This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a small commission if you purchase through my link, at no extra cost to you.
Having an additional source of income in college allows you freedom. It gives you the ability to afford necessities and luxuries without having to ask your parents for money or relying on others.
Your main “job” in college is being a student. Maintaining your course load, grades, extracurricular activities and ultimately walking across the stage at graduation should be your priority. However, money can be a major stressor in college.
I truly believe having a side hustle (or two) can help you become a more well-rounded and balanced student, as well as, can help you leverage post-grad opportunities. When I was in high school, I babysat for $20/hour for 12-16 hours a week during my sophomore year. The next year I worked as a party host and clown during the weekends. I was even an elf during the holidays lol. During my senior year, I saved all that money and started my own t-shirt design business. It only lasted one year but I learned so much and I never regretted trying it out.
In college, my first paid job was being editor of my school’s newspaper. I think I was making maybe $13.50/hour. It wasn’t much but that job led me to have many paid (and unpaid) internships. These internships directly helped me get hired at two top publications after graduation.
When I look back at my journey, it all started with my side hustles when I was a student. My weekend and after-school gigs taught me time management, how to save, and the things I can invest in.
Below I break down different proven side hustles that are divided into categories ranging from online side hustles for college students, highly profitable side hustles to creative and unique side hustle ideas. Let me know if you try any of these 😀.
This post is all about side hustles for college students.
High-Paying Side Hustles for College Students
You DO NOT need to have “good” handwriting to make money as a calligrapher. But you do need to practice the skill and art form. Short storytime: I started teaching myself calligraphy in 2018 while I worked the overnight shift at my job. I took online and in-person classes, bought handlettering books, and practiced for 2-3 hours daily. I lettered the name tags for people at my church on Sundays for practice and created a wedding invitation for my mom’s friend’s daughter.
Eventually, I felt confident enough to launch my calligraphy business in 2019. I discovered in-store events for companies can be very lucrative. A brand will hire a calligrapher for 4-6 hours to sit in their store and letter cards, wine glasses, mugs, boxes, etc usually during holidays or special occasions. Calligraphers typically charge $100-150/hour! For my first event, I charged $90/hour and the restaurant that hired me paid for my transportation, supplies, and a rush fee since they booked me at the last minute. I learned everything about the world of luxury calligraphy from this course. It only opens up 2-3 times per year but it’s so worth it! I cannot recommend it enough.
I’ve even seen high school calligraphers making money so you definitely can too!
2. S.A.T. Tutoring
Standardized tests were not my forte but if they are yours then monetize your skill! Tutor high school students who are preparing to take their SAT or ACT exams. Of course, you can tutor in any subject you excel in but standardized test tutors have the ability to charge more because many parents are willing to pay top dollar for a service that will help their child get into a good college. Also, you’ll never be without clientele.
Providing reliable and safe childcare is something parents will pay good money for. Being able to watch kids after school and on the weekends can be a wonderful side hustle, especially if you enjoy children. I still babysit on-and-off occasionally to make additional money. I paid for a background check through Sittercity and took a class through my job to get my CPR certification. I’m always being sent new potential parents who are looking for babysitting services.
Becoming a part-time, temporary, or on-call caregiver in college to an elderly person can be rewarding and gratifying. Being a caregiver or elderly aide usually requires more skills and certifications compared to babysitters. Some certifications to look into include Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) training and Home Health Aide (HHA) training.
This is a great side-hustle for a student looking to go into medicine or community health. You can work with an agency to find jobs or find families looking to have someone assist their loved ones on their own. Remember, this job requires great compassion, empathy, and patience. It would look great to put on your grad school applications.
Side Hustles You Can Do Without A Car
5. Dog walking
If you are reading this I can almost guarantee you there is a dog within one mile of your location. People treat their animals like their children and many busy people and professionals are paying for someone to walk their dog. If you have blocks in your class schedule or free time mid-day and early evening, sign up for a service like Rover or Wag.
6. Walking Uber Eats
I have a confession. My pandemic hobby was being an Uber Eats delivery walker. I loved it. I literally got paid to walk (and deliver food). This works if you are in a major city that is walkable. I walked after work, during some of my lunch breaks since I worked from home and during the holidays. I would strive to make $100/hour per week and usually was able to hit that goal. During holidays like Memorial Day weekend, I made $100 a day! It was a great way to get my exercise in too. I usually walked 1-2 hours a day, sometimes more if I felt like it.
Tip: The way to make the most money is to walk during promotions and earn tips. I wrote short notes in my calligraphy to every customer with their name on the front. People love personalized notes and tipped me well! I put my stamp with my calligraphy website on the bottom so people could view my work and contact me if they wanted. I preach that you should try to use a side hustle to promote your business or additional side hustle.
Online Side Hustles
If you have great listening, typing, and English skills then becoming a transcriptionist could be your perfect side-hustle. You will listen to videos, audio recordings, etc and type them for deaf or hard of hearing individuals and for websites. Hourly rates range from $10-25 according to Payscale. Most transcription platforms do not have set hourly times you need to “clock in” and you can do it from the comfort of your dorm when you have free time.
8. Online shopkeeper/Dropshipping
If you ever wanted to sell your own products but the thought of having hundreds of boxes of inventory in your dorm deters you, then look into being an online shopkeeper. Also known as dropshipping, it means purchasing an item from a third-party supplier and having it shipped directly to a customer. This means you can design your own product online and have another company package it for you and handle the shipping. You will sell the product for more money than what you made it for so you can get a profit. There are lots of resources on how to do this but I’ve found this YouTube video to be my favorite.
9. Virtual assistant
Growing up in the age of social media and the Internet gives you a great edge over people who aren’t as tech-savvy. A virtual assistant (VA) is someone who remotely does tasks such as scheduling meetings, emailing, social media management, light graphic design, and content writing for a person (or company). It’s all done on your computer. You can set your own hourly rate. Typically it’ll be $30-40 for two hours of work. I LOVE this side hustle and I currently do this a few hours a week. You can advertise your services on Fiverr or if you want to make it a business, check out this course from The Virtual Savvy. Here’s a checklist on how to get started as a virtual assistant.
10. Search engine rater
A search engine evaluator or rater is a person who analyzes search results to make sure they are correct and relevant. They conduct research and provide feedback to a client. For example, if Google wants to know the most popular dog treats and a post about the softest dog bed shows up towards the top of the search ranking, then the search engine evaluator would flag that as inaccurate.
Things to know: You will typically get paid once per month. Average hourly rates range from $9-15. You can work as little or as much as you like. Pennyhoarder has a list of sites hiring for search engine raters but I found a few positions just through Glassdoor.
11. Sell printables
Selling printables on a platform like Etsy can be ridiculously profitable and easy to do. A printable can be fun signs for a birthday or graduation printable, gift tags, planner sheets, labels, etc that someone can download and print at home. You don’t need incredible design skills, just a creative eye. You can make printables on Canva, upload and sell them on Etsy and collect your money.
12. Sell digital downloads
Have you seen those cute Instagram Story Highlight covers that so many people have? That’s a digital download. So are Excel templates, e-books, and fonts. I was reading a post from Lori, who has the blog Guitar and Lace, who wrote she made over $46,000 in 2020 from selling Instagram Story Highlight covers on Etsy. She posted her covers on Pinterest and they went viral!
13. Proofreader/Copy editor
Although there are really stellar programs out there that catch spelling and grammar mistakes, a proofreader makes sure the text actually makes sense. You need good attention to detail for this side hustle. It could mean suggesting alternative words to use, reconstructing sentences, etc. You can set your rate hourly or by word count.
Customer Service Side Hustles
14. Tour guide
When I went to Paris in Sept 2021, I did a number of Airbnb Experiences with local Parisians. On the website, I saw a flea market tour, food tour, Black History tour, and even someone offering to dine with travels and show them what’s good on the menu. If you are in a college town, there are visitors stopping by the nearest city who would love to get to see the area. Get creative and if there’s a location or specialty you can confidently show someone, be a tour guide.
15. Run errands
You can get paid to drop things off at the post office, buy someone’s groceries, and deliver things. These gig jobs are everywhere. Some of them include Instacart, FlexJobs, and Task Rabbit.
16. Professional organizing
You’ve probably come across those organizing shows on Netflix (“Tidying up with Marie Kondo,” “Get Organized with the Home Edit,” etc) and realized that so many people have a lot of stuff. If you have a passion for organizing you could get paid upwards of $75/hour to organize bathrooms, kitchens, play areas, offices, and of course closets. The blog Pro Organizer Studio has an awesome post I came across on how to get started.
Creative Side Hustles
17. Voice acting
There are three different types of voiceover work someone can do: Commercial, Promo, and Narration. Voiceover actors are usually needed for animated tv shows, movies, video games, and any other character work. It’s a super cool side hustle that you can do at-home or in a studio. I suggest trying to work at your college or local town’s radio station to get some experience.
18. Become a second shooter at weddings
A wedding photographer takes hundreds if not thousands of photos on someone’s wedding day. To capture all the important moments, many hire a “second shooter” to photograph the other spouse getting ready, reception space details, and candid moments. Join some local Facebook groups and start connecting with local photographers. This is a great way to learn, network, and get mentored while earning extra money.
Tip: Buy the camera body of a camera instead of the kit lens that typically comes with DSLR and mirrorless cameras. You will want to invest in prime lenses once you start photographing events professionally.
19. Floral design
Putting together or bouquet or floral centerpiece is a creative process and not everyone can do it. Choosing the right textures, floral amounts, colors and properly prepping flowers and greenery are skills. If you have a passion for floral arrangements you can host workshops, work with companies for their events, or work with individuals to come up with the perfect floral decor for their holiday parties, and weddings. The sky is really the limit.
20. Create seasonal decorations
Seasonal decoration includes graduations, Halloween, Valentine’s Day, back-to-school, New Year’s, etc. You could create specialty balloon walls, design show-stopping graduation caps, decorate Christmas trees or outside holiday lights, etc. You can niche down even more and make baby shower, bridal shower, or divorce party decor.
21. Create greeting cards
This is a true story: One of my good friends/former co-workers makes more than $10,000/month selling greeting cards. And guess what she doesn’t even design them herself! She started her small business underneath her bed, literally, she had boxes of greeting cards under her bed. She hired designers and had a vision for her business. She started selling them on Etsy, then moved to Shopify and started connecting with store owners. Long story short in four years, she has been able to hire a team of people and work for herself. I even volunteered at her booth for the National Stationery Show in NYC. Greeting cards are all about being personal, trendy, and catchy. It’s low cost to start and anyone can do it!
22. Host a vision board workshop
A few years ago I won a giveaway to attend a vision board party/event. I went for free but early bird tickets sold for $40. I think the regular price was $55. It included poster boards, magazines, finger food, drinks and there were speakers to talk about goal settings. You could easily rent out a private co-working space or small venue, sell tickets and host your own motivational vision board workshop.
Not everyone is a talented writer, in fact, most people are not. Ghostwriters are hired to write speeches, books, and even Instagram posts for other people. It’s a great way to write in different “voices” and to make really good extra cash. You can find these jobs through private writing firms, Fiverr, Upwork, and Zip Recruiter.
Scalable Side Hustles
*These side hustles will take a considerable amount of time to make money from but have remarkable potential.
Video content is king. I could recommend you to focus on TikTok or Instagram Reels, but the proven longevity of YouTube is what I would say to first put your energy in. There are so many resources on how to monetize a YouTube channel. My favorite is this video from Erin on Demand.
One of my pet peeves is when people say blogging is dead. Blogging has significantly changed and it’s not easy but it can still be very lucrative to the point where you can several thousands of dollars every month. I believe everyone should own their online presence and really the only way to do that is by having your own self-hosted blog/website. Once you attract an audience and start getting a lot of page views, you can make money through ads, affiliate links, sponsored posts, and selling products. Hands down my favorite blogging resource is Sophia Lee’s Perfecting Blogging course. She makes $75,000 from her blog a month! I learned a ridiculous amount of useful gems watching her course videos.
26. Social media manager
If you are a lover of strategy and social media, then this is the side hustle for you! As a social media manager, you’ll be tasked with things like planning a month of Instagram content for clients, creating graphics in Canva, resizing images, writing captions and hashtags, and engaging with other accounts by commenting and liking posts. Starting out you can easily charge $500-900/per month. Many people who do this full-time charge at least $1,000/per month.
Audio content is on the heels of video content. It’s so much easier to listen to a podcast when you’re commuting, working out, cleaning your apartment, etc. It’s low cost to start, all you need is a microphone. You make money from podcasts through ads and promoting products. It takes time to get a steady stream of listeners and downloads but the industry is growing every day and now is a perfect time to start your own podcast!
That wraps up this post on the best side hustles for college students. Definitely let me know in the comment section if any of these piqued your interest or if you try them out. I truly believe every student has the ability to start a successful side hustle in college. You got this!