Earn Extra Money: 40 Proven Methods For Students
To earn extra money is one of the biggest objectives of a college student. While it may seem like an insurmountable task in the face of a full-time class schedule and one’s attempt to have some semblance of a social life, it is not as hard as you might think.
In fact, you may find that you are only limited by your options. To give you an idea of what is possible, we have put together 40 proven methods to earn extra money for students. Let’s get started.
Tips to Earn Extra Money No. 1: Wait on tables.
This has been the go-to vehicle to earn extra money for years. Most restaurants seek men and women in the college age range (traditional, that is), because, like it or not, people place a great deal of importance on looks when it comes to their waitstaff.
College-aged people also have a tendency to bring youthful energy to the job that keeps individuals and families alike coming back for more.
No. 2: Freelance writing.
It used to be rather difficult to get a job as a freelance writer. While the difficulty level has faded, it can still be a challenge finding something that pays enough to make a career of it.
But in college, you do not need a career. In fact, you can find jobs all over the Internet that will pay you better than minimum wage to write fairly inconsequential material. If you know the ins and outs of writing for the web, you can often make 1.5-2 times minimum wage.
It being a freelance job, however, make sure that you are withholding the proper amount in taxes, or you could find yourself with a nasty surprise come April.
No. 3: Graphic design.
This is a bit of an extension of the freelance writing thing. If you are going to earn extra money of any significance, then you will need to keep tabs on taxes. You will also need to know where to look for clients.
Start with the Yellow Pages and businesses familiar to you in your area. Focus on niches like real estate, healthcare (clinics, not hospitals), and other small businesses. Approach them and volunteer to build or redesign a logo or website.
See how receptive they are. Most businesses want to help college students, so even if they don’t have a need for your services on their company, they may have another venture or a colleague they won’t mind referring you to.
No. 4: Dividend stocks.
Dividend stocks pay a certain amount on each share of stock that you own just because. The amount is usually not much per share (talking in the cents or low dollar amounts), but if you own enough of said stock over time, it can be a nice little boost to your income every quarter.
No. 5: Work-study programs.
There are many work-study options on campus that may or may not be specific to the niche/major that you’re in, so make sure you stop by the dean’s office and talk with someone knowledgeable of such opportunities before assuming they are not available.
While the landscape may be competitive, it can be a great way to earn extra money doing something you actually enjoy.
No. 6: Cashier.
Being a cashier takes a certain degree of currency-handling, technology expertise, and trust that high schoolers often haven’t “earned” yet, at least not beyond the mom-and-pop level where the available jobs actually are.
Don’t be ashamed to pursue a job as a cashier. It is noble and skilled labor, and it can give you a leg up when interacting with the public that could prove useful during your future endeavors.
No. 7: Teaching.
Teaching does not have to be reserved for four-year degrees and education certificates. You may have some special something that you know how to do that others would not mind paying for. Search your interests and skill sets. Brainstorm what interests you or the things at which you really excel.
Once you have taken inventory, build a marketing plan around it and try to attract your fellow students or the people they know.
No. 8: Tutoring.
Everybody needs help with something in their college lives, and while you may not be good at English, you may excel at math or vice versa. Find something you’re really good at; pinpoint some people in your class who are not good at it; design a pitch geared directly toward them; and finally, start marketing your solution around campus and on social media.
No. 9: Uber.
Uber may be a little questionable in its business practices and the nature of the work it does. It also may be facing trouble from states and municipalities concerned about the traditional cab industry. All that aside, it’s still a simple way to make money while having an excuse to enjoy the night life every weekend.
No. 10: Pizza delivery driver.
These jobs sometimes go to high school students, but most establishments are only too happy to hire higher in age, and college students make the natural first choice in the progression. Many pizza delivery places also allow you to keep all or the majority of your tips. And, not that we’re telling you to, but cash is hard to track from a tax-man standpoint.
No. 11: Donating blood or plasma.
Blood and plasma banks have long been favorite spots for quick cash for college students, but before you jump into this one, you need to be aware of the fine print.
For starters, you are usually paid based on how much they’re able to draw and use (particularly relevant to plasma donations). While the amounts can vary, it generally runs between $20-$50 per donation.
Businesses that handle this may allow up to two draws per seven days, so don’t plan to quit school. It can be a good supplemental income, though, provided you have no ethical issues with getting paid to save lives.
No. 12: Medical experiments.
The Penny Hoarder seems to have the market covered on this topic, so rather than try to explain it all, we’ll let you start by clicking here. You can definitely earn some coinage doing this. In fact, director Robert Rodriguez (Desperado, Planet Terror, Machete) was able to earn money to help finance his first film by subjecting himself to tests.
Do be careful, though. Medical experiments, while operated in a controlled environment, are usually done as a means of figuring stuff out. When you go into something so speculative with your body as the test subject, something can go wrong. It’s not without risks, which is why it can pay pretty well.
No. 13: Buy and sell used textbooks.
This may not seem lucrative enough to do on the surface, but that’s only because you aren’t thinking big enough.
Rather than limiting yourself to your own books, consider buying back editions from friends and selling them online at a markup.
The alternative is allowing the crooks who sold you the book at a premium to get the books back for pennies on the dollar only to do the same exact thing next semester. Keep a little of that coin for yourself instead.
No. 14: Odd-job it.
Everyone has something they either can’t do or don’t have the time to do. If you have the right skill set, then you could start a side business “odd-jobbing” it.
Before going out on your own, research the market. Check online, but also ask around at churches, civic organizations, and other locales.
After you do that, determine what your time is worth and negotiate with that number in mind, always remembering to be flexible.
No. 15: Janitorial.
The great thing about janitorial work is that it is among the easiest to find. That’s because it can be (admittedly) nasty. Even so, if you are willing to do what others are not willing to do, you will never go without a paycheck.
Additionally, companies are eager to fill these jobs with people who have yet to fill out their skill sets. If you are working on your marketability but are not quite there yet, this can be a terrific way of gaining some real-world experience.
No. 16: Write reviews.
The reviews market always has the chance of getting a little dicey. There are businesses and entrepreneurs out there willing to pay for positive reviews, and while that may be attractive, it also is unethical, and if a site like Amazon finds out you are participating in such shenanigans, they could end up banning you for life.
That said, there is still a way to write reviews on the up-and-up and make money doing it. You can reach out to websites that specialize in such things, or you can start your own. When PR firms start reaching out to you offering free product in exchange for an honest review, you can convert those reviews to cash by selling the product after you are done with it.
Some companies will want you to return the product after you are done with it, but you can work around that by a) getting good traffic driven to your site, b) being upfront that you do not return products sent for review, and c) always sticking by your word and being ethical.
No. 17: Market trades.
“The market” can mean any number of things from stocks to mutual funds to crypto currencies to Forex. Be extremely careful before you start trading markets because many of the “products” can be extremely volatile, and you can end up losing a lot of money depending on how and what you are buying.
For instance, don’t even think about using your credit card to buy on margin. That’s a good way to lose everything and get hit with astronomical rates on the total amount lost.
Only pick secure investments with a proven track record, and never invest more than you’re comfortable losing.
No. 18: Start a website.
It is easy to start a website, and social media has made it even easier to get that website seen. Eyeballs mean traffic, and traffic means marketability.
Pick something you have a legitimate interest in, and then start creating and curating content that makes that website interesting to people like you.
Consider giving it a local slant, too, and making much of the fact that you are a college student looking for support. Local businesses are always eager to help a student build something, and you can harness that eagerness into dollars if you pick the right angle.
No. 19: Become an author.
Yes, it is easier than ever before to be published, but it is still no picnic getting paid. Your best chance is to write something that teaches someone how to do something that you are particularly good at.
People are most willing to take a chance on a new, unproven author if that author is adding value by making a difficult concept or skill accessible.
No. 20: Affiliate marketing.
Affiliate marketing has been around for a long time, and while there are still plenty of ne’er-do-wells out there, it can be an extremely profitable space.
Big rule of thumb when trying your hand at affiliate marketing to earn extra money: only promote something you legitimately believe in and can be excited about. Doing so will help you get through the lean times until you find your audience.
This is an especially good option to combine with starting a website, as, once the system is in place, it has passive earning potential. Be genuine, though. People can see through veiled sales pitches pretty well, and if they think that is what you are giving them, they will forget you pretty quickly.
No. 21: Gig yourself.
Sites like Fiverr and Upwork may not pay much (on the surface), but they can do two things: 1) give you access to people willing to pay you to do accessible work, and 2) form a relationship that you can escalate into more work and higher wages once you prove that you are dependable.
Not everyone will be crazy about spending the extra dollars for subsequent gigs, but established professionals (i.e., the kind of clients you actually want to work with) get how it all works and will only be too happy to pay you more money for a dependable, long-lasting working relationship.
No. 22: Mystery shopping.
Not that lucrative unless you take a lot of jobs — $10-$25 per shop is probably as good as it gets — but it can be a convenient way to pick up dollars while having fun shopping at places you would be going to anyway.
There are a number of sites out there that allow you to mystery-shop for money and other perks. You can see an extensive listing of them here.
No. 23: Sell photos.
It is easier than ever before to earn extra money taking photos. For starters, your phone is probably good enough to take a photo websites and other publications would pay to use, and it only takes a second or two to whip it out and shoot.
If you want to get serious about it, you’ll need to put in a little more work. For example, you will need to start an account with a big property like Pixabay, ShutterStock, or Flickr. From there, you will need to decide whether to sell all your photos on the site or some of the photos while offering others for free as a way to attract publishers to your full portfolio at an external website.
No. 24: Babysitting.
Parents are always on the lookout for a reliable, trustworthy person to help take care of their kids. The barrier to entry here can be challenging since we’re talking about people’s children, but if you hit it off with the right family, you can definitely expect to earn some cash.
The only drawback to this: parents are people, too, and they like to have fun, often on the nights when you might want to be having fun. That means you could be faced with a tradeoff of social life for money. Consider whether that’s worth it before deciding to go all-in on a babysitting side hustle.
No. 25: Dog walking/sitting.
Dog walking and dog sitting is a better way than babysitting to earn extra money because it usually won’t claim all of the time you have set aside for a social life. People leave their dogs at home during the day when they’re at work or when they’re going away on long trips.
Either way, you have a tremendous amount of freedom provided you do the basics — let the pooch out to run and play and potty and give them a little social interaction time while their owners are away.
While it still takes work to do it, it doesn’t take over your life, and it’s a pretty non-intrusive way to earn money.
No. 26: Peer-to-peer lending.
Lots of would-be entrepreneurs are out there looking for ways to fund their ideas. Peer-to-peer lending — where you offer to provide a “loan” in return for repayment with interest — has expanded to include reputable websites that help protect you from default.
There are risks, of course, but if you play your hand right, you could earn some truly passive extra income.
No. 27: Launch a YouTube channel.
YouTube is a great platform for getting exposure, but do be careful. The site — owned by Google — has amassed a reputation for censorship over the last couple of years, and at any point, they can demonetize your videos if they don’t like something you’ve said.
When you put all your eggs in the YouTube basket, you’re basically allowing them to close you down on a whim.
No. 28: Upcycle.
Buy things from family, friends, thrift stores, online sellers, etc. Then, repackage them and try to sell for a profit online (or other places).
The process is called “upcycling,” and it works, but you do have to have an eye for it, and you have to do your research and due diligence or you could just end up with a dorm room full of crap that no one wants to buy.
No. 29: Emergency key holding.
Creative idea, but probably won’t be too lucrative unless you’re in a more densely populated area. Be a person who is willing to hold an “emergency key” for a business and be on call whenever/should ever they need you.
A large corporation may not hire you, but you could end up finding a lucrative niche with small business owners.
No. 30: Start a magazine.
This is a bit more challenging because you need to sell ads and create relevant content, but usually if businesses in your community see that you are a student trying to do something cool for the university and your community, they will be eager to throw a few dollars your way.
Just make sure that you know the overhead requirements going in, particularly if it is a print magazine (the kind most likely to garner support).
Also, try not to outsource too much for money. Learn design programs and other aspects of the magazine if you can, but when it comes to “hiring,” keep your staff to a bare minimum and consider service trades in lieu of cash. For instance, say you’re a good writer. Well, offer to write free content for a friend who is good at design.
You both can end up with a valuable “product” by being willing to barter in lieu of physical payment.
No. 31: Airbnb.
Your college may have rules against this one, but rules aren’t always enforceable. That said, proceed with caution if there are restrictions at the place where you live. If not, rent away. Just remember that Airbnb may be subject to taxation, so keep that in mind as you set prices.
Also, remember that Airbnb is a contract between you and another party, and those always come with their share of responsibilities that you will need to be prepared for.
Read everything carefully and act in good faith, and you should be fine.
No. 32: Delivery services.
Transportation can work to your advantage if you’ve got a dependable vehicle and the right schedule. Businesses are always looking for couriers to speed up time of delivery. Just look at major companies such as Amazon, who have gotten in on this space.
Keep in mind, though, that the bigger the company you work for, the more quality expectations they will have in place. Also, you will need to account for the fact that gas costs money, so make sure your rates are enough to compensate for any and all overhead.
No. 33: Stand in line for people.
Think of this one more as an odd-job that are built around major events. For example, you can’t hardly have a Star Wars movie come out without a bunch of people camping out for tickets. Black Friday is another example where people are only too willing to wait in insane lines.
A subset, however, has only the end result in mind, and they will pay you some extra bucks to help them achieve it. Keep in mind that this may be quite unpleasant depending on whatever it is that you’re waiting in line for. Factor that in as you decide on price. As in other items on this list, ask yourself the question: “How much is my time worth?”
No. 34: Transfer hard copies to digital.
There are still many CD, DVD, and, yes, even VHS and vinyl collections out there that have not made the leap to the digital world. If you have the time and the equipment and the know-how, you can start offering your services to people in need of some kind of transfer.
This is an especially lucrative business when you have clients with old photographs and home movies that they wish to preserve. Be careful, though. In such cases, you’re dealing with incredibly precious materials. Use extreme care so you’re not held liable for any damages.
No. 35: Grocery shop for the elderly.
Elderly people may or may not be on a fixed income, but either way, you can find a money-making opportunity.
Link up with churches and civic organizations that are willing to pay for this service for the people they are helping. Also, consider pitching your grocery shop idea to retirement community administrators. Make sure that your pricing is attractive enough for them to take a chance on it.
If you get the opportunity, deliver on your promises and make customer service priority one. Doing so could get you a nice stream of recurring income for the rest of your college career.
No. 36: Become a seller for out-of-circulation items.
This is a bit of an extension of the upcycling idea, but it deserves its own because it can be more niche (and more lucrative) if you are repackaging public domain products or hunting down classic toys of properties that are currently out-of-circulation but have a strong following behind them.
If you find something rare enough, you can charge top dollar. Take, for example, the recent Grady Hendrix book Paperbacks from Hell, which details the 1970s and ’80s horror fiction craze.
Hendrix’s bestseller has driven a renewed interest in long out-of-print books. If you visit Amazon, you will find some of these old used books selling for as much as $1,000. That doesn’t mean the book will end up selling for that price, but why not give it a shot?
No. 37: Transcription.
Sites like Rev have commoditized the transcription business, and while you could sign up with them and start earning money, we always recommend being an independent contractor.
Doing so, you can keep more of the money for yourself while building more direct relationships with clients for ongoing work.
There are some people who earn full-time incomes just committing recordings to text.
No. 38: Start a campus newsletter.
Businesses love data, and they are particularly drawn to data on college students and young adults because this demographic has more access to disposable income. If you start a campus newsletter, you’re going to have access to some valuable information that you can then share with other businesses (for a price).
Just make sure that your list knows ahead of time of the arrangements, and that they have the option of opting out. Furthermore, make sure that you honor that opt-out option if they request it. Otherwise, you could find yourself in a lot of trouble.
No. 39: Proofreading.
Programs like Grammarly and AutoCrit have made it easier than ever to proofread long documents, but they still don’t fully automate the process, and they aren’t capable of getting everything correct.
If you are particularly skilled at English, you can charge a premium to students and businesses who need that extra set of eyes to make sure the full intent of their written collateral is being met.
Be very specific how you deliver finished materials, and make that known upfront so there are no nasty surprises after you put in the time.
And the No. 40 Way to Earn Extra Money as a Student: Laundry.
Laundry is a big deal for college students. Many make unwanted trips home just so they can get their laundry done by dear ol’ Mom or Dad. Be the change agent in this inefficient process by offering a laundry service wherein you take loads to the laundromat for your fellow classmates, fold, sort, and return.
Of course, you won’t want to do this if you aren’t into laundry, but it can be extremely lucrative if it’s your thing.
Now that you’ve read our ideas for how you can earn extra money, which ideas did you find the most appealing? Are there any that we did not mention here that deserve a nod? Share your experiences in the comments section below.
[Featured Image by Flickr Creative Commons]