Studying can become tough especially where there’s no financial help to fund miscellaneous expenses. I have passed through college and I knew how difficult it was for me, and if I could leap back in time to start an undergraduate program, I’d dip my toes in freelancing much earlier.
Taking on side gigs, ghostwriting, and offering several online services helped me through the global pandemic. It was in the midst of the Covid-19 lockdown that I started my online business – helping clients to promote their businesses and having time to invest in my personal and professional career.
There are several benefits to pursuing online business ideas in colleges—and it’s not too late for you to cash in on them:
Benefits of Starting an Online Business While Still Studying at College
1. Gain real-world experience in the business. Sure business school can teach you theory and formulas, but there’s nothing like doing business to learn the ropes.
2. Learn skills such as content writing, customer service, stress and time management, affiliate marketing that you may not get to learn in the classroom.
3. Student entrepreneurs have a better chance over their graduate counterparts once they hit the job market. In a world driven by technology, the skills you acquire online can be the gate opener to reputable companies.
4. Build and expand your professional network beyond the four walls of your school.
5. Build a solid resume. Most graduates coming out of school don’t have much aside from the education section of their CV. You could stand out of the crowd with a much-experienced resume.
In fact, by running your own business no matter how small it is, you can add “CEO“ to your list of accomplishments.
6. Earn money while in the classroom. Online business opportunity opens doors for financial breakthroughs such that you won’t have to depend fully on your parents or sponsors.
As your own boss or freelance self, you make the hours count by earning income even passively.
You are in total control of your time and you can decide when to take a break.
1. Start blogging
Blogging is fun and highly productive and rewarding. It’s a means many have used and still use to earn extra income online as students.
To start a blogging business, look for a niche that interests you and also has high prospects. If you’re passionate about writing, this can be your dream job even after school. Blogging is about publishing quality and relevant information online to help people find solutions to their problems.
With content management systems like WordPress, you can set up a blog in less than an hour, get a domain and hosting for as low as $50/year and just set up a WordPress site and start writing and publishing posts.
Write quality articles that will attract shares and earn you backlinks. Good content and authority sites in your niche linking to your blog/website will earn you the top spot on Google’s first page.
Once you start getting traffic, apply for AdSense to start making money on your blog.
2. Become an affiliate or start e-commerce business
The affiliate marketing business is booming. After creating a blog, you can superimpose affiliate programs on it as a double way to earn extra income online as a student.
As an affiliate marketer, you help companies like AliExpress, Amazon, and the rest of e-commerce business websites by sending good and highly targeted traffic to their stores. It can be a website leveraging WooCommerce stores. By sending this traffic you get paid commission on any sale they’ve generated through the links on your blog or website that the visitors follow to buy from them.
A great example of this is tech – if you’re a bit of a geek and are strongly opinionated, start a blog writing reviews for new tech with an affiliate link to each product. If you get good traction, you can eventually get the products for yourself for free from brands in return for a review. You can then sell these products or gift them through a marketing campaign.
3. Work as a freelancer
Nothing could have made me survive the pandemic if I didn’t develop a skill that can earn me cash online.
During the pandemic locked down, I deliver on so many freelance projects ranging from SEO to content writing, graphic designing, and web designing.
If you’re a student studying in college or university, and you’re skilled in any online discipline like design, search engine optimization, content writing and copywriting, A/B testing, software development, etc, all you have to do is set up a profile on Fiverr, Freelancer.com UpWork or PeoplePerHour and start bidding on jobs!
These platforms allow you to create a profile immediately and verify it. You are completely in control of your time and it won’t affect your academics in school. Your work will be review-based, and so when you take on a project, you’d need to deliver on time and gain your first 20 customers to get great reviews.
Offering freelance services such as search engine optimization, content writing, WordPress designing (blogs and WooCommerce website), or even as a WordPress plugin developer can make you financially stable while still on campus.
4. Host and deliver webinars
Delivering webinars is part of tutoring, and if you’re terrific at one particular subject or the other, you can organize webinars to tutor people on your school campus or from other universities.
You can make participants pay a certain amount to join the webinar or charge people to download the recording afterward.
5. Write CVs and resumés
If you’re good at writing in a punchy tone, the business of writing is a perfect idea for you to start earning cash online with no stress.
You can start this by helping your peers in school with CVs and resumés. And then build on it and take it online as a side gig. There are many platforms where you can connect with job seekers and help them make their CV or resume look more professional.
6. Teach, mentor, or tutor
Help high school students with summer studies or younger college students prep for classes that you aced last semester.
7. Sell your handmade goods online
This business idea is about creativity and then taking your handmade materials online.
For instance, if you are good at shoemaking, you could start by making a few of them and start by displaying them online; on social media, and on the online stores, marketplace.
8. Start a service-based business
What services can you offer in your city or town? Launch a basic website to advertise services for childcare, pet-sitting, delivery, personal shopping, maintenance, landscaping—there are endless possibilities.
9. Try dropshipping
Dropshipping lets you sell goods to customers without ever having to buy products upfront or manage inventory. This is a great idea for those with skills in design and marketing. The products are less important than how you curate, market, and position them.
10. Monetize content or a personal brand.
If you’re already a minor superstar on a social media platform like TikTok or Instagram, consider leveraging your growing audience to make money. Do sponsored content or set up an online store that sells merch to your fans.
Sell print-on-demand goods. This is another great option for starting a business on a low budget. If you have creative skills, you can sell your art or graphic design printed on anything from t-shirts to camp mugs.
11. Offer PR services
Another idea for the writers out there. Press releases are the business equivalent of a CV. There are opportunities left, right, and center to help local businesses with PR. You can team up with your university’s blog too and start offering your help as a service. If you want to do this at scale, check out the freelancing suggestion in the Everything Else section of this guide.
12. Proofread essays
The prank of choice at my school was to cmd-f-replace words like “a” with a swear word on someone’s homework, just before they turned in their assignment! Start proofreading your friends’ assignments for a modest fee, such as a pound ($1) per 1000 words. You need to scale to make money, but you’ll get faster and faster with practice.
13. Get paid to fill out surveys
Paid surveys are a lazy student’s dream. You can flick through the questions while sitting on the bus, watching TV or even while dozing off in the back of lectures.
Businesses use surveys as market research, to figure out the demographics of their target customers and find out what they look for in a product or service. There are hundreds online which will pay you for your opinion, and take only a matter of minutes to complete.
14. Start a Youtube channel
A fun money-maker is starting a YouTube channel! You can do this on your own or with your mates – all you need is a camera and an idea. It can be anything from a pranks channel to a makeup channel or even just a day-in-the-life of a student.
Becoming a hit on YouTube takes some hard graft, but an innovative idea can take off overnight. The biggest challenge is producing regular content – try and think of something sustainable. Funny videos tend to go viral, which is a good place to start in your bid to achieving YouTube fame.
YouTube can earn you big money if you get enough views. Per 1000 views you’ll roughly get £5-7 in ad revenue. The benefit of uploading a video to YouTube is that it’ll rack up views over time without you doing anything, making it a nice passive earner. If you’re lucky enough to reach YouTube stardom, you can get paid partnerships with brands if you promote their product in one of your videos.
15. Test websites and apps
Much like testing and reviewing products, apps and websites require the same kind of testing, called usability testing. You’ll have to use a website or app and give feedback on how easy it was to use and how well everything functioned. You’ll need a laptop and a microphone, and you’re good to go.
Companies list testing opportunities on sites like UserTesting, TryMyUI, and Web Usability. Sign up and create a profile and complete some short online training. You’ll then be able to choose from a list of websites and apps and start earning.
UserTesting is the biggest site for website testing and can earn you up to £10 for just 20 minutes of testing. Other sites offer anywhere between £1 and £36 per test – not bad for a side hustle!
16. Find Fiverr gigs
You can make a profit out of almost any skill. Posting an ad on Fiverr is a quick way to start earning money. You can offer photography skills, essay writing help, a typing service – the list goes on. Fiverr attracts a lot of visitors to its site so you’ll quickly find interested customers.
To get going, create a profile on Fiverr and write a listing for the “gig” you’re offering. Interested customers will contact you through the site where you can negotiate a fee and timescale. Gigs start from £3, but you can earn upwards of £100 per project depending on the service and the competition.
If you can, include a portfolio. This can be a collection of samples of your work or previous jobs you’ve done for other clients to give prospective customers a taste of what you can offer.