Business, Career

The Best Side Hustles For College Students

December 18, 2020

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I'm Tori!

After successfully saving $100,000 at age 25, I quit my corporate job in marketing to fight for your financial rights. I’ve helped over three million badass women make more, spend less, and feel financially confident.


The following post is contributed by Martin of Studenomics, where he tries to make personal finance fun since you have enough to stress about. You can click here to check out the wide range of content on everything from student loans to getting paid to drink coffee.

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College is the best time to start a business,

and I want to show you how you can start making money as a student.

I started blogging in 2008 as a student because I was fed up with taking business courses without starting a business. I also didn’t want to be broke anymore.

Don’t worry, I won’t tell you to miss out on the fun or to miss out on the best years of your life. I want to show you how you can use side hustles to have the best life possible in your 20s. I want you to make some money while discovering your passions so that you don’t have to wait until you graduate from college to make some money.

Let’s look at why you should start a side hustle in college and what the best options are for you…

“I’ll look into that when I’m done school.”

I can’t believe how many young people brush off the idea of starting early in life. You don’t have to complete your degree to start making money. I spent my entire college run figuring out ways to make money because I didn’t want a boring corporate job. I knew that I wanted to travel and that I didn’t want to work for anybody else. I always knew that I liked having money to enjoy my life.

I firmly believe that college is the best time to start a side hustle and to test the waters with entrepreneurship.

On that note…

Why is college the best time to start a side hustle?

I urge all students that I know to start a business in college. There’s nothing worse than graduating with no job opportunities, no plan for making money, and no connections. That’s a recipe for a financial disaster. Your 40-year old self will hate you for messing up at a young age.

Why’s college the best time to start that business? 

  • You have unlimited/more energy. I’m all for partying and I’m also about making money. Luckily, you can do both. I can tell you right now that trying to work after staying up late at 32 isn’t as easy as it was at 20.

  • You have nothing to lose. You’re already broke and you’re already desperate for money. You likely don’t have a family to worry about.

  • You have the time. Unless you’re studying to be a doctor and spend your weekends volunteering, chances are that you have plenty of spare time. Nobody’s telling you to fill up every second of the day. I’m just letting you know that dedicating a few hours to making money at 18 will go a long way.

  • Your side hustle can incorporate your fun. My buddy wanted to party so he became a DJ. I wanted more money for adventures so I started writing about money.

Your college years can set you up for the rest of your life. That side hustle can be your full-time job after graduating.

What should you look for in a side hustle?

Before you go selling essential oils to your relatives or starting a YouTube channel where you talk about how successful you are, I wanted to show you my criteria for a side hustle that’s worth your time.

This is what you should look for in a side hustle as you look for ways to bring in money:

  • There has to be a clear path to profit. How will you make money? How long will it take to make any money?

  • You don’t have to spend much money upfront to get started. I don’t want you spending $500 to join some system.

  • It can’t sound too good to be true. I’m all for taking risks and shooting for the stars, but it’s also important to know when you’re being scammed. If it sounds too good to be true, then it always is.

  • The time is flexible. Since you’re in school, it’s important to find an income source that can be flexible and you can do on your own time. I liked blogging/freelance writing because I could write whenever I had free time.

It’s important to find a side hustle that will help you make money with your limited time. Don’t worry, I won’t have you filling out surveys for hours to earn a few pennies. You won’t be shilling beauty products or other nonsense where you have to sell to your family.

What are classic side hustles that can be started in college?

Before we look at social media and new apps, let’s not ignore the common income streams that have been around for a while. There are certain side hustles that have been around for years and will continue to be around.

My buddy Bohdan made money every semester by simply being a tutor for a complicated freshman course. He understood the concepts of the course and figured out how to teach others to pass this class.

What are side hustles in college that are guaranteed to make money?

  • Tutoring. As mentioned above, your college will always need tutors.

  • Become a textbook broker. Buying textbooks from the official store is very expensive and rarely worth it. Selling them back to the school isn’t worth it either. This is where a textbook broker comes into play.

  • Clean/detail cars. A buddy started a detailing business where he detailed cars at a local golf course. He ended up turning this into a real business after college.

  • Anything on campus. There will always be money on campus from working as a DJ to trying to get on the paper.

Don’t sleep on the popular side hustle streams. One of my readers turned his tutoring side gig into an actual business when they graduated college which allowed them to avoid the corporate world.

What are other profitable side hustles you can start in college?

What are some unique side hustles that you can do in college in this new world?

1. Deliver food/alcohol/groceries.

These food delivery systems need workers desperately. A buddy of mine got into alcohol delivery over the first lockdown and he started making decent money. His base rate is okay but the tips can be generous. I spoke to another friend who started delivering groceries and he has been saving up for his next business venture.

I know that delivering items isn’t the most exciting side hustle, but it’s easy to get started, you get some exercise in, and you can make some money in tips.

If you live in a city, you can deliver by bike and use your weekends/evenings to bring in a few dollars.

2. Offer an experience on Airbnb.

I started my first Airbnb Experience in 2019 and have become a big fan of these since then.

What’s an Airbnb Experience? According to the official website:

“Experiences are activities designed and led by inspiring locals. They go beyond typical tours or classes by immersing guests in a host’s unique world.”

Here’s my definition of an Airbnb Experience: Anything that you can do with people.

I personally ran a coffee crawl (on hold at the moment), but you can run anything from a food tour to a wine sampling seminar.

Some of the top experiences in Seattle are:

  • Hiking through Washington.

  • Food tours.

  • Hanging out with bunnies.

  • Tour a farm.

  • Lessons on baking delicious scones.

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My best suggestion is to look at popular experiences near you and see what’s missing or would could be improved on.

Yes, you can do this in a socially distant world. You may not be able to do anything that requires contact but you can offer many activities that are distant enough as long as you follow safety protocols. You can also apply to host a digital experience so that you don’t even have to leave your home.

If you don’t have the resources to do anything interesting, you can always be the liason/middle person for an experience. I brought tourists to interesting coffee shops. I didn’t actually own a coffee shop. You can give bike tours, show the best pubs in town, or bring guests to hidden gems.

3. Be a pet sitter/walker on Rover.

This one will explode in 2021 since so many young folks have become dog owners in quarantine to combat loneliness. All of the dogs are going to need to be walked when the owners return to work or start to travel again.

You can apply to be on an app like Rover so that you can walk dogs or pet sit for the weekend. You can also start offering your services on your own. I’m in a Facebook group for my condo and for my community. In both of these groups, there are dog walkers who offer their services.

4. Create crafts or digital printables on Etsy.

I found out that people are selling digital printable items on Etsy.

I don’t have much experience with this one because I’m terrible when it comes to anything artistic. However, you can set up your own shop with digital printables and all kinds of crafts.

5. Become a virtual assistant.

You’re already on your phone most of the day, why not figure out a way to get paid for odd jobs? Virtual assistant work is actually on the rise since many entrepreneurs are looking to outsource tasks that they don’t have time for or don’t want to do.

As a college student, you may be the ideal virtual assistant since you don’t need full-time hours and you’re likely aware of how most social media platforms work if that kind of service is needed.

How do you get started?

Look directly for Virtual Assistant jobs or check out job boards (Fancy Hands). Find a job that fits you and see if you can make some money.

6. Offer a service on Fiverr.

Have you heard of Fiverr? I used this site for cheap graphics in 2011 and didn’t think much of it. It turns out that you can make some decent money on there.

According to this article on CNBC: “Graphic design projects like this — creating displays, logos or marketing materials — can sell for $100 to $3,000 on Fiverr.”

Don’t get me wrong, I used to think that Fiverr was just for cheap graphics, but it’s not. You can make real money on there with higher-end projects.

7. Start freelancing.

Have you thought about freelancing? The good news is that this covers anything and everything. You can buy a camera and become a wedding photographer.

Here’s an example of how you can make money with freelancing:

  • Edit videos.

  • Create graphics.

  • Offer guitar lessons online.

  • Become a barber.

Look at what skills you have that are marketable. Can you play an instrument? Can you create logos? Do you have a good enough camera?

I believe that right now may be the best time to get into some sort of freelance work.

How do you do this?

The trick is to think of what you can offer and then try to get paid for this.

How can you start making money with a side hustle as a student?

Choose one option and test it out to see if you enjoy it and if there’s any money in the field. You don’t have to deliver food, host an experience or perform the same freelance service for the next decade. You can test the waters to see what you really want to do. You may find yourself thriving with a unique side hustle or you may realize that you really want to stay in school to land a specific gig.

Once I got a taste of side hustles, I never wanted to work a traditional corporate job in my life. I doubled down on making money on my own.

How do you decide what the best side hustle is?

  1. Your free time. How much time do you have available? Every college program is different when it comes to workload.

  2. Your current skills. Take a look at your skills and what’s in demand right now. A cousin of mine plays the piano and he has been finding work playing at small events.

  3. The money. Test out different ideas until you find a side hustle that actually brings in money so that you’re not wasting time.

Good luck with building that side hustle out. I’m secretly jealous of you because I wish I had that same energy that I did a decade ago.


I get asked all the time: what are your favorite money management tools?

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The $100K Club Facebook Group: Need some honest money conversations in your life? Join my free community to get your burning questions answered.

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