.

How to Get Started:

Build a professional portfolio showcasing your language proficiency.

Register on freelance websites like Upwork, Fiverr, or ProZ to find translation projects.

Network with local businesses, universities, or cultural organizations that may require translation services.

Starting Costs: Minimal, possibly for certifications or memberships in professional translation associations.

Earning Potential: Varies based on language pair, specialization, and project complexity. Translators can make from $15 to $100 or more per hour, depending on their expertise and the nature of the translation work.

20. Find Virtual Bookkeeping Jobs

Do you possess numeracy and data entry skills, meticulous attention to detail, and experience preparing invoices, processing bill payments, creating balance sheets, and managing taxes? Virtual bookkeeping could be your perfect side hustle. You can earn a significant income by keeping and organizing financial records for individuals and small businesses.

How to Get Started: Begin by offering your virtual bookkeeping services. Create an online portfolio to showcase your skills and experience. You can find potential clients on freelancing platforms like Upwork, Freelancer, or through social media. Networking with small businesses and entrepreneurs can also help you find opportunities.

Starting Costs: Minimal; you may need essential accounting software, which can often be found for free or cheaply. A computer and internet connection are standard requirements.

Earning Potential: Earning potential varies based on the clients you work with and the complexity of the tasks. Rates depend on factors like the size of your business, the volume of transactions, and the services you offer. Experienced bookkeepers can earn a significant income. Rates may range from $15 to $50 or more per hour.

Read also: From side hustle to full-time business: tips for monetization

21. Provide Audio and Video Transcription Services

Transcribing video and audio files, such as interviews and conference meetings, or adding captions and subtitles to videos is a lucrative side hustle for college students. You don\’t need software or technical knowledge, only excellent listening and typing skills.

How to Get Started: Sign up on transcription platforms such as Rev, GoTranscript, or TranscribeMe. These platforms offer various transcription tasks that you can choose from. Make sure you have a good pair of headphones and a reliable computer to get started.

Starting Costs: Minimal, mainly for equipment such as headphones, but these are everyday household items, so there may be no additional costs.

Earning Potential: Your earning potential can vary based on the platform you choose and the complexity of the transcription tasks. Generally, transcriptionists can earn around $15 to $30 per audio hour, which varies depending on their skills and industry.

22. Try User Testing

Companies often pay people to test their websites, computer programs, and mobile apps. They ask them to look for bugs or other hiccups so they can weed them out and improve the user experience. The best part is you don\’t need to run tests; you only need to check the functionality and provide honest feedback.

How to Get Started: Sign up on user testing platforms like UserTesting or Userfeel to become a contributor. These platforms will provide you with websites, apps, or products to test and give feedback.

Starting cost: $0.

Earning Potential: You can earn around $4 to $10 per test and $30 to $60 for live interviews on UserTesting. The exact amount you make may vary depending on the platform and the complexity of the test.

Conclusion

In conclusion, embarking on a side hustle as a student is an incredible journey filled with opportunities for financial growth, personal development, and professional enrichment. Harnessing your time and skills to create a source of income eases the economic challenges of college life and equips you with practical experience that can shape your future. The world of side hustles is vast and versatile, offering numerous options to suit your interests, talents, and aspirations. Whether you venture into affiliate marketing, offer your services as a virtual assistant, start a podcast, or explore any other side hustle, the potential is limitless.

As you navigate this rewarding path, remember to stay focused, maintain a healthy work-life balance, and persevere through challenges. Your dedication and determination can transform your side hustle into a flourishing success. With the right strategies and a commitment to personal and financial growth, you\’ll discover the true power of combining your education with a thriving side hustle. So, make the most of your student years, seize the opportunities that come your way, and build a brighter future, one side hustle at a time.

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