Earning and Saving for My Child's College Education

How to Develop a Side Hustle and Earn Extra Money

“Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle” – Abraham Lincoln

There is extreme value in hard work.

How many times have you wished that you had more money? In college, and after graduation, we all enter a time in our lives when we begin to see the value and need for money. Not a love or obsession with money, but an understanding that money is an essential ingredient of our financial stability and success.

The cliche while in college is that it is alright to live on ramen noodles, and to re-use toilet paper. I don’t want to contradict that (well maybe the toilet paper part), because I think that developing a frugal mindset when you are young is imperative to transitioning into a frugal mindset once you are older and have actual cash on hand.

A frugal mindset is important, but finding ways to increase your income while in college, and after graduation, will be just as key to your success.

Develop Your Side Hustle

What do I mean by a side hustle? I mean a side gig or a side business. Any activity that you pursue that ends up with your making money. In the quote above, we see one of the most famous leaders of this country praising the value of hustling.

I like to use the word “hustle” as opposed to a side gig or business, because I know that while in college and after graduation there are many things that try to steal away your focus. If you are going to truly make any side venture work, you have to work hard at it.

You might be the one turning down a party invitation because you have to make your latest product shipment, or finish writing an article with a strict deadline. The intent is not meant to take your fun away, but to give you an awesome opportunity for financial success and stability.

So, what does it take to make a side hustle effective while in college, and in your early 20′s?

  • Low Start-Up Costs. You won’t have a lot of seed capital money. You likely won’t be raising any fundraising, and not starting a company (although that is an admirable goal and worth pursuing). The goal here is to keep your overhead low, and your profit margins as high as possible.
  • Low Barriers of Entry. You don’t want to start a side hustle that is incredibly complicated, and will take a long time to get off the ground. You need a side hustle that is inexpensive to start, does not require a lot of marketing, is not government regulated, and does not rely on complex legal documents. Think simple.
  • Laser Focus. You are young. If you are selling a product, it should appeal to you and/or your friends. If you are on a college campus, you have access to a captive audience of people in your exact same stage of life. This is a marketer’s dream. Take advantage!
  • Hard Work. You will likely have to burn the midnight oil to make this work. College is demanding, and you don’t want to shut yourself in your dorm room and avoid your friends. You need to find the right balance, but the more you hustle at your business, the more rewards you will see.

Alright, you have made the decision that you are going to start up your side hustle. What direction do you take? Which idea do you pursue?

Using the list of filters above, here are some excellent ideas for a side hustle.

Side Hustle Ideas

  • Buy and Sell Textbooks – You can buy used textbooks from your friends and re-sell them at places like Cash4Books or Amazon. You can even use a free iPhone App from Rent Scouter to compare the best re-sell prices for the books you buy. This will ensure you only buy books that you can re-sell for a profit.
  • Be a Travel Agent for Spring Break Trips – Are you pretty handy with Kayak.com and other travel comparison websites? You can charge for your research services, and help your friends find the best prices on their spring break cruise to Jamaica, or their hotel in Panama City. If you are really savvy, you can have your friends pay you up-front, then book the travel on a cash-back rewards credit card. As long as you pay the balance off each month, and don’t get stuck with any accounts receivables, this could be an excellent way to build credit, and earn some serious cash back rewards.
  • Start a College Moving Company – This might sound a little strange, but it can be very lucrative if done right. College students have a lot of stuff. This stuff also needs to be moved in and out of dorm rooms every semester. Many students who live far away from the college they attend rely on their parents to move them in and out of college every year. This is a time consuming, and often frustrating time for parents and students. This is where you come in. You hire able-bodied college students to haul all of their stuff. The key here is that you don’t actually move the stuff away from the college. Your business model works because you are being paid to load a truck. You get paid to move the boxes down from the dorm room, load the truck, and ensure that the dorm room is clean. Then the parents are responsible for driving their uHaul back home. This has been done with great success on many campuses, but there is always room for a similar business model.
  • Write Freelance – There are many excellent places where you can write freelance. If you enjoy writing, and would like to make some money on it as opposed to writing endless research papers, then this might be for you. You have two main options: you could look into a content farm, or you could write for more reputable sites like Demand Studios, and Textbroker. A content farm will let you publish whatever content you want. These articles are placed on their sites, and you earn a percentage of the ad revenue generated by the traffic that visits your articles. Demand Studios and Textbroker both allow you to accept writing assignments. With Textbroker you are writing for an independent client, with Demand Studios, you are writing content for one of their sites. Both of these services will pay you a flat fee, upfront, for your articles.
  • Walk Dogs or Dog-Sit – Finally, if you like dogs, then this can be a great side hustle while in college. Most college towns are loaded with professors and staff members who work at the college, and live close by. Many of these same folks have dogs that they leave at home all day. As a college student, your schedule is very flexible. You likely don’t have to be in one place for more than an hour or two at a time. This gives you the flexibility to check in on multiple dogs throughout the day. You could even make some great money by pet sitting, where you actually watch a person’s home and animals for them while they are out of town. This could earn you a nice salary, and give you a nice place to stay!
These are just a few example of ways that you can develop a side hustle and earn extra money while in college, or once you graduate. The opportunities really are endless. A college campus is an excellent place to earn money if you know where to look, and if you are willing to put in the hard work to make it happen.
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16 Comments

  1. Love the idea of buying your fellow students text books. Never thought of that. certainly a way to make some extra cash.

    Everyone should have a side hustle!
    Ashley @ Money Talks recently posted..Beating ProcrastinationMy Profile

    • @Ashley — It really is all about supply and demand. And also, you can be a hero if you are willing to pay your friends more than the bookstore would pay them. You could earn some serious cash and make a few friends along the way!
      STRONGside recently posted..How to Develop a Side Hustle and Earn Extra MoneyMy Profile

  2. There is another benefit to a side hustle when you are in college… you can use it as job experience on a resume. Not only will got get some extra money, you will also be helping to market yourself for the future.
    Denise @ The Single Saver recently posted..How I Became The Crazy Cat LadyMy Profile

  3. @Denise — You are exactly right. I know from many employers that they also like to see ingenuity and initiative on a resume rather than boring standard work experience. great insight!
    STRONGside recently posted..How to Develop a Side Hustle and Earn Extra MoneyMy Profile

  4. Good luck with the side hustles. Have you tried any of these? It seems like most cheap college student would rather grab some buddies to help them move. That was what I did anyway. Pet sitting sounds like a good idea.
    retirebyforty recently posted..Should I Invest In 401k Or Roth IRA?My Profile

  5. @retireby40 — I agree that the moving business won’t work for every student, but at a college with a lot of out of state students, parents will pay a premium to have someone help move their kids out of their dorm rooms. My friends and I actually got paid to do this on a regular basis. Not a “business” per se, but we did get paid, so it was worth it. I also bought and sold A LOT of textbooks while I was in college. We did not have iPhone apps then, but a laptop worked just as well.
    STRONGside recently posted..How to Develop a Side Hustle and Earn Extra MoneyMy Profile

  6. This reminds me, I have a bunch of college books I need to sell from my college days. I’m gonna check out cash4books, I’ve always used half.com but not much luck
    Aaron Hung @aaronhung.com recently posted..World’s weirdest jobsMy Profile

    • @Aaron — You’ll have to let me know your experience with Cash4books if you decide to sell your books there. Best of luck!

  7. This is no different from a part time job with more upside! You could get it rolling before you enter school.
    krantcents recently posted..Am I Training for a Race?My Profile

    • @Krantcents — You are right. You could certainly do these kinds of jobs while in high school or even after your graduated. They are very flexible, and quite lucrative if approached correctly.

  8. Cool ideas. I’ve done some mystery shopping, which works great for people with flexible schedules like students. You can earn a few hundred dollars a month if you’re organized and efficient.
    Matt @Financial Excellence recently posted..Back-to-School Shopping… Saving Money After the Dust Has SettledMy Profile

  9. @Matt – Mystery shopping is one thing I have never tried. Glad to hear it is a legitimate opportunity though!
    STRONGside recently posted..Why FastWeb is a Complete Waste of TimeMy Profile

  10. Part-time jobs with a lot of flexibility are awesome. I wish I had started blogging when I was doing my undergrad degree. I look back now and realize that even though at the time I thought I was so busy, I just spent an unbelievable amount of time socializing. That being said, I wouldn’t have wanted to give up too much of that awesome part of my life!
    My University Money recently posted..Rising Tuition Fees – The Next Bubble?My Profile

    • @My University Money — You are right. I really wish that I had started blogging or trying to start more side gigs while in college. I hate all of the wasted time that I spent working for a $5.15 per hour work-study job.

      it served a purpose at the time, but I do wish i could go back pretty often.
      STRONGside recently posted..Why FastWeb is a Complete Waste of TimeMy Profile

  11. Thanks for quoting me to begin your article. Developing a side hustle is huge. In school, I started a website to resell my absurd amount of polo shirts (had over 100). I really like Ramit’s ideas on side hustles, and I like yours as well.
    funancials recently posted..Welcome To The New FunancialsMy Profile

    • @Funancials — Ha! You bet. I love Ramit’s take on some side hustles as well. Makes a huge difference when you make the transition from college to working adult. A nice jumping off platform, or possibly even a full-time gig.
      STRONGside recently posted..Why FastWeb is a Complete Waste of TimeMy Profile

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