The majority of opportunities listed here either require no special skills, or skills that can be easily learned, thanks to tutorial videos and how-to articles online. A few opportunities do require specialized skills, but the majority are also low-commitment, with small blocks of work, or work that can be spread out, to suit the study schedules of the typical college student.
NOTE: Remember to do due diligence and research any opportunities listed here before you sign up or pay any expenses/ fees. AffordableSchools is not responsible for any losses that you might incur pursuing these opportunities, and has no connection to any of the Web sites linked here.
- Become a virtual assistant. Are you organized? Someone out there likely needs your help with a range of tasks, many of which can be completed online or over the phone.
- Web development for smaller projects. If you have little to no experience, you can learn many aspects of building Web pages at FreeCodeCamp for free.
- Design work — logos, banners, badges — If you have a discounted student copy of Photoshop and Illustrator, or even free alternatives, and have design skills whether you are studying design or not, there are always smaller clients looking for such affordable services. List your services on sites like Fiverr and Freelancer
- Online coaching — Use Skype, Google Hangouts, Slack or a host of other online platforms to communicate with personal or business coaching clients.
- Mechanical Turk is a platform for crowdsourcing of small and/or repetitive tasks. While any given mturk opportunity may not pay a lot (a few cents), it all adds up, with some people making hundreds per month or even per week on mechanical turk using scripts.
- Web site and mobile app user testing, such as through sites like UserTesting.
- Software bug finding — Many established companies such as Facebook, Google and Microsoft have bug bounty programs, but so do less-established startups. Some programs pay a few dollars per bug found, while others pay in the multiple thousands and sometimes hundred thousands of dollars. Find bounty opportunities through sites like BugCrowd, Vulnerability Lab, Testbirds, for mobile, Web, desktop software
- Web site penetration testing (“pen testing”) opportunities, such as through HackerOne.com
- Resume writing — Know students who are about to graduate or are in a Co-op work/study program? If you have a knack for writing resumes targeted to specific industries, your skills may be in demand. And with dozens of job search sites, there’s no shortage of places to upload a finished resume. You can promote your services on LinkedIn while simultaneously profiling each student client — especially if you have built a large LinkedIn network. This approach might lead to opportunities for job referrals. If you have older friends or relatives seeking a career, know that in certain in-demand fields, companies pay as much as $3-5,000 (sometimes more) for referrals to fill jobs. If the person you recommend lands the job in question and stays past the minimum required duration, you get paid. This could even lead to a career in recruiting — possibly in the field that you are studying in college.
- Genealogy research — Use sites like Upwork, Freelancer or even social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, etc., to promote your services. This sort of work improves your research skills. While proper genealogical training is an advantage, it is not absolutely necessary, if you are willing to learn. Offer not just a client’s family information that you find but also beautiful family tree charts. (The best such software out there is paid, but can be a tax write-off.) See Anthony Adolph‘s site for a discussion on genealogy as a career.
- Translation — If you’ve been blessed with a strong understanding of more than one language, you might find Web site or other content clients needing your services. Courts in larger cities often require court interpreters/ translators for certain languages, depending on which region you live in. Advertise your services in local online listing sites such as CraigsList. You could practice with Google Translate, but learning a language is highly preferred by most clients. Learn with apps such as Duolingo and Memrise. A related service would be audio to text transcription in another language.
- Teach a language — If you have the skills for translation, you may be interested in teaching. The Internet makes it much easier to teach practically any language to someone somewhere in the world. Choose from a range of Internet-based communication tools, including audio or video Skype chat; online course platforms (Udemy, Skillshare), Google Hangouts, etc., or even just YouTube. The site VIPKid is specifically aimed at teaching English to young Chinese students (4-12 years of age), and can earn you a fair bit more than minimum wage, on your own schedule.
- Be an on-campus representative (aka brand ambassador) for well-known companies, earn money, meet people.
- Physical assistant — Combine delivery with running errands for clients, with platforms such as TaskRabbit, or Rinse for picking up laundry/ dry-cleaning.
- Freelance Writing/ Copywriting/ Ghostwriting – Have strong writing skills? Team up with other student writers to ensure happy clients without jeopardizing your college studies. Writing can be very lucrative full-time, so this side gig may turn into full-time opportunity after college. A side benefit of regular writing is that your communication skills improve immensely. Also search online and you’ll find articles that list sites that pay for guest posts.
- Be a personal chef — If you have time and a place where you can cook up boxed meals for a few other students, this can be a practical way to eat healthy at a lower cost, make some money and help other students eat healthy affordably. Create and tend a small indoor herb garden on a shelf, and use fresh cuttings to add a depth to your meal creations. Some services recently launched in stealth mode have bee advertising in limited locations in the U.S. (search online), but you can pick up some tips from Escoffier, Food & Wine, Sweet Potato Soul, APPCA and USPCA.
- Dog walking — If you have convenient access to neighborhoods near college, and you are good with dogs, dog walking not only allows you to offer a service and earn some money, but also keeps you physically fit — something that’s often a concern of college students. Start with dog walking apps and platforms such as Wag and Rover.
- Supplement your dog walking income with pet sitting services, such as through Dogvacay, which can be combined with housesitting.
- Babysitting. If you have a way with children, especially if you are taking relevant studies, babysitting may be viable option in college. If you already have experience and are in a college near home, you have a client list. If you’re taking child studies, family studies or psychology, you have relevant skills. Also take advantage of platforms such as Care, where you can promote your baby sitting, child care, senior care, housekeeping, pet care and other in-home services. In fact, you could extend your services to include house sitting, in which your babysitting and dog sitting clients may be occasionally interested.
- Cleaning house/ offices. While it’s not as glamorous as other means, you might find a demand for cleaning services, possibly amongst not just classmates/ housemates but even your college professors. Advertise your services through flyers or in local listings for CraigsList and similar Web sites.
- House painting is a tried and true college student business, you can learn for free at stores like Home Depot and on YouTube channels such as how to paint a house, and get experience volunteering (such as for Habitat for Humanity, an organization that builds affordable housing.
- Have a team of students, transportation and tools? Supplement the house painting work with handyman work and even junk transporting or local moving services. You could find part-time work for an existing moving company. Or if you prefer to work for yourself, renting a moving van is often affordable enough that you do not necessarily need to own a vehicle. Promote your services on Facebook or even Instagram, and attract attention by writing and posting checklists and articles offering tips on minimum-stress moving. Learn Instagram influencer marketing to use Instagram to your advantage.
- If you’ve learned Instagram influencer marketing skills, as previously mentioned, you can use the skills to start all kinds of businesses in college, including landscaping services. This is another typically successful student business category, and might include services such as gardening, leaf raking, pool cleaning, snow shoveling and more. Listing sites such as Craigslist are ideal and are often free or affordable.
- Beautician services — Offer affordable beauty services as a nail technician, etc., to college classmates. If you use Amazon/ Amazon Prime for supplies and speedy delivery for your services, you can likely write off some of the cost of a Prime subscription. There’s even a 30-day free Prime trial.
- Massage therapy, yoga or meditation instruction, reiki healing. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of videos on YouTube to get you started in understanding what is involved.
- Do athletic instruction/ coaching, for workouts for students and non-students. Supplement your income with an online fitness wear shop like Gymshark, which was started by a group of high school friends in 2012 as a garage-based screen-printing operation.
- Interior Design — It’s one of the more unusual freelance ways to get paid — at least if you’re a college student — but if you have style, apply it to small spaces for college classmates, at an affordable rate.
- Make money sharing music playlists using the review platform PlaylistPush (PP) to highlight new indie artists/ songs to your Spotify followers. PP pays music Curators up to $12 per song reviewed (by PayPal only), depending on your social media reputation.
- T-shirts for some people are a means to voice their opinion. For others, it’s just simple wear that they can throw on before running to class. If you like t-shirts, consider starting an online t-shirt business using Shopify and their dropshipping partners. So you don’t have to keep a supply, nor package and ship shirts, as t-shirt dropshippers will do it for you, for a small fee.
- Be a tour guide. Do you know your college town well, its attractions and places of interest? Is there a tourism industry? Tours by Locals is a Web and mobile platform that connects local guides and tourists for private tours. The platform is already in use in over 150 countries. A similar platform is Vayable, where “local insiders” post their “unique” tour experience offers to choose from.
Digital or Physical Products
- Ebook sales for Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook publishing, etc. — Leverage your special skills or knowledge of a topic to write multiple short ebooks over a period of time (possible in-between semesters) and sell them.
- Fiction sales — Amanda Hocking made at least a million dollars by 26 with her self-published vampire novel series, available in ebook format on Amazon for Kindle, and promoted via her blog, Facebook and Twitter.
- Online courses – There are multiple platforms (Skillshare, Udemy, etc.) which allow you to sell your digital courses.
- Stock photography — Most stock photo sites such as Shutterstock.com have high quality standards, but if you have what it takes and build a portfolio, this is an effort that may pay you back over and over. Alternately, utilize Etsy to sell posters or framed pieces of your best visual work. Or use Flickr, Unsplash or 500px as an online portfolio of free work to promote your visual skills as a means towards paid work.
- Use SmugMug to sell your photography as prints, hangings, keepsakes (mugs, cell phone case prints), etc.
- General photography — Yet another photo revenue option is low-level aerial photography for clients, using a reasonable quality drone and a high-resolution miniature camera. While this is a bit of an investment, especially if you have no clients, potential clients might include couples getting married, architecture companies, movie production companies and more. Note that in some parts of the U.S., a license may be required for this type of work. As well, you need to register your drone with the FAA.
- Ebay — It might amaze you what you can sell on eBay. Sell your old books, music, instruments, electronics, etc., or help college friends sell their stuff by writing strong item profiles, then take a cut of sales.
- Etsy — Are you crafty? Etsy is a popular place for handmade item sales.
- Refurbish antique furniture — If you have a vehicle and access to tools and work area, and the knowledge of woodworking, you might find pieces with potential for new life at flea markets or estate sales, refurbish them and sell them. Use sites such as Craigslist, or apps such as Letgo.
Other Side Gigs
- Ridesharing – Uber and Lyft requires having a recent model year car that passes an inspection test.
- Delivery – Amazon Flex, DoorDash and dozens of others, with an emphasis on grocery and restaurant delivery; no auto test required.
- Tutor other students based on your specific knowledge and skills, be it language, mathematics, computers, etc. List your services on campus, on Craigslist, or explore online tutoring options through sites like Tutor.com.
- Web hosting – resell Web hosting plans or be an affiliate marketer for Web hosting companies. Blog or use videos to explain the benefits of one hosting plan over and other. Sites like GoDaddy.com and Site5.com are amongst many that have reseller or affiliate marketing programs.
- Topical Blogging – Use free blogging software from WordPress (not WordPress.com) to set up a blog (or check with your Internet hosting provider for simple installation setup). Read sites like Backlinko.com, NeilPatel.com, and many others to learn how to build Web traffic and ways to earn money.
- Podcasting/ Vodcasting — Earn revenue through consulting, content sales, courses, affiliate marketing, etc. Get the minimum hardware you need and use free audio editing software such as the multi-platform Audacity.
- Affiliate marketing — extend your blog or YouTube influence to highlight products or services that you feel are up to your standards.
- Run a YouTube channel with in-video ads, affiliate marketing links in the video description, links to an Amazon, eBay or other sales page, etc. Topics might be college-related, program-specific, or totally unrelated.
- Game-playing streamcasting is reputedly earning some gamers millions of dollars per month, through the use of video-hosting sites and social media. One platform is Caffeine.tv, which also covers entertainment and creative arts niches. Another option is TwitchTV, which allows gamers accept viewer donations, earn partial subscription revenue if they achieve Affiliate or Partner status, and several other means. Tips on monetizing Twitch: How to Make Money on Twitch, 7 Ways to Make Money Streaming Video Games on Twitch, Get Rich on Twitch.
- Instagram — If you prefer creating still images over video, Instagram is an option through revenue platforms such as Pixlee and many other influencer marketing platforms, as well as affiliate marketing and other means. Lifestyle photoblogging is just one way to attract the viewers you will need, but any type of photography that has a strong following on Instagram is fair game.
- Online surveys — There a lot of survey sites, and some are legit, paying either cash, gift cards, points or a chance for quality prizes, while others may be scammy. Sites to start with include Swagbucks, SurveyJunkie, MyPoints Surveys, InboxDollars. Tips on making money on Instagram can be found on Oberlo, Shopify, Neil Patel, Influencer Marketing Hub. In Neil Patel’s article, he talks about two teen girls (12 and 13 years old) making money every month. If you sign up, be careful about sharing your personal information, and be aware that while it’s relatively easy to earn on survey sites, the compensation is not very high. Alternatives to online surveys are focus group studies. People of certain ages and demographics could be in demand for product or service studies, or for TV and movie feedback. While this may not be a lucrative side gig, if you are in an in-demand demographic group, this might be a way to earn a bit of cash, earn some prizes, watch a free movie, etc.
Extreme/ Physical Requirements, Miscellaneous
- Sell your blood. Read up on some plasma-selling tips from Well-Kept Wallet. Good health and lack of illness are typical requirements. Not being afraid of needles helps. Or sell your health sperm or eggs, for research or to help couples where one or both are infertile
- Participate in sleep studies or psychological studies. This could be perfect for the between semesters, and might pay than a part-time job during the same period. Other are options are drug test or other medical studies — which can be worth thousands of dollars, but may require several weeks or months of commitment.
- Buy a house and rent it out. Sounds impossible for a college student? It’s difficult and not for everyone, but students have used financial aid received to make down payments on real estate, then rented out the bedrooms to other students — with enough to cover the mortgage or even have a small profit, plus equity. You probably don’t need it, but there’s also Airbnb if you prefer more casual renting or non-students
- Been blessed with poise and confidence? In cities and larger towns, you might find modeling or acting gigs — possibly for TV ads — or casual work as an extra. Demand may change with season in some geographic regions. If you have some experience in entertainment, consider joining a community such as Casting Directors for Actors (Facebook) or the like.
- Make money online — This has been partly covered several times in this list, but if you want to explore options even further, and can afford the time commitment, there are many in-depth resource lists that lean towards online marketing.